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Contact Details

+64 3 479 2785
Research Fellow
Department of Pathology (Dunedin)
BSc(Hons) PhD
Research summary
The emergence of drug tolerant persistors in response to targeted cancer therapy
  • Research Student Supervision: PGDip MLSc and PhD candidates
  • Tutor for ELM2 (clinical pathology) and PSCI 202 (Medicines and Disease)
  • Guest lecturer for PATH 302
  • Associate Member, American Association for Cancer Research 2016 to present
  • Associate Investigator, Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Discovery (MWC) 2019 to present


My research programme is focused on two main areas.

Understanding the phenomenon of drug tolerance in cancer

Many melanoma and lung cancer patients frequently show dramatic responses when treated with targeted therapies (kinase inhibitors). Unfortunately, these responses are short-lived and patients relapse with resistant tumours. Together with Dr Glen Reid, I am investigating the ability of cancer cells to shift to drug-tolerant states, allowing their initial survival – and eventual resistance – following treatment with targeted therapies. This work is funded by a Marsden project grant.

Identifying small molecule inhibitors of p53 variants

Despite oncogenic p53 variants being reported in multiple tumour types, there are no known inhibitors of p53 variants. In addition, little is known about their regulation and therefore how to inhibit their activity. Together with Professor Antony Braithwaite I am investigating how to inhibit these oncogenic variants of p53. This work is funded by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand.

Additional details

There are several research projects available, ranging from honours and master’s to PhD. Interested graduate and postgraduate students are encouraged to make contact to further discuss these projects.

  1. Too much of a good thing? A potential role for untranslated p53 mRNA in cancer biology. Level: honours / master’s
  2. A phoenix from the ashes: The role of dying cancer cells in the emergence of drug tolerance. Level: honours / master’s
  3. Inhibiting adaptive mutability to prevent the emergence of drug resistance. Level: honours / master’s
  4. The impact of KRAS expression levels on the emergence of drug tolerance in lung cancer. Level: honours / master’s


Mehta, S., Campbell, H., Drummond, C. J., Li, K., Murray, K., Slatter, T., … Braithwaite, A. W. (2021). Adaptive homeostasis and the p53 isoform network. EMBO Reports, 22, e53085. doi: 10.15252/embr.202153085 Journal - Research Other

Elgar, K., Drummond, C. J., & Reid, G. (2021). Using fluorescence-activated cell sorting to characterise drug-tolerant A375 melanoma populations. New Zealand Medical Journal, 134(1543), (pp. 155-156). Retrieved from Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Langdon, C. G., Gadek, K. E., Garcia, M. R., Evans, M. K., Reed, K. B., Bush, M., … Drummond, C. J., … Hatley, M. E. (2021). Synthetic essentiality between PTEN and core dependency factor PAX7 dictates rhabdomyosarcoma identity. Nature Communications, 12, 5520. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-25829-4 Journal - Research Article

Eiholzer, R. A., Mehta, S., Kazantseva, M., Drummond, C. J., McKinney, C., Young, K., … Fleming, N., Morrin, H. R., Reader, K., Royds, J. A., Landmann, M., Petrich, S., … Taha, A., Hung, N. A., Slatter, T. L., & Braithwaite, A. W. (2020). Intronic TP53 polymorphisms are associated with increased Δ133TP53 transcript, immune infiltration and cancer risk. Cancers, 12(9), 2472. doi: 10.3390/cancers12092472 Journal - Research Article

Kazantseva, M., Mehta, S., Eiholzer, R. A., Gimenez, G., Bowie, S., Campbell, H., Reily-Bell, A. L., … Ray, S., Drummond, C. J., Reid, G., … Wiles, A., Morrin, H. R., Reader, K. L., Hung, N. A., Baird, M. A., Slatter, T. L., & Braithwaite, A. W. (2019). The Δ133p53β isoform promotes an immunosuppressive environment leading to aggressive prostate cancer. Cell Death & Disease, 10, 631. doi: 10.1038/s41419-019-1861-1 Journal - Research Article

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