Throughout my research career as a translational clinician / scientist I have had an abiding interest in the mechanisms of tumour cell growth, and the development of innovative strategies to improve diagnosis and therapy of cancer. The areas of my major research focus have been in the definition and characterisation of antigen / receptor targets for cancer therapy; signalling and metabolic pathways in cancer cells; antibody-based therapy and immune regulation of tumours, and molecular imaging of cancer.
The particular emphasis of my laboratory research is colorectal cancer. I have also developed a translational program for extension of our laboratory discoveries into the clinic leading 10 novel antibodies / recombinant proteins successfully through preclinical development, humanisation, production / regulatory compliance, and first-in-human and Phase I/II trials in cancer patients. This program has made a number of key contributions to the field and resulted in 15 patents and our successful licencing of 7 discoveries to Biotech and Pharma.
My laboratory has a major focus on antibody:receptor interactions, immune activation by Fc, and signalling pathways in cancer. We have identified a new class of conformationally exposed ErbB receptor epitopes that led to the characterisation and development of mAb806, which targets EGFR expressed specifically in cancer cells and uniquely causes signalling abrogation and altered EGFR processing. These findings have provided a new paradigm in antibody-based targeting and therapy of solid tumours. This work has extended to structure:function studies of antibodies to ERBB family members, and exploring induction of apoptosis in tumours through DR5 agonist antibodies.
More recently, structural and modelling approaches in my laboratory have defined novel Fc:FcRn and Fc:FcγR interactions that result in improved immune effector function and bioavailability of humanised antibodies. We have also developed strategies to deliver payloads specifically to tumours through conjugation of siRNA, toxins and isotopes to recombinant antibodies, and nanoparticles, both in preclinical models, and clinical trials in cancer patients. Our research is supported through grants from the National Health & Medical Research Council (Australia), Cancer Australia, Cure Brain Cancer, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, and Ludwig Cancer Research.
I have published over 260 peer reviewed papers and 20 book chapters, principally in the areas of oncology and molecular imaging. Invited reviews in leading journals include Nature Reviews Cancer and Cancer Research. I am actively involved in the training and mentoring of young scientists and clinicians and currently supervise several doctoral students in addition to post-doctoral fellows and Nuclear Medicine trainees.
Further to my research and clinical activities, as President of the World Federation of Nuclear Medicine and Biology, which is the peak global Nuclear Medicine organisation, I am engaged in strategic planning for training, health care policy, and advocacy for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine therapy within the US, European, South American, Asia-Oceania, and African regions, and with the IAEA and WHO.
National leadership includes being a foundation Board member of Cancer Trials Australia, and a Board member of the Victorian Cancer Biobank, which have successfully implemented tumour tissue banking protocols across Victoria, and also created a world-class multi-site cancer clinical trials network that now extends across Victoria and into NSW. I am also a Board member of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), and participate in policy and governance activities for this Australian Government organization.
FAANMS, Fellowship Australasian Association of Nuclear Medicine Specialists
FAICD, Fellow of Australian Institute of Company Directors
MD, Doctor of Medicine, University of Sydney, Australia
DDU, Australasian Society for Ultrasound in Medicine
FRACP, Fellowship Royal Australasian College of Physicians
ECFMG, Certified for US practice
MB BS (Hons), Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (with Honours), University of Sydney, Australia
Fellowships: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Member, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research
Head Tumour Targeting Laboratory, Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute
Scientific Director of Positron Emission Tomography, Department of Medical Imaging and Therapeutics, Austin Health, Melbourne
Professor, School of Cancer Medicine, LaTrobe University
Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne
Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Monash University
Distinguished Scientist Award, Austin Medical Research Foundation 2014
Inaugural Pioneer Award, Australian and New Zealand Society of Nuclear Medicine
Journal of Nuclear Medicine Editors Choice Award for best clinical manuscript, 2008
Medical Board Traveling Fellowship, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, Australia