The Surgical Oncology Group has long standing interests in the management of oesophageal, gastric and pancreatic cancer, melanoma and soft tissue tumours. Melanoma in particular has seen significant changes in management over the last decade with much needed improvements in survival. Our research group is involved in studies which seek to further improve patient outcomes. Genomics have underpinned major advances in our understanding of oesophageal, gastric and pancreatic cancers. Incorporation of genomics into clinical practice is a necessary next step for precision cancer care.

The Surgical Oncology Group's research encompasses:

  1. Clinical research, including randomised controlled clinical trials
  2. Laboratory based research, including molecular biology
  3. Translational research integrating the laboratory and clinical domains, including radiomics
  4. Clinical practice guidelines.

Improved clinical practice through clinical trials

Professor Barbour is the principal investigator for a response-based pre-operative therapy trial in oesophageal cancer (the "DOCTOR" study, NHMRC APP011782). The DOCTOR trial is multicentre clinical trial and includes a genomic study (APP1139071). In addition, the clinical research program has been focused on outcome studies and quality of life using our prospective database of over 1000 patients with oesophageal cancer.

Professor Barbour is also the principal investigator for the phase II peri-operative chemotherapy trial for pancreas cancer through the "GAP" study. The GAP study has led to the successful development of the MASTERPLAN trial, funded by MRFF, of chemotherapy and stereotactic radiation therapy in borderline and locally advanced pancreatic cancer (CIE Barbour).

In addition, Professor Barbour was the site investigator for the International Cancer Genome Consortium pancreatic cancer study at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and Greenslopes Private Hospital and this work has led to several publications in the Nature journal.

Laboratory based research

Professor Barbour’s research has focused on using genomic, epigenomic, mRNA expression and next generation sequencing data to classify oesophageal adenocarcinoma, pancreatic cancer and melanoma and to identify biomarkers of outcome.

The Surgcial Oncology Group maintains 2 tissue banks (HREC/10/QPAH/152: Oesophageal, Gastric and GIST Tissue Bank; HREC/10/QPAH/153: Melanoma and Soft Tissue Bank). These tissue banks facilitate active collaborations with 12 research groups from across Queensland including: Mater Research, QIMR, UQ, and Metro South Hospitals. In addition, our research group has an industry collaboration with Roche to investigate blood biomarkers in oesophageal adenocarcinoma.

Translational research

Our group has actively worked towards improving cancer staging in Australia. Professor Barbour was a member of the working party for the Cancer Council Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Cutaneous Melanoma. The chapters on Sentinel Node Biopsy, the Use of Investigations and Follow Up. The guidelines are completed and published.