Professor Elgene Lim

My Expertise

I am an academic clinician scientist, and head the breast cancer services at the Kinghorn Cancer Centre, and the Connie Johnson Breast Cancer Research Laboratory at the Garvan Institute. My research is focused on bringing laboratory discoveries into patient care. I lead a number of investigator initiated clinical trials, and am the inaugural National Breast Cancer Foundation Endowed Chair.  


Fields of Research (FoR)

Cancer Cell Biology, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Medical and Health Sciences

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Elgene was awarded his medical degree from the University of Melbourne. He obtained his medical oncology fellowship from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2006, and subsequently embarked on a PhD as a National Breast Cancer Foundation Scholar at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute with eminent Australian breast cancer researchers Professors Jane Visvader & Geoffrey Lindemann. His research identified the aberrant cells in carriers...view more

Elgene was awarded his medical degree from the University of Melbourne. He obtained his medical oncology fellowship from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2006, and subsequently embarked on a PhD as a National Breast Cancer Foundation Scholar at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute with eminent Australian breast cancer researchers Professors Jane Visvader & Geoffrey Lindemann. His research identified the aberrant cells in carriers of the BRCA1 mutant gene, a hereditary breast cancer syndrome, which are the likely culprit cells giving rise to breast cancer. He furthered his research and clinical training at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School under the mentorship of internationally acclaimed leaders in breast cancer research Professors Eric Winer & Myles Brown, through fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia, and Royal Australasian College of Physicians. He was awarded the National Breast Cancer Foundation Practitioner Fellowship in 2014 and returned from Boston to Australia. In 2017, he was awarded the inaugural National Breast Cancer Foundation Endowed Chair.
Elgene currently heads the breast oncology services at the Kinghorn Cancer Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. He also heads the Connie Johnson breast cancer research laboratory at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. His laboratory performs clinically focused laboratory research, including the establishment of patient-derived breast tumour xenografts in mice, the evaluation of novel therapies in these preclinical breast cancer models and the comparative study between normal and breast cancer tissue. Another major focus of my group is hormone receptors (such as the estrogen and androgen receptors) in breast tumours, specifically to identify ways to sensitize these cancer cells to endocrine therapies. Their research is funded through Cancer Australia, NHMRC, Cancer Council NSW, the National Breast Cancer, Love Your Sister, St Vincent's Curran, Balnaves and Garvan foundations.

My Grants


NBCF Endowed Chair (Co funded by Garvan Institute) ($5,000,000). Role CIA



Therapeutic targeting of dual CDK4/6 inhibitor and endocrine resistant breast cancer. APP IIRS-19-054. NBCF (CIA Caldon). ($582,432) Role: CIB



Transforming endocrine therapy for breast and prostate cancer. MNBCF Collaborative Research Initiative (CIA Tilley) ($2,500,000). Role: CID



Pushing AR toward better outcomes in breast and prostate cancers. APP 1145777. NHMRC Project Grant (CIA Tilley) (A$1,000,000). Role: CIE



Reactivating p53 to combat CDK4/6 inhibitor resistance in ER positive Breast Cancer. St Vincent’s Clinic Foundation ($40,000) Role: CIA.



Targeting the p53 pathway in the age of CDK4/6 inhibitor resistant ER+ breast cancer. APP IIRS-19-053. NBCF (CIA Portman). ($197,825). Role: CIB.



Targeting the Oncoprotein MDMX as a Novel Treatment for Triple Negative Breast Cancer. APP 1123057. NHMRC Project Grant (CIA Haupt) (A$800,000). Role: CIC



Four dimensional epigenome remodelling: implications for endocrine resistance in breast cancer. APP 1128916.  NHMRC Project Grant (CIA Clark) (A$828,559.50). Role: CIC



The clinical significance of sex hormone crosstalk in ER+ breast cancer. APP 1130077. NHMRC Project Grant (CIA Tilley) (A$1,009,006). Role: CIC



Evaluating ODM201, an AR degrader, in breast cancer. Bayer Pharm (A$200,000). Role CIA.



Progesterone as an anticancer therapy in early breast cancer. RG 17-08. Cancer Council of New South Wales Project Grant (A$450,000). Role: CIA







Metabolic effects of exercise on breast cancer. Thelma Greig Cancer Grant. St Vincent’s Clinic Foundation (A$50,000). Role: CIA.

A novel approach to overcome therapy-resistance in breast cancer. APP 1107170. Cancer Australia. (A$600,000). Role: CIA.



Identification of breast cancer subtype-specific tumour antigens using the local immune response. NBCF (A$200,000). Role: CIA.



Evaluating MDM2 inhibitors in breast cancer. Novartis Australia (A$51,000). Role: CIA.



Sensitizing breast cancers to hormone receptor-directed therapies. NBCF & Victorian Cancer Agency Practitioner Fellowship (A$800,000). Role: CIA



Targeting the p53 pathway in ER-positive breast cancer. Australia New Zealand Breast Cancer Trialist Group (A$91,600). Role: CIA.



Evaluation of concurrent chemoendocrine therapy and predictive biomarkers for HR+ breast cancer. Ramaciotti Award, Perpetual Trustees Australia (A$75,000). Role: CIA.



Exploiting DNA repair deficits in non BRCA mutation associated breast cancer. Cancer Research Grant, Pfizer Australia (A$50,000). Role: CIA.



The identification of novel treatments for poor prognosis subgroups of breast cancer. NHMRC Overseas Postdoctoral Fellowship (A$360,000). Role: CIA.



