About Dr Emily Colvin
Emily became interested in developing preclinical models of cancer, which led to her current position with her mentor, Dr Viive Howell, also a Cure Cancer Australia grant recipient, at the University of Sydney's Kolling Institute.
Emily seeks to examine the importance of non-cancer cells that are present in ovarian tumours, to identify those which are targets for new and more effective therapies, and find ways to diagnose the disease earlier.
This work is critically important because ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynaecological malignancy in Australian women and carries a very poor prognosis. It is often diagnosed at an advanced stage when the tumour has spread beyond the ovary. While initial response to chemotherapy may be high, in many patients, the cancer recurs and it's resistant to chemotherapy.
“Ovarian tumours don’t consist exclusively of cancer cells but contain a complex mix of other cell types that comprise the structural support and blood vessels,” explains Emily. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that these other cells in solid tumours are able to interact with cancer cells, influencing their behaviour to make them more aggressive.”
Emily aims to further characterise these cell types and their interactions with cancer to identify factors that contribute to the progression of ovarian tumours.
Emily is building a strong reputation in her field, and her findings have been reported in 51 publications to date. Emily has presented at many national and international conferences, including that of the American Pancreatic Association.
In 2009, Emily received the prestigious Premier's Award for Outstanding Cancer Research Scholar for her research into pancreatic cancer. The Premier's Awards recognise scientists whose work has had a significant impact on cancer treatment, clinical trials, prevention and research.