A/Prof Elgene Lim

I am a medical oncologist and researcher with a focus on breast cancer research and treatment. I completed my medical and oncology training, and doctoral research in Melbourne. Findings from my PhD research under the mentorship of Geoffrey Lindeman and Jane Visvader at the Walter and Eliza Hall Inst
Lab Head - Connie Johnson Breast Cancer Research

Senior Research Fellow

Conjoint/Adjunct Role(s)

National Breast Cancer Foundation Endowed Chair
Associate Professor, St Vincent's Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney
Senior Staff Specialist, St Vincent's Hospital

I am a medical oncologist and researcher with a focus on breast cancer research and treatment. I completed my medical and oncology training, and doctoral research in Melbourne. Findings from my PhD research under the mentorship of Geoffrey Lindeman and Jane Visvader at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, had a major impact on the identification of the culprit cells in carriers of the BRCA1 mutant gene, a hereditary breast cancer syndrome. I subsequently furthered my research and clinical training at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School under the mentorship of Eric Winer and Myles Brown, both internationally acclaimed leaders in breast cancer research and clinical trials, through fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, and Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

I currently oversee the breast oncology services at the Kinghorn Cancer Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. I also head the Connie Johnson breast cancer research laboratory at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. Our laboratory performs clinically focused laboratory research, including the establishment of patient-derived breast tumour xenografts in mice, the evaluation of novel therapies in these preclinical breast cancer models and the comparative study between normal and breast cancer tissue. Another major focus of my group is hormone receptors (such as the estrogen and androgen receptors) in breast tumours, specifically to identify ways to sensitize these cancer cells to endocrine therapies. Our research is funded through Cancer Australia, NHMRC, Cancer Council NSW, and the National Breast Cancer, Love Your Sister, and Garvan foundations.

I am a clinical academic at St Vincent's Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney.

I also seek to improve healthcare more globally. At a local level, I volunteered as a physician to asylum seekers without access to Medicare. I currently work with the Asha Kiran Hospital in Orissa, India, on a longer-term strategy of expertise transfer and partnership with local doctors.

Research Interests

Breast Cancer
Clinical Trials
Global Health

Awards and Honours

2017 - National Breast Cancer Foundation Endowed Chair
2016 - Thelma Greig Cancer Award, St Vincent's Clinic Foundation
2015 - Connie Johnson/Love Your Sister Award
2014 - Ramaciotti Research Award
2014 - National Breast Cancer Foundation Practitioner Fellowship
2013 - Claudia Barr Adams Award, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
2012 - American Association of Cancer Research Scholar in Training Award
2011 - National Health & Medical Research Council Overseas Biomedical Postdoctoral Fellowship
2010 - Fulbright Victoria Fellowship.
2009 - JJ Billings Research Fellowship, Royal Australasian College of Physicians
2009 - Edith Moffatt Award, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute
2008 - Early Career Bench to Bedside Collaboration Award, Victorian Cancer Agency
2008 - Glaxosmithkine Postgraduate Award
2007 - Australian Stem Cell Research Center Postgraduate Award
2007 - Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Tumour Targeting Fellowship
2006 - National Breast Cancer Foundation White/Zaal Postgraduate Scholarship
1997 - Prize for Best knowledge, Singapore Armed Forces Officer Cadet School
1990 - M Patrick Callinan Academic Prize, St Mary’s College, University of Melbourne


2010 - Post Doctoral Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), Harvard Medical School, Boston - USA
2010 - PhD, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), Melbourne University - Australia
2006 - FRACP, Internal Medicine & Medical Oncology, Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) - Australia
1995 - MBBS, Melbourne University - Australia

Selected Publications

Hastie R, Lim E, Sluka P, Campbell L, Horne A, Ellett L, Hannan N, Brownfoot F, Kaitu’u-Lino TJ, Tong S. Vinorelbine potently induces placental cell death, does not harm fertility and is a potential oral treatment for ectopic pregnancy. EBioMedicine. 2018;29:166-76.

Brockwell NK, Owen KL, Zanker D, Spurling A, Rautela J, Duivenvoorden HM, Baschuk N, Caramia F, Loi S, Darcy PK, Lim EParker BS. Neoadjuvant interferons: Critical for effective PD-1 based immunotherapy in TNBC. Cancer Immunol Res. 2017 Aug 28

Johnson SF, Cruz C, Greifenberg AK, Dust S, Stover DG, Chi D, Primack B, Cao S,  Bernhardy AJ, Coulson R, Lazaro JB, Kachupurakkal B, Sun H, Unitt C, Moreau LA, Sarosiek KA, Scaltriti M, Juric D, Baselga J, Richardson AL, Rodig SJ, D’Andrea AD, Balmaña J, Johnson N, Geyer M, Serra V, Lim E, and Shapiro GI.  CDK12 inhibition reverses de novo and acquired PARP inhibitor resistance in BRCA wild type and mutated models of triple negative breast cancer. Cell Reports. 2016;17(9):2367-2381

Lim E, Tarulli G, Portman N, Hickey T, Tilley W, Palmeiri C. Pushing the Estrogen Receptor Around in Breast Cancer. Endocrine Related Cancers. 2017;24(4):R123-44

Burgess A, Chia KM, Haupt S, Thomas D, Haupt Y, Lim E. Clinical Overview of MDM2/X targeted therapies. Frontiers Onc 2016:6:1-7.

