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Professor Elizabeth Vincan

Professor Elizabeth Vincan

Professor Elizabeth Vincan

(03) 9342 9348 | [email protected]

Deputy Section Head of Molecular Microbiology / Head of Molecular Oncology Laboratory
Host Pathogens Interactions , Enteric infections, Viral Infectious Diseases, Emerging Infections, Hepatitis
Translational and Clinical Research, Discovery Research, Public Health
The University of Melbourne, Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL)
Lab Group(s):
Vincan Group

Professor Elizabeth Vincan is a Senior Medical Scientist and Researcher at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) and Doherty Department, University of Melbourne. Her role as Medical Scientist is Deputy Section Head of VIDRL’s Molecular Microbiology Laboratory. Elizabeth is also Head of the Molecular Oncology/Organoid laboratory. Her team of researchers investigate how normal stem cells become cancer cells and the role viral infection plays in this change. Elizabeth holds an honorary appointment in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience at the University. She is an Adjunct Professor within the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at Curtin University in Western Australia.

  • Key Achievements
    • Elizabeth completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne in 1995. Her experimental work, conducted at Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital, identified and characterised novel macrophage tropic HIV isolates. Her postdoctorals at the Baker institute and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre led to a keen interest in signal transduction and her lab's research focus: the Wnt signalling pathway in cancer. She is internationally recognised as an expert in Wnt signalling and was the convenor of the first international Wnt meeting, and the first EMBO workshop, to be held in Australia. She has attracted numerous grants and awards to fund her research. 


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    • Elizabeth Vincan Project A

      Infection of liver cells with HBV can ultimately lead to liver cancer. The vast majority of HBV related liver cancers also harbour abnormally active Wnt signalling. However, our understanding of the interplay between these two oncogenic drivers of liver cancer is not well understood. This is primarily because HBV only infects normal human liver cells (hepatocytes). Thus, the study of HBV entry into, and natural infection of, human hepatocytes has been hampered by a lack of suitable models. Elizabeth’s group recently established an in vitro mini-liver organoid culture system that supports HBV infection and investigates the oncogenic interplay with Wnt.

    • Elizabeth Vincan Project B

      Adult stem cells are the cell-of-origin of cancer. Stem cells are absolutely dependent on tightly controlled Wnt signalling, however, these cells initiate cancer if the Wnt pathway is abnormally switched on. Elizabeth’s research shows that the level of Wnt activity in the cancer cells is critical to cancer growth and that this level is modulated by additional signalling from the Wnt receptor complex. Using mini-gut, -liver and -stomach organoid technology developed by her collaborators, Professors Hans Clevers and Nick Barker, her group demonstrated potent anti-tumour effects by blocking Wnt receptors. This is being developed as targeted therapy for gastrointestinal cancers. 

    Research Groups
    • Vincan Group

      Elizabeth’s group investigates novel ways to block cancer growth with a focus on the gastrointestinal tract – stomach, bowel and liver. A cell-cell communication pathway called Wnt is hyperactive in these cancers. Their research shows inhibiting Wnt has potent anti-cancer effects.

      Lab Team

      Vincan Group

Full University of Melbourne profile