Unveiling the heterogeneity of small cell lung cancer

Unveiling the heterogeneity of small cell lung cancer

Project details

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is the most aggressive form of lung cancer, characterised by early metastatic spread and poor overall survival. Interestingly, emerging studies highlight that SCLC exhibits an unappreciated level of intra-tumoral heterogeneity that appears to increase following the onset of therapy resistance (Stewart, Nature Cancer 2020 Apr(1):423).  

This project will utilise cutting-edge single cell technologies to uncover the mechanisms underlying disease progression (metastasis) and therapy resistance in SCLC. Discoveries made from this work will be crucial in identifying novel vulnerabilities that can be exploited to develop new treatments for SCLC patients.   

This project will involve the use of a wide variety of experimental techniques, including pre-clinical models of lung cancer, tumour pathology, microscopy, CRISPR-Cas9 mediated genome editing and single-cell technologies. 


About our research group

The Sutherland laboratory is embedded within the Cancer Biology and Stem Cells Division and has a strong background in in vivo models of lung cancer. We have made seminal contributions into the identification of the cell-of-origin of lung cancer (Sutherland, PNAS 2014 111(13):4952; Sutherland, Cancer Cell 2011 19(6):754; Sutherland). We use in vivo models to identify and evaluate therapeutic approaches with the overarching goal of translate these findings to improve treatments for lung cancer patients (Best, Cell Metabolism 2018 27(4):935; Best, Nature Communications 2019 10(1):4190; Best, Journal of Thoracic Oncology 2020).  


The project will be a collaboration with Marian Burr, a clinician scientist and pathologist at Peter Mac and the John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU.  With expertise in immunology, epigenetics and lung cancer pathology, the Burr laboratory employs functional genomics to discover novel therapeutic approaches to overcome immune evasion in cancer (Burr, Nature 2017 7;549(7670):101; Burr, Cancer Cell 2019 14;36(4):385). 



Email supervisors



Associate Professor Marian Burr
Associate Professor
John Curtin School of Medical Research

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