Neupane M, Clark A, Landini S, Birkbak N, Eklund A, Lim E, Culhane A, Barry W, Schumacher S, Beroukhim R, Szallasi Z, Vidal M, Hill DE, Silver D. MECP2 Is a frequently amplified oncogene with a novel epigenetic mechanism that mimics the role of activated RAS in malignancy. Cancer Discovery. 2016:6(1):45-58

Chia KM, O’Brien M, Brown M, Lim E. Targeting the androgen receptor in breast cancer. Current Oncology Reports. 2015;17(2):427-34

Wang YB, Zhang T, Kwiatkowski N, Abraham BJ, Lee TI, Xie S, Yuzugullu H, Von T, Li H, Lin Z, Stover DG, Lim E, Wang ZC, Iglehart JD, Young RA, Gray NS, Zhao JJ. CDK7-dependent transcriptional addiction in Triple-Negative breast cancer. Cell 2015;163(1):174-86.

Lim E, Ni M, Cao SA, Hazra A, Tamimi R, Brown M. Importance of breast cancer subtype in the development of androgen receptor directed therapy. Current Breast Cancer Reports. 2014:6(2):71-8.

Chen X, Iliopoulos D, Zhang Q, Tang Q, Greenblatt MB, Hatziapostolou M, Lim E, Tam WL, Ni M, Chen YW, Mai JH, Shen HF, Hu DZ, Adoro S, Hu B, Song MY, Tan C, Landis MD, Ferrari M, Shin SJ, Brown M, Chang JC, Liu XS, Glimcher LH. XBP1 promotes triple negative breast cancer by controlling the HIF1α transcriptional program. Nature. 2014:508(7494):103-7.

Wang YB, Lee YM, Huang A, Lim E, Min JX, Li L, Choi C, Xiang Y, Baitsch L, Stegmeier F, Schlegel R, Gray NS, Mitchison TJ, Zhao JJ. The oncogenic protein kinase MELK is essential for mitotic progression in basal-like breast cancer cells. Elife. 2014:May20:3:e01763.

Tam WL, Lu H, Buikhuisen J, Soh BS, Lim E, Reinhardt F, Wu ZJ, Krall JA, Bierie B, Guo W, Chen X, Liu XS, Brown M, Lim B, Weinberg RA. Protein kinase C α is a central signaling node and therapeutic target for breast cancer stem cells. Cancer Cell. 2013:24(3):347-64.

Ni M, Chen YW, Fei T, Li D, Lim E, Liu XS, Brown M. Amplitude modulation of androgen signaling by c- MYC. Genes Dev. 2013:27(7):734-48.

McLaughlin SK, Olsen SN, Dake B, De Raedt T, Lim E, Bronson RT, Beroukhim R, Polyak K, Brown M, Kuperwasser C, Cichowski K. The RasGAP gene, RASAL2, is a tumor and metastasis suppressor. Cancer Cell. 2013:24(3):365-78.

Lim E, Metzger O, Winer EP. Natural history of hormone receptor positive breast cancer. Oncology. 2012:26(8):688-94.

Lim E, Ni Min, Hazra A, Tamini R, Brown M. Elucidating the role of androgen receptors and breast cancer. Clinical Investigation. 2012:2(10):1003-11

Oakes SR, Vaillant F, Lim E, Lee L, Breslin K, Feleppa F, et al. The BH3-mimetic ABT-737 sensitizes BCL-2 expressing breast cancers to chemotherapy, implicating BCL-2 as a predictive biomarker. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011:109(8):2766-71.

Ni M, Chen YW, Lim E, Bailey ST, Imai Y, Liu XS, Brown M. Targeting androgen receptor in estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer. Cancer Cell. 2011:20(1):119-31.

Lim E, Wu D, Pal B, Bouras T, Asselin-Labat ML, Vaillant F, et al. Transcriptome analyses of mouse and human mammary cell subpopulations reveal multiple conserved genes and pathways. Breast Cancer Res. 2010:12(2):R21.

Wu D, Lim E, Vaillant F, Asselin-Labat ML, Visvader JE & Smyth GK. ROAST: rotation gene set tests for complex microarray experiments. Bioinformatics. 2010:26(17):2176-82.

Lim E, Vaillant F, Wu D, Forrest N, Pal B, Hart A, et al. Aberrant luminal progenitors as a likely target population for basal tumor development in BRCA1 mutation carriers. Nature Med. 2009:15(8):842-4.