Professor Chris Ormandy

Christopher Ormandy is Head of the Cancer Biology Laboratory at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Kinghorn Cancer Centre. He is a conjoint Professor in the St Vincent’s Hospital Clinical School, UNSW Sydney. His research seeks to discover the genetic program that underlies the normal developmental processes that build a mammary gland and control its function. These genes are targets for mutation or dysregulation during carcinogenesis, perturbing the normal process they control to influence the phenotype of the resulting disease. They provide excellent candidates for development as new therapeutic targets or prognostic markers. For example his laboratory discovered that the transcription factor Elf5 controls progenitor cell fate decisions during normal mammary development, establishing it as a master regulator of development during pregnancy (Genes&Dev 2008). Elf5 influences aspects of breast cancer cell phenotype, such as sensitivity to estrogens and antiestrogen therapeutics, and molecular subtype (PLoS Biol 2012). Elf5 also induces factors that elicit myeloid derived suppressor cells from the bone marrow and attract them to the tumour, where they act to suppress cytotoxic T-cell activity and so enhance metastasis (cover PLoS Biol 2015). Thus Elf5 may drive progression to the lethal phenotype in luminal breast cancer, providing a new therapeutic target and a biomarker of rapid disease progression. 

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