Fiona is a Fellow of the Queensland Head and Neck Cancer Centre and is a leading expert in the field of receptor trafficking. Fiona has a PhD from the University of Cambridge (UK), was a Welcome Trust Prize Post-Doctoral Fellow at The Scripps Research Institute (USA) and received a Juvenile Diabetes International Fellowship at the University of Queensland. Fiona heads a laboratory focused on improving the response prediction and success of tumour therapies.
In particular, she hopes to exert control over some receptors that are a focus of head and neck cancer therapy (receptors: molecular structures in, or on the surface of, a cell which can bind other substances). Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is abundant in some cancers. Anti-EGFR antibodies are used to treat head and neck cancers (antibodies: proteins that bind specifically to other molecules). Anti-EGFR antibodies bind to EGF receptor molecules. However, the therapy can have harsh side effects and patients’ responses can vary widely. Fiona is currently conducting a clinical trial to determine whether stemetil, a drug that has been used in clinical practice for decades, can be re-purposed to lock EGFR to the surface of cells – thereby improving the effectiveness of anti-EGFR antibody therapy.