Researcher

Dr Frances Louise Byrne

Fields of Research (FoR)

Biochemistry and cell biology, Oncology and carcinogenesis

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Biography

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...view more

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

           

Research 

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.

 

Teaching

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.  

 

Organisational roles

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.

 


My Grants

Fellowships/Scholarships/Funding

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 Qualifications

Bachelor of Biotechnology (Hons), Flinders University, South Australia

PhD, Paediatric Oncology, Children's Cancer Institute, New South Wales


My Awards

  • Paper of the Month for publication in Cancers, School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, UNSW (May, 2022)
  • Paper of the Month for publication in Redox Biology, School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, UNSW (November, 2019)
  • Best oral presentation at AussieMit conference, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Perth, WA (2014)
  • Australian Mitochondrial Disease Foundation Travel Grant, AussieMit conference, Perth, WA (2014)
  • Paper of the Month for publication in Cancer Research, School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, UNSW, Australia (2014)
  • Sydney Catalyst Prize for best cancer-related poster, Annual Garvan Signalling Symposium, Sydney, Australia (2014)
  • Jefferson Cup awarded for oral presentation at the UVA Postdoctoral Research Day, University of Virginia (USA) (2014)
  • Poster prize at the Inaugural UVA Postdoctoral Research Day, University of Virginia (USA) (2013)
  • University of Sydney Medal for Best Overall Presentation, ASMR Medical Research Week NSW Scientific Meeting (2011)


My Research Supervision


Supervision keywords


Areas of supervision

 

 


Currently supervising

 

UNSW Scientia PhD Students (current)

Riya Shrestha 

 

UNSW School of Chemistry PhD Student

Yao Cheng 

UNSW Scientia PhD Students (previous)

Sing-Young Chen  

Stephanie Alexopoulos

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Location

UNSW Level 4, D26 Biological Sciences Building
Kensington 2052
Australia