A/Prof Thomas Cox

Laboratory Head - Matrix and Metastasis

A/Prof 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, followed by PostDoctoral research positions at the Institute of Cancer

Research Level

NHMRC R.D. Wright Biomedical Fellow (CDF Level 2)

Biography

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, followed by PostDoctoral research positions at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, UK and Copenhagen University, Denmark. In 2016 he was recruited to the Garvan to establish his own independent research group.


Thomas currently leads the Matrix and Metastasis Lab at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research within The Kinghorn Cancer Centre.

The labs creative research program integrates matrix biology with precision oncology, aligning with Garvan’s strategic vision to make fundamental advances in the understanding, treatment and prevention of human disease, in this case, personalised stromal targeting in solid tumours.


The goals of the team are to develop, deploy and repurpose anti-stromal/anti-fibrotic therapies for cancer treatment, and maximise the effectiveness of pre-clinical cancer models through the following parallel, complementary research streams:

(1) Expanding the repertoire of anti-cancer therapeutic targets to include matrix molecules and their effectors, critical component of all solid tumours, and drive forward our already established pipeline of anti-ECM drugs.

(2) Continue to develop and utilise powerful, state-of-the-art, physiologically relevant in vitro and in vivo 3D models that include native ECM to assay and streamline the evaluation of novel and existing therapies.

(3) Reshape the way we view the matrix, as an active contributor to cancer, not just a passive bystander, and leverage this to better stratify cancer patients for personalised stromal targeting in solid tumours.


Thomas takes an active role in training emerging scientists (Honours and PhD projects) and engages and communicates regularly with the public through the Institute’s open events. Thomas is the vice president of the Matrix Biology Society of Australia and New Zealand (MBSANZ) as well as an Executive Board Member of the international Metastasis Research Society (MRS), and is a cofounder of the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Matrix Atlas (APMA).


Video

Filmed at the 2017 Pancreatic Cancer Seminar, Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

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, followed by PostDoctoral research positions at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, UK and Copenhagen University, Denmark. In 2016 he was recruited to the Garvan to establish his own independent research group.


Thomas currently leads the Matrix and Metastasis Lab at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research within The Kinghorn Cancer Centre.

The labs creative research program integrates matrix biology with precision oncology, aligning with Garvan’s strategic vision to make fundamental advances in the understanding, treatment and prevention of human disease, in this case, personalised stromal targeting in solid tumours.


The goals of the team are to develop, deploy and repurpose anti-stromal/anti-fibrotic therapies for cancer treatment, and maximise the effectiveness of pre-clinical cancer models through the following parallel, complementary research streams:

(1) Expanding the repertoire of anti-cancer therapeutic targets to include matrix molecules and their effectors, critical component of all solid tumours, and drive forward our already established pipeline of anti-ECM drugs.

(2) Continue to develop and utilise powerful, state-of-the-art, physiologically relevant in vitro and in vivo 3D models that include native ECM to assay and streamline the evaluation of novel and existing therapies.

(3) Reshape the way we view the matrix, as an active contributor to cancer, not just a passive bystander, and leverage this to better stratify cancer patients for personalised stromal targeting in solid tumours.


Thomas takes an active role in training emerging scientists (Honours and PhD projects) and engages and communicates regularly with the public through the Institute’s open events. Thomas is the vice president of the Matrix Biology Society of Australia and New Zealand (MBSANZ) as well as an Executive Board Member of the international Metastasis Research Society (MRS), and is a cofounder of the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Matrix Atlas (APMA).


Video

Filmed at the 2017 Pancreatic Cancer Seminar, Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

Awards and Honours

2020 – Matrix Biology Society of Australia & New Zealand (MBSANZ) Paper of the Year 2020
2019 – NHMRC RD Wright Biomedical Career Development Fellowship Level 2
2018 – Cancer Institute New South Wales (CINSW) Career Development Fellowship
2017 – Ridley Ken Davies Award for future scientific leaders delivering breakthrough medical research
2016 – Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) Herbert Tabor Young Investigator Award for creativity, innovation and scientific excellence
2016 – British Society for Matrix Biology (BSMB) John Scott Young Investigator Award for significant contributions to matrix biology
2011 – WCR Keynote Award – TuMIC-MRS ‘New Concepts in Metastasis’
2009 – AICR Short Talk Award – BICC ‘Microenvironment, Motility and Metastasis’

