Dr Frances Byrne Awarded REDI Fellowship

BABS' Senior Lecturer Dr Frances Byrne has recently been awarded one of only ten national Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) Fellowships. The REDI Fellowship will allow Dr Byrne to pursue a placement with a key industry partner Yuhan ANZ to develop not only relevant skills in drug licensing and gain insight into the industry, but also to build on her significant experience working in cancer metabolism drug discovery, and development.

Dr Byrne’s work has been focused on cancer metabolism and looking at new ways in which to kill cancer cells by targeting their metabolic vulnerabilities. Dr Bryne completed her PhD with Prof. Maria Kavallaris in paediatric oncology at the Children’s Cancer Institute (2008-2012) and then moved to the USA (University of Virginia) to complete a Postdoctoral position in cancer drug discovery. The aim of this project was to identify novel compounds that target the unique metabolism of cancer cells, commonly known as the Warburg Effect. Dr Byrne discovered a 1,4-Naphthoquinone (referred to as BH10) that is toxic to a broad range of cancer cell types with lower toxicity to non-cancerous cells. And has been working with a medicinal chemist at UNSW to develop next-generation derivatives of BH10 that are novel (molecule structures are not in the public domain) and have improved pharmacokinetic properties. In addition to this project, Dr Byrne is also investigating the anti-cancer properties of novel mitochondrial uncoupler molecules (in collaboration with Dr Kyle Hoehn, Continuum Biosciences/UNSW) and determining how dietary fructose promotes the development of liver cancer.

Both Dr Lecturer Frances Byrne and A/Prof Kyle Hoehn were participants of The Bridge Program 2020. The Bridge Program delivers education programs that equips early- and mid-career researchers, academics and entrepreneurs with the necessary knowledge, skills and to enable successful commercialisation of Australian pharmaceutical and biotechnology research. The Bridge Program is supported by the government body MTPConnect, with industry matched funding from major pharmaceutical companies and BABS at UNSW. BABS at UNSW is one of 13 national partners of The Bridge Program, with Dr Lisa Selbie representing BABS and the UNSW on the Steering Committee of The Bridge Program.

Applications for the 2021 BridgeProgram and for the 2021 REDI Program can be found at https://research.qut.edu.au/bridge/

 

Written by Dr Lisa Selbie and Dr Frances Byrne