About Dr Thomas Tu

Dr Thomas Tu’s research is focused on the Hepatitis B virus - an incurable disease that infects 300 million people, killing 887,000 annually through liver cirrhosis and cancer. He is particularly passionate about understanding the virus as he himself lives with chronic Hepatitis B. Given his personal understanding of what it means to be infected, he is committed to research that is directed towards translatable, effective, and practical outcomes to the affected community. He believes that it is not enough that research be published; it must have an impact on society.

Dr. Tu’s group pursues two major themes: understanding how it causes cancer and defining exactly how the virus persists in the liver. Hepatitis B infection is the major cause of liver cancer worldwide. Liver cancers only become detectable decades after the initial infection. Our group aims to characterise what occurs during this long pre-cancerous phase to detect risk-factors before cancer forms, and so reduce mortality rates using early interventions. Cancer risk can be lessened (but not eliminated) with current antiviral therapies. We have developed novel assays to sensitively detect the drug-resistant forms of the virus. We are now designing therapeutic approaches to disrupt these forms and thereby cure an infection.

Dr. Tu has been involved in liver cancer and Hepatitis B virus research for the last >13 years. He is now considered the world-leader in the sensitive and specific detection of Hepatitis B virus forms (down to single copies). He currently leads a research group at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in the Storr Liver Centre (2019-present). Here, he links molecular biology expertise with cell culture models and patient samples from the adjoining Westmead Hospital to answer clinically-relevant aspects of Hepatitis B pathogenesis. 

In addition to his growing list of publications (28 with 20 as first or senior author), Dr. Tu has been an investigator on 5 nationally-competitive grants (totalling >$330,000). He has been an invited speaker at multiple international conferences and institutional symposia (6 and 13, respectively). He currently serves as a Review Editor for Frontiers in Microbiology, and a Guest Editor for Viruses, a high-ranking virology journal. He has also reviewed >60 manuscripts as a field expert for high-impact journals, including: Cell; Nature Communications; Gastroenterology; Hepatology; Journal of Hepatology; and Current Opinion in Virology. He has also recently become the Secretary Elect for the Australian Centre for Hepatitis Virology, the premier society for basic viral hepatitis research