Dr Ashwini Chand

Head, Cancer Therapeutics Development Group

The ONJCRI is a dynamic environment to work in as a scientist, where I am able to translate my research activities into outcomes which will ultimately influence the health of patients. 

I am interested in understanding how cytokine-signalling pathways promote normal homeostasis and tumour development in order to discover molecular targets, for which we can then develop novel cancer treatments. My group’s research focuses on the normal functions of the gastrointestinal tract and how inflammation contributes to the progression of gastrointestinal cancers.

After completing my PhD in endocrinology, I undertook my postdoctoral training in Melbourne with Professors Simpson and Clyne, at the Hudson Institute in Melbourne. During this time, I identified a new role for the nuclear receptor LRH-1 in breast cancer, for which I was awarded the Department of Defence Breast Cancer Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2009. I received the NHMRC Career Development Fellowship in 2014 and joined the ONJCRI to work with Professor Matthias Ernst to expand my research into the study of inflammatory cytokines in gastrointestinal tumour development.

My group’s research focus is the biology of gastrointestinal and breast cancers and understanding cytokine-dependent tumour-stroma interactions, which mediate cancer initiation and progression. We focus on difficult to treat cancers and metastatic disease in particular. Our overall research aim is to use preclinical cancer models to identify targetable inflammatory pathways that have important actions in the  tumour microenvironment. We have used our knowledge of cytokine biology and receptor biochemistry to identify drugs that inhibit critical inflammatory pathways. To achieve new treatment opportunities for cancer patients, we study medications that are already in clinical use for the treatment of other diseases and may be repurposed as cancer therapeutics. We also investigate how new compounds can disrupt the activity of key tumour-promoting cytokines. Our team is making discoveries which will contribute to the emergence of breakthrough cancer treatments.


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