Dr Sumit Sahni

Stopping pancreatic cancer from spreading

Sumit is a postdoctoral researcher at the Molecular Pharmacology and Pathology Program at the University of Sydney.

He researches new, innovative treatments for pancreatic cancer, specifically targeting the speed with which the disease metastasises.

Pancreatic cancer is a major clinical problem. It is characterised by highly malignant tumours, and patients currently have the lowest five-year survival rate of any cancer at just 7.7%

The Research

Sumit’s laboratory has already developed new anti-pancreatic cancer agents – one of which has entered clinical trials – that target AMPK, a protein involved in energy balance within cells.

With the Cure Cancer Australia grant, Sumit is using these new medications to target AMPK–dependent energy pathways in the body and test how they, and the protein, react.

“This is the first study assessing the role of AMPK in the progression of pancreatic cancer in clinical samples,” he says. “It’s exciting because our studies could lead to the development of new, more advanced and effective drugs”.

Immense motivation

Sumit is inspired in his work by meeting pancreatic cancer survivors. “Talking with them has provided me with immense motivation to fight against this devastating clinical problem,” he says.

To people diagnosed with this disease, Sumit says, “Keep hope alive, because new, clinically-relevant research options are in the pipeline.”

Sumit is very grateful for his Cure Cancer Australia grant and cites the importance of funding to ensure progress continues.

“It’s getting very hard to get an early-career grant,” he says. “As the scientific assessment is done by the National Health and Medical Research Council, it’s difficult to make reviewers understand that this is an early-career grant and should be assessed relative to opportunity.”

Outside of work, Sumit is interested in politics and current affairs, and whenever he gets the chance, he enjoys playing table tennis. He is married and has a young son.


Sumit is funded by Cure Cancer Australia through the Cancer Australia Priority-driven Cancer Support Scheme. His grant is solely funded by The Can Too Foundation

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