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Alexander Swarbrick

Professor Alexander Swarbrick

Program Director - Cancer Ecosystems / Laboratory Head - Tumour Progression
Swarbrick Lab

Professor Alex Swarbrick leads a multidisciplinary cancer research laboratory focussed on identifying new biomarkers and therapeutic strategies in breast and prostate cancer and melanoma. He is an international leader in the application of single-cell and spatially-resolved 'omics' to cancer. He leads the international Breast Cancer Cellular Atlas Consortium and co-leads Garvan's Strategic Program in Cancer Ecosystems with Professor Paul Timpson.

Alex graduated with a BSc (Hons I) in Molecular and Cellular Biology from UNSW in 1995. After obtaining his PhD in 2003 he undertook postdoctoral training with Nobel laureate J. Michael Bishop at the University of California, San Francisco, supported by a CJ Martin Travelling Fellowship from the NHMRC.

In 2008 he established the Tumour Progression Laboratory at Garvan and in 2012 was appointed co-Head of the Breast Translational Oncology Program in the newly commissioned Kinghorn Cancer Centre. Alex is a Professor at UNSW and an NHMRC Senior Leadership Investigator.

Alex is the founding co-convenor of the the Australian Translational Breast and Prostate Cancer Symposium and is the immediate-past convenor of the Lorne Cancer Conference, Australia's pre-eminent multi-disciplinary cancer research conference. He chairs the Cancer Research Committee of the Cancer Council NSW and is deputy chair of UNSW's Cancer Theme.


  • 2023National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Leadership Investigator
  • 2020Petre Chair of Breast Cancer Research
  • 2019National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellowship
  • 2013National Health and Medical Research Council Career Development Fellowship II
  • 2012National Breast Cancer Foundation Fellowship
  • 2011NSW Premier’s Award for Outstanding Research Fellow 2011
  • 2009CINSW Early Career Fellowship
  • 2007Sydney University Medal for Excellence in Medical Research


  • 1995Bachelor of Science (Bachelor of Science (B.S)), Molecular BiologyUniversity of New South Wales, Australia
  • 2003Doctor of Philosophy (Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D))University of New South Wales, Australia

Selected publications

See all publications
  • 2021
    Nature Genetics10.1038/s41588-021-00911-1

    A single-cell and spatially resolved atlas of human breast cancers.

    Sunny Z Wu, Ghamdan Al-Eryani, Daniel Lee Roden, Simon Junankar, Kate Harvey, Alma Andersson, Aatish Thennavan, Chenfei Wang, James R Torpy, Nenad Bartonicek, Taopeng Wang, Ludvig Larsson, Dominik Kaczorowski, Neil I Weisenfeld, Cedric R Uytingco, Jennifer G Chew, Zachary W Bent, Chia-Ling Chan, Vikkitharan Gnanasambandapillai, Charles-Antoine Dutertre, Laurence Gluch, Mun N Hui, Jane Beith, Andrew Parker, Elizabeth Robbins, Davendra Segara, Caroline Cooper, Cindy Mak, Belinda Chan, Sanjay Warrier, Florent Ginhoux, Ewan Millar, Joseph E Powell, Stephen R Williams, X Shirley Liu, Sandra O'Toole, Elgene Lim, Joakim Lundeberg, Charles M Perou, Alexander Swarbrick
  • 2020
    The EMBO Journal10.15252/embj.2019104063

    Stromal cell diversity associated with immune evasion in human triple-negative breast cancer.

    Sunny Z Wu, Daniel L Roden, Chenfei Wang, Holly Holliday, Kate Harvey, Aurélie S Cazet, Kendelle J Murphy, Brooke Pereira, Ghamdan Al-Eryani, Nenad Bartonicek, Rui Hou, James R Torpy, Simon Junankar, Chia-Ling Chan, Chuan En Lam, Mun N Hui, Laurence Gluch, Jane Beith, Andrew Parker, Elizabeth Robbins, Davendra Segara, Cindy Mak, Caroline Cooper, Sanjay Warrier, Alistair Forrest, Joseph Powell, Sandra O'Toole, Thomas R Cox, Paul Timpson, Elgene Lim, X Shirley Liu, Alexander Swarbrick
  • 2019
    Nature Communications10.1038/s41467-019-11049-4

    High-throughput targeted long-read single cell sequencing reveals the clonal and transcriptional landscape of lymphocytes.

    Mandeep Singh, Ghamdan Al-Eryani, Shaun Carswell, James M Ferguson, James Blackburn, Kirston Barton, Daniel Roden, Fabio Luciani, Tri Giang Phan, Simon Junankar, Katherine Jackson, Christopher C Goodnow, Martin A Smith, Alexander Swarbrick
  • 2018
    Nature Communications10.1038/s41467-018-05220-6

    Targeting stromal remodeling and cancer stem cell plasticity overcomes chemoresistance in triple negative breast cancer.

    Aurélie S Cazet, Mun N Hui, Benjamin L Elsworth, Sunny Z Wu, Daniel Roden, Chia-Ling Chan, Joanna N Skhinas, Raphaël Collot, Jessica Yang, Kate Harvey, M Zahied Johan, Caroline Cooper, Radhika Nair, David Herrmann, Andrea McFarland, Niantao Deng, Manuel Ruiz-Borrego, Federico Rojo, José M Trigo, Susana Bezares, Rosalía Caballero, Elgene Lim, Paul Timpson, Sandra O'Toole, D Neil Watkins, Thomas R Cox, Michael S Samuel, Miguel Martín, Alexander Swarbrick
  • 2022
    Nature Communications10.1038/s41467-022-34041-x

    DNA barcoding reveals ongoing immunoediting of clonal cancer populations during metastatic progression and immunotherapy response.

    Louise A Baldwin, Nenad Bartonicek, Jessica Yang, Sunny Z Wu, Niantao Deng, Daniel L Roden, Chia-Ling Chan, Ghamdan Al-Eryani, Damien J Zanker, Belinda S Parker, Alexander Swarbrick, Simon Junankar