Associate Professor Caroline Ford is a cancer researcher within the School of Women's and Children's Health at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre. After completing her PhD at UNSW on the topic of oncogenic viruses, A/Prof Ford undertook two international postdoctoral appointments in cancer research. Her first postdoctoral research appointment was at the University of Toronto, Canada and the second appointment was at Lund University, Sweden. She returned to UNSW in late 2009 funded by an NHMRC CJ Martin Fellowship and established her research group within the Adult Cancer Program.
A/Prof Ford leads the Gynaecological Cancer Research Group (GCRG), which aims to understand why gynaecological cancers develop, how and why they spread throughout the body, and how best to treat them. “Gynaecological cancer” encompasses all cancers of the female reproductive system, though our current research focuses on ovarian and endometrial cancer. The GCRG works closely with clinical staff at the Royal Hospital for Women, and has a number of studies involving sample collection from patients. Current projects include the development of an early detection test for ovarian cancer, and the identification of key targets for anti-metastatic therapies in ovarian and endometrial cancer. We are also investigating properties of ascites, a fluid build-up associated with aggressive disease.
The group has a particular interest in the Wnt signalling pathway, an important signalling pathway involved in metastasis. They investigate the regulation of a number of key proteins (ROR1 & ROR2) involved in this pathway, to better understand their role in the context of ovarian and endometrial cancer spread.
A/Prof Ford is an experienced university lecturer, convening courses on medical research, cancer pathology and personalised medicine, including Australia's first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Personalised Medicine. She has completed a Graduate Certificate in University Learning & Teaching, and is passionate about science communication and enhancing the health literacy of the wider community. In 2017 she was named as an inaugural ‘Superstar of STEM’ by Science & Technology Australia. In 2018 she received the Women's Agenda Award for Female Leader in Science, Medicine & Health.
Keywords: gynaecological cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, metastasis, Wnt, EMT, ROR1, ROR2, MOOC