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Investigating the mechanisms by which Tp53 prevents the development of leukaemia, lymphoma

Elizabeth Lieschke
Elizabeth Lieschke, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (Melbourne)
Funding period: 2019-2022

This PhD is kindly supported by Bridgestone Australia.

Ms Lieschke’s research investigates the mechanism by which tumour suppressor gene, Tp53, prevents the development of leukaemia, lymphoma and other cancers; and the processes by which activation of Tp53 kills malignant cells.

The study aims to understand why some blood cancer cells die, whilst other cancer cells undergo cell cycle arrest/cell senescence and are therefore more likely to relapse following cancer therapy.

Ms Lieschke and team hopes to identify biomarkers that will enable the team to predict the nature of the response of cancer cells to drugs that activate Tp53 and leading to therapies that will be more personalised and targeted.

Mutations in Tp53 occur frequently in blood cancers that relapse following therapy and for these patients, the prognosis is extremely poor. A deeper understanding of the impact of mutations in Tp53 on the expression of critical genes involved in tumour suppression will inform the design of novel therapeutics that could act downstream of Tp53, and efficiently kill mutant Tp53 expressing blood cancers. The team believes such therapies are desperately needed because they would improve the prognosis for blood cancer patients.

PhD scholarships are co-funded by the Leukaemia Foundation and the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ).