Dr Lauren Aoude

Investigating characteristics of melanoma to improve how patients are treated in the clinic

Lauren is a researcher in the Surgical Oncology Group at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute. She is an NHMRC Early Career Fellow with over 10 years’ experience in the field of melanoma biology. Currently, she investigates the genomics that drive melanoma tumours. Her current work combines exome sequencing data from melanoma patients with PET/CT scans with the aim of improving the way in which patients are treated in the clinic.

Lauren completed a PhD in melanoma genetics at the University of Queensland in 2014. During her PhD, she was involved in whole-genome/exome sequencing of over 250 melanoma families. In 2014 she received the University of Queensland Dean’s award for outstanding research higher degree thesis.

The Research

Melanoma has a profound effect on the lives of many Australians. While treatments for this disease have evolved rapidly in the past 7 years, there is still a large gap in knowledge regarding who will respond to these new therapies. This problem forms the basis for this PdCCRS Young Investigator project, as better prediction of treatment outcome will allow patients to receive the most appropriate type and timing of care, rather than subjecting patients to expensive drug schedules with serious side effects. This project combines deep whole-exome sequencing of tumours with routine PET/CT imaging to confirm an association between clinical presentation, tumour genomic heterogeneity and PET/CT scans in melanoma patients.

The Importance of funding

‘The Cure Cancer Australia grant is vitally important to my work, and without it this research could not be done,’ says Lauren. ‘It gives me the means as a young investigator to run my own project and become a more independent researcher. The grant has given me the opportunity to run a project as a lead investigator. I aspire to run my own lab one day and to have the research support of a major funding body is very exciting. Personally, I am thrilled to undertake this project because I believe it is an important body of work that could change the way in which melanoma patients are treated in the future.’

Lauren is funded by Cure Cancer Australia, solely supported by The Can Too Foundation.

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