Dr Heather Cunliffe's Molecular Oncology Group focuses on the discovery and validation of biomarkers in ovarian and breast cancers. Recognising biomarkers helps clinicians understand the type and severity of the disease, and assists their selection of an optimal treatment strategy for each patient. This improves treatment outcomes.

After a decade of high-resolution genomic surveys of patient tumour samples, conducted by many groups, it was found that there are distinct disease subtypes that share key underlying biology. Knowing this enables more accurate predictions of how the tumour might respond to particular therapies. Modern technologies like this have ushered in a new era of precision medicine, revolutionising approaches to diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy.

This evidence-based treatment is now influential in the design of clinical trials for new treatments, and key insights have been gained through correlative molecular studies.

Our Molecular Oncology Group leverages clinical and comprehensive molecular information to understand the biological basis of disease in aggressive subtypes of breast and ovarian cancer. Our goals are to use our discoveries for earlier diagnostics, improved prognostics and smarter treatments.

We focus on:

  • Small cell ovarian cancer
  • Platinum and taxane-resistant ovarian cancer
  • Triple negative breast cancer
  • Inflammatory breast cancer

Earlier CTCR ovarian research

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Otago Spotlight Series

Dr Heather Cunliffe featured in the 2015 Otago Spotlight Series: Cancer Research symposium.
View her presentation:

Heather Cunliffe tn
Molecularly-informed treatment strategies in breast and ovarian cancer (video approx 18 minutes)

Molecularly-informed treatment strategies in breast and ovarian cancer (PDF 5.3MB)

Invasive breast cancer cells tn
Invasive breast cancer cells


Mayo Clinic, Arizona, USA:

  • Barbara Pockaj MD
  • Michael Barrett PhD
  • Anne McCullough MD

University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Centre:

  • V. Craig Jordan OBE PhD DSc FMedSci


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