Our research programs

Our researchers are investigating and developing treatments for a broad spectrum of cancer types.

Researchers at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre are committed to making scientific discoveries that benefit patients living with cancer. 

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Our research programs

At the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute we are uniquely positioned within a hospital, meaning we can focus on a broad spectrum of cancer types. Our laboratories are directly opposite patient wards, so our researchers can see the impact their research is making and accelerate learning between the bench and the bedside.



Through understanding the biology of cancer cells and their interaction with the immune system we are able to discover and trial novel therapies to induce the immune system to detect and fight cancer cells.

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Amongst many other functions, inflammatory processes support the progression of tumours. We focus on understanding how cancers cells thrive by exploiting inflammatory processes, corrupting surrounding normal cells and avoiding immune detection.

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Tumour Targeting

We target tumours by exploring how the proteins found on the cancer cell surface can be utilised to inhibit growth or kill tumours. We develop antibodies that may help us detect cancer cells through highly sensitive medical imaging technologies, as well as antibodies that directly trigger cell-killing mechanisms in the tumour.

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The health of the gastrointestinal system is reliant on a continual cycle of cell replacement. In cancers of the gastrointestinal system, this cycle is disrupted. We investigate the role of genes and proteins in the onset of cancer, with the goal of identifying new treatment targets for this disease.

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We study the molecular pathways that control the fate of a cell which are often deregulated in cancer cells. By understanding the survival factors that keep cancer cells alive we aim to develop new and effective drugs that can activate natural cell death or inhibit impaired survival mechanisms in tumour cells.

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Every cancer patient responds to treatment differently because every person is unique. Our aim is to develop diagnostic tools that detect the effectiveness of treatment for an individual at any stage of their cancer journey. With the availability of precise and rapid information, clinicians and patients will be able to make better treatment decisions sooner.

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Our research will help us to achieve our goal of reducing deaths from breast cancer. We have developed pre-clinical models to identify genes, both in the tumour cells and in the microenvironment that regulate the spread of cancer to specific organs such as the liver, lungs and brain. As well as the Metastasis Research Laboratory, the Translational Breast Cancer Program also includes the Matrix Microenvironment & Metastasis Laboratory.

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Matrix Microenvironment & Metastasis Laboratory

As part of the Translational Breast Cancer Program, we are interested in how and why some breast cancers preferentially spread to bone or brain. We have identified key matrix proteins that are laid down by cancer and surrounding normal cells and provide a substrate on which cancer cells attach, survive and spread to distant organs. Our research aims to develop new therapies that block the function or production of these matrix proteins and prevent cancer spread to bone and brain.

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Tumour Progression and Heterogeneity Laboratory

We seek to ‘Track and Treat’ the cancer cells present in patients’ tissues by using lineage tracing, as well as sequencing technologies, to determine the molecular mechanisms responsible for the dissemination of cancer cells to various organs, and resistance to current therapies.

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Find out more about clinical trials