About The Lab:
I started the Cell Division lab at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research (Sydney, Australia) in January 2012, after receiving a 5-year Future Research Leaders Fellowship from Cancer Institute NSW. This allowed me to return from France, where I had undertaken ~7-years of Post-Doctoral training at the CRBM-CNRS, Montpellier France.

Focus of the Lab:
Cancer is a disease of excessive cell division, with cancer cells proliferating uncontrollably, leading to the disruption of normal tissue function and ultimately death. Our lab uses a combination of cutting edge quantitative live and fixed microscopy using novel fluorescent biosensors, phosphoproteomics, RNA-seq and flow cytometry to analyse the mechanisms controlling how cells proliferate and how these are disrupted in cancer to drive cancer progression, chromosome instability, drug resistance and metastasis.

Past Projects

1) Targeting MASTL kinase, a novel breast cancer oncogene.
A primary driving force behind the initiation and ongoing development of breast cancer is the activation of oncogenes. Oncogenes act like a car accelerator, driving excessive growth and spreading of the cancer cells throughout the body. Consequently, identifying new oncogenes and determining their functions is essential for understanding how breast cancers grow and spread. We recently identified a novel oncogene called MASTL that is amplified and over-expressing up to 45% triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC). This project aims to better understand the mechanisms by which MASTL drives breast cancer and to establish the tools necessary to develop specific inhibitors of MASTL that could be used to treat breast and other cancers.

2) Understanding Platinum Resistance in Cancer.
We have recently identified several novel signalling pathways involved in regulating platinum resistance in Lung Cancer (Marini et al. Sci Trans Med, 2018). To better understand these innate resistance mechanisms, we have generated several novel fluorescent biosensor cell lines to provide real-time readouts of cell cycle status, mitotic fidelity and DNA damage and repair kinetics in single cells, which will be combined with detailed phosphoproteomic analysis of the cellular responses to platinum. The goal of this project is to determine the exact mechanism by which individual cells escape platinum mediated cell death, and to identify novel, rational sensitisation pathways to exploit and improve platinum-based chemotherapy.

A/Prof. Andrew Burgess (Head)
Dr Kamila Marzec (Post-Doc)
Dr Alvaro Gonzalez Rajal (Post-Doc)
Thomas Johnson (PhD student, Sydney Uni)
Caroline NEWMAN (Summer Research Scholarship Student, Sydney Uni)
Amanda Ngoc Lam Nguy (Summer Research Scholarship Student, Sydney Uni)
Yu (Kitty) Sun (Summer Research Scholarship Student, Sydney Uni)
Rachael McCloy (Research Assistant)
Samuel Rogers (PhD+Honours, UNSW)
Alex Brown (Honours, UNSW)
Mina Rasouli (Masters, UNSW)
Medina Krcic (UROP, UNSW)
Micah Joy San Agustin (Visiting Student, Berkley, USA)