Lowy Cancer Research Centre
University of NSW
Prof Robyn Ward is Director of the Translational Cancer Reserch Network, and a Conjoint Professor in the Prince of Wales Clinical School, UNSW. From 2008-2014 she was Clinical Associate Dean at POW Clinical School, and Head of the Adult Cancer Program at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre.
As a researcher, she has pioneered the concept that epigenetic changes, like sequence changes in tumour suppressor genes can predispose to the development of cancer. Initial work (Nat Genet 2004 36:497-501) showed that some cases of apparent Lynch syndrome could be explained on the basis of constitutional epimutations (rather than sequence mutations) in the MLH1 gene. Follow-up studies in Gastroenterology (2005, 129:1392-99), New Engl J Med (2007, 356:697-705) and Cancer Cell (2011, 20:200-213) have demonstrated that intergenerational inheritance of an epigenetic defect in MLH1.
For over 15 years, Prof Ward has added greatly to the understanding of the epigenetic and genetic events in colorectal carcinogenesis. One focus has been clinicopathological correlates of microsatellite instability and CpG island methylation in bowel cancer (Gut, 2001; 48:821-9; Gastroenterol 2002, 122:1376-87). She has also examined genetic and epigenetic events in progression of polyps to cancer, and demonstrated that cancers can arise from serrated polyps ( JNCI, 2001, 93:1307-13). Prof Ward has also used her expertise in oncology, cancer biology and the health systems to examine how best to use and monitor the effectiveness of targeted cancer drugs.
Cancer genetics, gastrointestinal diseases, cancer drug development, pharmacoeconomics, health technology assessment, targeted drugs.