The Solomon laboratory focuses on pre-clinical studies of novel cancer therapies, and identification of prognostic and predictive biomarkers in lung cancer and head and neck cancer.

The Molecular Therapeutics and Biomarkers team conducts pre-clinical and translational studies to develop and evaluate new treatment strategies, and to identify predictive makers for patients with cancer, with a focus on non-small cell lung cancer and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. We aim to function at the interface between the clinic and laboratory, to develop new treatment strategies that can be evaluated in clinical trials. We also aim to conduct biomarker analyses on tissue samples collected from clinical trials and archival sources, to find better ways to select patients for optimal treatment with conventional or novel treatment strategies.

Research projects

Identifying prognostic and predictive biomarkers in head and neck cancer

Immunotherapy is emerging as a potential therapeutic option for patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. However, no validated biomarkers for the selection or stratification of patients to receive these therapies have been identified to date. We are therefore employing immunohistochemistry (both traditional and multiplex) to investigate the prevalence and tumoural location of specific subsets of tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes, and correlating these findings with patient clinico-pathological data and gene expression profiling to better characterise this disease.


Angela Pizzola, Senior Research Officer
Richard Young, Senior Research Officer
Alesha Thai, PhD Student
Luke McLean, PhD Student

Key publications

Richard J. Young, Mathias Bressel, Janez Cerniac, Peter Savas, Howard Liu, Damien Urban, Alesha Thai, Caroline Cooper, Tsien Fua, Paul Neeson, Sandro Porceddu, Danny Rischin and Benjamin Solomon. Validation and Characterisation of Prognostically Significance PD-L1+ Immune Cells in HPV+ Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Oral Oncology 2019. 2019

Benjamin Solomon*, Richard J. Young*(*co-first authors), Mathias Bressel, Janez Cerniac, Peter Savas, Howard Liu, Damien Urban, Alesha Thai, Tsien Fua, Sherene Loi, Sandro Porceddu, Danny Rischin. Identification of an excellent prognosis subset of human papillomavirus-associated oropharyngeal cancer patients by quantification of intratumoral CD103+ immune cell abundance. Annals of Oncology, August 2019

Benjamin Solomon, Richard J. Young, Mathias Bressel, Damien Urban, Shona Hendry, Alesha Thai, Christopher Angel, Afaf Haddad, Marcin Kowanetz, Tsien Fua, Stephen Fox, Danny Rischin. Prognostic significance of Programmed Death–Ligand 1 (PD-L1) positive and CD8 positive immune cells in Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Cancer Immunology Research, Jan 2018

Benjamin Solomon, Richard J. Young, Danny Rischin. Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: genomics and emerging biomarkers for immunomodulatory cancer treatments. Seminars in Cancer Biology Jan 17, 2018

Lachlan J. McDowell, Richard J. Young, Meredith L. Johnston, Tze-Jian Tan, Stephen Kleid, Chen S. Liu, Mathias Bressel, Vanessa Estall, Danny Rischin, Benjamin Solomon, and June Corry.. p16-positive lymph node metastases from cutaneous head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: No association with high-risk human papillomavirus or prognosis and implications for the workup of the unknown primary. Cancer. 122(8):1201-8. 2016

Richard J. Young*, Damien Urban* (*co-first authors), Christopher Angel, June Corry, Bernard Lyons, Neil Vallance, Stephen Kleid, Tim Iseli, Benjamin Solomon, Danny Rischin. Frequency and prognostic significance of p16(INK4A) protein overexpression and transcriptionally active human papillomavirus infection in laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Br J Cancer. 112(6):1098-104. 2015

Research programs