Prof John Mariadason

Prof John Mariadason

Co-Head, Cancer Biology and Therapy Program
Head, Oncogenic Transcription Laboratory

The ongoing objective of my work is to identify new and more effective treatments for patients affected by cancers of the colon, stomach and biliary tract.

I moved to New York to do my postdoctoral training at the Montefiore Medical Center – Albert Einstein College of Medicine where I investigated the role of Wnt signaling in colon cancer progression and the use of gene expression profiling for predicting response of colon cancer cells to chemotherapy.

I established my independent laboratory at Albert Einstein in 2001 as Assistant Professor of Medicine and was appointed Associate Professor of Medicine in 2008. I returned home to Melbourne in 2008, joining the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research as Head of the Oncogenic Transcription Laboratory.

My research continues to be focused on the identification of new treatments for colon cancer, gastric cancer and cancers of biliary tract.



A/Prof Peter Janes

A/Prof Peter Janes

Head, Receptor Biology Laboratory

I am interested in how our bodies function at a cellular level, and how normal developmental processes can become hijacked by tumours – in particular, how key proteins which drive cancer development can be identified and targeted in an effort to specifically kill tumour cells and avoid harmful side-effects.

I focus on cell surface receptors and associated proteins, which are more prominent in tumours than in normal tissues, to develop antibodies which will bind with or block these proteins. I completed my PhD studies on HER/erbB receptors in breast cancer, followed by postdoctoral positions at the National Institute for Medical Research, London, and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne. I worked with the late Martin Lackmann at Monash University and I am continuing with the research focus I started there in my role in the Tumour Targeting Program at the ONJCRI.



A/Prof Doug Fairlie

A/Prof Doug Fairlie

Head, Cell Death And Survival Laboratory

I am especially excited about making discoveries in fundamental molecular and cellular processes, and subsequently translating these findings into the development of new treatment strategies which will ultimately benefit cancer patients.

I obtained my PhD in Biochemistry from Monash University in 1994. After a postdoctoral stint in the US at the State University of New York, Buffalo, I returned to Australia in 1996 to work at the Centre for Immunology, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, where I was the lead protein chemist on projects involving TGF-b-related cytokines and a novel intracellular ion channel.

In 2001, I joined the Cancer and Haematology Division at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) to continue work on cytokines, including IL-6 family members. In 2003, I moved to the Structural Biology Division at WEHI, where I commenced working on cell death and survival mechanisms, and was promoted to a laboratory head in 2010.

Since joining the ONJCRI in 2015, I have focused on understanding how the cell death pathway is regulated and how it can be targeted, in a range of cancers, including melanoma, mesothelioma, and biliary tract cancer. Our group also has a strong interest in the autophagy cell survival pathway, especially its role in the maintenance of normal gut function. We also work with biotech and pharma companies to provide information on their drugs mechanism of action.  My work has been funded through grants from NHMRC, the Australian Research Council, Cancer Council Victoria, and Worldwide Cancer Research, UK.



Dr Michael Buchert

Dr Michael Buchert

Head, Tumour Microenvironment and Cancer Signaling Group

I love working in Science because it allows me to make discoveries that hopefully will make a small difference in people’s lives.

Originally from Switzerland, I arrived in Australia in 1999 for my first postdoctoral studies at the Department of Surgery of the Royal Melbourne Hospital. In 2002 I moved back to Europe for additional training. I returned to Australia in 2007 and joined the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Parkville, as an Assistant Investigator. After a short stint at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, I joined the Cancer and Inflammation Program under the leadership of Prof Matthias Ernst at the ONJCRI in early 2015. Since 2018, I am leading a research team which investigates the role of DCLK1, tuft cells, and ILC2s as drivers of gastrointestinal cancers.



A/Prof Andreas Behren

A/Prof Andreas Behren

Head, Tumour Immunology Laboratory

Working closely with medical scientists in a translational setting allows us every day to challenge and re-evaluate our laboratory findings against the real world and to progress step-by-step towards improved cancer therapies.

After finishing my PhD in the area of viral-induced head and neck cancers in Germany in 2006, and a short period of postdoctoral training in Heidelberg, Germany, I was recruited in 2008 to the Ludwig Institute of Cancer Research in Melbourne. Here, I worked in the group of Professor Jonathan Cebon on melanoma development and progression with a focus on EMT-like events, tumour cell invasion and resistance mechanisms. During this time, we established several academic-industry collaborations that led to the recent filing of a patent for a novel antibody target in melanoma together with CSL Ltd.

I have been the Laboratory Head of the ONJCRI Tumour Immunology Laboratory (TIL) since 2018.  My team (#Irresistible­_Immunologists) and I continue to pursue the biology of this target  as part  of our aim to understand the exact mechanisms of immune cell-cancer cross-talk.



Prof Robin Anderson

Prof Robin Anderson

Co-Head, Cancer Biology and Therapy Program
Head, Metastasis Research Laboratory

One in eight Australian women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime and more than 3000 die per year due to the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. Our research at the ONJCRI is focused on our goal of reducing deaths from breast cancer.

After initial training in agricultural science, I completed my PhD and first postdoctoral fellowship in plant biochemistry before switching to oncology for my second postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University. Prior to joining the ONJCRI in 2016, I spent eight years at Stanford in the Department of Radiation Oncology before returning home to join the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

My research is focused on understanding the genetic regulation of metastasis, primarily in breast cancer, and identifying new targets for molecular based therapy for patients with progressive disease.

My group has developed pre-clinical models of metastatic disease that we use to identify genes, both in the tumour cells and in the tumour microenvironment, that regulate the process of metastasis to specific organs, such as the bone, liver, lung and brain. The preclinical models are also used for trialling novel anti-metastatic agents that target genes found to drive metastasis.



Prof Matthias Ernst

Prof Matthias Ernst

Head, Tumour Environment and Immunology Program
Head, Cancer and Inflammation Laboratory

Conducting research in close proximity to clinicians provides my group with an opportunity to use our scientific curiosity to address the most urgent needs of cancer patients.

After gaining my PhD at the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich, Switzerland, I received postdoctoral training at the Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories in Pennsylvania in the area of bone biology.

With the aim of extending my studies into the molecular mechanisms which underpin the growth of cancer cells, I joined Prof Ashley Dunn’s laboratory at the Melbourne-Parkville Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR).

In 1996, I returned to Switzerland, to join Novartis as the Deputy Head for Bone Biology Research Department. I was invited back to LICR in 1998 as Group Leader and was appointed Acting Director in 2009.

In 2012, I moved to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, where I continued to explore state-of-the-art molecular biology and genetic tools to understand mechanisms which corrupt the normal renewal of the lining of the bowel and stomach, resulting in tumour formation. I joined ONJCRI in late 2014 and my laboratory team explores novel strategies to target mechanisms by which tumour cells and normal cells communicate and develop new treatments for gastrointestinal cancers.