Title: Modelling colorectal cancer using genome engineering in organoids and targeting the tumour microenvironment
Speaker: Dr Susan Woods, Postdoctoral researcher, Gastrointestinal Cancer Biology group, SAHMRI
Speaker Biography: Susan Woods is a young scientist who is passionate about translating basic research discoveries into new treatments for cancer patients and identifying which patients may respond best to new treatments. Her success to date is seen in her three co-first author Nature journal publications in the field of cancer research.
Susan recently joined the Gastrointestinal Cancer Biology group headed by physician-scientist Dr Daniel Worthley. This laboratory is physically located within SAHMRI and the group benefits from cross-appointment through the University of Adelaide. Her current project focuses on colorectal cancer. The lab has recently identified a new stem cell that gives rise to a layer of fibroblasts that support the intestinal lining. Susan is investigating whether similar support cells can promote the formation of colorectal cancer from cells lining the intestine, and if it can be prevented using a new therapeutic approach.
Susan returned to Australia in 2009 to undertake a post-doctoral project in the Oncogenomics laboratory of Prof. Nick Hayward at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. Here she became familiar with large patient sample and associated clinical data sets and techniques to analyse the genetic contribution to cancer. This included state-of-the-art NextGen sequencing technologies, identifying relevant genetic alterations, and testing the functional consequences of such alterations to cancer. She won the “2011 Best Senior Researcher” Award from the Australian Society for Medical Research (QLD) and was also awarded her first two grants as chief investigator to undertake studies into the role of a miRNA in melanoma. Previously, Susan completed 4-years of post-doctoral studies in the lab of Nobel Laureate J.Michael Bishop at the University of California, San Francisco. Her time in the Bishop lab was spread between modelling melanoma using a new mouse model that she generated in the lab and the study of a miRNA that targets the key tumour suppressor p53. The results of this project were published in Nature Medicine in 2010 and featured on the front cover.
Susan was a recipient of the Adelaide Research Scholarship, awarded to the top 10 students across all disciplines undertaking PhD studies at the University of Adelaide. She has presented the results of her studies at conferences both within Australia and internationally and also enjoyed developing her teaching skills and organising science outreach events.