Dr Matt Dun

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Equipment Grant
2017 Equipment Grant
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Travel Grant
2017 Travel Grant
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2016 Project Grant
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2016 Project Grant
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2016 Project Grant
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2015 Project Grant
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2015 Project Grant
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2015 Travel Grant
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2014 Project Grant
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2014 Project Grant
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2013 Project Grant
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2013 Project Grant
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2012 Project Grant

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. 

Biography

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. 

Specialised/Technical Skills 

  • Characterisation of protein expression
  • Proteomic profiling including iTRAQ and SILAC
  • Phosphoproteomics
  • 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.

Affiliations

  • 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
     

2018

Receptor tyrosine kinase mutations in acute myeloid leukaemia promote PP2A and p53 inhibition through the phosphorylation of SBDS
Project Grant
Description:

AML (acute myeloid leukemia) is a very aggressive form of leukemia. Tumour suppressor proteins are critically important for normal healthy cells to be protected from genetic mutations. However in AML mutations occur in the genes responsible for stem growth and cell differentiation. The growth of the blood stem cells is accelerated but their differentiation into other cells is inhibited.

more
Tetraspanin CD9; more than just an exosome marker - A novel biomarker to target for prostate cancer
Project Grant
Description:

Currently the major hurdle facing the successful treatment of solid cancers is the development of metastases (tumour spread), and our lack of understanding of what controls this process.

more
Developing new treatments for resistance in acute myeloid leukaemia
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Researchers:
Description:

Treatment for the most common and deadly form of blood cancer (acute myeloid leukaemia) hasn’t changed in over 40 years. New treatments fail because leukaemia’s genes have a high propensity to mutate, causing rapid resistance to therapies. We have discovered that these gene mutations cause chemical-modifications to the cells defence systems. Unrestrained growth of these cancerous cells results in the production of excess reactive by-products that progressively change the cancer, making long-term treatment response and patient survival unlikely. This project will test whether targeting these chemical-modifications will be a more effective new treatment strategy.

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Targeting DNA repair for the improved treatment of blood cancers
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Matt Dun, Dr Nikki Verrills

Description:

By inhibiting a key player in the DNA repair pathway we could improve the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic treatments.

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Early detection and monitoring of DIPG
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Researchers:
Description:

Half of all malignant childhood gliomas arise in the brainstem, most frequently in the ventral pons as diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG). The anatomical location of the tumour precludes surgical resection, leaving only radiotherapy as the established therapy. Unfortunately, radiotherapy is only temporarily beneficial, and occasionally completely fails, leaving patients without treatment option.

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2017

Receptor tyrosine kinase mutations in acute myeloid leukaemia promote PP2A and p53 inhibition through the phosphorylation of SBDS
Project Grant
Description:

AML (acute myeloid leukemia) is a very aggressive form of leukemia. Tumour suppressor proteins are critically important for normal healthy cells to be protected from genetic mutations. However in AML mutations occur in the genes responsible for stem growth and cell differentiation. The growth of the blood stem cells is accelerated but their differentiation into other cells is inhibited.

more
JAK3 Signalling in T-cell ALL: KU Leuven - VIB, COOLS - UoN-HCRA, DUN collaboration
Project Grant
Researchers:
Description:

To aid international collaboration with KU Leuven - VIB in Belgium.

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Tetraspanin CD9; more than just an exosome marker - A novel biomarker to target for prostate cancer
Project Grant
Description:

Currently the major hurdle facing the successful treatment of solid cancers is the development of metastases (tumour spread), and our lack of understanding of what controls this process.

more
Determining the mechanisms underpinning leukaemic transformation for children suffering from Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS)
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Matt Dun, Dr Nikki Verrills, Dr Jeremy Robertson

Description:

Shwachman-Diamond-Syndrome (SDS) is an inherited disease that affects 1 in every 76,000 children. Dysfunction of the child’s blood and circulatory system occurs in nearly all patients, causing increased rates of infection and decreased capacity to transport oxygen. Unfortunately, the overall survival of a young person with SDS is only 35 years, and this is attributed to sepsis, organ failure and most frequently the development of leukaemia. 

