A/Prof Christine Chaffer

Laboratory Head - Cancer Cell Plasticity Lab

A/Prof Christine Chaffer

Christine's passion and career focus is understanding the mechanisms driving human cancer development, progression and metastasis. Her work also aims to provide translational therapeutic benefits. Christine has challenged, and changed, pre‐established paradigms in cancer biology, and she has multipl

Biography

Christine's passion and career focus is understanding the mechanisms driving human cancer development, progression and metastasis. Her work also aims to provide translational therapeutic benefits. Christine has challenged, and changed, pre‐established paradigms in cancer biology, and she has multiple high-impact papers demonstrating the effects of cancer cell plasticity on driving tumour progression and development into metastatic disease. Her strengths include mammary gland biology, breast cancer biology, cancer stem cells/tumour-initiating cells and cellular transitions, including the epithelial‐to‐mesenchymal (EMT) and the reverse process, the mesenchymal‐to‐epithelial (MET) transition. Christine's laboratory focuses on cellular plasticity, and the ability of cells to switch phenotypes as a mode of acquiring enhanced tumourigenicity and metastatic ability.

Christine completed her training in cancer biology at the University of Melbourne (PhD) followed by her post-doctoral studies at the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research, MIT, Cambridge, USA, with Professor Robert A Weinberg - a world-leader in cancer biology.

Christine's passion and career focus is understanding the mechanisms driving human cancer development, progression and metastasis. Her work also aims to provide translational therapeutic benefits. Christine has challenged, and changed, pre‐established paradigms in cancer biology, and she has multiple high-impact papers demonstrating the effects of cancer cell plasticity on driving tumour progression and development into metastatic disease. Her strengths include mammary gland biology, breast cancer biology, cancer stem cells/tumour-initiating cells and cellular transitions, including the epithelial‐to‐mesenchymal (EMT) and the reverse process, the mesenchymal‐to‐epithelial (MET) transition. Christine's laboratory focuses on cellular plasticity, and the ability of cells to switch phenotypes as a mode of acquiring enhanced tumourigenicity and metastatic ability.

Christine completed her training in cancer biology at the University of Melbourne (PhD) followed by her post-doctoral studies at the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research, MIT, Cambridge, USA, with Professor Robert A Weinberg - a world-leader in cancer biology.

Awards and Honours

2019 The Miriam Douglas Blue Sky Endowment
2019 Finalist (1 of 3): Alan Skyring Memorial Award (ASMR)
2019 Cancer Institute NSW Career Development Fellowship
2017 Rebecca Wilson Fellowship in Breast Cancer Research, Australia
2011 Ludwig Fund for Cancer Research Post-doctoral Fellowship, USA
2011 Director’s Fellowship – Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, USA
2010 Margaret and Herman Sokol Postdoctoral Award for Excellence in Research, USA
2009 Whitehead Postdoctoral Association Educational Award, USA
2008 Director’s Fellowship – Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, USA
2008 NHMRC CJ Martin Post-doctoral Research Fellowship
2006 Best Speaker-Australasia Microarray and Associated Technologies Association
2005 Junior Investigator Award –St. Vincent’s Hospital Research Week 2005, Australia,
2004 Dora Lush Biomedical Postgraduate Research Scholarship - NHMRC
2004 Junior Investigator Award – St. Vincent’s Hospital Research Week 2004, Australia
2000 Tocris Neuropharmacology Prize – ASCEPT, Australia
2000 Don Rivett Award (Best Speaker) – Peptide Users Group Spring Symposium, Australia

Education

The University of Melbourne, BSc (Hons)
PhD, University of Melbourne
Postdoctoral studies, Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research

Fundings

2020    Tour de Cure

2019    2020 NHRMC Ideas Grant

2019    Cancer Institute NSW Career Development Fellowship

2019    St.Vincent’s Clinic Foundation Grant

2019    National Breast Cancer Foundation Grant

2017    Rebecca Wilson Fellowship in Breast Cancer Research

Selected Publications

San Juan BP, Garcia Leon, MJ, Rangel LS, Goetz JG, Chaffer CL. (2019). Cell plasticity and heterogeneity in cancer. Cancers, 11(10).

