Mitchell Lawrence

Dr

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<a href="https://www.monash.edu/medicine/research/supervisorconnect" onclick="target='_blank';">https://www.monash.edu/medicine/research/supervisorconnect</a>

20052023

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Biography

Dr Mitchell Lawrence is a Laboratory Head in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology and Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University. His research on prostate cancer begins and ends with patients. Working with patient advocates, support groups, community organisations and clinicians, Dr Lawrence identifies critical clinical challenges facing patients. He tackles these challenges by leading multidisciplinary studies into tumour biology, pathology, and novel therapies.

 

Dr Lawrence collaborates with the Melbourne Urological Research Alliance (MURAL) to transform samples of life-threatening tumour tissues, generously donated by patients, into new tools for prostate cancer research. This includes patient-derived xenografts (PDXs), organoids and cancer-associated fibroblasts from diverse forms of prostate cancer. Using these patient-derived cells, Dr Lawrence’s research is uncovering why some patients’ tumours are more aggressive than others and demonstrating how these tumours can be treated more effectively. This has led to changes in international clinical practice, concurrent clinical trials, and partnerships with industry.

 

Dr Lawrence’s career highlights include a Fulbright Postgraduate Award, ANZUP Best of the Best Translational Award, and the Endocrine Society of Australia Mid-Career Research Award. In 2023, Dr Lawrence was selected for the Monash University Research Talent Accelerator program.

Dr Lawrence's research has been supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Victorian Government through the Victorian Cancer Agency, Cancer Australia, Cancer Council Victoria, Therapeutic Innovation Australia, the Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme, the CASS Foundation, the Endocrine Society of Australia, Harold and Cora Brennen Benevolent Trust, the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, and Rotary Club of Manningham.

Research interests

Dr Lawrence’s research is aligned with the Monash Impact 2030 Global Challenge of Thriving Communities. Prostate cancer is truly a global health challenge. It is the most common male cancer in 114 countries, including Australia, and causes 375,000 deaths globally each year. Prostate cancer has a major impact on patients, their partners, families and communities - and it is a growing challenge. As communities thrive, the prevalence of prostate cancer increases, likely due to higher life expectancy and changing diets. The scale of this challenge requires innovative solutions that cross borders and disciplines.

The main goal of Dr Lawrence’s research is to fast track new treatments. He uses samples of life-threatening tumour tissues (generously donated by patients) to test the drugs of the future. Working with scientists, clinicians, industry, philanthropic organisations and patient advocates, his research is already making a difference, leading to new clinical trials and improvements in international guidelines for treating prostate cancer.

Dr Lawrence’s latest studies are designed to have a positive global impact on patient survival, quality of life, and equitable access to cancer care. With clinicians and scientists in Australia and North America, he is studying the ability of drugs from the World Health Organisation’s List of Essential Medicines to block the growth of prostate cancer. These treatments could be transformative for patients with prostate cancer, helping them to live well, no matter where they live.

Community service

Thousands of Australians fundraise for prostate cancer. To formalise his commitment to the community, Dr Lawrence has co-led the Monash Prostate Cancer Research Support Group since 2013: the only laboratory formally affiliated with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) Support Group Network. Through this scheme, he organises yearly laboratory open days for patients and families to see prostate cancer research first-hand.

Dr Lawrence has presented talks on prostate cancer awareness and research to several PCFA support groups (Box Hill, Bayside, Essendon, Prostate Heidelberg, Prostate Melbourne, Ringwood, South-Eastern, Young Men’s), Rotary Clubs (Essendon, Manningham, Monash, Nunawading) and other community organisations (Biggest Ever Blokes’ Lunch). He has also written guest blogs and research updates for community newsletters and been interviewed for podcasts.

In recognition of these activities, Dr Lawrence was awarded the inaugural Science Communication and Community Engagement Award from the Biomedicine Discovery Institute.

University Service

Dr Lawrence has organised national and international conferences as co-chair of the Endocrine Society of Australia Program Organising Committee (2021-23) and co-convenor of the international Workshop on Patient-Derived Models of Prostate Cancer (2021, 2023).

Dr Lawrence also contributes to the culture of research as chair of the Melbourne Urological Research Alliance Prostate Access Committee; co-chair of the Consumer/Advocacy Subcommittee of the Biomedicine Discovery Institute Mid-Career Researcher Committee; member of the Monash Animal Ethics Committee; member of the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute Organoid Program Steering Committee; member of the Kathleen Cuningham Foundation Consortium for research into Familial Breast cancer (kConFab) Biospecimen Subcommittee; and member of the Endocrine Society of Australia Scientific Strengthening Committee.

Supervision interests

Undergraduate

Dr Lawrence is a mentor for the Biomed Undergraduate Scholars Program, supervisor for Cancer Council Victoria Summer Vacation Scholars, and supervisor for Research-in-Action students (DEV3990, PHY3990). He is also a guest lecturer for DEV3022 (“Normal and Perturbed Prostate Development”). Dr Lawrence also supervised 11 First Class Honours students.

Postgraduate

Dr Lawrence’s PhD students have received prestigious prizes and awards including: Professor Joseph Sambrook Prize (Familial Aspects of Cancer Conference); Novartis Junior Scientist Award from the Endocrine Society of Australia (x2); Best Three-Minute Thesis from the Australian Society of Medical Research; awards for student talks (Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology PhD student symposium, Biomedicine Discovery Institute Graduate Symposium); and several poster prizes (Australian Prostate Cancer Collaborative Research Alliance, Cell Signalling and its Therapeutic Implications Conference, Endocrine Society of Australia).

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

Research area keywords

  • Prostate cancer
  • Urology
  • Endocrinology
  • Tumour microenvironment
  • Patient-derived models
  • Organoids
  • androgen receptor
  • therapeutic development

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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