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About the surgery research department

The Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery (CMUDS) comprises of a team of specialist colorectal surgeons and research scientists committed to performing high quality clinical and translational bowel cancer research, with an emphasis on answering clinically important questions which can be translated into better quality patient care and outcomes.

Established by Professor Paul McMurrick in 2010, the Cabrini Monash Colorectal Neoplasia Database (CMCND) was the first internet browser-based database of its kind in Australia—and provides the basis for our research and quality assurance programs. Collecting extensive patient data relating to family history, genetic abnormalities, background co-morbidity, treatment, and long-term outcome and follow-up. The CMCND continues to be the flagship for our department providing a platform for translational research studies, quality improvement and guiding patient care. The database was adopted by the Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand in 2013 as the Binational Colorectal Cancer Audit (BCCA). The BCCA is now well established with over 170 contributing sites across Australia and New Zealand participating in this program (https://bowelcanceraudit.com/).

In partnership with our collaborators at Monash University, we are performing a number of laboratory-based translational research projects combining the power of the CMCND with patient-matched tissues to answer clinically important research questions. This enables us to match individual tumour responses to drug treatments, gene expression profiles and immune responses observed in the laboratory with clinical outcome data recorded in the CMCND. These projects have the potential to improve outcomes for our patients in the future by tailoring cancer treatments on a personalised level, so that each patient is treated based on the characteristics of their own tumour.

 

Team members

Flagship research projects

2022

  • Wilkins, S., Yap, R., Mendis, S., Carne, P., McMurrick, P. (2022) Surgical techniques for abdominoperineal resection for rectal cancer: One size does not fit all. Frontiers in Surgery. In Press.

2021

  • Prabhakaran S, Kong JC, Williams E, Bell S, Warrier S, Simpson P, Chin M, Skinner S, Carne P. Comparison of colorectal cancer outcomes in young adults and octogenarians. Am J Surg. 2021 Aug 12:S0002-9610(21)00472-4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjsurg.2021.08.013
  • Williams, E., Kong, J.C., Singh, P., Prabhakaran, S., Warrier, S.K. and Bell, S. (2021), The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on colorectal cancer diagnosis and management: a Binational Colorectal Cancer Audit study. ANZ Journal of Surgery, 91: 2091-2096. https://doi.org/10.1111/ans.17071
  • Solon, J.G., Oliva, K., Farmer, K.C., Wang, W., Wilkins, S. and McMurrick, P.J. (2021), Rectum versus colon: should malignant polyps be treated differently? ANZ Journal of Surgery, 91: 927-931. https://doi.org/10.1111/ans.16437
  • Baker, A.T., Abuwarwar, M.H., Poly, L., Wilkins, S., Fletcher, A.L. (2021) Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts and T Cells: From Mechanisms to Outcomes. J Immunol. 206(2):310-320. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.2001203. PMID: 33397745.

2020

  • Wilkins, S., Oliva, K., Chowdhury, E., Ruggiero, B., Bennett, A., Andrews, E.J., Dent, O., Chapuis, P., Platell, C., Reid, C. McMurrick, P.J. (2020) Australasian ACPGBI risk prediction models for 30-day mortality after surgery for colorectal cancer. BJS Open 4(6): 1208-1216
  • Jardé, T., Chan, W.H., Rossello, F.J., Kahlon, T.K., Theocharous, M., Arackal, T.K., Flores, T., Giraud, M., Richards, E., Chan, E., Kerr, G., Engel, R., Prasko, M., Donoghue, J.F., Abe, S., Phesse, T.J., Nefzger, C.M., McMurrick P.J., Powell, D.R., Daly, R.J., Polo, JM. and Abud, H.E. (2020) Mesenchymal niche-derived NRG1 drives intestinal stem cell proliferation and epithelial regeneration following damage.  Cell Stem Cell. https://doi:10.1016/j.stem.2020.06.021.
  • Baqar, A.R., Wilkins, S., Wang, W., Oliva, K., McMurrick, P.J. (2020) Log odds of positive lymph nodes is prognostically equivalent to lymph node ratio in non-metastatic colon cancer. BMC Cancer 20:762
  • Engel, RM., Oliva, K., Koulis, C., Yap, R., McMurrick, PJ. (2020) Predictive factors of complete pathological response in patients with locally advanced rectal cancer. Int J Col Dis. doi:10.1007/s00384-020-03633-8.
  • Baqar, A.R., Wilkins, S., Staples, M., Oliva, K., McMurrick, P.J. (2020) The post-operative impact of over-sewing stapled anastomoses in colorectal cancer surgery. International Journal of Surgery Open 24:1-5
  • Koulis, C., Yap, R., Engel, R., Jardé, T., Wilkins, S., Solon, G., Shapiro, J.D., Abud, H., McMurrick, P. (2020) Personalized Medicine—Current and Emerging Predictive and Prognostic Biomarkers in Colorectal Cancer. Cancers. 12 (4): 812; doi:10.3390/cancers12040812.
  • Mileto, S., Jardé, T., Childress, K.O., Jensen, J.L., Roger, A.P., Kerr, G., Hutton, M.L., Sheedlo, M.J., Bloch, S.C., Shupe, J.A., Horvay, K., Flores, T., Engel, R., Wilkins, S., McMurrick, P.J., Borden Lacy, D., Abud, H.E., Lyras, D. (2020) Clostridioides difficile infection damages colonic stem cells via TcdB, impairing epithelial repair and recovery from disease. PNAS. 117(14): 8064-8073. doi:10.1073/pnas.1915255117.
  • Rudloff, I., Jarde, T., Bachmann, M., Kerr, G., Engel, R., Oliva, K., Wilkins, S., McMurrick, P., Abud, H., Muhl, H., Nold M., (2020) Molecular signature of interlukin-22 in colon carcinoma cells and organoid models. Translational Research 2020; 216:1-22.

