Dr Thomas Cox

Thomas is a cancer cell biologist working in the field of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and ECM remodelling in the progression and metastasis of solid tumours. He graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Durham, UK in 2008 and moved to the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London as a Post
Group Leader - Matrix and Metastasis

Conjoint/Adjunct Role(s)

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

Thomas is a cancer cell biologist working in the field of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and ECM remodelling in the progression and metastasis of solid tumours. He graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Durham, UK in 2008 and moved to the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London as a PostDoc. Then, in 2012 he relocated to Copenhagen University to continue his research in the laboratory of Professor Janine Erler, before moving to the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in 2016 to set up his own group.

Thomas currently leads the Matrix and Metastasis Group at Garvan in The Kinghorn Cancer Centre. The group focuses on how the extracellular matrix (ECM) regulates resident cell behaviour and specifically how it alters cancer cell response to therapeutics. In particular they work on the role of Lysyl Oxidase (LOX) and Lysyl Oxidase Like (LOXL) family members in regulating both the biochemical and biomechanical properties of the ECM during fibrosis, cancer progression and metastasis.

The group's research has deepened our understanding of the impact that post-translational modification of the ECM has on tumour signalling pathways including Akt, VEGF, FAK and Src signalling. Ultimately, the aim of the Matrix and Metastasis group is to establish targeting of ECM dynamics as a viable therapeutic approach in the treatment of solid cancers.

Research Interests

Extracellular Matrix
Cancer Metastasis
Breast Cancer
Colorectal Cancer
Lysyl Oxidases
Targeted therapies

Awards and Honours

2016 – Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) Herbert Tabor Young Investigator Award
2016 – British Society for Matrix Biology (BSMB) John Scott Young Investigator Award
2011 – WCR Keynote Award – TuMIC-MRS ‘New Concepts in Metastasis’
2009 – AICR Short Talk Award – BICC ‘Microenvironment, Motility and Metastasis’


2008 – PhD Cell Biology, University of Durham – UK
2004 – BSc (Hons) Cell & Molecular Biology, University of Durham – UK

Selected Publications

A full list of publications is available at www.matrixandmetastasis.com/publications

Last updated: July 2017

ISDoT: in situ decellularization of tissues for high-resolution imaging and proteomic analysis of native extracellular matrix
Mayorca-Guiliani AE*, Madsen CD*, Cox TR*, Horton ER, Venning FA, Erler JT
Nature Medicine (2017)
*First authors contributed equally

Transient tissue priming via ROCK inhibition uncouples pancreatic cancer progression, sensitivity to chemotherapy, and metastasis
Vennin C, Chin VT, Warren SC, Lucas MC, Herrmann D, Magenau A, Melenec A, Walters SN, del Monte-Nieto G, Conway JRW, Nobis M, Allam AH, McCloy RA, Currey N, Pinese M, Boulghourjian A, Zaratzian A, Adam ASA, Heu C, Nagrial AM, Chou A, Steinmann A, Drury A, Froio D, Giry-Laterriere M, Harris NLE, Phan T, Jain R, Weninger W, McGhee EJ, Whan R, Johns AL, Samra JS, Chantrill L, Gill AJ, Kohonen-Corish M, Harvey RP, Biankin AV, Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative (APGI), Evans TRJ, Anderson KI, Gray ST, Ormandy CJ, Gallego-Ortega D, Wang Y, Samuel MS, Sansom OJ, Burgess A, Cox TR, Morton JP, Pajic M, Timpson P
Science Translational Medicine (2017)

Pre-metastatic niches: organ-specific homes for metastases
Peinado H, Zhang H, Matei IR, Costa-Silva B, Hoshino A, Rodrigues G, Psaila B, Kaplan RN, Bromberg JF, Kang Y, Bissel MJ, Cox TR, Giaccia A, Erler JT, Hiratsuka S, Ghajar CM, Lyden D.
Nature Reviews Cancer (2017)

Pre-clinical evaluation of small molecule LOXL2 inhibitors in breast cancer

Chang J, Lucas M, Leonte L, Garcia-Montolio M, Babloo Singh L, Findlay A, Deodhar M, Foot J, Jarolimek W, Timpson P, Erler JT#, Cox TR# 
Oncotarget (2017)
#Corresponding Author

