Professor Tony Burgess

Professor Tony Burgess



Professor Tony Burgess



BSc(Hons) Melbourne PhD Melbourne

Laboratory Head

Lab focus: colon cancer signalling - growth factors and stem cells

My lab studies the biology and biochemistry of bowel cancer. The stem cells that produce all the cell types in the bowel are of particular interest. Our studies of these stem cells are revealing molecules that contribute to bowel cancer.

We aim to discover new strategies to prevent and treat bowel cancer. Through collaborations with medicinal chemists, we are testing and refining potential new medications for bowel cancer. Our research has revealed several proteins that have the potential to be targeted for improving the treatment of, or preventing bowel cancer.

Most bowel cancers are associated with a change in a particular protein, called Apc. In conjunction with our engineering colleagues we are also investigating the role of Apc in the production of the lining of the bowel.

Research interest

Our laboratory studies the molecular control of colon stem cells by cytokines, receptors and cell-cell adhesion interactions. Particular areas of interest include:

  • Colon systems biology

  • Growth factor and cytokine signalling

  • Prevention of colon cancer

  • Targeted therapeutics for cancer

We use quantitative fluorescence microscopy to determine the sub-cellular distribution of signalling proteins in each cell of a colon crypt. We study the action of growth factors and cytokines with a view to reducing the impact of colon cancer.

Our results also have implications for killing colon adenoma cells. Thus, we are aiming to develop a chemoprevention strategy for reducing the incidence of colon cancer. We are also investigating the mechanisms of action of targeted anti-cancer drugs.

Researchers using a microscope

Our research into bowel development has suggested a new mechanism for how bowel cancer starts.

Illuminating bowel cancer logo

Is bowel cancer prevention on the horizon? Our panel of experts discussed this question at a public forum in 2014.