Dr Thomas Cox
26 September 2017
Garvan congratulates Dr Thomas Cox, who has been awarded a grant from Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organisation. Dr Cox, who heads the Matrix and Metastasis group in Garvan’s Cancer Division, will use the funds to study how stiffness in breast tissue can drive the aggressive behaviour of cancer cells, and how tissue stiffness impacts on the effectiveness of breast cancer treatments.
Dr Cox says that he and his team are well placed to make significant progress in understanding the complex relationship between tissue stiffness and cancer.
“This is a key focus for my group,” he says. “We’re particularly interested in how the extracellular matrix – the ‘web’ of molecules that surrounds the cells in a tumour – can affect the behaviour of that tumour. Depending on its makeup, the matrix can make tumours more or less rigid, or stiff, and we want to explore in more depth how tumour stiffness can drive the spread of cancer beyond the breast and alter its response to potential treatments.
“We also have exciting data that shows that there’s a powerful relationship between tissue stiffness and the success of targeted therapies – the stiffer the tumour, the less likely targeted therapies are to be effective.
“We’ll be using state-of-the-art 3D tissue engineering platforms and live tissue models, all developed here at Garvan, to clarify how targeting tissue stiffness could ultimately improve outcomes for breast cancer patients.”
Dr Cox’s research will receive USD450,000 over 3 years. He says, “I’m honoured to have been awarded this prestigious grant. The funding is a huge stepping-stone for my career and will support me in establishing a long-term independent career in Australia that significantly impacts the field of breast cancer research.”
Susan G. Komen is the world’s leading breast cancer organisation. In this year’s funding round, Komen awarded USD30.7 million to researchers in America and in eight other countries, with a particular emphasis on research projects that explore new treatments and understanding of the most lethal forms and stages of breast cancer. Dr Cox is the only researcher in Australia to receive funding in Komen’s 2017 grants.