Evolution of the cancer genome

26 Nov 2010

A scientist who is leading an international search for cancer-causing genes is the final speaker in The University of Queensland Centenary Oration Series. 

UK-based cancer researcher Professor Michael Stratton will deliver his oration on the evolution of the cancer genome at the Customs House on Tuesday, 7 December 2010. 

Joint head of the Cancer Genome Project and Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Professor Stratton studies the genetics of cancer and hit the headlines in 1994 when he and colleague Dr Richard Wooster discovered the first of a series of genes, which, when mutated, are responsible for causing breast cancer. 

“All cancers arise from genetic mutations within cells. These mutations happen when cells divide and can be stimulated from external influences such as viruses and tobacco smoke,” Professor Stratton said. 

“These mutations are not bad for the individual cell. In fact they are advantageous mutations that allow the cell to proliferate and invade tissues and spread within the body – resulting in cancer. 

“I will speak in Brisbane about the large scale sequencing of the genomes of human cancers being conducted around the world and some of the work that my group has done over the last few years in identifying genes that are critical to the development of human cancers. 

“Understanding the origins of human cancer has enormous implications for developing novel therapies and preventive strategies.” 

Professor Stratton helped established the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in 2000. 

ICGC involves researchers from around the world who are conducting large-scale searches for new cancer genes. Professor Sean Grimmond from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at UQ is leading the Australian group searching for gene mutations that cause ovarian and pancreatic cancers. 

Dr Stratton's free public oration will be held at 6.30pm on Tuesday, 7 December at The Long Room, Customs House, 399 Queen St, Brisbane. 

To register to attend Dr Stratton's oration, please go to http://www.uq.edu.au/centenary/oration-series 

Media: Kathy Grube at UQ Communications (07 3346 0561 or k.grube@uq.edu.au)