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Gut Cancer

Bowel cancer is a preventable disease, if early bowel cancers are detected they can be removed and >95% of patients are cured. Yet over 4000 Australians still die from this cancer each year. We need to do better to prevent, find and treat these cancers.

Projects in the lab focus on finding the hidden, early cancers that are not found by current population bowel cancer screening tests. We combine recent technological advances to develop new tests to better detect these lesions and predict which will become killers. We will rapidly move our best candidates to existing clinical cohorts for evaluation, to expedite translation to the clinic.

Together with our Australian research and US-based corporate partners, we also assess personalised treatment regimes for advanced disease using patient samples grown in a dish. If this works, it will guide therapy choice for patients, reducing unwarranted side-effects and identifying treatment that will work most effectively for each patient.

Projects in the lab also investigate how the bacterial community in our gut is changed in cancer, and the role this plays in promoting this disease. This may lead to a probiotic supplement for high risk people to assist with bowel cancer detection or prevention in the future.

Lead researcher: Dr Susan Woods

Research team


  • Associate Professor Daniel Worthley (SAHMRI)
  • Professor Robert Ramsay (Peter Mac Cancer Centre)
  • Associate Professor Tarik Sammour (Royal Adelaide Hospital/University of Adelaide)
  • Associate Professor Helen Abud (Monash)
  • Associate Professor Vicki Whitehall (QIMR-B)
  • Professor Tony Burgess (WEHI)

Interested in undertaking a postgraduate research degree with us?

We offer exciting opportunities for researchers at the honours, masters and PhD levels. Our research degrees are open to students from a broad range of backgrounds, and range from basic sciences to clinical research. If you are interested in human health, consider furthering your research career with us.