The Role of Lysyl Oxidase, the Extracellular Matrix and the Pre-Metastatic Niche in Bone Metastasis
Gartland A, Erler JT and Cox TR
Journal of Bone Oncology (2016)

Fibrosis and Cancer: Partners in Crime or Opposing Forces? 
Cox TR
# and Erler JT#
Trends In Cancer
#Corresponding Author

Nuclear expression of lysyl oxidase enzyme is an independent prognostic factor in rectal cancer patients
Liu N, Cox TR, Cui W, Adell G, Holmlund B, Ping J, Jarlsfelt I, Erler JT, Sun XF
Oncotarget (2016)

Lysyl Oxidase, a Targetable Secreted Molecule Involved in Cancer Metastasis
Cox TR#, Gartland A, Erler JT
Cancer Research (2016)
#Corresponding Author

Dataset for the proteomic inventory and quantitative analysis of the breast cancer hypoxic secretome associated with osteotropism
Cox TR#*, Schoof EM*, Gartland A, Erler JT, Linding R#
Data In Brief (2015)
*First authors contributed equally #Corresponding Author

Kinome-wide Decoding of Network Attacking Mutations Rewiring Cancer
Creixell P, Schoof EM, Simpson CD, Longden J, Miller CJ, Lou HJ, Perryman L, Cox TR, Zivanovic N, Palmeri A, Wesolowska-Andersen A, Helmer-Citterich M, Ferkinghoff-Borg J, Itamochi H, Bodenmiller B, Erler JT, Turk BE, Linding R
Cell (2015)

Hypoxia and loss of PHD2 inactivate stromal fibroblasts to decrease tumour stiffness and metastasis
Madsen CD, Pedersen JT, Venning FA, Singh LB, Moeendarbary E, Charras G, Cox TR, Sahai E, Erler JT
EMBO Reports (2015)

The hypoxic cancer secretome induces pre-metastatic bone lesions through lysyl oxidase
Cox TR
, Rumney RMH, Schoof EM, Perryman L, Høye AM, Agrawal A, Bird, D, Ab Latif N, Forrest H, Evans HR, Huggins ID, Lang G, Linding R, Gartland A, Erler JT
Nature (2015)

Molecular pathways: connecting fibrosis and solid tumor metastasis
Cox TR# and Erler JT# 
Clinical Cancer Research
#Corresponding Author

LOX-mediated collagen crosslinking is responsible for fibrosis-enhanced metastasis
Cox TR, Bird D, Baker AM, Barker HE, Ho MW, Lang G, Erler JT
Cancer Research (2013)

Lysyl oxidase plays a critical role in endothelial cell stimulation to drive tumor angiogenesis
Baker AM, Bird D, Welti J, Gourlaouen M, Lang G, Murray G, Reynolds AR, Cox TR, Erler JT
Cancer Research (2013)

The rationale for targeting the LOX family in cancer
Barker HE*, Cox TR* and Erler JT 
Nature Reviews Cancer
*First authors contributed equally to this work

Lysyl oxidase enzymatic function increases stiffness to drive colorectal cancer progression through FAK
Baker AM, Lang G, Bird D, Cox TR*, Erler JT*
Oncogene (2012)
*Senior authors contributed equally

Remodeling and homeostasis of the extracellular matrix: implications for fibrotic diseases and cancer
Cox TR and Erler JT
Disease Models and Mechanisms (2011)

The Role of Lysyl Oxidase in SRC-Dependent Proliferation and Metastasis of Colorectal Cancer
Baker AM, Cox TR, Bird D, Lang G, Murray GI, Sun XF, Southall SM, Wilson JR, Erler JT
Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2011)

Hypoxia-induced lysyl oxidase is a critical mediator of bone marrow cell recruitment to form the premetastatic niche
Erler JT, Bennewith KL, Cox TR, Lang G, Bird D, Koong A, Le QT, Giaccia AJ
Cancer Cell (2009)

Person portrait

Dr Thomas Cox

Research group