Professor Michelle Haber AM, Executive Director, Children's Cancer Institute, Sydney, NSW.
Despite the great improvement in survival rates for childhood cancer over recent decades, a number of malignancies remain refractory to standard chemotherapy. Amongst these is neuroblastoma, the commonest solid tumour of young children, for which alternate therapies are urgently required. We have identified and validated a number of key genes associated with the malignant phenotype of neuroblastoma, and then either identified existing small molecule drugs which can be used in new ways to treat this disease, or are developing new small molecule drugs through high-throughput screening of chemical small molecule libraries. In addition, we are using ENU mutagenesis in a forward genetics screen to identify potential new molecular targets involved in the pathogenesis of neuroblastoma. Findings from these studies will be discussed.
Professor Michelle Haber graduated with a PhD from the School of Pathology, UNSW, in 1984, in the field of chemical carcinogenesis, and subsequently undertook post-doctoral positions at the Hadassah Hebrew University, in Israel and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York.
Following her PhD, she was appointed as one of three inaugural staff at Children’s Cancer Institute. Professor Haber was appointed Director of the Institute in 2000 and subsequently Executive Director in 2003 and she is Head of the Institute’s Experimental Therapeutics Program.
Professor Haber is internationally recognised for her world-class research into the treatment of neuroblastoma and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children. Leading the Institute’s Experimental Therapeutics Program, Professor Haber and her project team are working towards more effective treatments for individual childhood cancers by identifying molecular targets that drive the growth and development of cancer in children, developing new drugs to inhibit the action of these targets, and combining existing and new drug treatments into novel therapeutic approaches that can be rapidly translated into national and international clinical trials. She has received numerous awards for her research, particularly in terms of translating her research findings into the clinic, including the 2014 Cancer Institute NSW Premier’s Award for Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year and this year has been appointed an inaugural Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. Prof Haber has a long and continuous record of peer-reviewed grant funding and an excellent track record with more than 155 journal publications.