Dr Lauren Thurgood

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Research Biography

Dr Lauren Thurgood completed her PhD in the Department of Surgery, Flinders University in 2011. Her work focused on cell culture systems and proteomic characterization of kidney stones.

Dr Thurgood undertook a brief postdoctoral position in the Immunology Directorate, SA Pathology, where she developed novel proteomic techniques to characterise autoantibodies from patients with autoimmune conditions. In April 2013 she accepted a position in the Haematology Department, Flinders University that allowed her to utilize her strong skills in proteomics in combination with her interest in B-cell biology.

Within 6-months of commencing this position, she was awarded a grant from Flinders Foundation to carry out proteomic analysis of the chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) microenvironment. Since then, she has been awarded a further three grants from Flinders Foundation and was the recipient of the Joan Tallis Leukaemia and Lymphoma Fellowship.

She is currently a Beat Cancer Early Career Research Fellow (ECR), funded through Cancer Council SA. Her current project focuses on nutrient uptake in blood cancers and whether altering the ability of cells to utilise nutrients could offer new therapeutic options for these patients.

Research Interests

1. Metabolic adaptations of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) lymphocytes

Nutrients can be categorised into three main categories, proteins (amino acids), carbohydrates (glucose) and fats (lipids). Cancer cells generally increase their uptake of glucose in order to sustain rapid cell proliferation. My work has found that CLL cells prefer to utilise fats/lipids, an observation also noted in some prostate cancer, pancreatic cancers and lymphomas. This project aims to understand this metabolic switch in more detail and whether we can target this switch with novel therapies. This project is directly funded by Cancer Council SA.

2. Mechanisms of ibrutinib response and resistance

Ibrutinib is a commonly administered therapy for CLL. This project aims to understand what changes occur to the protein expression in these cells following treatment and what changes occur when patients become resistant to this drug, which is am emerging medical problem. This work is funded by Flinders Foundation.

3. Identification of novel biomarkers and drug targets in multiple myeloma (MM)

Dr Thurgood, in collaboration with Dr Craig Wallington-Beddoe is now investigating novel therapies and biomarkers in MM using a proteomic based approach. This work has numerous funding sources.

Dr Thurgood also has an interest in projects involving proteomic characterisation of the CLL tumour microenvironment (in collaboration with Dr Giles Best - Royal North Shore Hospital) and in the role of sphingolipids in CLL chemoresistance (Dr Marten Snel, SAHMRI)


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