What are your research interests?
My research program is focused on developing new anti-leukaemia drugs and determining their mechanism of action, synthesised in collaboration with the University of New South Wales. This targeted anti-cancer approach is complemented by a program of discovery research focused on furthering our understandings into how common gene mutations regulate the growth, survival and proliferation of cancer cells.
I am also interested in how normal healthy stem cells stored in the bone marrow grow and develop (cellular signalling) in response to signals or growth factors from the immune system. Hence, I have a research program studying the molecular switches regulated by the activity of protein phosphatases.
Finally, all of the complex and intricate activities of our cells (cellular physiology) are regulated through the actions of proteins, therefore I have a significant interest in methods that help us study the composition and function of proteins. Techniques such as mass spectrometry and biochemical techniques that can help us to understand the function of individual proteins and proteins that form complexes.
Why did you get into research?
The ability to make discoveries that one day may improve the health of our community is an honour that not many professions can lay claim to. Also research is about choosing your own adventure and I love that about the job.
What would be the ultimate goal for your research?
The end goal is to take one of our basic research discoveries and translate it into an improved health outcome for our community. I am committed to the training of talented local students and mentoring them in their research careers. This increased intellectual property helps to grow our community, providing increased economic and health benefits.
Dedication, collaboration and hard work are the hallmarks of Dr Dun's medical research career, which is focused on providing novel insights into some of the most common and devastating types of cancer; acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), paediatric T cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, breast and prostate cancers.
Dr Dun's PhD program of research was achieved by publication, with distinction, in less than three years and decorated by 11 national and international awards. During this time he was mentored by two of the University of Newcastle's most respected scientists in Professor John Aitken and Professor Brett Nixon. The significant contributions made to the field by Dr Dun's PhD resulted in his dissertation being awarded the Annual Vice Chancellors Award for Research High Degree Excellence (2012) and subsequently laid the foundations for him to achieve his ambition of developing a successful and internationally competitive research program at the University of Newcastle and HMRI.
Dr Dun's research program in collaboration with Dr Nicole Verrills and Dr Anoop Enjeti is focused on developing new anti-leukaemia drugs, complemented by a program of discovery-based research focused on furthering knowledge into how common gene mutations regulate growth, survival and proliferation of cancer cells. This work is funded by the Cancer Institute of NSW, with Dr Dun receiving an esteemed Early Career Research Fellowship 2014-2016 ('Identifying novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)').
Dr Dun is also interested in cellular signalling regulated by growth factors in stem cells. He has a program studying the molecular switch from quiescence to activation, regulated by protein phosphatases.
Dr Dun attributes his early successes to the support he received from HMRI, specifically Life Governor Jennie Thomas and Mrs Alyson Gearing, which has enabled him to study and work in the laboratories of leading scientists in Belgium and Denmark. Further, the Estate of the Late Mr James Lawrie and the Hunter Ski Club Project Grants has enabled Dr Dun to continue to work on developing new treatments for AML and other paediatric blood diseases.
Dr Dun has an extensive array of national and international collaborators with field leading scientists and haematologists. These opportunities provide his group with access to the world's most sophisticated technologies and relevant patient samples, bridging the gap between cancer genomics and proteomics. The sophisticated studies performed by Dr Dun and his team are helping to identify new bonafide biomarkers for the development of new-targeted therapies to treat AML, ALL, breast cancers and prostate cancer.
Aside from research, Dr Dun is committed to scientific advocacy and the promoting of the research achievements of our young local researchers. He is a Director of the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) and was instrumental in forming the ASMR Newcastle Committee, which now hosts 'The ASMR Satellite Scientific Meeting' annually at the HMRI. This meeting showcases the recent research achievements of young Hunter-based scientists and clinicians. The meeting also helps to encourage postgraduate and student interactions and fosters collaborations between researchers affiliated within the Faculty of Health and Medicine, the Faculty of Science and Information Technology and the HMRI.
- Characterisation of protein expression
- Proteomic profiling including iTRAQ and SILAC
- Quantitative posttranslational modification analysis
- DNA mutational analysis
- Cellular imagery
- Identification of protein-protein interactions via Co-immunoprecipitation
- Far-Western blotting and Blue Native PAGE
- Cell culture
- Functional assays, the generation of recombinant proteins and polyclonal antibodies.
- PRC for Cancer (PRC-Cancer)
- Hunter Cancer Research Alliance (HCRA)
- Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR)
- Australasian Proteomics Society (APS)
- American Association of Cancer Research (AACR)
- Haematology Department, The Calvary Mater Hospital
- HMRI PRC Reproductive Science
- HMRI PRC VIVA
- Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Southern Denmark
- Chemistry Department, The University of New South Wales
- Lowy Cancer Research Centre, Prince of Wales Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, The University of New South Wales
- Department of Human Genetics, VIB, KU Leuven, Belgium
- The Alfred Hospital and Monash University