Dr Tri Giang Phan, MBBS, FRACP, FRCPA, PhD
Director, Intravital Microscopy Facility
Dr Phan graduated from medicine at the University of Sydney with the University Medal and completed a double fellowship in Internal Medicine and Pathology under the guidance Dr Stephen Adelstein and Dr Roger Garsia in the Department of Clinical Immunology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. He developed a B cell receptor knock-in mouse model to study in vivo B cell responses to foreign and self-antigen for his PhD under the supervision of Prof Antony Basten and A/Prof Robert Brink at the Centenary Institute, Sydney for which he received a New Investigator Award from the Australasian Society of Immunology. His interest in defining the in vivo contexts of B cell responses and resolving germinal centre selection events in space and time lead to post-doctoral studies as an NHMRC CJ Martin Fellow with Professor Jason Cyster at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Francisco where he used intravital two-photon microscopy to investigate the initiation of B cell responses in the lymph node. Upon his return toSydney, Tri established an intravital two-photon microscope facility at the Garvan Institute in 2010.
A major goal in Dr Phan’s research program is to image tumour cells in their niche in the bone marrow. To achieve this goal he has developed breakthrough techniques to image the cells occupying the endosteal and perivascular niches in the bone marrow of long bones of live mice, something that was not possible until now. This has allowed him, in collaboration with Prof Mike Rogers, to visualise in real-time osteoclastic resorption of bone using fluorescently labelled bisphosphonates. More importantly, in collaboration with Prof Peter Croucher, he has been able to visualise the first steps involved in invasion of the bone by multiple myeloma cells.
Furthermore, mice can be recovered from anaesthesia after an imaging session and this makes it possible to perform longitudinal imaging over several weeks to track the fate of these cells. The model systems and techniques to be used in the research are therefore already well established and will form the basis of our approach to investigating the steps involved prostate cancer micrometastases, the interactions between the prostate cancer cells and their niche and the factors that determine if the cancer cells remain dormant or become activated to proliferate and develop into overt bony metastases. Dr Phan’s research is currently funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia Research Council and Cancer Institute NSW.