Zeyad Nassar has also been awarded funding from Cure Cancer Australia for 2019. Again building on his work on lipid metabolic enzymes, this new project will investigate whether targeting these enzymes can prevent treatment resistance in prostate cancer and delay disease progression. These grants are open to early-career researchers investigating all types of cancer, to kick-start their independent research program, and are highly competitive – Zeyad is one of only 16 across Australia to receive funding in this round. He was even invited to a reception at Government House in Sydney to receive this award!

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Maggie Centenera and Zeyad Nassar have both been successful in the latest round of funding from the University of Adelaide Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences Emerging Leadership Mentored Development Program. These grants are designed to help promising young researchers to become more independent and increase their competitiveness for local, national and international funding opportunities.


Maggie’s previous work has used our patient-derived explant (PDE) model to show that a drug called ribociclib is highly effective in reducing cancer cell growth. She will use her funding to identify proteins in PDEs that are associated with reduced growth. The eventual goal is to develop this protein signature into a diagnostic test that will help indicate which patients will best respond to treatment with ribociclib. She will be mentored by Prof Lisa Horvath at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney, who is running a clinical trial on ribociclib in prostate cancer patients.


Zeyad has a novel project investigating lipid metabolising enzymes in prostate cancer and has shown that one of these enzymes is increased in cancer cells and may be involved in treatment resistance. However its basic biological role has never been investigated. Zeyad will use his funding to perform “–omics” analysis (global profiling of genes, proteins, lipids and metabolic enzymes) to determine the role of these enzymes in prostate cancer cells and identify important pathways that can be targeted with new or existing drugs. He will be mentored by Prof Johan Swinnen at KU Leuven in Belgium, who is world-renowned for his expertise on lipid and metabolic profiling in prostate cancer.


Pictured are Maggie Centenera (L) and Zeyad Nassar (R).

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Lisa Butler is part of a team that has been awarded $2.5 million in funding from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation for the Centre for Integrated Cancer Systems Biology. The team, led by Prof Tim Hughes from SAHMRI, also includes other researchers from The University of Adelaide (Andrew Zannettino, Stan Gronthos, Wayne Tilley, Tim Price, Dan Worthley, Vincent Bulone) and SAHMRI (Deb White, Chris Proud, Steve Wesselingh, David Lynn).


The program is funding a new facility housing state-of-the-art equipment to interrogate the metabolomic, lipidomic and proteomic landscape of prostate cancer as well as leukaemia, myeloma and colorectal cancer clinical samples. With improved sensitivity of the new instruments, detailed analyses which have previously been impossible can now be performed on smaller tissue specimens. Importantly, expert analysis will integrate the outputs of these analyses to identify novel, important molecules and pathways that play critical roles in cancer development and progression.


Specifically, for prostate cancer, this new equipment will vastly enhance the resolution and sensitivity of our lipid imaging work, allowing us to see more precisely where different lipids are located within clinical prostate tumours. Consequently, we will detect and quantify much lower abundance molecular disease markers, which cannot currently be studied, and allow much more accurate mass and cellular resolution. The image shows lipid species detected in different areas of a prostate cancer using our current instrument. Images such as these will be vastly improved using the new equipment, which will also allow us to assess a wider range of lipid species.


The facility will be located at SAHMRI and the University of Adelaide’s newly constructed Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences (AHMS) Building.



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We are pleased to announce that our Lipids and Prostate Cancer program, funded by Movember and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, has been extended for a further 2 years until the end of 2020. This follows strong progress during the first 3 years of the project (2015-2018) and successful application to our review panel […]

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Xander Spotbeen from KU Leuven in Belgium returned to our laboratory for a 3 week visit during November and December. In 2016, Xander spent 5 months in our lab as part of his Masters research and his work was instrumental in setting up our Lipid Imaging project, which is part of our Lipids and Prostate […]

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Final year Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology) student Suraiya Onesha has joined our group for 6 weeks over the Summer period to hone her technical and research skills. Supervised by Dr Zeyad Nassar, her project is investigating lipid metabolism in prostate cancer. Suraiya is supported by a Summer Research Scholarship from the Freemason’s Foundation Centre for […]

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Originally from Ghana, Josephine commenced her PhD with us in March following completion of her Masters at Mie University in Japan. Her PhD is unique in that she holds a joint enrolment with the University of Adelaide and Nagoya University in Japan, and she will complete years 1 and 3 of her program in Adelaide […]

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This year we again joined forces with our collaborators around Australia to raise money for Movember, who fund our Lipids and Prostate Cancer program. Our team participated in physical challenges eg running, walking, cycling, and also held a MOlticultural MOnday MOrning Tea to celebrate the cultural diversity in our group, which has 10 countries represented. […]

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Terence Tieu, PhD student at Monash University in the laboratory of our collaborator Prof Nico Voelcker, visited the Prostate Cancer Research Group at SAHMRI for 2 weeks in November. His work with us involved testing a new technique using nanoparticles, specially designed in Prof Voelcker’s lab, to deliver drugs into prostate cancer explant tissues. Results […]

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The PCRG has a new newsletter, which can be downloaded at the link below. With 2 editions per year, it will provide short snippets of what our group has been doing, with further information available via links to our blog. If you would like to subscribe, please contact November newsletter 2018d

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