Our People

Associate Professor Darren Saunders

School of Medical Sciences
+61 2 93852494



Darren is a cancer biologist and Associate Professor in Medicine at UNSW, where he heads the Ubiquitin Signaling Lab - researching fundamental mechanisms of protein homeostasis and cell signalling in cancer and neurodegeneration. Darren undertook post-doctoral training at the Garvan Institute and University of British Columbia and has held fellowships from the US Dept. of Defense and Cancer Institute NSW. Darren is secretary of Science and Technology Australia and a regular commentator on television and radio,resident scientist on ABC TV’s The Drum.

Broad Research Areas: Cancer; Cell Biology and Gene Regulation; Biochemistry; Genetics - Genome Analysis; Biochemistry
Specific Research Keywords: Cancer; Molecular Oncology, Ubiquitin, Cancer Metabolism, Proteomics, Serpin, Proteosatsis, Neurodegeneration, Functional Genomics, High content imaging.


  • Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science - Finalist (2018)
  • CommunityEngagement Award - UNSW (2017)
  • Worldwide Cancer Research Prize, Beatson Int’l Cancer Conference (2014)
  • Australian Leadership Award, ADC Future Forum (2012)
  • Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision Award, UNSW Postgraduate Council (2012)
  • Career Development Fellowship - Cancer Institute NSW (2010-2012).
  • Life Sciences Research Award – NSW Office of Science and Medical Research (2010-2012)
  • International Partnership Initiative Travel Award - Stem Cell Network Canada (2010).
Research activities: 

Our research is focused on proteostasis and metabolic reprogramming in cancer and neurodegeneration, integrating various platforms (including proteomics, genomics, and metabolomics) to better understand genotype-phenotype relationships. I have a long-standing interest in protein homeostasis (proteostasis), publishing numerous manuscripts providing mechanistic insights into serpin biology and the Ubiquitin-proteasome system, with more recent work aimed at characterising novel mutations involved in protein misfolding and Ub systems in various disease states. I developed a novel platform for screening protein-protein interactions in situ, and novel proteomics approaches to systematically identify E3 Ub ligase substrates and for exploring interactome diversity in cell signalling. We use a number of models systems including patient-derived iPS cells, patient derived tumour xenografts and transgenic models of cancer and neurodegeneration. I am also collaborating to develop creative technology-based approaches to visualizing and communicating complex data, using music to explore the intersection between genetics and environment.

Teaching & Supervision
I am available to supervise: 
Media & Expertise
Areas of expertise: 

Cancer, metabolism, biology, genomics, science policy, biochemistry.