Education

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

Patents

ALTEN (Alginate-based Tissue Encapsulation): a method for encapsulating animal tissue in an alginate-based hydrogel for drug-screening in the context of personalised cancer therapies
Garvan Institute of Medical Research (2020)
Inventors: Law A, Skhinas JN, Cox TR, Gallego-Ortega D
PCT/AU2020/050129

Methods for determining a prognosis of colorectal cancer
University of Durham (2007)
Inventors: Cox TR, De Bruin A, Hutchison CJ, Przyborski S, Van Engeland M, Wilson R

WO2007148095 A8

Fundings

Recent Funding

  • NHMRC, Australia (CIA)
  • Cancer Council NSW, Australia (CIA)
  • Cancer Institute NSW, Australia (CIA)
  • Susan G Komen Foundation, USA (CIA)
  • Sydney Catalyst, Australia (CIA)
  • Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation (CIB)

Selected Publications


A full up-to-date list of publications is available at www.matrixandmetastasis.com/publications

Last updated: Mar 2021
(*Equal Contribution / #Corresponding Author)


2021

The Matrix in Cancer
Cox TR
Nature Reviews Cancer
(2021)

Inhibitor of Differentiation4 (ID4) represses mammary myoepithelial differentiation via inhibition of HEB
Holliday H, Roden D,  Junankar S, Wu SZ, Baker LA, Krisp C, Chan CL, McFarland A, Skhinas JN, Cox TR, Pal B, Huntington ND, Ormandy CJ, Carroll JS, Visvader J, Molloy MP and Swarbrick A
iScience (2021)

Targeting Lysyl Oxidase Family Meditated Matrix Cross-Linking as an Anti-Stromal Therapy in Solid Tumours
Setargew YFI*, Wyllie K*, Grant RD, Chitty JL# and Cox TR#
Cancers
(2021)


2020

The Role of the ECM in Lung Cancer Dormancy and Outgrowth
Parker AL*# & Cox TR*#
Frontiers in Oncology (2020) [Open Access]

Plasma polymerized nanoparticles effectively deliver dual siRNA and drug therapy in vivo
Michael P, Lam YT, Filipe EC, Tan RP, Chan AHP, Lee BSL, Feng N, Hung J, Cox TR, Santos M, Wise SG
Scientific Reports
(2020) [Open Access]

Stromal cell diversity associated with immune evasion in human triple-negative breast cancer
Wu SZ
, Roden DL, Wang C, Holliday H, Harvey K, Cazet AS, Murphy KJ, Pereira B, Al-Eryani G, Bartonicek N, Hou R, Torpy JR, Junankar S, Chan CL, Lam CE, Hui MN, Gluch L, Beith J, Parker A, Robbins E, Segara S, Mak C, Cooper C, Warrier S, Forrest A, Powell J, O’Toole S, Cox TR, Timpson P, Lim E, Lui XS, Swarbrick A
EMBO
(2020)

Cancer Metastasis: The Role of the Extracellular Matrix and the Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycan Perlecan
Elgundi Z, Papanicolaou M, Major G, Cox TR, Melrose J, Whitelock JM, Farrugia BL
Frontiers in Oncology (2020) [Open Access]

2019

Targeting the lysyl oxidases in tumour desmoplasia
Chitty JL
, Setargew YFI & Cox TR#
Biochemical Society Transactions (2019)


CAF Subpopulations: A New Reservoir of Stromal Targets in Pancreatic Cancer
Pereira BA*, Vennin C*, Papanicolaou M, Chambers CR, Herrmann D, Morton JP, Cox TR#, Timpson P#
Trends in Cancer (2019) [Open Access]

