Dr Judith Weidenhofer

Research Program:
Research Topics:
Project Grant
2016 Project Grant
Project Grant
2014 Project Grant
2014 Scholarship
Project Grant
2011 Project Grant

What are your research interests?

My research uses experimental models to identify biological markers that can be used to predict cancer patient outcome at diagnosis. In particular I aim to find a marker or series of markers that can be identified from a blood or saliva sample to reduce the impact of biopsies on patients.

Currently we are looking for markers that can be used for breast and prostate cancer patients. At the same time we are using these studies to identify new ways in which to treat these cancers as there is currently limited success to treating metastatic breast or prostate cancer and the current treatments have major impacts on quality of life.

Why did you get into research? 

My interest in medical research started as a teenager when I realised that one of my best friends had the genetic condition Cystic Fibrosis. Spending time with her in and out of hospital fueled my drive to not only identify the cause of medical conditions so as to offer a curative treatment, but also to improve the quality of life of patients whilst they were treated.

More recently I experienced the devastating effects of cancer on both the patient and the family as my father underwent treatment and then succumbed to mesothelioma. From this I was determined to find treatments for cancer that preserve patient independence and dignity.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

The vision for my research is to identify a means to treat cancer primarily outside of hospitals, as this will offer greater quality of life to patients and families (particularly those in remote areas). In the short term I envisage finding a marker that can be used to identify men that  do not require radical surgical intervention for prostate cancer to survive from those that do. This will allow all men to survive this disease and maintain the greatest quality of life possible. 

Brief Profile

Dr Weidenhofer is a lecturer in the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy based at the campus at Ourimbah. Working within the cancer research hub at Ourimbah in association with the Hunter Cancer Research Alliance (HCRA) she uses cutting-edge approaches to identify new treatment approaches for cancer.

Dr Weidenhofer has a particular interest in prostate and breast cancer as these are two of the highest incident cancers in Australia and affect many families. She completed her PhD in Medical Biochemistry at the University of Newcastle after undertaking honours in Biotechnology at Charles Sturt University.

Since 2011 she has led her own research group investigating the regulation of the expression of tetraspanin proteins in breast and prostate cancers as well as the role of CD151 in glomerular disease.

She has presented her work both nationally and internationally, trained post-graduate research students and continues to publish her work. Dr Weidenhofer also speaks to community groups about medical research, organises scientific meetings and events and is actively involved with scientific organisations such as the Australian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Future Focus

Dr Weidenhofer continues to strive to find means to improve quality of life, care and treatment of cancer patients through identify biological markers that are either predictive of treatment response and therefore indicative of treatment approaches or targets that new treatments can be designed for.

Specialised/Technical Skills 

  • High throughput molecular analysis and bioinformatics
  • 3D cell culture models
  • Functional cell culture assays
  • Microvesicle collection and analysis
  • Laser capture microscopy


  • Hunter Cancer Research Alliance (HCRA)
  • PRC Cancer and the HMRI Cancer Program
  • HMRI CIBM Program
  • Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)
  • Australia Society of Medical Research (ASMR)


Cancer secretory molecules as a novel diagnostic biomarker for pancreatic cancer.
Project Grant

Metastatic pancreatic cancer has a low survival rate and even with the best existing therapies the survival is less than a year. Despite advances in treatments and outcomes for other cancers, this has not happened for pancreatic cancer with no advances in mortality reduction observed over the past decade. This grim outlook drives our research, which focuses on developing novel diagnostic strategies for pancreatic cancer.



Developing Synthetic Exosomes to Target and Deliver Anti-Cancer Agents to Prostate Cancer Cells

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in Australia. Once a prostate cancer begins to spread (metastasise), it becomes very difficult to treat and often results in patient death. 

Identification and evaluation of anti-pancreatic cancer activity of cytotoxic compounds extracted from Australian sea sponges: a pilot study
Project Grant

Dr Christopher Scarlett, Dr Quan Vuong, Dr Judith Weidenhofer, Dr Rick Thorne, Assosciate Professor Michael Bowyer, Dr Trou Gaston


Pancreatic Cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer related death in the western world and there is an urgent need to develop new therapeutic strategies. 



HMRI Education Prize
Project Grant