Sydney Medical School’s cancer researchers have made ground breaking contributions to the study of the disease, from fundamental cell biology, to treatment, cancer control and supportive care.

Our researchers run major programs looking at the causes of cancer, including the impact of cancer-causing agents such as chemicals, radiation, viruses and human behaviour. The school also runs programs examining biological factors that can reduce or increase cancer risk, such as inflammation and DNA damage.

The University’s cancer research programs focus on clinical and translational excellence. Our current NHMRC grants highlight cancer prevention and screening, cancer genetics, and the development of new drug, cell and radiation treatments, with application in a wide number of cancers including leukaemia, melanoma, cervical, liver and breast cancer.

Research highlights

  • Professor Diona Damian recently led a study which found that a year of treatment with nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3, significantly lowered the risk of common, non-melanoma skin cancer in high-risk patients.
  • Professor Graham Mann and his team have recently isolated new genetic risk factors for melanoma in the Australian population.
  • In partnership with the Northern Sydney Cancer Centre, we are leading a world-first clinical trial using a GPS-like tracking system to improve prostate cancer radiotherapy treatment.
  • Our researchers are fundamentally advancing our understanding of ageing and cancer by demonstrating the structure of active chromosomal telomeres and the role of the alternative pathway for telomere lengthening.
  • Researchers in the School of Public Health are leading the world in tobacco control. Evidence they gathered to support plain packaging of cigarettes was highly instrumental in introducing Australia’s pioneering plain packaging legislation, which has helped reduce smoking rates in Australia.

Cancer Research Network

The Cancer Research Network links cancer researchers in the University of Sydney and its teaching hospitals and affiliated research institutes and institutions to build high quality cancer research capacity and achieve international cancer research excellence in areas of strength.

Meet our researchers

Professor Stephen Clarke

Professor Stephen Clarke

Stephen Clarke is a Professor of Medicine at Sydney Medical School and a Senior Staff Specialist in Medical Oncology at Royal North Shore Hospital.

Having led research to identify how inflammatory factors impact response to cancer drug treatment and survival, Professor Clarke’s work has evolved to look at how interventions before treatment might improve patient wellbeing, the effectiveness of treatment and survival.

Professor Graham Mann

Professor Graham Mann

While leading melanoma research programs, Professor Mann and his team have recently isolated new genetic risk factors for melanoma in the Australian population.

Professor Mann is currently investigating the molecular determinants of risk, progression and treatment response in melanoma, supported by major NHMRC program grants. He chairs the University of Sydney’s Cancer Research Network.

Associate Professor Anne Cust

Associate Professor Anne Cust

Associate Professor Anne Cust is an epidemiologist who heads the Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research group, Sydney School of Public Health.

Dr Cust's main research aims are to identify causes of cancer, improve early diagnosis and prevention of cancer, and improve the health outcomes of people with cancer. She studies both genetic causes of cancer as well as nongenetic causes such as lifestyle, behaviours and the environment.