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Professor Elizabeth Vincan

Professor Elizabeth Vincan

Professor Elizabeth Vincan

(03) 9342 9348 |

Medical Scientist / Laboratory Head
Viral Infectious Diseases, Bacterial and Parasitic Infections, Emerging Infections
Discovery Research, Public Health, Clinical and health systems research
The University of Melbourne, Department of Infectious Diseases, Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL)
Lab Group(s):
Vincan Group

Professor Elizabeth Vincan is a Medical Scientist and Researcher at VIDRL and the Department of Infectious Diseases, Melbourne Medical School, University of Melbourne. Her role as Medical Scientist is to translate research discoveries into a clinical setting. Elizabeth is also a laboratory head at the Doherty Institute. Her team of researchers investigate how normal stem cells become cancer cells and the role Wnt signalling plays in this change. Elizabeth is an Adjunct Professor within the Curtin Medical School, Curtin University, Perth, 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. 

      Listen to Professor Vincan on the University of Melbourne podcast Eavesdrop on Experts speaking about her career. 

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    • Elizabeth Vincan Project A

      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.

    • Elizabeth Vincan Project B

      Some human viruses are exquisitely selective and only infect human cells. This has hampered studies to prevent and control infection. To fill this gap in knowledge, Elizabeth’s team has established patient-derived organoid models that faithfully recapitulate the key features of natural infection. Established from resected and biopsy tissue pieces, organoids contain stem cells that are coerced to generate tiny replicas that faithfully recapitulate the essential architecture and function of their tissue of origin. This enables anti-viral testing, toxicology and vaccine development using adult human tissue. We are establishing diverse human organoid models to combat emerging infections of public health importance.

    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