Baz-inga! Discovering a new purpose for an existing drug for colorectal cancer treatment

Latest study finds a new purpose for an existing drug for colorectal cancer treatment.

In a recent new study published in the journal Cell Death & Disease, lab head Dr. Ashwini Chand and then PhD student Dr. Rhynelle Dmello, discovered that Bazedoxifene shows remarkable potential as an anti-cancer agent against colorectal cancer. This occurs via a mode-of-action distinct from the original purpose of the drug to function a modulator of estrogen signalling.

“This study is based on our previous discovery that Bazedoxifene also blocks the action of two major pro-inflammatory signalling molecules known as IL-6 and IL-11,” said Dr. Chand.

Dr. Dmello, the first author on the paper adds, “In addition to the potent suppression of cancer growth in human colorectal cancer models we observe with Bazedoxifene treatment on its own, we excitingly define drug combinations that further boost the killing efficiency of Bazedoxifene when used together.”

“We are motivated that with further research and clinical trials, Bazedoxifene could be an important addition to our arsenal in our fight against colorectal cancer.

This ground-breaking study was a multi-institutional collaboration between La Trobe University, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, University of Melbourne, Bio21 Institute, St. Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research and the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology


A Journey of Resilience and Triumph: Meet Dr Elnaz Tavancheh

Showcasing the Power of Resilience and Community Support in Overcoming Adversity.

On Harmony Day, we celebrated stories of diversity, inclusion, and perseverance. Dr Elnaz Tavancheh’s journey embodies these values, showcasing the power of resilience and community support in overcoming adversity.

Elnaz arrived in Australia as an asylum seeker, facing numerous challenges with limited rights and support for education or employment. Undeterred, she embarked on a remarkable journey that saw her transform obstacles into opportunities.

Her career journey began with volunteer work at Kookaburra Kindergarten in Reservoir, where she discovered her passion for education and community service. Soon after, she volunteered at the Melbourne Museum’s marine zoology department, dedicating over 500 hours to learning and contributing to scientific research. Her dedication and diligence made a lasting impression, culminating in the Museum naming a new species of sea cucumber, Globosita elnazae, discovered in the Kimberly River, in her honour—an enduring testament to her commitment.

Despite facing significant hurdles, Elnaz’s determination never wavered. With the support of her team at Melbourne Museum, she enrolled in Parade College in Bundoora, becoming the first girl in the college’s history to pursue VCE studies.

Completing her VCE in just one year, Elnaz’s academic achievements caught the attention of La Trobe University, which awarded her a full scholarship to study Biomedicine. Under the guidance of Prof. John Dewar, she excelled in her studies and forged connections that would shape her future.

Elnaz’s journey took another turn when financial challenges threatened her pursuit of higher education during her Honours year. However, with the unwavering support of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, La Trobe University, and Parade College, she overcame adversity and achieved outstanding results.

Her dedication and talent earned her a prestigious project at the Tumour Immunology Lab at ONJCRI, where she investigated prognostic biomarkers in melanoma. This experience laid the foundation for her PhD, which she completed in 2023, gaining invaluable skills in cancer research along the way.

Today, Elnaz works as a Clinical Research Associate at ONJCRI, spearheading multiple clinical trials across Australia and New Zealand. Her journey from asylum seeker to cancer researcher serves as an inspiration to all, highlighting the transformative power of perseverance, support, and inclusion.

As we celebrate Harmony Day, let us draw inspiration from Elnaz’s story and reaffirm our commitment to creating a society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their background or circumstances.


Chief Clinical Research Officer

Bedside-to-Bench-to-Bedside: Improve Outcomes for Cancer Patients

Position: Chief Clinical Research Officer
Location: Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, Heidelberg, Victoria
Employment Type: Part-time, 0.2 FTE with Flexible Working Options

Exciting Opportunity in Cancer Research

We’re on the lookout for a visionary and skilled Chief Clinical Research Officer (CCRO) to join the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute. This crucial role will spearhead our clinical research initiatives, seamlessly aligning them with our mission to advance cancer research for better patient outcomes.

Your role:

  • As ONJCRI’s senior clinician, you will be the driving force aligning our clinical research with the strategic priorities outlined in the Victorian Cancer Plan and the Australian Cancer Plan.
  • Reporting directly to the CEO and as a key member of the Executive Committee, you will oversee the Clinical Trials Unit (CTU), leading the clinical staff, and fostering a culture of excellence, innovation, and collaboration.
  • Your leadership will enhance our capability to conduct ground-breaking research, leveraging impactful partnerships with key stakeholders, including Austin Health.
  • Championing our Consumer Engagement Program, you ensure our research is patient-centred, meeting the real-world needs of those we serve.

Who we’re looking for:

  • A leader with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) or Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree, registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
  • Significant experience in clinical research leadership, preferably in oncology, with a proven track record of strategic planning and execution in clinical research.
  • Significant experience managing clinical trials, including the design, execution, and management of trial protocols, and a deep understanding of regulatory and compliance requirements.
  • Deep understanding of clinical research methodologies and regulatory requirements.
  • Strong leadership and management skills, with the demonstrated ability to foster collaboration and innovation in clinical research.
  • Experience in patient and consumer engagement strategies.
  • Knowledge of state and national cancer care priorities and strategic plans.

We Value:

  • Integrity, accountability, and a results-driven mindset
  • Collaboration, adaptability, and a focus on innovation
  • Self-confidence, assertiveness, and a commitment to fighting cancer

Why join us?

  • Be part of a leading institute renowned for its significant contributions to cancer research and patient care.
  • Collaborate with a dedicated team of professionals passionate about making a tangible difference in the lives of cancer patients.
  • Contribute to shaping the future of cancer research and treatment, leveraging your expertise to lead innovative projects and clinical trials.

Our Dedication to Diversity: At the ONJCRI, we are dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment, offering a supportive community where you can grow professionally and make a lasting impact. If you’re driven by a desire to improve patient care through cutting-edge research, we encourage you to apply for this transformative role.

Be a Part of a Supportive and Empowering Work Environment

Apply Now and Make a Difference in Cancer Research!

Please forward your cover letter and CV, addressing the key accountabilities and experience within the position description to the Office of the CEO, via email at ceo@onjcri.org.au


Minister visits the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute

The Hon. Mark Butler MP and Ms Kate Thwaites MP visit the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute

We were thrilled to host The Hon. Mark Butler MP in his capacity as Minister for Health and Aged Care, and Ms Kate Thwaites MP, Federal Member for Jagajaga at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and discuss how ONJCRI’s innovative cancer research is directly responding to the priorities set by the government and the pressing needs of our community.

Hosted by Professor Marco Herold, CEO ONJCRI, Minister Butler and Ms Thwaites learned of the dedicated work our team is doing to improve outcomes for cancer patients. We showcased our collaborative efforts with our strategic partners, Austin Health and La Trobe University, and discussed how through these collaborative efforts and the support of our government representatives we can continue to make significant strides in cancer research to find equitable treatments for patients.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to The Hon. Mark Butler MP and Ms Kate Thwaites MP for their time and interest. It’s partnerships like these that empower us to push forward in our quest to bring hope and improved treatments to those affected by cancer.