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Couples in Biomedical Science – Suzanne Cory AC and Jerry Adams

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The Auditorium

Peter Doherty Institute

792 Elizabeth Stret

Melbourne, Victoria 3000

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From cancer gene discoveries to novel cancer drugs

Suzanne Cory AC and Jerry M Adams
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

While at university at opposite ends of the earth, we both were fascinated to see how the emerging science of molecular biology was unravelling the secrets of life. Hence, we set out to study this new science of the genes.

After meeting at the famed Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, our scientific and life journeys became tightly entwined, launching us on a 50-year odyssey from investigating the genetics of antibody production to exploring the genetics of cancer and cell death. Today, we shall describe how studying chromosome aberrations in cancer led us to help develop a new anticancer agent called Venetoclax, which has proved remarkably effective as a single agent for one type of leukemia. Other members of this novel drug class, which mimic natural triggers of cell death, are now entering clinical trials. Through such agents, it is hoped that a number of cancers will become controllable or even curable.



Jerry M Adams PhD FAA FRS
After undergraduate studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, Jerry Adams undertook his PhD at Harvard University with James D. Watson, discovering how all polypeptide chains are initiated. His postdoctoral studies with Fred Sanger in Cambridge and at the University of Geneva pioneered work on messenger RNA. In 1971, he and Suzanne Cory joined Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, where they established the first molecular biology laboratory, initially to study the basis of antibody diversity. Since 1982 he and his colleagues have focussed on the genetic changes that cause cancer and their implications for its treatment.

Their work illuminated how chromosome translocations drive lymphoma development. Following his seminal discovery in 1988 (with Cory and David Vaux) that cell death (apoptosis) is impaired in cancer cells, Adams has concentrated on its role in cancer development, the mechanisms that control cell death and ways of exploiting the apoptotic machinery to improve cancer therapy. His discoveries helped lay the foundation for a new class of anti-cancer drugs that directly activate the apoptosis switch in tumour cells. The first such drug was licensed for treating a refractory form of leukemia in 2016, and the susceptibility of other cancers is under study. His work has led to over 230 scientific publications and election to the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society (UK), the US National Academy of Science and the Academy of the American Association for Cancer Research.


Suzanne Cory AC PhD FAA FRS
Suzanne Cory graduated in biochemistry from The University of Melbourne and gained her PhD in Francis Crick’s department at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. Following postdoctoral studies at the University of Geneva, she returned to Melbourne in 1971 to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, where she and Jerry Adams set up the first molecular biology laboratory. Her research has had a major impact in the fields of immunology and cancer, most notably clarifying the molecular basis for chromosome translocations associated with leukemias and lymphomas and how the BCL-2 protein family controls cell life and death. From 1996 to 2009 she was Director of the

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, where she is currently an Honorary Distinguished Professorial Fellow. She was President of the Australian Academy of Science from 2010 to 2014. Her scientific achievements have attracted numerous honours and awards, including election to the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society (UK), the US National Academy of Science, the French Academy of Sciences, the Japan Academy and the Academy of the American Association for Cancer Research.


Date:
Thursday, 26 September 2019

Time:
6.00pm – 7.00pm.
Refreshments served from 5.00pm.

Venue:
Auditorium, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity
792 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne Vic 3000

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Peter Doherty Institute

792 Elizabeth Stret

Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Australia

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