My background is in ribosomal DNA (rDNA) transcription, topoisomerase biology and cancer therapy. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from the University of Melbourne in 2010. After working at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre as a research assistant for three years, I undertook my PhD studies supervised by Professor Hannan and Dr. Gretchen Poortinga spilt between the PMCC and the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra. My PhD investigated how tumour cells develop resistance to CX-5461, a first-in-class inhibitor of rDNA transcription initiation currently in multi-site Phase I/II clinical trials. Through this research, I discovered that CX-5461 acts as a hyper-targeted Topoisomerase II inhibitor able to cause DNA damage specifically at the site of rDNA transcription initiation, suggesting that CX-5461 could provide a less genotoxic alternative to commonly used chemotherapy agents.
I joined Laura Baranello’s group in June 2018 to investigate the interaction between two of the most essential proteins for a tumour cell: Top2α and c-Myc. I am also researching potential combination therapies using topoisomerase inhibitors and chromatin modulators in patient-derived xenograft models of cancer. My goal is to better understand the fundamental drivers of tumourigenesis thereby enabling us to design drugs to disrupt these processes and inhibit tumour growth in a non-invasive way.