Cancer research news

Theme leader, Graham Mann

Professor Graham Mann

Graham Mann is Professor in Medicine at the University of Sydney, Associate Dean (Research Strategy) in Sydney Medical School and Chair of the University of Sydney Cancer Research Network. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Cancer Council NSW and of its Cancer Research and Governance Committees.

Professor Mann helps lead melanoma research programs of the National Health and Medical Research Council and Cancer Institute NSW, with teams in the Westmead Millennium Institute and Melanoma Institute Australia. These programs are engaged in all aspects of melanoma control, from population-based studies of genetic and environmental susceptibility, to melanoma and psychosocial aspects of melanoma risk, to molecular markers of diagnosis, prognosis and response to treatment.

A founding and Executive member of the Kathleen Cuningham Consortium for Research in Familial Breast Cancer (kConFab), he chaired its Data and Analysis Subcommittee until 2008. Professor Mann is a founding member and principal investigator of the international Melanoma Genetics Consortium (GenoMEL), and was President of the Australian Society for Medical Research in 1996.

Improving outcomes for women with ovarian cancer

Dr Howell’s work is aimed at improving the survival of women with ovarian cancer by developing new methods for early detection. Ovarian cancer is the 6th most common cause of cancer death in Australian women.

Most patients are currently diagnosed at a late stage of the disease, when five-year survival rates are less than 30 per cent. Our project aims to develop experimental models of the disease, which will be used to explore the role of hormones in disease development and identify genetic changes at different stages of disease.

Changes in the levels of a recently discovered class of genes called “microRNA” that can discriminate between cancer and normal cells will also be investigated. MicroRNA may be master regulators of entire pathways of genes that lead to cancer, and the roles of specific microRNA in the development of ovarian cancer will be examined.

Cancer cell diagnostics

Professor Robert Baxter, Director of the Kolling Institute of Medical Research, is among the 250 most cited researchers in the world according to ISIHighly

Professor Baxter’s research has been into the somatomedins or insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), polypeptides structurally related to proinsulin, with both anabolic and mitogenic activities. These ubiquitous growth factors are essential for normal growth and also implicated in the aberrant growth of many cancers and other conditions of cellular dysfunction. Professor Baxter’s laboratory has pioneered biochemical, cell biology and endocrine studies on these proteins. He is among the international leaders in IGF binding protein research, with over 15,000 literature citations. is compiled by Thomson Scientific to identify and honour researchers whose publications have received the highest number of citations (as identified by ISI) across the past two decades. Citation is a measure of influence on the literature of a subject, and it is also a strong indicator of scientific contribution since it is derived from pattern of interaction among millions of published articles. When one researcher cites another's work, he/she is acknowledging the relevance of that work to the current study.

Vitamin D and bone health

Professor Rebecca Mason is a leading Vitamin D researcher. Her research has taken a number of paths including the role of Vitamin D in protecting against ultraviolet or sun damage, and the role played by Vitamin D in protecting against cancer. Research findings have shown that making Vitamin D and its further metabolism in the skin, contributes to protection from ultraviolet damage to the skin. Within the School, Professor Mason is Head of Physiology and Deputy Director of the Bosch Institute.

Reducing risk of melanoma

Professor John Thompson is the Executive Director and Research Director of the Sydney Melanoma Unit, one of the world’s largest melanoma treatment and research centres. He is the author of over 400 peer-reviewed scientific articles as well as numerous book chapters, review articles and monographs. His primary current research interests are in the fields of lymphatic mapping and sentinel node biopsy for melanoma, and regional chemotherapy techniques for limb tumours which cannot be treated surgically.