• 19 Innovation Walk, Level 3

    3800 Clayton


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Patient-Derived Xenograft Models for Prostate Cancer

1981 …2023

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

Unlike many cancers, prostate cancer develops over decades, but when it spreads beyond the gland to other parts of the body, and no longer responds to the usual hormone therapies, there are very limited treatment options for the patients. "That is where our research is focused; we are trying to develop something for men who have end-stage disease.' Androgen-deprivation therapy is used to treat prostate cancer that has spread. It is effectively castration by drugs, depriving the body of the hormones that fuel tumour growth. Although it's effective, some cells always remain. "In some patients, they eventually regrow and they are lethal,' Gail says. Those are the cells she wants to target. In the past, oestrogen therapy came with dreadful side effects but Gail sees great promise in the carefully designed hormones it is now possible to make. 'We have just found a way that oestrogens might be used to effectively target those cells, working differently to the old therapies, without the bad side effects.' With the collaboration of urologists, oncologists and other clinicians, the discovery is being tested on human tissue specimens. Work on benign disease is just as important because it affects so many men. Although current drugs can be effective, many men have surgery.'There is an irony in the focus on prostate cancer, because most men, if they live long enough, will develop benign disease and yet relatively less research dollars and time are devoted to this aspect of prostate health, and we could do much better.' In both diseases, for example, stopping regeneration is important: in benign disease to prevent enlargement of the prostate, and in cancer to prevent growth of tumour cells. 'In both of those instances, we think that oestrogens can be useful,' Gail says. Although she notes that many myths exist about the complementary (or herbal) medicines often taken for benign disease, some have components that function like oestrogens. More knowledge of the mechanisms involved could lead to better, more potent drugs. 'There will come a time when we have to marry what we're doing with new drugs and what is known in traditional medicine to be effective,' 'Can what we do give some validity to using these complementary medicines? "That's a tough question but we've thought a lot about it." Prostate disease predominantly affects older men, but work on it is very much a forward-looking enterprise and Gail puts much emphasis on the need to train the next generation of experts. "This is not a disease that's going to be cured overnight." "We need a workforce of scientists and clinicians to continue the research."







Professor Gail Risbridger gained her PhD in Moash University, Melbourne Australia.

As head of an internationally recognized research team of scientists and clinicians working on prostate cancer and Andrology related projects, I am one of Australia’s leading prostate cancer researchers, with particular interest in the biology of stromal-epithelial cell interactions in normal and tumour tissue using tissue recombination, animal and human specimens. I pioneered the use of stem cells for recombination studies combining stem cell biology with endocrinology.


I hold a PhD and am a Distinguished Professor at Monash University and Sir Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne. My multidisciplinary program is centered on using patient specimens to improve translation of research discoveries to the clinic. As a Senior Fulbright Scholar, I studied cell differentiation and stem cell biology reporting the formation of human prostate by directed differentiation of human embryonic stem cells. Applying this approach to cancer tissues, I successfully created one of the world’s largest cohorts of prostate cancer PDXs that underpin my research discoveries and their translation. This is a significant advance or the field that has been hampered for decades by a paucity of models and tools to generate and translate new knowledge.


As a Co-Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Freemason’s Foundation Center for Men’s Health (FFCMH) since 2007, which is a partnership of the University of Adelaide and the Freemason’s Foundation and aims to develop programs that will further our understanding of that works in practice for men with regards to their health. Its mission is to pursue innovation research programs, significantly improve health services, deliver evidence-based training and disseminate the latest health information and education resources in order to enable men to live longer, healthier and happier lives.


As an Executive Management Committee Member, I have provided oversight to all activities of Andrology Australia, a Federal Government Centre of Excellence in Male Reproductive Health and given advice to the Advisory Board. It conducts and promotes research to enhance the reproductive health of Australian men and provides professional and community education. Andrology Australia had a key role in development of the National Men’s Health Policy and has taken a lead role in establishing a Men’s Longitudinal Health Study”. In 2010, a National Men’s Health Policy was launched by the Federal Government.


My international reputation as a leader in using patient specimens is a key feature of my capacity to translate research outcomes. I use patient specimen to pre-clinically test the efficacy o new and emerging targeted therapies on individual patient specimens. In doing so, I use models that are clinically relevant to the study of human disease.


