Focal Adhesion Biology

Group leader: Associate Professor Geraldine O'Neill

The spread of cancer cells from the primary tumour to secondary sites in the body (metastasis) is the overwhelming cause of death from cancer. However we still do not have a clear understanding of how metastasis occurs, and so we have few therapies that are able to target it effectively.

The aim of the Focal Adhesion Biology group is to understand the molecular events that occur in metastasis. We are working to understand the fundamental regulation of cell migration, a process that underpins the development of metastatic, disseminated cancer. The definition of the core events that cause the spread of cancer cells is a key step to designing future therapies that directly target metastasis.

The team's research focuses on how cancer cells coordinate their actin cytoskeleton with adhesion to the extra-cellular matrix during dissemination and invasion. We use 3D cell culture models and microscopy-based cell biology approaches to investigate the fundamental cellular machinery involved in migration and invasion.

Led by Associate Professor Geraldine O'Neill, our research group is part of the Brain Cancer Discovery Collaborative. This Australia-wide collaboration is funded by Cure Brain Cancer Foundation to collectively investigate treatments and potential cures for brain cancers.