Dr David Gallego-Ortega

Group Leader - Tumour Development

Senior Research Officer

Conjoint/Adjunct Role(s)

Conjoint Lecturer, St Vincent's Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Australia

David completed his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2008 at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the largest research organization in Spain. During that period he received the Special Award for Outstanding Communication at the World Congress in Advances in Oncology in Greece and the Travel Award at the 20th Meeting of the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR) in France.

After one year as Postdoctoral Scientist at Translational Cancer Drugs Pharma, a biotechnology company focused in oncology; he joined Professor Ormandy’s lab at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in 2009 to work in mouse models of mammary gland development and breast cancer. He received the 2012 Post-Doctoral Award for Excellence in Medical Research of the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) at the NSW Scientific Meeting. David is currently a National Breast Cancer and Cure Cancer Australia Foundation Fellow.

His career focus is to understand the mechanisms of tumour progression governed by pathways involved in mammary development. He is currently interested in hormone insensitive forms of breast cancer, including anti-estrogen therapy resistant cancer; the role of the infiltrated immune system in metastasis and the origin and specification of breast cancer subtypes. Using mouse models of breast cancer his ultimate goal is to provide new targets for treatment and diagnosis of advanced breast cancer.

Research Interests

Mammary gland development
Mammary gland hierarchy / Stem and progenitor cells / Cell fate specification/ Linage tracing
Breast cancer
Basal breast cancer / Endocrine therapy resistance
Animal models of breast cancer
Tumour progression / Mechanisms of metastasis
Immunobiology of breast cancer

Awards and Honours

2015 - NSW Office of Medical Research postdoctoral Award for Excellence in Medical Research. Australian Society of Medical Research (ASMR).
2014 - Heliflite Young Explorer Award for an Outstanding Early Career Researcher
2012-2016 - National Breast Cancer Foundation and Cure Cancer Australia Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship
2012 - NSW Office of Medical Research postdoctoral Award for Excellence in Medical Research. Australian Society of Medical Research (ASMR).
2008 - Special Award for Outstanding Communication. 13th World Congress in Advances in Oncology. (Greece)
2008 - Travel Bursary Award. 20th Meeting of the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR) (France)
2004-2008 - FPI Scholarship. Education Ministry of Madrid, Spanish Government


2008 - PhD (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) Auntonomous University of Madrid - Spain
2001 - BSc (Genetics) Complutense University of Madrid - Spain

Selected Publications

CL Piggin, DL Roden, D Gallego-Ortega, HJ Lee, SR Oakes and CJ Ormandy. ELF5 isoform expression is tissue-specific and significantly altered in cancerBreast Cancer Res 2016, Jan 7;18(1):4. doi: 10.1186/s13058-015-0666-0.

#D Gallego-Ortega, A Ledger, DL Roden, AMK Law, A Magenau, Z Kikhtyak, C Cho, SL Allerdice, HJ Lee, F Valdes-Mora, D Herrmann, R Salomon, AIJ Young, BY Lee, CM Sergio, W Kaplan, C Piggin, JRW Conway, B Rabinovich, EKA Millar, SR Oakes, T Chtanova, A Swarbrick, MJ Naylor, S O’Toole, AR Green, P Timpson, JMW Gee, IO Ellis, SJ Clark and #CJ Ormandy. ELF5 drives lung metastasis in luminal breast cancer through recruitment of Gr1+ CD11b+ myeloid-derived suppressor cellsPLoS Biol. 2015 Dec 30;13(12):e1002330. (# corresponding author).

Z Erami, D Herrmann, M Nobis, EJ McGhee, W Leung, N Reischmann, A Mrowinska, JP Schwarz, S Kadir, JRW Conway, SA Karim, C Steele, D Morran, D Gallego-Ortega, A Magenau, RA Ridgway, AKM Law, SN Walters, ST Grey, L Zhang, H Herzog, EC Hardeman, PW Gunning, CJ Ormandy, TRJ Evans, D Strathdee, OJ Sansom, JP Morton, KI Anderson and P Timpson. Intravital FRAP imaging using an E-cadherin-GFP mouse reveals disease and drug-dependent dynamic regulation of cell-cell junctions in live tissue. Cell Rep. 2015 Dec 22. pii: S2211-1247(15)01433-3

Junankar S, *Baker LA, *Roden DL, Nair R, Elsworth B, Gallego-Ortega D, Lacaze P, Cazet A, Nikolic I, Teo WS, Yang J, McFarland A, Harvey K, Naylor MJ, Lakhani SR, Simpson PT, Raghavendra A, Saunus J, Madore J, Kaplan W, Ormandy C, Millar EK, O'Toole S, Yun K, Swarbrick A. ID4 controls mammary stem cells and marks breast cancers with a stem cell-like phenotype. Nat Commun. 2015 Mar 27;6:6548. (* Contributed equally)

*Oakes SR., *Gallego-Ortega D. and Ormandy CJ. The mammary cellular hierarchy and breast cancer. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014 Nov;71(22):4301-24. (* Contributed equally)

D. Gallego-Ortega, SR. Oakes, HJ. Lee, CL. Piggin, CJ. Ormandy. ELF5, normal mammary development and the heterogeneous phenotypes of breast cancer. Breast Cancer Management, 2013; 2(6): 489-498.

A. Stone, MJ. Cowley, F. Valdes-Mora, RA. McCloy, CM. Sergio, D. Gallego-Ortega, CE Caldon, CJ. Ormandy, AV. Biankin, JMW Gee, RI. Nicholson, CG. Print, SJ. Clark, RL. Sutherland and EA. Musgrove. BCL-2 hypermethylation is a potential biomarker of sensitivity to anti-mitotic chemotherapy in endocrine-resistant breast cancer. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, 2013; 12(9):1874-85.