My reputation as a world leader in pre-clinical studies is central to may capacity to translate research discoveries into outcomes that influence practice and guide and inform clinical trials. I use contemporary patient specimens to test the efficacy of new therapies and in doing so, these models are clinically relevant to the study of human disease. I established and am Executive Chair of the Melbourne Urological Research Alliance (MURAL), which will provide novel PDXs for this study. I have made key contributions to research translation including development of National Men’s Health policy 2010 (through the influential lead of Andrology Australia; DoHA Centre of Excellence); improvements to Men’s health practices (Freemason’s Foundation for Men’s Health); improved integration, collaboration, and communication between PCFA and its community and professional stakeholders via PCFA State Board membership. I have >280 publications in elite journals (Science Translational Medicine, Nature Protocols, Nature Cancer Reviews, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Communications, PNAS), in top-tier specialty journals (European Urology, Biomaterials, Cancer Research, J Pathology, Stem Cells, Nature Reviews Urology) and in high-ranking journal (Clinical Cancer Research, J Pathology, Prostate, Endocrinology).


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

External positions

Head & Group Leader, Prostate Cancer Research Program, Research Division, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

2016 → …

Executive Committee, Member, Monash Health

2015 → …

Assigner’s Panel, Member , National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Australia)


Research Director, Cancer & Blood Diseases Theme, Monash Partners Academic Health Science Centre (known as MPCCC)

2015 → …

Laureate Awards Committee, Member, Endocrine Society (United States of America)

2014 → …

Director, Epworth Foundation (trading as Epworth HealthCare)


Research Translation Faculty Steering Group, Cancer Control, Member, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Australia)


Project Grants Grant Review Panel, Member, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Australia)


Board Member, Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia

2013 → …

South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Beat Cancer Advisory Group

2012 → …

Chair, Fulbright Scholarship


Research Fellowship Review Panel Member, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Australia)


Southern Melbourne Integrated Cancer Service (SMICS) & Monash Comprehensive Cancer Consortium (MCCC) Joint Council, Member


Southern Melbourne Integrated Cancer Service (SMICS) Management Committee, Member


Ambassador for Promotion of Cancer Research, European Association for Cancer Research


Council Member, Monash Partners

2012 → …

Victorian Selection Panel - Medical Advisory Committee, ANZ Executors and Trustee Company Ltd.

2010 → …

Member of ANZUP Committee: Prostate Cancer & Renal Cell Cancer, ANZUP Cancer Trials Group Limited

2010 → …

Chair, Australian Women in Endocrinology


Annual Meeting Steering Committee, Basic Science Chair for ENDO 2011, Endocrine Society (United States of America)


Scientific and Educational Programs Core Committee (SCIED) as Basic Science Chair for ENDO 2011, Member, Endocrine Society (United States of America)


Project Grant Review Panel, Chair, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Australia)


Executive Committee, Chair, Monash Partners Comprehensive Cancer Consortium (MPCCC)

2009 → …

Academy Member, (Cancer Biology) , National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Australia)

2009 → …

CRC Asthma & Airways, Co-operative Research Centre for Asthma, Director & Board Member


Communications Committee, Member, Women in Endocrinology


Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee, Cancer Council Victoria

2007 → …

Co-Chair Scientific Advisory Group, Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health

2007 → …

Member, Fulbright Scholarship


Annual Meeting Steering Committee, Member, Endocrine Society (United States of America)


Career Development Awards Panel, Chair, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Australia)


Executive Committee of Management, Australian Prostate Cancer Consortium

2005 → …

Grant Review Panels: Endocrinology, Cancer Biology, Genetics & Development , Member, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Australia)


Scientific Advisory Group, Executive Member, Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia


Board Member, Chair, Women in Endocrinology


Awards Committee, Member, Women in Endocrinology


Postgraduate Student Committee, Chair, Monash Institute for Medical Research


Andrology Australia, Centre for Excellence in Male Reproductive Health, Member of Board & Executive Management Committee

2000 → …

Discipline Panel for Endocrinology & Reproduction, Chair, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Australia)


Advisory Board Subcommittee for Commercialisation, Member, Monash Institute for Medical Research


Strategic Planning Committee, Member, Monash Institute for Medical Research


Assigner’s Panel Member, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Australia)


Council Member & Secretary, Endocrine Society of Australia


NH&MRC Regional Grants Interviewing Committee , National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Australia)


Research area keywords

  • Activin
  • Differentiation
  • Inhibin
  • Leydig Cells
  • Tumours
  • Cancer
  • Cancer Biology
  • Cancer/Carcinogenesis
  • Stromal Cells
  • Experimental Models
  • Immune-Deficient Models
  • Endocrinology
  • Prostate
  • Oestrogen Action
  • Prostate cancer
  • Prostate stem cell

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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