Bachelor of Biotechnology (Hons), Flinders University, South Australia
PhD, Paediatric Oncology, Children's Cancer Institute, New South Wales
Professional Awards and Experience
Cancer Institute NSW Career Development Fellow (UNSW) 2022-2024
Associate Fellow (AFHEA) Advance Higher Education 2021
Bridge Industry Fellowship 2021
Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Fellow (UNSW) 2018-2021
Hope Funds for Cancer Research Postdoctoral Fellow (University of Virginia/UNSW) 2014-2017
Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Virginia (USA) 2012-2014
Anthony Rothe Memorial Trust PhD Scholar, Children’s Cancer Institute (UNSW) 2008-2012
Research Assistant, Children’s Cancer Institute (UNSW) 2005-2008
Methods Development Scientist, GroPep Bioreagents (Adelaide) 2003-2005
Bachelor of Biotechnology (Hons), Flinders University of South Australia 1999-2002
Dr Byrne received her PhD in 2012 for her research on the role of the cell cytoskeleton in the childhood cancer neuroblastoma (Byrne et al. 2014, Oncogene). Dr Byrne trained as a postdoc at the University of Virginia (USA) from 2012-2014 where she investigated the relationship between obesity and cancer, particularly liver and endometrial (uterine) cancers (Byrne et al. 2014, Cancer Research). She returned to Australia in 2014 to the School of Biotechnology & Biomolecular Sciences (UNSW) and now leads an independent lab focused on developing novel treatment strategies for obesity-related cancers.
Research Focus 1: Developing new drugs that target obesity and cancer cell metabolism
Dr Byrne is working with Professor Kyle Hoehn (School of BABS, UNSW) to investigate the therapeutic potential of new mitochondrial uncouplers, such as BAM15, in obesity-related liver cancer. She is also working in collaboration with medicinal chemist, Professor Naresh Kumar (Chemistry, UNSW) to develop novel small molecules that alter glucose metabolism in cancer cells.
Research Focus 2: Unravelling the links between diet, obesity, and cancer
Cancers of the liver and uterus (endometrium) are strongly linked to diet and obesity. Dr Byrne's lab is investigating how dietary factors (such as fructose) and dietary interventions (e.g., calorie restriction, low fat and ketogenic diets) impact liver tumour progression and response to cancer therapies. She is also working with collaborators to investigate 'cancer-specific signatures' associated with obesity-related uterine cancer including changes in uterine microbiota (Kaakoush et al. 2022, Cancers), the transcriptome (Tanaka et al. 2022, Int J Mol Sci), circular RNAs (Tanaka et al. 2023, Gene) and the lipidome.
Dr Byrne is an Associate Fellow of Advance Higher Education (AFHEA). She lectures in BABS3151 (topic: Cancer Genetics), BIOC3271/3671 (topic: Molecular Approaches to Cancer Cell Biology, Human Cytoskeleton and Disease), BIOC3261 (topic: Cancer Metabolism), and co-convenes BABS2011 (Current Trends in Biotechnology). She also lectures and leads practicals in the School of Medicine (MFAC1525: Ageing and Endings), supervises PhD, honours, and undergraduate students in the Schools of BABS and Chemistry. She also supervises Independent Learning Project (ILP), honours, and PhD students in the School of Medicine. Dr Byrne has research projects suited to honours and PhD students.
Co-chair, Executive Committee for the Women in Research Network (WiRN) 2022-2023
Chair, School of Biotechnology & Biomolecular Sciences Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee (UNSW) 2022- current
School of BABS representative, Faculty of Science EDI working group (SEDIWG) 2022- current
Engagement with community
Dr Byrne recognizes the importance of communicating her research with research advocates, including Mr Jeff Cuff who sadly lost his wife colon cancer in 2013. Jeff has been an active member of Dr Byrne’s laboratory which led to co-authorship on Dr Byrne’s publication (Byrne et al, 2020 Redox Biology) and he continues to play an important role in guiding her research and helping her establish new collaborations with cancer researchers.
Dr Byrne was interviewed by Leah Hazard, an NHS midwife and best-selling author, for her new book ‘Womb: The Inside Story of Where We All Began’. In this book Dr Byrne highlights her research on the link between disruption of uterine microbiota and uterine cancer.
Engagement with Industry
As a previous participant in the MTP Connect Bridge Program (2020) and prior recipient of a Bridge Industry Fellowship (2021), Dr Byrne now serves as the UNSW representative on the steering committee for the national drug commercialisation training program (Bridge Program).
Contribution to Profession
Dr Byrne reviews fellowship applications (Hope Funds for Cancer Research), NHMRC grants, HDR student theses, and manuscripts for Cancer Research, Cellular & Molecular Life Sciences, Cancers, AJP Endocrinology & Metabolism, etc. She also serves on the Honours Committee for BABS and helps organise and chair sessions at national conferences.
Cancer Institute NSW Career Development Fellowship (2022-2024)
Researcher Exchange & Development within Industry (REDI) Fellowship (2021)
Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Fellowship (2018-2021)
UNSW Career Advancement Fund (2019)
Translational Cancer Research Network (TCRN) grant (2018)
Next Generation Sequencing Grant, UNSW (2018)
Conference and Professional Development Grant, TCRN (2017)
Early Career Researcher Grant, Faculty of Science, UNSW (2016)
Hope Funds for Cancer Research Postdoctoral Fellowship (2014-2017) (USA), Malcolm AS Moore Honorary Fellow
Anthony Rothe Memorial PhD Scholarship (2008-2011)
Louiza Zervos Memorial Scholarship in Paediatrics (2010)
My Research Supervision
UNSW Scientia PhD Students (current)
UNSW School of Chemistry PhD Student
UNSW Scientia PhD Students (previous)