2019

  • Engel, R.M., Chen, W.H., Nickless, D., Hlavca, S., Richards, E., Kerr, G., Oliva, K., McMurrick, P.J., Jarde, T., Abud, H.E. (2019) Patient-derived colorectal cancer organoids upregulate revival stem cell marker genes following chemotherapeutic treatment. Journal of Clinical Medicine 9, 128; doi:10.3390/jcm9010128
  • Baqar, A.R., Wilkins, S., Staples, M., Lee, C.H.A., Oliva, K., McMurrick, P.J. (2019) The role of preoperative CEA in the management of colorectal cancer: a cohort study from two cancer centres. International Journal of Surgery 64:10-15

2018

  • Wilkins, S., Yap, R., Loon, K., Staples, M., Oliva, K., Ruggiero, B., McMurrick, P., Carne, P. (2018) Surgical outcome after standard abdominoperineal resection: A 15-year cohort study from a single cancer centre. Annals of Medicine and Surgery 36: 83-89
  • Lee, C.H.A., Wilkins, S., Oliva, K., Staples, M., McMurrick, P.J. (2018) The role of lymph node yield and lymph node ratio in predicting outcomes in non-metastatic colorectal cancer. BJS Open DOI: 10.1002/bjs5.96
  • Bell, S., Kong, J.C., Staples, M., Oliva, K., Wilkins, S., Wale, R., McMurrick, P.J., Warrier, S.K. (2018) The effect of increasing body mass index on laparoscopic surgery for colon and rectal cancer. Colorectal Disease DOI: 10.1111/codi.14107
  • McCombie A.M., Frizelle, F., Bagshaw, P.F., Frampton, C.M., Hewett P.J., McMurrick, P.J., Rieger, N., Solomon, M.J., Stevenson, A.R., ALCCaS Trial group (2018) The ALCCaS Trial: A Randomized controlled trial comparing quality of life following laparoscopic versus open colectomy for colon cancer. Diseases of the Colon & Rectum 61:1156-1162
  • Grant, M., Haydon, A., Au, L., Wilkins, S., Oliva, K., Segelov, E., Antill, Y., Carne, P., Ranchod, P., Polglase, A., Farmer, C., Chin, M., Wale, R., Simpson, P., Bell, S., Skinner, S., McMurrick, P., Shapiro, J. (2018) Immunohistochemistry testing for mismatch repair deficiency in Stage 2 colon cancer; a cohort study of two cancer centres. DOI 10.1016/j.ijsu.2018.01.020

 2017

  • McMurrick, P.J., Richardson, G., Yap, R. (2017) How to Treat: Bowel Cancer Part 2 – Management. Australian Doctor. 9 June 2017, 21-28.
  • McMurrick, P.J., Richardson, G., Yap, R. (2017) How to Treat: Bowel Cancer Part 1 – Diagnosis. Australian Doctor. 2 June 2017, 17-24.
  • Patwardhan, A., Wilkins, S., Staples, M., McMurrick, P. (2017) Written instructions to patients to confirm pathology results; is effective in the transmission of results? ANZ Journal of Surgery. DOI 10.1111/ans.13892

 

2022

Margaret Walkom Trust
Improving outcomes for bowel cancer patients through the patient-reported outcome measures program.
CI Dr Christine Georges
Funding provided $90,000


2021

The CASS Foundation
Using patient-derived tumouroids to guide “watch and wait” approach in rectal cancer
CI Dr Rebekah Engel
Funding provided $57,000

Cabrini Foundation Research Grant
Personalising cancer medicine part II: Expanding the organoid program to include treatment-exposed metastatic colorectal cancer.’
CIs R Engel, S Mendis, P McMurrick, H Abud
Funding provided $30,000

Cabrini Foundation Research Grant
Regulation of the immune response in the colorectal cancer tumour microenvironment and its role in patient outcomes
CIs Wilkins S, Fletcher A, Georges C, McMurrick P.
Funding provided $30,000


2020

Cabrini Foundation Research Grant
Personalising cancer medicine: the development of a high throughput drug screening platform using patient-derived colorectal cancer organoids
Dr Rebekah Engel, Prof Paul McMurrick
Funding provided $30,000


2019

Eirene Lucas Foundation
Anti-cancer compound library resource for drug discovery
Dr Rebekah Engel, Prof Paul McMurrick
Funding provided $10,000

