What are your research interests?
- What gastrointestinal pathologies occur in the common functional bowel disorders, dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome? Can these be infective? Immune activated?
- Coeliac and non-coeliac wheat sensitivity pathologies
- Global guidelines for coeliac disease, including definitions, management, diagnosis, transitioning of paediatric patients to adult care and outcomes in clinical trials with an emphasis on pathology.
- Pathology in Diverticular Disease
Why did you get into research?
I was inspired by my mentors in pathology and gastroenterology who taught me how good clinical research is dependent upon tissue pathologies in interpreting the science in the laboratory to the patient in the clinic – pathology is the pivot of bench to bedside.
What would be the ultimate goal for your research?
By understanding the pathology behind the pain we can look for a cure to that pain.
Marjorie Walker is a Professor of Anatomical Pathology at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia where she holds a teaching and research post. She is also a staff specialist at John Hunter Hospital and has a commitment to diagnostics.
Professor Walker's previous appointment was in the Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College & St Mary’s Hospital, London UK. Since moving to Newcastle NSW, Marjorie has set up AGIRA - the Australian Gastro Intestinal Research Alliance. AGIRA is a coalition of researchers in GI disease who have expertise in clinical medicine and gastroenterology, mucosal immunology, translational science, pathology, imaging, psychology, and epidemiology in GI disease in Australia. The aim of AGIRA is to pool expertise to raise grant monies for research projects, execute robust research projects in basic science and recruit sufficient numbers of patients for rigorous clinical research and clinical trials. A result of this coloration is the emergence of the Centre for Research Excellence in Digestive Health which is funded by the NHMRC. Researchers in the CRE include Distinguished Laureate Professor Nick Talley, Professors Simon Keely, Gerald Holtmann (Brisbane) and Mike Jones (McQuarrie University, Sydney)
Marjorie and the team also have international collaborations with other researchers in the USA, UK, Sweden.
Integrating the science, pathology and clinical aspects of Digestive Health to find pathways and biomarkers that can pave the way for successful targeted treatments.
Recent discoveries, including from our laboratory, have revealed the important role played by nerves in cancer progression, and targeting nerve outgrowth in the tumour microenvironment is an emerging innovative strategy in oncology. In pancreatic cancer, it has been shown that the outgrowth of sensory nerves in the microenvironment is necessary to cancer progression and stimulates pain.
A new paradigm shift in oncology has revealed the role of nerves in cancer initiation and progression.