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susan branford

February 2021 - The iCMLf is pleased to announce Professor Susan Branford, SA Pathology and Centre for Cancer Biology in Adelaide as the 2021 Rowley Prize winner. This annual prize awarded by the International CML Foundation recognises outstanding contributions to the understanding of the biology of CML. Sue is a leading international authority on molecular monitoring for CML and a major contributor to international collaborative initiatives to establish guidelines and recommendations for producing reliable molecular data.

After having started her career as a lab technician working in clinical chemistry for many years, she then moved to the Department of Genetics and Molecular Pathology in 2000, where she developed methods of molecular monitoring using new technologies like real-time quantitative PCR. She soon introduced molecular monitoring to the international stage and became a leader in global efforts for molecular method standardization.

Dr Branford's research focuses on molecular analysis of patients with CML treated with TKI therapy to investigate the factors that predict for treatment response and the mechanisms of drug resistance. These analyses include monitoring the levels of BCR-ABL1 mRNA as a precise indictor of leukemic cell reduction and resistance assessment by mutation analysis of the BCR-ABL1 kinase domain. This work has been incremental in understanding the mechanisms of resistance and in governing therapeutic decisions.

Her lab is currently developing sensitive techniques using next generation sequencing to detect mutations in cancer-related genes that are associated with therapy resistance. These mutations include novel sequence rearrangements that could be a marker of genetic instability.

Dr Branford leads the iCMLf Genomics Alliance that will harness the wealth of genomic information that is generated in local CML research projects by building a platform to facilitate data assimilation, sample exchange and cross-validation. Among their aims is to establish a genomically based risk classification predictor.

Dr Branford is Head of the Leukaemia Unit at the Department of Genetic and Molecular Pathology, Centre for Cancer Biology, SA Pathology and University of South Australia in Adelaide.

Learn more about Susan Branford’s work here