From bug to bedside: how we use flies to cure cancer

Dr Quinn’s group conducts discovery-driven fundamental research using Drosophila (Vinegar fly) genetics to provide the new insights into cancer initiation and progression, which are essential to uncover new therapeutic avenues to improve patient outcomes. The rationale for Dr Quinn’s research approach is simple; only by deciphering the complex molecular pathways that normally control cell and tissue growth in animal development can we understand how defects in growth networks drive cancer. The significance of Dr Quinn’s discoveries to human health are enabled by the high degree of similarity between the genetic networks controlling fly and human development. In particular, pathways that control animal growth are frequently disrupted in cancer. Thus, the humble vinegar fly has significantly informed medical research for over 110 years, 6 Nobel Prizes in Medicine to Drosophila and counting! Genetic pathways discovered in flies have already led to the development of many cancer therapeutics and our new discoveries will continue to improve patient outcomes in the treatment of cancer.

After completing her PhD studies in Adelaide (2000) and conducting postdoctoral research at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (2000-2007), Dr Quinn established her laboratory at the University of Melbourne in 2007. In 2017 Dr Quinn was recruited to the John Curtin School of Medical Research (ANU, Canberra).