Our People

Vicki Whitehall

Associate Professor | Honorary Group Leader

Conjoint Gastroenterology

+617 3362 0170

vicki.whitehall@qimrberghofer.edu.au

 

CAREER HISTORY

Associate Professor Whitehall has researched the molecular basis of colorectal cancer for the past 20 years. After completing postdoctoral studies as a CJ Martin Fellow at the Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia, she returned to QIMR in 2005. She has contributed key conceptual advances to understanding the evolution of colorectal polyp subtypes to clinically relevant groups of colorectal cancers. Her research findings together with active clinical collaborations with gastroenterologists, pathologists and oncologist, have contributed to altered clinical guidelines for the management of colorectal polyps and cancers.

  

CURRENT APPOINTMENTS

2018-present: Honorary Group Leader, QIMR Berghofer 

2018-present: Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Biomedical Sciences, Queensland University of Technology

2013-present: Honorary Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Queensland

2005-present: Supervising Scientist, Conjoint Gastroenterology Laboratory, Pathology Queensland

 

PREVIOUS APPOINTMENTS

2016-2019: Gastroenterology Society of Australia Senior Research Fellow

2005-2018: Visiting Scientist, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute

2005-2013: Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Department of Medicine, University of Queensland

2003-2005: CJ Martin Postdoctoral Fellow, Kimmel Cancer Center, Philadelphia, USA. “Identification of downstream effectors of the hMSH2/hMLH1 damage sensing apparatus”

1999-2003: PhD student, Conjoint Gastroenterology Laboratory, ‘Molecular pathways of colorectal tumorigenesis’

1997-1999: Research Assistant, Conjoint Gastroenterology Laboratory, ‘Molecular genetics of liver cancer’

 

RESEARCHER ID

E-5414-2019

 

CURRENT AREA OF RESEARCH

Associate Professor Whitehall is investigating the link between epigenetic and chronological patient age and how this contributes to differential risk of a polyp progressing to a cancer, as well as how this may be targeted for cancer prevention. A major focus of her current research program is the development of precision medicine strategies to influence therapy for advanced cancer. This involves the development of cancer models for genomic characterisation and high-throughput drug testing.

 

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

  • established that sessile serrated lesions have malignant potential and precede the development of ~20% of all colorectal cancers
  • discovered that BRAF mutation accelerates age-related DNA methylation changes, which dramatically increases the risk of colorectal neoplasia in elderly individuals
  • identified up-regulation of the TGF signalling pathway in BRAF mutant cancers and found that inhibition of this pathway can sensitise tumours to immunotherapy
  • found in our colorectal cancer model that curcumin is an effective agent for preventing colorectal cancer, and aspirin prevents colorectal cancer metastasis

 

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

2019- 2020

  • NHMRC grant review panel, Chair

2018-present

  • Chemical Pathology Management Committee, Member
  • Australian Gastroenterological Society of Australia, Research Committee Member
  • Australian Gastrointestinal Trials Group Translational Science Committee, Member
  • Australian Epigenetics Alliance, State Representative

2015-2017

  • NHMRC panel, Member

2014-present

  • QIMR Berghofer Higher Degrees Committee, Member

2007-present

  • Australian Epigenetics Alliance

2005-present

  • American Association for Cancer Research

2000-present

  • Gastroenterology Society of Australia
  • Australian Society for Medical Research

 

AWARDS RECOGNITION

2018      

  • Japanese Society of Gastroenterology Medal

2016      

  • Gastroenterology Society of Australia Senior Research Fellowship

2014      

  • Gastroenterology Society of Australia Poster Prize
  • RBWH Healthcare Symposium, Best Basic Science Oral Presentation

2005      

  • Queensland Cancer Fund Travel Award
  • American Association of Cancer Research Scholar in Training Award

2003      

  • National Health and Medical Research Council CJ Martin Postdoctoral Fellowship

2002      

  • Queensland Cancer Fund Travel Award

2001      

  • Gastroenterology Society of Australia, Douglas Piper Young Investigator Award
  • Gastroenterology Society of Queensland Young Investigator Award

 

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

2003 Doctor of Philosophy, Department of Medicine, University of Queensland

1997 Bachelor of Science with Honours Class I, Department of Biochemistry, University of Queensland

1996 Bachelor of Science, University of Queensland