Iron Metabolism and Chelation Program

Lab head: Des Richardson
Location: D06 - Blackburn Building

Iron is essential for life and growth. While it is well known that iron deficiency can lead to anaemia it is generally not appreciated that iron is critical for the growth of all cells, particularly cancer cells. The Iron Metabolism and Chelation Program is concerned with understanding the basic processes of how tumour cells utilise and transport iron. This knowledge will lead to the development of therapies that can selectively starve tumour cells of iron and inhibit their growth. In addition, we are studying the mechanisms involved in iron loading in the inherited diseases I2-thalassaemia and Friedreich's ataxia.

Lab members: Head: D Richardson; RFellows: D Kalinowski, D Lovejoy, Y Suryo Rahmanto, D Zhang, D Zhang; PFellows: C Austin, K Dixon, P Jansson, Z Kovacevic, D Lane, K Loh, M Lok, P Quach, V Richardson, Y Yu; RAssistant: S Bal, S Chikhani, M Huang, E Lim, P Obeidy, N Pantarat, F Saletta, D Sharp.

Molecular Regulation of eIF3a in Cancer Cell Motility and Invasion

Primary supervisor: Des Richardson


eIF3a is the largest subunit of the eukaryotic initiation factor 3 (eIF3) and plays a role as a regulator of a subset of mRNAs encoding proteins involved in the cell cycle, cell proliferation and cell mobility. Moreover, eIF3a is a constituent of stress granules which are cytoplasmic structures that occur in eukaryotic cells exposed to environmental stress.

 Aim and methods:

This project aims to identify new targets of eIF3a involved in enhanced cancer cell mobility and invasion. A variety of techniques will be used including: cell culture, reverse-transcriptase-PCR and quantitative PCR, Western blotting, immunofluorescent staining, gene knockdown, drug treatment etc.


This study is important for understanding the pathological role of eIF3a in the expression of metastasis regulators and for developing novel therapeutics targeting eIF3a and its downstream signaling. Our studies are crucial for deepening our knowledge about cancer cell biology and developing exploitable treatments for cancer.

Feel free to contact Prof. Des Richardson or Dr. Federica Saletta ( to have a chat about whether the project matches your interests.

Discipline: Pathology
Co-supervisors: Federica Saletta
Keywords: Cancer, Cell & Molecular Biology, Iron Metabolism