GARVAN Institute – Cancer Metastasis Research 2017-2023

The GARVAN Institute of Medical Research is a multi-disciplinary facility with more than 600 scientists and PhD students working across five major divisions: Bone Biology, Cancer, Diabetes and Metabolism, Immunology, and Neuroscience.

In 2012 GARVAN and St Vincent’s Hospital opened The Kinghorn Cancer Centre in Darlinghurst. This new facility brings researchers and clinicians together allowing clinical challenges to directly drive laboratory research and research findings to be rapidly translated into the clinic for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of individual cancer patients. The Kinghorn Cancer Centre promises to revolutionise cancer treatment through its use of ‘personalised medicine’ – the right treatment for the right person at the right time.

The spread of cancer to distant sites in the body (metastasis), accounts for 90% of cancer-related deaths. Despite the high morbidity associated with metastasis, there are very few, if any, treatment options for patients once cancer has reached this state. Understanding the biology driving metastatic and therapy-resistant cancer is critical for the design and development of effective therapies to improve patient survival.

The GARVAN-Weizman Centre for Cellular Genomics, housed at the GARVAN, is Australia’s only multidisciplinary centre for cellular genomics bringing together several intersecting technologies in cell handling, genomics and informatics.

Using the latest single-cell genomic technology A/Prof Christine Chaffer and A/Prof Marina Pajic aim to uncover the different cell types that exist in pancreatic and breast cancers, to identify the tumour-initiating cells essential for the development of the primary tumour and those responsible for metastasis.

They will identify the critical mediators of the aggressive cancer cell state, and thereby provide the information required to develop novel therapeutic strategies to treat patients with advanced-stage disease.

The successful development of this research led to major funding by other sources.