Mark Shackleton

veski innovation fellow

Professor Mark Shackleton was a member of the veski board of directors from 2014 to 2016 as a representative of the veski alumni. 

He was awarded a veski innovation fellowship in April 2010 after returning to Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre from the University of Michigan in a town called Ann Arbor, USA, where he was developing expertise in melanoma cell biology. His long-term hope was always to return to Australia and to a research facility like Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre that could support his work. Mark took up the position as Medical Oncologist and Group Leader of the Melanoma Research Laboratory, Research Division at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.  

In July 2017 he was made Director of Oncology at Alfred Health and Professor of Oncology at Alfred Clinical School, Monash University.

 

Research project: Modelling human melanoma progression

Victoria and Australia have among the highest rates of melanoma in the world, and yet melanoma remains one of the greatest challenges to manage for all but the smallest of tumours.

During Mark’s studies in the USA, he developed a highly efficient method of growing human melanoma tumours in mice in a way that may be similar to progression of this disease in humans.

Mark and colleagues in the US discovered that a very high proportion of melanoma cells has the potential to spread disease within patients.

“This is really important. Previously it was thought that only a small fraction of cells was able to do that.

“Our results indicate that if we are going to design effective treatments, we need to keep in mind that we have to target a large number of cells within melanomas.”

Mark plans to establish his cutting edge technology in the Victorian cancer research community by founding the Melanoma Research Laboratory at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, in Melbourne.

Through this, his research program will identify fundamental mechanisms that cause melanomas to progress in patients, including key aspects of melanoma cell behaviour as well the genes that drive them.

In association with the Melbourne Melanoma Project and his related role in caring for melanoma patients at Peter Mac as a medical oncologist, Mark will also be ideally placed to translate discoveries made about human melanoma cell growth to the care of patients.

One hope for Mark's work is to improve, through the use of models, the ability to predict melanoma behaviour in individual patients, and thereby optimise the selection of patients for promising new treatments.

Key facts:

  • In 2012, he received the Science Minister's Prize for Life Scientist of the Year
  • Awarded a 2010 NHMRC Achievement Award, given to the highest-ranked applicant in Australia for the NHMRC’s Career Development Award Level 1.
  • He describes Australia as a great place to do research and a great place to raise a family. 
  • In 2014, Mark was appointed as a veski director representing the veski alumni

“It has been wonderful to come back to my home town. This was always the place that I‘d hoped to be able to continue my career. But it was also important to me that I was able to continue to do the work that I wanted to do. The position I have returned to at Peter Mac, along with the support of the veski innovation fellowship, has really enabled me to do that.”

Mark Shackleton