Dale completed his PhD in the laboratory of Prof David Thomas at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, University of Melbourne, where he studied the structure, evolution and molecular drivers of sarcoma neochromosomes, supported by a University Postgraduate Scholarship.
In 2013, Dale began his postdoctoral training in the Cancer Genomics and Genetics laboratory at Peter Mac under the mentorship of Prof David Bowtell, where he co-led the first whole-genome sequence analysis of high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSC) as part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium, and discovered multiple new mechanisms which enable the survival of therapy resistant cancer cells.
Since 2015, Dale has established a program of work focused on exceptional responders and long-term survivors of ovarian cancer, supported by two US Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OCRP) grants, a Victorian Cancer Agency Early Career Fellowship, and a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Ideas Grant.
Dale’s team, along with international collaborators, are currently using multi-omic technologies to characterize molecular alterations and the tumour-immune microenvironment in ovarian cancer patients who experienced exceptional responses to treatment and/or long-term survival, to understand their unique features that may assist in designing more effective treatment strategies.
2017 Joseph F. Sambrook Prize for Research Excellence
2015 Columbia Hospital Research Foundation Annual Award for Research Excellence in Breast, Obstetrical and Gynecologic Disorders
2021 – 2023 DoD OCRP Award OC200511, “Going to Extremes: Learning from Exceptional Responders to Improve Outcomes for Women with High-Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer”.
2020 – 2022 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Ideas Grant, “Understanding adverse and exceptional outcomes in high-grade serous ovarian cancer”.
2016 – 2021 USA Department of Defense OCRP Award OC151563, “Multidisciplinary Ovarian Cancer Outcomes Group (MOCOG)”.
2016 – 2018 Victorian Cancer Agency Early Career Fellowship, “A unique cohort of long-term survivors of high-grade serous ovarian cancer: Molecular insights into exceptional responses to chemotherapy”.
2009 – 2013 Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) Research Doctorate Scholarship, The University of Melbourne.
In this Perspectives article (Nature Reviews Cancer, 2019), we describe the emerging field of studying patients with cancer who have exceptional survival outcomes, summarise current international studies and their findings, and provide recommendations for identifying and analysing these patients.
This landmark study (Nature, 2015) provided the first whole-genome analysis of high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSC), in which we discovered multiple new mechanisms of acquired chemotherapy resistance. This work led to the lab developing the first clinical trial designed to treat patients with acquired resistance to PARP inhibitors.
This study (Clinical Cancer Research, 2018) showed that multiple factors are associated with long-term survival in HGSC patients, including germline and somatic mutations in genes involved in homologous recombination DNA repair, the presence of CD8+ immune cells (lymphocytes), and inactivation of the tumour suppressor gene RB1.
This publication (Cancer Cell, 2014) reported the first sequence-level map of cancer-associated neochromosomes (a characteristic of sarcomas). We discovered a new mutational process, showing that neochromosomes form by combined chromothripsis and circularised breakage-fusion-bridge cycles, and evolve in a dynamic process of DNA amplification and corrosion, resulting in amplification of oncogenes.
In this Special Article commissioned by the European Society for Medical Oncology (Annals of Oncology, 2020), we provide a systematic review of the utility of contemporary biomarkers of homologous recombination deficiency, and provide consensus recommendations for their use in clinical practice to predict for response to PARP inhibitors.