Cancer and Haematology Research

About Cancer and Haematology Research

Cancer is a disease where abnormal cells proliferate in an uncontrolled fashion. It is a disease that can develop within almost every part of the human body and affects thousands of Australians every year.

Cancers are named based on where they originate in the body, even if that cancer then spreads elsewhere. The most common cancer diagnosed in men is prostate cancer (originating in the prostate), and in women, breast cancer. Colorectal cancer, melanoma, lung cancer and lymphoma are the next most common cancers in both men and women.

Our cancer researchers tackle the mysteries of cancer from a number of different perspectives. Some carry out research into specific cancers, such as cancer of the lung, bowel, endometrium, brain, bladder and stomach. Others investigate the role that innate immunity, specific proteins and cancer stem cells play in the onset and development of the disease.

Importantly, our Phase I Clinical Trials Program provides researchers with the potential to translate laboratory findings into new cancer therapies for patients.

Providing care to around 1 million Victorians, Monash Haematology is one of the largest haematological services in Australia, offering specialisation for complex cases in non-malignant and malignant haematology and a lead international site for expertise and clinical trial activity in lymphoid cancer and chronic myeloid disorders.

Led by Professor Stephen Opat, Monash has one of the largest public chronic myeloid leukaemia clinics (CML) in Australia, and has been a lead recruiter to international Phase III CML and myelodysplasia studies. Monash Health also has the second largest paediatric leukaemia service and is a member of the US-based Children’s Oncology Group.

Monash Health is a centre of excellence for the management of pregnancy-associated venous thrombotic disorders—a relatively rare condition but a leading cause of maternal mortality in a developed country like Australia. Research in this area has been further promulgated by Monash's lead clinician in this area assisting with the development of Australasian guidelines (Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2012; 52:14-22 and 3-13). Perhaps the largest impact has been in the clinical development of novel antithrombotic drugs, where Monash was consistently the top Australasian recruiter in Phase III studies, six of which were published in the NEJM.

The Thalassaemia Unit at Monash Health contains the Victorian Haemoglobinopathy reference laboratory and provides a comprehensive integrated whole person and whole of life care. It has been at the forefront of developing national guidelines for the management of thalassaemia major, sickle cell disease and other congenital anaemias. The services active clinical trials programme has participated in large multinational Phase III trials of oral chelation therapy (EPIC trial) which have now become standard of. The unit is planning to participate in a ‘first in man' study of a hepcidin agonist. The group is also conducting an investigator-initiated study of ultrarapid (60 second) parenteral iron carboxymaltose infusion, which has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of iron deficiency anaemia, the most common haematologic illness worldwide.

Graduate Research Projects

Group heads