CAF hierarchy driven by pancreatic cancer cell p53-status creates a pro-metastatic and chemoresistant environment via perlecan
Vennin C, Mélénec P, Rouet R, Nobis M, Cazet A, Murphy K, Herrmann D, Reed D, Lucas M, Warren S, Elgundi Z, Pinese M, Kalna G, Roden D, Samuel M, Zaratzian A, Grey S, Da Silva A, Leung W, (APGI) Australian Pancreatic cancer Genome Initiative, Mathivanan S, Wang Y, Braithwaite A, Christ D, Benda A, Parkin A, Phillips P, Whitelock J, Gill A, Sansom O, Croucher D, Parker B, Pajic M, Morton J, Cox TR#, Timpson P#
Nature Communications (2019)

The extracellular matrix as a key regulator of intracellular signalling networks
Hastings JF*, Skhinas JN*, Fey D, Croucher DR#, Cox TR#
British Journal of Pharmacology (2019)


2018

Recent advances in understanding the complexities of metastasis
Chitty JL*, Filipe EC*, Lucas MC, Herrmann D, Cox TR#, Timpson P#
F1000Research (2018) [Invited Faculty of F1000 review]

Targeting stromal remodeling and cancer stem cell plasticity overcomes chemoresistance in triple negative breast cancer
Cazet AS*, Hui MN*, Elsworth BL, Wu SZ, Roden D, Chan CL, Skhinas JN, Collot R, Yang J, Harvey K, Johan MZ, Cooper C, Nair R, Herrmann D, McFarland A, Deng N, Ruiz-Borrego M, Rojo F, Trigo JM, Bezares S, Caballero R, Lim E, Timpson P, O’Toole S, DN Watkins, Cox TR, Samuel MS, Martín M, Swarbrick A
Nature Communications (2018)

Charting the unexplored extracellular matrix in cancer
Filipe EC*, Chitty JL* & Cox TR#
International Journal of Experimental Pathology (2018)

Reshaping the Tumor Stroma for Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer
Vennin C, Murphy KJ, Morton JP, Cox TR, Pajic M, Timpson P
Gastroenterology (2018)

Proteomic Characterisation of Caenorhabditis elegans Larval Development
Xia T*, Horton ER*, Salcini AE, Pocock R, Cox TR#, Erler JT#
Proteomics (2018)


2017

Tailored first-line and second-line CDK4-targeting treatment combinations in mouse models of pancreatic cancer
Chou A, Froio D, Nagrial AN, Parkin A, Murphy KJ, Chin VT, Wohl D, Steinmann A, Stark R, Drury A, Walters SN, Vennin C, Burgess A, Pinese M, Chantrill LA, Cowley MJ, Molloy TJ, Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative (APGI), Waddell N, Johns A, Grimmond SM, Chang DK, Biankin AV, Sansom OJ, Morton JP, Grey ST, Cox TR, Turchini J, Samra J, Clarke SJ, Timpson P, Gill AJ, Pajic M
Gut (2017)

Three-dimensional organotypic matrices from alternative collagen sources as pre-clinical models for cell biology
Conway JRW, Vennin C, Cazet AS, Herrmann D, Murphy KJ, Warren SC, Wullkopf L, Boulghourjian A, Zaratzian A, Da Silva AM, Pajic M, Morton JP, Cox TR#, Timpson P#
Scientific Reports (2017)

Dynamic Rearrangement of Cell States Detected by Systematic Screening of Sequential Anticancer Treatments
Koplev S*, Longden J*,  Ferkinghoff-Borg J*, Blicher Bjerregård M, Cox TR, Erler JT, Pedersen JT, Voellmy F, Sommer MOA, Linding R
Cell Reports (2017)

The interplay between extracellular matrix remodelling and kinase signalling in cancer progression and metastasis
Skhinas JN & Cox TR#
Cell Adhesion & Migration (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)

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)


2016

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

Fibrosis and Cancer: Partners in Crime or Opposing Forces? 
Cox TR# & Erler JT#
Trends In Cancer (2016)

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


2015

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)


2014

Molecular pathways: connecting fibrosis and solid tumor metastasis
Cox TR# & Erler JT
Clinical Cancer Research (2014)


2013

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)


2012

The rationale for targeting the LOX family in cancer
Barker HE*, Cox TR* & Erler JT 
Nature Reviews Cancer (2012)

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)


2011

Remodeling and homeostasis of the extracellular matrix: implications for fibrotic diseases and cancer
Cox TR & 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)


2009

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)