Chaffer CL, Goetz JG. (2018). CD44 Orchestrates Metastatic Teamwork. Dev Cell. 47(6):691-693

Castaño Z, San Juan BP, Spiegel A, Pant A, DeCristo MJ, Laszewski T, Ubellacker JM, Janssen SR, Dongre A, Reinhardt F, Henderson A, Garcia del Rio A, Gifford AM, Herbert ZT, Hutchinson JN,  Weinberg RA, Chaffer CL** McAllister SS**. (2018). IL-1β inflammatory response driven by primary breast cancer prevents metastasis-initiating cell colonization. Nature Cell Biology, Sep;20(9):1084-1097. ** Co-senior authors

Li J, Choi PS, Chaffer CL, Labella K, Hwang JH, Giacomelli AO, Kim JW, Ilic M, Doench JG, Ly SH, Dai C, Hagel K, Hong AL, Gjoerup O, Goel S, Ge JY, Root DE, Zhao JJ, Brooks AN, Weinberg RA, Hahn WC. (2018) An alternative splicing switch in FLNB promotes the mesenchymal cell state in 3 human breast cancer. eLife,  2018 Jul 30;7

van Dijk D, Sharma R, Nainys J, Yim K, Kathail P, Carr AJ, Burdziak C, Moon KR, Chaffer CL, Pattabiraman D, Bierie B, Mazutis L, Wolf G, Krishnaswamy S, Pe'er D. (2018). Recovering Gene Interactions from Single-Cell Data Using Data Diffusion. Jul 26;174(3):716-729.e27.

Bierie B, Pierce SE, Kroeger C, Stover DG, Pattabiraman DR, Thiru P, Liu Donaher J, Reinhardt F, Chaffer CL, Keckesova Z, Weinberg RA. (2017) Integrin-β4 identifies cancer stem cell-enriched populations of partially mesenchymal carcinoma cells. PNAS. Mar 21;114(12)

Chaffer CL, San Juan BP, Lim E, Weinberg RA. (2016) EMT, cell plasticity and metastasis. Cancer Met Rev. 35(4):645-654

Katajisto P, Döhla J, Chaffer CL, Pentinmikko N, Marjanovic ND, Iqbal S, Zoncu R, Chen W, Weinberg RA, Sabatini DM. (2015) Asymmetric apportioning of aged mitochondria between daughter cells is required for stemness. Science. 348(6232):340-3

Chaffer CL and Weinberg RA. (2015). How does multistep tumorigenesis really proceed? Cancer Discovery. 5(1):22-4

Marjanovic ND, Weinberg RA, Chaffer CL. (2013). Poised with purpose: cell plasticity enhances tumorigenicity. Cell Cycle. 12(17):2713-4

Marjanovic ND, Weinberg RA, Chaffer CL. (2013). Cell plasticity and heterogeneity in cancer. Clinical Chemistry. 59(1):168-79

Chaffer CL, Marjanovic ND, Lee TI, Bell G, Kleer CG, Reinhardt F, D’Alessio AC, Young RA, Weinberg RA. (2013) Poised chromatin at the ZEB1 promoter enables cell plasticity and enhances tumorigenicity. Cell. 154(1):61-74

Scheel C, Ng Eaton E, Li SHJ, Chaffer CL, Reinhardt F, Kah KJ, Bell G, Guo W, Richardson AL, Weinberg RA. (2011) Formation and maintenance of mesenchymal and stem-cell states in the breast by paracrine and autocrine signals. Cell. 145(6):926-40

Chaffer CL, and Weinberg RA. (2011). A perspective on cancer cell metastasis. Science. 331(6024):1559-64

Chaffer CL, Brueckmann I, Scheel C, Kaestli AJ, Wiggins PA, Rodrigues LO, Reinhardt F, Su Y, Polyak K, Arendt LM, Kuperwasser C, Bierie B, Brooks M, Weinberg RA. (2011). Normal and neoplastic epithelial cells can spontaneously dedifferentiate to a stem-like state. PNAS.108(19):7950-5