Dr Sarah-Jane Dawson
Dr Sarah-Jane Dawson is a consultant oncologist and a clinician-scientist who obtained her medical degree from the University of Melbourne, Australia. She recently completed postdoctoral studies under the direction of Prof Carlos Caldas and Dr Nitzan Rosenfeld at the CRUK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge, UK where she focused on the development of novel cancer biomarkers. She is now the head of the newly formed Molecular Biomarkers and Translational Genomics Laboratory at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Her current research interests lie in understanding the genomic evolution of cancer and using this information to develop noninvasive molecular biomarkers for clinical application. Her recent research has centred on the application of next generation sequencing techniques to the study of circulating cell free tumor DNA. This work has recently resulted in two landmark studies demonstrating the high sensitivity of ctDNA as a noninvasive molecular biomarker for disease monitoring in breast cancer, and showing the novel application of serial exome sequencing of plasma to study mechanisms of acquired resistance to cancer therapies. Together, these studies have established a paradigm for the use of ctDNA as a ‘liquid biopsy’ for molecular disease monitoring in solid malignancies, and as an alternative to tissue biopsies for the study of tumor evolution during the course of disease and treatment. Her research goals are to use these techniques to transform the clinical management of patients with breast cancer.