Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Mackenzie cancer research areas

The Mackenzie Cancer Research Group is a multidisciplinary research group that comprises experts in genetics and proteomics, cell culture and in vivo models, clinical pharmacology and medical oncology.

Cancer risk and genetics

Genomic technologies offer powerful approaches for obtaining detailed genetic information.

While these technologies offer potential to transform clinical care, they also present future challenges for patients and their doctors.

Deciding who should receive genetic testing, and interpreting the test results, are two major dilemmas for health care professionals.

Our laboratory aims to address these issues by using genomic and transcriptomic-based methods to identify and evaluate genetic changes that cause cancer, including breast, ovarian and colorectal cancer.

Current Research

  • The New Zealand Familial Breast Cancer Study
  • Clinical evaluation of genetic variants in breast/ovarian cancer susceptibility genes (Eg. BRCA1 and BRCA2)
  • Identification of breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility and modifier genes
  • Identification of prognostic gene markers in colorectal cancer

Principal investigators

Dr Logan Walker and Professor Bridget Robinson

Cancer, obesity and exercise

Physical inactivity and related obesity are modifiable risk factors for a range of cancers, and we are particularly interested in breast and colorectal cancer.

We have used an in vitro transwell co-culture model to study interactions between human primary breast adipocytes (fat cells) and breast cancer cells, and used discovery mass spectrometry to identify proteins differentially secreted by cancer-associated adipocytes and breast cancer cells after transwell co-culture.

We have also developed several in vivo models to study the effect of dyslipidaemia and exercise on tumour physiology. Changes in tumour hypoxia and perfusion, as well as the immune-response, are areas of investigation.

Alongside our laboratory studies, we have collaborative clinical studies underway to understand the impact of obesity and physical activity on patients with breast cancer.

Principal investigators

Dr Margaret Currie, Associate Professor Gabi Dachs, Professor Bridget Robinson, Dr Matthew Strother, Dr Elisabeth Phillips

Cancer and vitamin C

We have a long-standing interest in tumour hypoxia. This lack of oxygen triggers survival factors in cancer cells, including the transcription factor HIF-1, and induce an aggressive tumour phenotype.

In our collaboration with Margreet Vissers (CFRR), we have shown that vitamin C is able to dampen this aggressive phenotype via control of HIF-1 in cell culture and in vivo models.

We have also seen an association between HIF-1 and vitamin C levels in a range of human cancers (from the Cancer Society Tissue Bank), and patient outcome.

We are now interested in finding out what factors in tumours allow vitamin C to accumulate. We also want to know how and when vitamin C may be used in the clinical situation.

Principal investigators

Associate Professor Gabi Dachs, Professor Bridget Robinson and Professor Margreet Vissers

Our funding sources

We receive funding to carry out our research from: