Dr Su Yin (‘Esther’) Lim

Improving current melanoma therapies

Esther is a researcher at the Precision Cancer Therapy Group at Macquarie University. Her research is focused on melanoma – a common, aggressive form of skin cancer.

If not treated in its early stages, melanoma has a high mortality rate. Australia has the highest occurrence of this disease with diagnosis of around 14,000 new cases expected in 2017. Worldwide, approximately 132,000 cases are diagnosed each year.

Esther is determined to make a difference – and, she says, will do so “through persistence, tenacity and hard work”.

The Research

Esther’s research looks for ways to boost the human immune system to improve the effectiveness of current melanoma therapies.

Specifically, she investigates inhibitors for a protein pathway in the body known as MAPK, which plays a key role in the development of melanoma.

Work in this field has already improved survival rates of the 30-40% of Australian patients who have a form of the disease known as BRAF-mutant melanoma.

“Outcomes of this project will translate rapidly into clinical practice, and will hopefully help improve patients’ lives,” she says.

Funding means progress

Cure Cancer Australia’s funding enables Esther to continue her research in this area. She describes it as “a massive encouragement for me to keep going.”

Esther believes that the biggest challenge for cancer medicine is that there’s so much research and work to be done, and never enough funding to support it in the way that it deserves.

“That’s why the Cure Cancer Australia grants are so important; they foster the progress of understanding a very difficult disease and the discovery of new treatments,” she says.

To cancer patients and their families, Esther has a message of hope: “We’ve made significant leaps in understanding this disease and all cancer researchers, including myself, are working very hard towards finding better treatments and, ultimately, a cure.”


Esther is funded by Cure Cancer Australia and Cancer Australia through the Cancer Australia Priority-Driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme. Her grant is solely supported by The Can Too Foundation

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