Dr Kulasinghe named Researcher of the Year

6 July 2023

University of Queensland Frazer Institute research fellow Dr Arutha Kulasinghe has been awarded Cure Cancer’s prestigious Researcher of the Year title.

Immunotherapies have been hailed as a game changer in the treatment of solid tumours, however, there are currently no means to identify whether a patient will respond to therapy.

Dr Kulasinghe’s project uses novel tissue mapping technology to assess the tumour spatially and genetically over the course of therapy to predict its response to immunotherapy.

Dr Kulasinghe said that in doing so, he and his team could make individualised assessments of a patient’s tumour and identify biomarkers targeted for immunotherapy, thus making treatment more effective.

“My lab wouldn't be where it is today without the funding from Cure Cancer,” Dr Kulasinghe said.

“I'm eternally grateful to Cure Cancer, the donors, and supporters for the opportunity to lead an exciting area of cancer research.

“My lab applies technologies that allow us to map a patient's tumours one-cell-at-a-time. We're able to see how tumour cells communicate with immune cells and hopefully identify therapies that will work in individual patients.”

Dr Arutha recently received two prestigious research awards in recognition of his immunotherapy work and was published in Immunology & Cell Biology in March.

Rare images from his research work were also featured at Cure Cancer’s Beauty in Breakthroughs series. The pictures show Dr Kulasinghe’s tumour mapping approach, which is the most in-depth cellular atlas in the world, allowing medical experts and specialists to identify cellular structures and areas of therapy resistance for the first time.

CEO of Cure Cancer, Nikki Kinloch, said tumour atlasing was a whole new field of biology and computational research.

“We are extremely proud of Arutha for these accomplishments,” Ms Kinloch said.

“Being able to see resistance and sensitivity to current generations of cancer therapies at the time of diagnosis is groundbreaking, and it can be life-changing for those who are going through cancer treatment.”

Cure Cancer, is dedicated to funding the most promising emerging researchers in the country and held its annual Researcher of the Year event on June 15th. Awardees were chosen based on excellence and overall impact and have gone on to excel in their fields.