Professor Xu Dong Zhang

Professor Xu Dong Zhang - HMRI Cancer Program Leader
Research Program:
Project Grant
2017 Project Grant
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2016 Project Grant
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2015 Project 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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2011 Project Grant
Equipment Grant
2011 Equipment Grant
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2010 Project Grant
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2010 Project Grant
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2007 Project Grant
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2007 Project Grant
HMRI Award for Early Career Research
2004 HMRI Award for Early Career Research
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2003 Project Grant
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2002 Project Grant

How did you become a researcher?

I practised as a surgical oncologist in China before I came to Australia and it helped me to understand how frustrating it can be to clinical manage patients with latter-stage cancer.

In Australia I did my PhD in cancer research and I diverted by career to basic science with the aim of finding treatments for metastatic melanoma. This is a beautiful country but it has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world – it particularly impacts young people aged 30-45. I was shocked by the scale of the problem and wanted to do something about it.

 

What does your research involve?

We grow melanoma cells in the laboratory, we use melanoma cells from patients and we have laboratory models and we test our treatments. We screen everything from genes to proteins and other possible factors affecting the outcomes of melanoma patients, then we look at ways to manipulate the cellular mechanisms and pathways.

Biography

Professor Xu Dong Zhang is a senior researcher with the University of Newcastle and co-leader of the HMRI Cancer research program. His work focuses on the mechanisms behind the development of melanoma and creating potential treatments to stop melanomas from spreading and potentially becoming fatal.

Melanoma or skin cancer is the third most common cancer in Australia, with two in every three Australians diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. Professor Zhang is a world leading researcher in the field of translational melanoma research, working for the past 15 years to improve the outcomes of the 400,000 Australians treated for skin cancer each year.

There is no cure for skin cancers which spread beyond the original site of detection. Using advanced molecular and biochemical techniques, Professor Zhang’s research aims to manipulate the chemical makeup and signaling properties of cancer cells which make them so difficult to treat. In 2013, Professor Zhang discovered a key molecule called PIB5PA which is essential for the normal functioning of cells and is commonly reduced in melanoma cells. By targeting molecules like PIB5PA and other important markers of melanoma cells which make them able to evade normal cellular death mechanisms, Professor Zhang is pioneering personalised treatments formetastatic melanomas which may for the first time, provide an effective treatment for patients with advanced skin cancer.

Professor Zhang has received many prestigious awards invited presentations throughout his career including the HMRI Young Researcher of the Year in 2004 and presentations at the World Congress for Melanoma. Professor Zhang has strong collaborative links with local and international researchers and also with biotechnology companies working to improve current and novel treatments for melanoma.

Professor Zhang has established fruitful collaborations with several Top 20 Universities in China, including the University of Science and Technology of China, the Sichuan University, and the Sun Yat-sen University.  He also holds honorary professorships at a number of other institutions in China, including the Anhui Medical University, the Fourth Military Medical University, and the Shanxi Cancer Hospital and Shanxi Cancer Institute. He is an honorary director of the Cellular and Molecular Biology Laboratory at the Shanxi Cancer Hospital and Shanxi Cancer Institute.

His global reputation is reflected by his H Factor of 31, his invited presentations in many international and national conferences, and his appointment on the editorial board for a number of scientific journals.

Professor Zhang has contributed to over 120 research papers and received in excess of $14 million in grant funding.

Specialised/Technical Skills:
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Cell Death
  • Oncology
  • Signal Transduction

 

2017

Oncogenic upregulation of the long noncoding RNA MAFG-AS1
Project Grant
Description:

It has become apparent over the last decade that a class of molecules called long noncoding RNAs (lncRNA), which were originally thought to be ‘junk’ in mammalian cells, play a major role in controlling gene expression and disease. 

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2016

Improving the treatment benefit of immunotherapy in cancer
Project Grant
Description:

Cancer immunotherapy is a therapeutic strategy that harnesses cancer patients own immune system to specifically target cancer cells. A new class of newly developed drugs in cancer immunotherapy (called immune checkpoint inhibitors) can cause long lasting regression of tumors and prevent relapse but only a small number of patients currently benefit from these drugs.

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2015

A novel approach to destruct melanoma
Project Grant
Description:

Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world and kills more young Australians aged 20–34 years old than any other single cancer. 

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2014

Overcoming resistance of KRAS mutant colon cancer to treatment by targeting heat shock protein 90
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Description:

Most patients with late stage bowel cancer will eventually die of the disease because bowel cancer cells are resistant to drug treatment.

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Circulating microRNAs and RNAs as biomarkers of response and toxicity to chemoradiotherapy for oesophageal cancer
Project Grant
Description:

Oesophageal cancer is the eighth-most common cancer globally and the sixth-most common cause of cancer related death in the Western world.

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2013

RIPK1 as a novel therapeutic target in melanoma
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Researchers:
Description:

A new target for melanoma treatment 

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2011

The Role of Phosphatidylinositol 4, 5-Bisphosphate 5-Phosphatase A (PIB5PA) in Regulation of PI3K/Akt Signalling in Melanoma - HMRI Project Grant
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Researchers:
High-Resolution Isoelectric Phosphoprotein Signalling System for Signalling Research, Biomarker Validation and Drug Development
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Researchers:

2010

Regulation of BimS splicing in response of human melanoma cells to inhibition of BRAFVV600E
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The Role of micro-RNA-149 in Regulation of Mcl-1 in Human Melanoma under Stress
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2007

The role of p53 Isoforms in chemoresistances of human melanoma
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Xu Dong Zhang, Mrs Kelly Kiejda
 

The role of p53 Isoforms in chemoresistances of human melanoma
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Xu Dong Zhang, Mrs Kelly Kiejda
 

2004

Award for Early Career Research - Xu Dong Zhang
HMRI Award for Early Career Research

2003

Regulation of TNF Apoptosis Inducing Ligand (Trail) Receptor Expression in Human Melanoma Cells
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Peter Hersey, Professor Xu Dong Zhang
 

2002

Promoting human melanoma cell death
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Peter Hersey, Dr Xu Zhang