Research Projects

Current Projects

The ovarian cancer research group in Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute wants to understand how ovarian cancer patients become resistant to chemotherapy and want to identify novel molecules which can be used in combination with chemotherapy to eradicate the resistant disease. This is being done by studying the protein profiles of tumor samples from patients before and after chemotherapy treatment. By identifying the proteins involved in chemoresistance, we hope to develop therapies that will specifically target the proteins involved with the resistant disease.
A major field of research at the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute (FECRI) is directed towards understanding the basic biology of histiocytic diseases. We have been studying a human form of histiocytosis called Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) for many years. In this disease, cells called Langerhans cells (LCs) accumulate in various tissues to form cancer-like lesions. The causes and mechanisms controlling the development of LCH are presently unknown.
A major problem in the management of cancer is the great diversity of both the types of cancer (over 100) and the variation between patients with the same type of cancer. Drugs for cancer therapy are selected on a basis of extensive clinical trials, which take many years (on average 8.5 years ) and are expensive (average of $500-800 million per drug ). We currently have over 800 agents that have shown efficacy in treating various cancers, but we only have limited information on how best to use these agents for individual patients.
Identification of tumour associated genes in Chronic Lymphoid leukemia (CLL) by suppression subtractive hybridization. CLL is the second most common type of leukemia in adults in the Western world. The hallmark feature of CLL are an increased frequency of circulating clonal leukemic B cells that express CD19, CD23, CD5, and have low levels of surface immunoglobulin (sIg). There is evidence that genetic components contribute to the aetiology of CLL but no definitive susceptibility genes have been identified. Genome-wide association studies have identified seven genetic variations (SNPs) associated with an increased risk of CLL, however their precise role in CLL pathogenesis is not known.
Associate Professor Stuart Berzins leads a research group at the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute that is investigating the human immune response to cancer. Associate Professor Berzins is a highly credentialed biomedical researcher, having previously conducted his research at the University of Melbourne, Harvard Medical School and Monash University. He collaborates with national and international research groups, and is working with Prof George Kannourakis (Research Director) and other researchers at the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute (FECRI) and Federation University to establish a vibrant regional hub for biomedical research in Ballarat.