Dr Akira Nguyen

Senior Research Officer

Akira completed her PhD in 2009, under the supervision of Prof Roger Reddel at the Children’s Medical Research Institute. During her PhD, she identified a novel role for the calcium-regulatory protein, Stanniocalcin, in the oxidative stress response. These studies impressed upon her the importance of studying cell biology in the most physiologically relevant experimental contexts possible, and heterogeneity within cancer cell populations.

This led her to post-doctoral studies with Dr Alex Swarbrick in the Garvan Institute's Cancer Division and The Kinghorn Cancer Centre, where she identified microRNAs that regulate cancer cell plasticity and examined their roles in breast cancer metastasis, using developmental and in vivo mouse models.

She is now working with Dr Tri Phan in the Intravital Microscopy Lab at the Garvan Institute to manipulate mouse models of cancer and utilise two-photon microscopy, to study the dynamic interactions of cancer cells with the immune system, and how these contribute to disease progression.

Research Interests

Interactions between cancer cells and the extracellular environment,
Studying mechanisms of cancer metastasis in situ and in vivo, using two-photon microscopy
Developmental biology and cancer cell plasticity
Developing therapeutic solutions to metastatic disease

Awards and Honours

2012 - Priority-driven Young Investigator Project Grant, Cure Cancer Australia Foundation and Cancer Australia (sole CI)
2005-2009 - Australian Post-graduate Award, University of Sydney


2009 - PhD, School of Medicine, University of Sydney - Australia
2004 - Bachelor of Medical Science, Honours Class I, University of Sydney - Australia

Selected Publications

A. Nguyen*, D. Suan*, I. Moran*, K. Bourne, J.N. Hermes, M.A. Arshi, H.R. Hampton, M. Tomura, Y. Miwa, A.D. Kelleher, W. Kaplan, E.K. Deenick, S.G. Tangye, R. Brink, T. Chtanova, T.G. Phan. T follicular helper cells have distinct modes of migration and molecular signatures in naive and memory immune responses. Immunity 2015; 42: 704-718.

D. Butt, T.D. Chan, K. Bourne, J.R. Hermes, A. Nguyen, A. Statham, L.A. O'Reilly, A. Strasser, S. Price, P. Schofield, D. Christ, A. Basten, C.S. Ma, S.G. Tangye, T.G. Phan, V.K. Rao, R. Brink. FAS Inactivation Releases Unconventional Germinal Center B Cells that Escape Antigen Control and Drive IgE and Autoantibody Production. Immunity 2015; 42: 890-902.

S. Junankar, G. Shay, J. Jurczyluk, N. Ali, J. Down, N. Pocock, A. Parker, A. Nguyen, S. Sun, B. Kashemirov, C.E. McKenna, P.I. Croucher, A. Swarbrick, K. Weilbaecher, T.G. Phan, M.J. Rogers. Real-time intravital imaging establishes tumor-associated macrophages as the extraskeletal target of bisphosphonate action in cancer. Cancer Discov 2015; 5: 35-42.

R. Nair, D.L. Roden, W.S. Teo, A. McFarland, S. Junankar, S. Ye, A. Nguyen, J. Yang, I. Nikolic, M. Hui, A. Morey, J. Shah, A.D. Pfefferle, J. Usary, C. Selinger, L.A. Baker, N. Armstrong, M.J. Cowley, M.J. Naylor, C.J. Ormandy, S.R. Lakhani, J.I. Herschkowitz, C.M. Pero, W. Kaplan, S.A. O'Toole, A. Swarbrick.  c-Myc and Her2 cooperate to drive a stem-like phenotype with poor prognosis in breast cancer. Oncogene 2014; 33: 3992-4002.

S.A. O'Toole, D.A. Machalek, R.F. Shearer, E.K. Millar, R. Nair, P. Schofield, D. McLeod, C.L. Cooper, C.M. McNeil, A. McFarland, A. Nguyen, C.J. Ormandy, M.R. Qiu, B. Rabinovich, L.G. Martelotto, D. Vu, G.E. Hannigan, E.A. Musgrove, D. Christ, R.L. Sutherland, D.N. Watkins, A. Swarbrick.  Hedgehog overexpression is associated with stromal interactions and predicts for poor outcome in breast cancer, Cancer Res 2011; 71: 4002-4014.

W.-Q. Jiang, A. Nguyen, Y. Cao, A.C.M. Chang, R.R. Reddel, HP1-Mediated Formation of Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres-Associated PML Bodies Requires HIRA but Not ASF1a. PLoS One 2011; 6: e17036.

A. Swarbrick, S.L. Woods, A. Shaw, A. Balakrishnan, Y. Phua, A. Nguyen, Y. Chanthery, L. Lim, L.J. Ashton, R.L. Judson, N. Huskey, R. Blelloch, M. Haber, M.D. Norris, P. Lengyel, C.S. Hackett, T. Preiss, A. Chetcuti, C.S. Sullivan, E.G. Marcusson, W. Weiss, N. L'Etoile, A. Goga.  miR-380-5p represses p53 to control cellular survival and is associated with poor outcome in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma.  Nat Med 2010; 16: 1134-1140

W.Q. Jiang, Z.H. Zhong, A. Nguyen, J.D. Henson, C.D. Toouli, A.W. Braithwaite, R.R. Reddel.  Induction of alternative lengthening of telomeres-associated PML bodies by p53/p21 requires HP1 proteins.  J Cell Biol 2009; 185: 797-810.

A. Nguyen, A.C. Chang, R.R. Reddel. Stanniocalcin-1 acts in a negative feedback loop in the prosurvival ERK1/2 signaling pathway during oxidative stress. Oncogene 2009; 28: 1982-1992

Dr Akira Nguyen