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Developing new treatments for resistance in acute myeloid leukaemia
Project Grant
Researchers:
Description:

Treatment for the most common and deadly form of blood cancer (acute myeloid leukaemia) hasn’t changed in over 40 years. New treatments fail because leukaemia’s genes have a high propensity to mutate, causing rapid resistance to therapies. We have discovered that these gene mutations cause chemical-modifications to the cells defence systems. Unrestrained growth of these cancerous cells results in the production of excess reactive by-products that progressively change the cancer, making long-term treatment response and patient survival unlikely. This project will test whether targeting these chemical-modifications will be a more effective new treatment strategy.

more
MRSP Equipment Grant
Equipment Grant
Researchers:

Dr Matt Dun, Prof Hubert Hondermarck, Prof Murray Cairns, Prof Brett Nixon, Phillip Dickson, Dr Nikki Verrills

Description:

ChemiDoc MP System - this equipment will help directly facilitate the advanced research needs of >20 different groups of HMRI: Cancer (Dun, Hondermarck,  Verrills, Skelding, Tanwar, Weidenhofer, Scarlet, Bowden, Thorne etc), Brain and Mental Health  (Cairns, Dickson, Dayas, Jobling, Smith, Brichta, Lim etc) Pregnancy and Reproduction (Nixon,  Aitken, De Iuliis, Roman, Bromfield, Pringle) Information Based Medicine (Scott, Milward, Kiejda), VIVA (Hansbro, Starkey) and therefore an estimated >80 HDR students, ECRs and research assistants. 

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Jennie Thomas Medical Research Travel Grant
Travel Grant
Researchers:

 David Skerrett-Byrne, Prof Phil Hansbro, Dr Matt Dun

2016

Targeting DNA repair for the improved treatment of blood cancers
Project Grant
Description:

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is the most common form of acute leukaemia, and it has the lowest 5yr survival rate at a dismal 24%. Recently, improved technologies have enabled researchers to identify a number of mutations that recur in AML.

more
Receptor tyrosine kinase mutations in acute myeloid leukaemia promote PP2A and p53 inhibition through the phosphorylation of SBDS
Project Grant
Description:

AML (acute myeloid leukemia) is a very aggressive form of leukemia. Tumour suppressor proteins are critically important for normal healthy cells to be protected from genetic mutations. However in AML mutations occur in the genes responsible for stem growth and cell differentiation.

more
Tetraspanin CD9; more than just an exosome marker - A novel biomarker to target for prostate cancer
Project Grant
Description:

Currently the major hurdle facing the successful treatment of solid cancers is the development of metastases (tumour spread), and our lack of understanding of what controls this process.

more

2015

Jennie Thomas Medical Research Travel Grant
Travel Grant
Researchers:
Description:

Matt will use his Jennie Thomas medical research travel grant to attend the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) Targeted Proteomics Course to be held at the Centre for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona, Spain where he will learn the theory and methods necessary to implement targeted proteomics workflow on patient samples which he will then pass onto the researchers of HMRI.
 

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JAK3 Signalling in T-cell ALL: KU Leuven - VIB, COOLS - UoN-HCRA, DUN collaboration
Project Grant
Understanding how lung infections in childhood promote the development of chronic lung diseases in later life
Project Grant
Researchers:
Description:

Early-life lung infections, caused by respiratory bacteria and viruses, lead to permanent alterations in lung structure and function that predispose children to the development of chronic lung diseases such as asthma and emphysema in later-life.

more
Tetraspanin CD9; more than just an exosome marker - A novel biomarker to target for prostate cancer
Project Grant
Description:

Currently the major hurdle facing the successful treatment of solid cancers is the development of metastases (tumour spread), and our lack of understanding of what controls this process. 

more

2014

Identification of better diagnostic tools and treatment regimens for children with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS)
Project Grant
Description:

Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS) is an inherited condition affecting bone marrow, the pancreas, skeletal system, and other organ systems. 

more
Tetraspanin CD9; more than just an exosome marker - A novel biomarker to target for prostate cancer
Project Grant
Description:

Currently the major hurdle facing the successful treatment of solid cancers is the development of metastases (tumour spread), and our lack of understanding of what controls this process.

more

2013

Defining the role of shwachman-bodien diamond syndrome protein (SBDS) in PP2A inhibition in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)
Project Grant
Description:

A new treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia

more
Identifying novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
Project Grant
Description:

Finding the ‘disease-causing’ mutations and proteins in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia to develop new treatment strategies.

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2012

Proteomics of Cancer - International Travel Grant
Project Grant
Researchers: