Our People

Professor Peter Gunning

School of Medical Sciences
+61 2 9385 2531



Professor Gunning completed his PhD at Monash University on gene expression in the nervous system and then spent 9 years at Stanford University working first on neuronal differentiation and then on the regulation of muscle gene expression. The latter project involved the cloning of the human contractile proteins which facilitated our cloning of the genes encoding the structural proteins of the skeleton of human cells.

Since returning to Australia his research group has used these genes to study the assembly of the architecture of cells and tissues. They have discovered that a family of proteins called tropomyosins are used to specify the spatial and temporal properties of the cell skeleton. This has provided an entirely new model to account for the range of architectural structures found in cells and allows them to dissect these different structures using genetically modified mice and cells. Mouse models have allowed them to link specific types of structures with specific physiological processes such as cell/tissue growth, glucose metabolism, muscle contraction and neuronal morphogenesis. These models have also revealed the role of cell architecture in diseases as diverse as cancer and obesity. This knowledge has been used to develop new drugs with the potential to treat childhood cancer and other malignancies.

Professor Gunning has published over 140 research papers and recently edited the book "Tropomyosin". He is on the Board of the NSW Cancer Institute and served as the Chair of the NSW Cancer Institute Cancer Research Advisory Committee for 6 years.

Professor Gunning was the inaugural Chair of the Division of Research at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, and the Founding Chair of Bio-Link Pty Ltd.

His research is focussed on diseases of childhood, primarily cancer and muscle damage. Peter is best known for his discovery of one of the key principles underlying the architecture of all cells and its application to childhood cancer. He is also engaged in adult stem cell research to both limit the impact of chemotherapy on children with brain tumours and to enhance the rebuilding of diseased muscles using muscle stem cells.

Field of Research (FOR) Tag: 
Molecular Medicine
Cancer Cell Biology
Cell Development, Proliferation and Death
Biologically Active Molecules
Socio-economic Objective (SEO) tags: 
Cancer and Related Disorders
Human Pharmaceutical Treatments (e.g. Antibiotics)
Teaching & Supervision
I am available to supervise: 
Areas of supervision: 

ILP, Honours, Masters, PhD.

Supervision keywords: 
anticancer drug development