Fulbright Victoria Fellowship. (A$25,000). Role: CIA.


White/Zaal PhD scholarship. NBCF (A$105,000). Role: CIA.


Characterization of human mammary stem and progenitor cells. Postgraduate Research award, GlaxoSmithKline Australia (A$25,000) Role: CIA.


Characterization of human mammary stem and progenitor cells. Career development award, Clinical Oncological Society of Australia (A$50,000) Role: CIA.

My Qualifications


Post Doctorate

Cancer Biology

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA



Molecular Biology

Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), Melbourne University, Australia



Internal Medicine & Medical Oncology

Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), Australia



Medicine & Surgery

Melbourne University, Victoria, Australia

My Awards


NBCF Endowed Chair

National Breast Cancer Foundation

Breast Cancer Research


Connie Johnson Award

Garvan Institute

Breast Cancer Research


Ramaciotti Award

Perpetual Trustees

Translational Research


NBCF Practitioner Fellowship

NBCF/ Victorian Cancer Agency

Translational Research


Claudia Adams Barr Fellowship

Claudia Adams Barr Foundation

Post doctoral research


AACR Scholar-In-Training Award

Susan G. Komen for the Cure®

SABCS Poster ppt


Overseas Postdoctoral Fellowship


Post doctoral research


Fulbright Victoria Scholarship

US Department of State

Post doctoral research


JJ Billings Overseas Fellowship


Post doctoral research


Edith Moffatt Travel Award




Best PhD Seminar 2009




Best Oral Presentation


Breast stem cells


Early Career Bench & Bedside Collaboration Award

Victorian Cancer Agency

Breast cancer xenografts


Best Oral Presentation

Melbourne Research Week

Breast stem cells


Post Graduate Research Award

GlaxoSmithKline Australia

PhD in breast stem cells


Post Graduate Research Award

Australian Stem Cell Centre

Post Graduate Research

PhD in breast stem cells


Director’s Art in Science Prize




Tumour Targeting Fellowship


PhD in breast stem cells


White/Zaal Scholarship

NBCF, Australia

PhD in breast stem cells

My Research Supervision

Supervision keywords

Areas of supervision

ILP, Honours, MSc, PhD

Breast cancer is the most common malignancy to affect Australian women and a leading contributor to cancer-related morbidity. While there have been significant advances in systemic therapies for breast cancer, more that 15,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, and more than 3,000 women die from the disease. Given the burden of disease, innovative, personalised therapeutic strategies are essential to improving patient outcomes. With the advent of new high throughput research technologies, here has been a profound acceleration in the identification and understanding of novel breast cancer biomarkers and therapeutic targets. A significant challenge in breast cancer has been bringing these findings into clinical practice. The Connie Johnson Breast Cancer and Cancer Tumour Progression Laboratories span basic discoveries to clinical trials in breast cancer. We engage patients as our research partners, and through the donation of their tissues for research, have established a large patient tumour tissue repository and a large collection of patient-derived breast cancer xenograft models in mice for the study of breast cancer biology and modelling novel therapies and interventions, with the goal of bringing our laboratory discoveries into clinical trials. We currently lead two investigator initiated clinical trials in patients stemming from laboratory discoveries.

A major focus of the Connie Johnson Breast Cancer Laboratory is to better understand how breast cancer evade endocrine therapies, and identify ways to sensitize breast cancer to endocrine therapies. The Estrogen Receptor is expressed in the majority of breast cancer, and while endocrine therapies have been effective in changing the natural history of this disease, for some patients, the tumours develop resistance. We have focussed out efforts on identifying other potential therapeutic targets in this setting. These include other steroid hormone receptors such as the progesterone and androgen receptors, as well as other novel therapies targeting p53, otherwise known as the guardian of the genome. 

As a consequence, we are seeking honours and PhD students to build on our earlier work on these strategies and take advantage of our unique resource of patient-derived breast cancer xenografts that have been extensively characterised, to investigate the effect of these novel interventions on breast cancer growth and metastatic potential. We currently lead an Australian clinical trial of progesterone in patients with early stage breast cancer (WinPro Study), and the project will also involve the study of tissues obtained from participants in the trial. This project will involve in vitro, ex vivo, in vivo modelling of therapeutics, single cell transcriptomic and bioinformatic approaches to address this challenge.

Currently supervising

  1. Allegra Freelander PhD student. Targeting the Androgen Receptor in endocrine-resistant breast cancer.
  2. Dr Sara Wahlroos. PhD student. Defining the role of exercise and systemic therapies in breast cancer.
  3. Sarah Alexandrou. PhD student. Overcoming resistance to CDK4/6 inhibitors in breast cancer.
  4. Dr Julia Chen. PhD Student. Novel therapeutic targeting stromal and epithelial interactions in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) 
  5. Dr Katherine Manakas. PhD Student. MDM2 inhibitors for the treatment of advanced hormone receptor positive Breast Cancer

My Teaching

We supervise PhD, honours and medical students in our laboratory.

I also teach Medical Students and Physician Trainees at St Vincent's Hospital.

Completed PhD students: Dr Kee Ming Chia (2019)

Current PhD students: Allegra Freelander, Sarah Alexandrou, Dr Sarah Wahlroos

Current Oncology Fellow: Dr Julia Chen

Past Medical Students: James Williams (UNDA 2017-8), Christopher Hudson (UNDA 2018)

Past Oncology Fellows: Dr Emma Carson

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The Kinghorn Cancer Centre
370 Victoria Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010


02 9355 5823