Garvan welcomes inaugural Connie Johnson clinical laboratory head

Associate Professor Elgene Lim, the recipient of the inaugural Connie Johnson Award in Breast Cancer Research, has now begun his work at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. He is a breast cancer oncologist and researcher with an outstanding track record in translational research.
Garvan welcomes inaugural Connie Johnson clinical laboratory head

Associate Professor Elgene Lim and Connie Johnson

19 August 2015

Associate Professor Elgene Lim, the recipient of the inaugural Connie Johnson Award in Breast Cancer Research, has now begun his work at Garvan. A/Prof Lim has taken up the position of Principal Research Fellow and will head a laboratory in translational breast cancer research.

A/Prof Lim is a breast cancer oncologist and researcher with an outstanding track record. He is best known for his discovery of a cell population that is likely to lead to BRCA-1 associated breast cancer as well as for his contributions to the emerging understanding of hormone signalling in diverse breast cancer subtypes.

A/Prof Lim’s work to date has suggested a number of new approaches to the treatment of breast cancer. In particular, he is developing strategies to overcome resistance to hormonal therapies in breast cancer.

“It’s been a very positive first week here at Garvan,” says A/Prof Lim. “It’s invigorating to be working in an institute that has such a clear sense of where it wants to be and where it’s going.” 

A/Prof Lim joins Garvan from Melbourne’s Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, where he led a translational breast cancer laboratory. He also co-led breast oncology at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre. Previously, he was at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Two members of A/Prof Lim’s Melbourne team are also accompanying him to Garvan: KeeMing Chia (PhD student) and Rhiannon Coulson (research assistant).

In his work at Garvan, A/Prof Lim will maintain the strong clinical focus that characterises his research career. He says, “What is foremost in my mind is the patients that I treat – and I draw inspiration from the courage and life perspective of my patients and their families.”

A/Prof Lim’s work involves a number of established mouse models of cancer – or “avatars”. Using tissue derived from patients, these models allow him to evaluate cancer progression and to test novel therapies.

In addition, A/Prof Lim’s work also involves whole genome sequencing of the cancers he studies.  He will be utilising the genomics infrastructure of Garvan’s Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics to further his research.

A/Prof Lim is excited to be working in an institute with a powerful genomics capability. “The more you know about a tumour, the better you are able to understand its biology and offer treatments – and Garvan is one of only a handful of institutes in Australia that have the necessary infrastructure to support a genomics approach.” 

A/Prof Lim received the Connie Johnson Award in May from the Love Your Sister campaign.  Love Your Sister was formed by Samuel and Connie Johnson in 2013, following Connie’s terminal breast cancer diagnosis.

A/Prof Lim has been moved by his interactions with Sam and Connie Johnson. “It’s very humbling to have been given this opportunity by Love Your Sister – and it inspires and challenges me that Connie and Sam have put their trust in me. More than any other time I’ve received funding for my research, I feel connected to the real stories of the individuals who have made the funding, and in turn my research program at Garvan, a reality.”

Garvan extends a very warm welcome to A/Prof Lim and his colleagues. 

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