Organogenesis & Cancer Program

The primary focus of the Organogenesis & Cancer Program is to investigate the process of organ development and how failure of organogenesis contributes to cancer.

Despite being a fundamental part of life, we still lack a clear understanding of how individual organs know how to grow to the right size and maintain this size. The roles of stem and progenitor cells in the growth of different organs are also unclear, as is the impact of diet and nutrition on organ growth. To investigate these questions, our program leverages the unique strengths that are offered by different experimental systems, including Drosophila, zebrafish and organoid cultures. We also collaborate with clinicians from within the VCCC network to examine how deregulation of organogenesis signalling networks drive cancers such as melanoma, mesothelioma, glioblastoma and hepatocellular carcinoma.

We have specific interests in the following topics:

  • How the Hippo pathway controls normal, neoplastic and regenerative tissue growth.
  • The impact of diet and nutrition on organogenesis.
  • The metabolism of cells in normal and neoplastic tissue.
  • How deregulation of organogenesis signalling networks drive cancer.
  • How the growth of different organs are coordinately regulated during development.
  • How the proliferative potential of stem cells is controlled.

Program head

Head: Organogenesis and Cancer Program; Group Leader, Senior Faculty

Research labs

Key collaborative papers

Poon CL, Mitchell KA, Kondo S, Cheng LY, Harvey KF (2016). The Hippo pathway regulates neuroblasts and brain size in Drosophila melanogasterCurrent Biology. 26(8):1034-42.