Theme Member
Dr Susan Woods BSc (Hons) PhD

Contact Details

Phone: 8128 4387



B.Sc. (Hons), Ph.D.

Biography/Research Focus

Susan is a young investigator with three co-first author Nature journal publications in the field of cancer research. In the lab of Nobel Laureate, J. Michael Bishop M.D., at University of California San Francisco, Susan added to her molecular techniques, honing her mouse skills and small RNA expertise, whilst being exposed to the wonderful intellectual stimulation and collaborative possibilities that working in such a large and innovative research community can bring. Susan then chose to work with Prof. Nick Hayward at the Berghofer-QIMR, one of the largest and most prolific medical research institutes in the southern hemisphere. Here Susan became familiar with large patient sample and associated clinical data sets and techniques to analyse the genetic contribution to cancer. This included state-of-the-art NextGen sequencing technologies, identifying relevant genetic alterations, and testing the functional consequences of such alterations to cancer. Susan is passionate about moving discoveries into preclinical models and testing possible novel therapeutics, identifying patient subgroups relevant to discoveries, and elucidating the mechanism of action of cancer specific alterations to determine whether they may be drug-able.

Susan’s current project focuses on colorectal cancer. This is the second most common cancer type in Australia, costing us over $1 billion dollars annually. There are minimal effective treatments for advanced disease. The lab has recently identified a new stem cell that gives rise to a layer of cells that support the intestinal lining. We are investigating whether similar support cells can promote the formation of colorectal cancer from cells lining the intestine, and if we can prevent it using a new therapeutic approach.


  1. Aoude LG, Pritchard AL, Robles-Espinoza CD, Wadt K, Harland M, Choi J, Gartside M, Quesada V, Johansson P, Palmer JM, Ramsay AJ, Zhang X, Jones K, Symmons J, Holland EA, Schmid H, Bonazzi V, Woods SL, Dutton-Regester K, Stark MS, Snowden H, van Doorn R, Montgomery GW, Martin NG, Keane TM, Lopez-Otin C, Gerdes A, Olsson H, Ingvar C, Borg A, Gruis NA, Trent JM, Jonsson G, Bishop DT, Mann GJ, Newton-Bishop JA, Brown KM, Adams DJ, Hayward NK. Nonsense Mutations in the Shelterin Complex Genes ACD and TERF2IP in Familial Melanoma JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2014) 107 11
  2. Hacker E, Nagore E, Cerroni L, Woods SL, Hayward NK, Chapman B, Montgomery GW, Soyer HP, Whiteman DC. NRAS and BRAF mutations in cutaneous melanoma and the association with the MC1R genotype: findings from Spanish and Austrian populations J Invest Dermatol (2013) 133 4 1027 - 1033
  3. Yokoyama S*, Woods SL*, Boyle GM*, Aoude LG*, MacGregor S*, Zismann V*, Gartside M, Cust AE, Haq R, Harland M, Taylor J, Duffy DL, Holohan K, Dutton-Regester K, Palmer JM, Bonazzi V, Stark MS, Symmons J, Law MH, Schmidt C, Lanagan C, O’Connor L, Holland EA, Schmid H, Maskiell JA, Jetann J, Ferguson M, Jenkins MA, Kefford RF, Giles GG, Armstrong BK, Aitken J, Hopper JL, Whiteman DC, Pharoah PD, Easton DF, Dunning AM, Newton-Bishop JA, Montgomery GW, Martin NG, Mann GJ, Bishop DT, Tsao H*, Trent JM*, Fisher DE*, Hayward NK*, Brown KM*. A novel recurrent mutation in MITF predisposes to familial and sporadic melanoma Nature (2011) 480 7375 99 - 103
  4. Stark MS*, Woods SL*, Gartside M *, Bonazzi VF*, Dutton-Regester K*, Aoude LG, Chow D, Sereduk C, Niemi NM, Tang N, Ellis JJ, Reid J, Zismann V, Tyagi S, Muzny D, Newsham I, Wu Y, Palmer JM, Pollak T, Youngkin D, Brooks BR, Lanagan C, Schmidt CW, Kobe B, MacKeigan JP, Yin H, Brown KM, Gibbs R, Trent J, Hayward NK. Frequent somatic mutations in MAP3K5 and MAP3K9 in metastatic melanoma identified by exome sequencing Nature Genetics (2011) 44 2 165 - 169
  5. Susan L. Woods*, Glen M. Boyle*, Vanessa F. Bonazzi, Mitchell S. Stark, Elke Hacker, Lauren G. Aoude, Anthony L. Cook, Richard A. Sturm and Nicholas K. Hayward. Melanoma cell invasiveness is regulated by miR-211 suppression of the BRN2 transcription factor Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research (2011) 24 525 - 537
  6. Woods, S. and J.M. Bishop A new transgenic mouse line for tetracycline inducible transgene expression in mature melanocytes and the melanocyte stem cells using the Dopachrome tautomerase promoter. Transgenic Research (2010) 20 (2), 421-428
  7. Woods, S.*, Swarbrick, A.*, Shaw A, Balakrishnan A, Phua Y, Nguyen A, Chanthery Y, Lim L, Ashton LJ, Judson RL, Huskey N, Blelloch R, Haber M, Norris MD, Lengyel P, Hackett CS, Preiss T, Chetcuti A, Sullivan CS, Marcusson EG, Weiss W, L'Etoile N, Goga A. miR-380-5p represses p53 to control cellular survival and is associated with poor outcome in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma. Nature Medicine (2010) 16 10 1134-40


  • Women’ s Research Excellence Award 2015 (University of Adelaide)
  • Best Senior Researcher Award 2011 Australian Society for Medical Research (QLD)
  • Cure Cancer Australia/Cancer Australia Priority-driven Young Investigator Project Grant 2011 $90,000
  • QIMR-University-Collaborative Seed Funding Grant 2011:Early Career Researcher $31,500
  • Cancer Council SA Travel Grant 2005
  • DR Stranks Travelling Fellowship, University of Adelaide 2002
  • Adelaide National Research Scholarship 1999-02 (awarded to top 10 students across all disciplines undertaking PhD studies at the University of Adelaide)
  • Australian Postgraduate Award 1999-02
  • University of Adelaide Research Abroad Scholarship 2000
  • Student Bursary Lorne Cancer Conference 2000
  • Faculty of Science Dean’s Certificate of Merit 1997 (for academic excellence)
  • Sir R. Fisher Prize for Genetics III 1997 (Top final year Genetics Student, Faculty of Science, University of Adelaide)
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The SAHMRI community acknowledges and respects the traditional owners, the family clans who are the Kaurna Nation from the Adelaide Plains region of South Australia. We acknowledge the clans of the Kaurna Nation and the sacred knowledge they hold for their country. We pay our respects to the Kaurna Nation, their ancestors and the descendants of these living family clans today.