Game changing technology will accelerate cancer research and potentially expedite translation of new treatments into clinical trials


The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI) is pleased to share that along with the appointment of new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Professor Marco Herold, he will bring expertise in cancer biology, and cutting-edge CRISPR technology to the Institute.

Advanced CRISPR gene engineering enables cancer researchers to precisely modify certain genes in pre-clinical models of disease at a much faster pace to accurately mimic human cancer. These revolutionary cancer models will accelerate the discovery of new treatment regimens and identify more tolerable and effective therapies for cancer patients.

Professor Herold joins the ONJCRI from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) and will officially commence his role as CEO and Head of La Trobe University’s School of Cancer Medicine on 20th March, 2023.

Professor Herold is excited to join the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and steer the Institute into a new phase of growth.

“My vision at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute is to improve treatments and outcomes for cancer patients, and to alleviate some of the negative aspects of existing treatment protocols, helping to improve quality of life for patients,” said Prof Herold.

“Introducing our advanced CRISPR tools into ONJCRI’s existing program is an incredible opportunity to extend on the Institute’s impressive track record of ‘basic research’ leading to clinical translation.  This will help fast-track new treatments into clinical trials for patient benefit. We are uniquely placed to do this at ONJCRI, because of our co-location with leading clinical oncologists at Austin Health our discoveries in the laboratory can be quickly translated into patient trials. What this also means is that observations from the clinic can be investigated by our research teams – a continuous cycle of learning and improvement between scientific research and patient care.”

“Joining the ONJCRI as CEO is a fantastic opportunity for me to lead a highly collaborative research program between basic and clinical cancer researchers, striving to deliver new anti-cancer treatment regimens for patients,” he said.

The introduction of advanced CRISPR technology at the ONJCRI will not only accelerate breakthroughs at the Institute, but as Professor Ricky Johnstone, Executive Director of Cancer Research at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre explained; it will also increase the overall capacity in Australia to discover more effective treatments for cancer patients, quicker, as these technologies will also be available for other Institutes to access.

“Professor Herold is a world-renowned medical researcher who has utilized innovative CRISPR-based gene editing technology to answer complex biological questions. Professor Herold takes a collaborative approach to science ensuring that the work he is doing benefits others in the scientific community,” said Prof Johnstone.

“CRISPR-based gene editing technology is a new frontier in medical research, and we are fortunate to have Professor Herold’s expertise and skill in this area joining the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute to facilitate new discoveries and potentially new cancer medicines.”

“Professor Herold’s appointment as CEO at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute is celebrated by all of us at Peter Mac and we look forward to working closely with him in the coming years to enhance cancer research in Melbourne and indeed across the country,” he added.

Professor Herold will also take on the role as Head of the La Trobe University School of Cancer Medicine.

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar AO, welcomed Professor Herold into his new role.

“I’m delighted to welcome Professor Herold as Director of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, which also operates as the La Trobe School of Cancer Medicine, and look forward to working with him as he and our joint research team advance cutting-edge developments in cancer research and treatments. This exciting new advanced CRISPR technology will further accelerate cancer research into clinical trials, offering huge potential for patient health outcomes.”


Illustration of advanced CRISPR research techniques: