Bowel Cancer and Biomarker Research Group

Personalising treatment and prevention of bowel cancer
We use molecular omics technologies to study biomolecules from patients with bowel polyps and bowel cancers to understand how the disease develops and find better ways to treat and prevent it.

About us

The Bowel Cancer and Biomarker Research Group has a focus on translational cancer research working at the interface of science and clinical research. We apply scientific expertise to questions of clinical relevance that will improve the care of bowel cancer patients. We aim to make a difference to the lives of patients across their bowel cancer journey, from earlier detection to personalised treatments and preventions.

Our laboratory is located on the Royal North Shore Hospital campus to facilitate seamless engagement with multidisciplinary teams of surgeons, oncologists, and pathologists involved in the care of bowel cancer patients.

Our team is lead by Professor Mark Molloy, the Lawrence Penn Chair of Bowel Cancer Research, a position that was created in partnership with Bowel Cancer Australia.

Highlights and recent achievements

Our research

Working with clinicians we use patient tissues and bloods to investigate the complex biology of the gastrointestinal system. Our team uses proteomics, genomics, metabolomics and microbiome analyses to investigate the pathophysiology of bowel cancer and identify novel biomarkers.

Active research projects

Poor diets, obesity and lack of physical exercise are all risk factors linked with bowel cancers. Altering nutrition through diet is one approach we are exploring in randomised clinical trials to improve metabolic health and decrease risks of bowel neoplasia.

Molecular biomarkers of lymph node risk would be helpful in sparing low risk patients from radical surgery, but there are no current molecular markers in use.  Our research to identify LNM risk markers could be employed for rectal cancers where pre-surgery biopsies are generally available.

Bowel polyps are benign growths that can transition into cancers. We are using genomic, proteomic, microbiome and immune analyses to provide very detailed molecular characterisation of these cancer precursors. Our study will better define the features associated with malignancy risk and may be useful to inform colonoscopy surveillance time intervals.

Neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy is a pre-surgical treatment for some rectal cancers that may result in tumour regression. We lack molecular biomarkers that can predict responders from non-responders. For surgical patients we are also interested in prognostic biomarkers to identify those most likely to recur, enabling intense patient surveillance.

Our people

  • Professor Mark Molloy, Lead Researcher and Lawrence Penn Chair of Bowel Cancer Research
  • Dr Jun Li, Research Fellow (Genomics)
  • Dr Benita Tse, Research Fellow (Immunology)

  • Dr Matthew McKay, Senior Scientific Officer (Mass Spectrometry)
  • Miguel Castaneda, Research Assistant


Professor Mark Molloy

Professor Mark Molloy
Lead Researcher
Lawrence Penn Chair of Bowel Cancer Research
Learn more

Molloy Mark

Lawrence Penn Chair of Bowel Cancer Research
  • Kolling Institute Royal North Shore Hospital