Alan, Ada and Eva Selwyn Clinical Research Grant
Personalised medicine for colorectal cancer patients: Utilisation of Organoid Technology, Tissue micro-arrays and consensus molecular subtypes
CIs Dr Christine Georges, Dr Rebekah Engel, Karen Oliva, Prof Paul McMurrick
Funding provided $30,000

Cabrini Foundation Research Grant
Developing a new tissue-slice assay for modelling colorectal cancer tumours
Dr Simon Wilkins, Dr Anne Fletcher, Dr Kostas Knoblich, Prof Paul McMurrick
Funding provided $30,000


2018

Cabrini Clinical Research Grant
Using patient-derived organoids to guide the nonsurgical “watch and wait” approach for rectal cancer
CIs Dr Rebekah Engel, Prof Paul McMurrick
Funding provided $30,000

Cancer Australia Grant
Translating colorectal cancer organoids into patient care
CIs Abud, Worthley, Burgess, McMurrick, Firestein, Gibbs, Clevers, Price, Padbury, Hewett
Funding provided $597,556


2017

Margaret Walkom Trust
Genetic testing of colorectal cancer
CIs Dr Christine Georges, Dr Simon Wilkins, Prof Paul McMurrick
Funding provided $30,000

The Collie Foundation
Colorectal cancer organoids project
CIs Prof Paul McMurrick, Prof Helen Abud, Dr Simon Wilkins, Dr Rebekah Engel, Ms Karen Oliva
Funding provided $300,000

Urquhart Charitable Fund
Project funding to develop patient education with a view to expanding uptake of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP).
CI Prof Paul McMurrick
Funding provided $14,490


2016

The Collie Foundation
Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs)
CIs Prof Paul McMurrick, Dr Simon Wilkins, Ms Karen Oliva
Funding provided $40,000

Margaret Walkom Trust
Project: Genetic testing of colorectal cancer
CIs Prof Paul McMurrick, Dr Simon Wilkins
Funding provided $30,000

Victorian Cancer Agency (VCA) Translational Research Project
Super-enhanced template RNAs as predictive biomarkers of BET inhibitor sensitivity in prostate and colorectal cancer.
Dr Arun Azad, Dr Ron Firestein, Prof Helen Abud, Prof Paul McMurrick, Prof Gail Risbridger, Dr Simon Wilkins
Funding provided $2 million

CSSANZ grant
ADIPOSe- Australasian Decrease in Intra-Pelvic Obesity for Surgery Trial- Using VLED’s to reduce weight and improve outcomes in obese individuals undertaking rectal cancer surgery
CIs Mr Stephen Bell, Prof Paul McMurrick and Dr Simon Wilkins
Funding provided $100,000


2015

Cabrini Foundation Grant
ADIPOSe- Australasian Decrease in Intra-Pelvic Obesity for Surgery Trial- Using VLED’s to reduce weight and improve outcomes in obese individuals undertaking rectal cancer surgery
CIs Mr Stephen Bell, Prof Paul McMurrick, Dr Simon Wilkins
Funding provided $50,000

NHMRC Project Grant Application APP1100531
“Defining the function of Snai1 in stem cells and colorectal cancer”.
CIs H. Abud, G. Hime, L. Jones, P. McMurrick, V. Perreau
Funding provided $646,698


2011

NHMRC Project Grant Application APP1010429,
“Functional studies on the role of DNp73 in stem cells and cancer”.
Cis H. Abud, G. Hime, T. Stiewe, P.J. McMurrick.
Funding provided $414,208

NHMRC Development Grant Application APP1017078
“Blood based diagnostic assay for diagnosis of colorectal cancer”.
Chief Investigator (CIE) P McMurrick
Funding provided $542,260


2002

NHMRC Grant Application 207815,
“Australasian Multi Centered Prospective Randomised Study of Laparoscopic Versus Conventional Surgical Treatment of Colon Cancer”.
CIs P Hewett, N Rieger, A Stevenson, M Solomon, P McMurrick, P Bagshaw.
Funding provided $495,000


1999

Cabrini Clinical Education and Research Foundation Research Grant
Title of Project, ‘Determining the Incidence and Clinical Correlations of Micro Satellite Instability in Colorectal Cancers in Patients Under the Age of 50 Years’.
CIs PJ McMurrick, H Debinski, A Polglase

New discoveries and research focus

Cabrini Monash Colorectal Neoplasia Database (CMCND)

Established by Professor Paul McMurrick in 2010, the Cabrini Monash Colorectal Neoplasia Database (CMCND), was the first internet browser-based database of its kind in Australia and provides the basis for our research and quality assurance programs. Collecting extensive patient data relating to family history, genetic abnormalities, background co-morbidity, treatment and long-term outcome and follow-up. The CMCND continues to be the flagship for our department providing a platform for translational research studies, quality improvement and guiding patient care. The database was adopted by the Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand in 2013 as the Binational Colorectal Cancer Audit (BCCA). The BCCA is now well established with over 170 contributing sites across Australia and New Zealand participating in this program.

Read about the program