HJ. Lee, D. Gallego-Ortega, A. Ledger, D. Schramek, P. Joshi, MM. Swarc, C. Cho, JP. Lydon, R. Khokha, JM. Penninger, and CJ. Ormandy. Progesterone drives mammary secretory differentiation via RankL-induction of Elf5 in luminal progenitor cells. Development, 2013; 140(7):1397-401.

DR. Croucher, F. Hochgräfe, L. Zhang, L. Liu, RJ. Lyons, D. Rickwood, CM. Tactacan, BC. Browne, N. Ali, H. Chan, RF. Shearer, D. Gallego-Ortega, DN. Saunders, A. Swarbrick and R. Daly. A novel signaling pathway in basal breast cancer involving Lyn and the atypical kinase SgK269/PEAK1. Cancer Res. 2013; 73(6):1969-80. 

*M. Kalyuga - *D. Gallego-Ortega, H. Lee, M. Cowley, CE. Caldon, A. Stone, S. Allerdice, F. Valdes-Mora, R. Launchbury, A. Statham, N. Armstrong, C. Alles, A. Young, A. Egger, W. Au, C. Piggin, C. Evans, T. Brummer, W. Kaplan, JMW. Gee, RI. Nicholson, RL. Sutherland, A. Swarbrick, MJ. Naylor, S. Clark, J. Carroll and CJ. Ormandy. ELF5 transcriptionally specifies basal from luminal breast cancer and underpins the acquisition of antiestrogen resistance. PLoS Biol. 2012; 10(12):e1001461. (* Joint first authors).

C. Ortiz Padilla, D. Gallego-Ortega, BC. Browne, F. Hochgräfe, CE. Caldon, RJ. Lyons, DR. Croucher, D. Rickwood, CJ. Ormandy, T. Brummer and RJ. Daly. Functional characterization of cancer-associated Gab1 mutation. Oncogene 2012; doi: 10.1038/onc.2012.271.

HJ. Lee* - RA. Hinshelwood*, T. Bouras, D. Gallego-Ortega, F. Valdes-Mora, JE. Visvader, SJ Clark^ and CJ. Ormandy^. Lineage Specific Methylation of the Elf5 Promoter in Mammary Epithelial Cells. Stem Cells 2011; 29(10):1611-9. (*^ Contributed equally)

M.I. Cerezo-Guisado, P. del Reino, G. Remy, Y. Kuma, JS. Arthur, D. Gallego-Ortega and A. Cuenda. Evidence of p38g and p38d involvement in cell transformation processes. Carcinogenesis, 2011; 32(7):1093-9.

*Gallego-Ortega D. - *Gómez del Pulgar MT., Valdés-Mora F.,  Cebrián A, and Lacal JC. Involvement of human choline kinase alpha and beta in carcinogenesis: a differential role in lipid metabolism and biological functions. Review. Adv Enzyme Regul. 2011; 51(1):183-94. (* Joint first authors).

*BT. Chua - *D. Gallego-Ortega, A. Ramirez de Molina, A. Ullrich, JC. Lacal, J. Downward. Regulation of AKT(ser473) phosphorylation by choline kinase in breast carcinoma cells. Mol Cancer, 2009; 8:131. (* Joint first authors).

D. Gallego-Ortega, A. Ramirez de Molina, MA. Ramos, F. Valdés-Mora, MG. Barderas, J. Sarmentero-Estrada and JC Lacal. Differential role of choline kinase alpha and beta isoforms in human carcinogenesis. PLoS One, 2009;  4(11):e7819.

F. Valdés-Mora, T. Gómez del Pulgar, E. Bandrés, P. Cejas, A. Ramírez de Molina, R. Pérez-Palacios, D. Gallego-Ortega, MA. García-Cabezas, M. Nistal, M. González-Barón, J. García-Foncillas and JC. Lacal. The transcription factor TWIST1 is a prognostic factor in human colon cancer. Ann Surg Oncol. 2009; 16(1):78-87. Epub 2008. Nov 11.

Ramírez de Molina A, Gallego-Ortega D, Sarmentero-Estrada J, Lagares D, Gómez del Pulgar T, Bandrés E, García-Foncillas J and Lacal JC. Choline kinase as a link connecting phospholipid metabolism and cell cycle regulation: implications in cancer therapy. Int. J. Biochem Cell Biol 2008; Jan 19.

Ramirez de Molina A, Sarmentero-Estrada J, Belda-Iniesta C, Taron M, de Molina VR, Cejas P, Skrzypski M, Gallego-Ortega D, de Castro J, Casado E, Garcia-Cabezas MA, Sanchez JJ, Nistal M, Rosell R, Gonzalez-Baron M, Lacal JC. Expression of choline kinase alpha to predict outcome in patients with early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer: a retrospective study. Lancet Oncol 2007; 8(10):889-97

Gallego-Ortega D, Ramirez de Molina A, Gutierrez R, Ramos MA. Sarmentero J, Cejas P, Nistal M, Lacal JC. Generation and characterisation of monoclonal antibodies against choline kinase and its potential use as diagnostic tools in cancer. Int J Oncol 2006; 29(2):335-40.

Ramírez de Molina A, Gallego-Ortega D, Sarmentero J, Bañez-Coronel M, Lacal JC. Choline Kinase is a novel oncogene that potentiates RhoA-induced carcinogenesis. Cancer Res, 2005; 65(13): 5647-5653.

Dr David Gallego-Ortega