Originally trained as a medical doctor in China, Dr Belamy Cheung completed further studies at UNSW Australia before taking up a research position with Children’s Cancer Institute in 1992, becoming Manager of the Molecular Carcinogenesis Program (now the Embryonal Cancer Therapy and Prevention Group) in 2014 and Principal Scientist in 2020.
Belamy’s research focuses on identifying key molecules that can be used as treatment targets for childhood cancers and developing inhibitors that suppress the action of such molecules. The Myc-N (MYCN) molecule – a known oncogene in a wide range of cancers – is a particular focus, together with important co-factors such as PA2G4 and ALYREF. Her work is ultimately aimed at developing new targeted therapies that are far more specific and less toxic than currently available chemotherapeutic agents and bringing these new agents to clinical trial in children with cancer.
Over the past 10 years, Belamy has successfully identified a number of new co-factors in Myc-driven cancers and is now developing potent inhibitors for these. Her future work will focus on making these small molecule inhibitors suitable for use as treatment drugs in clinical trials in children with a range of Myc-driven cancers. She also aims to develop highly effective combination therapies, featuring epigenetic compounds together with targeted therapies, for the treatment of solid tumours such as neuroblastoma and brain cancers such as medulloblastoma.
Belamy has been awarded research grants and fellowships from several prestigious funding bodies and has authored many peer-reviewed publications in well-known scientific journals. She is Conjoint Senior Lecturer in the UNSW Faculty of Medicine as well as a visiting professor at a number of Chinese universities and hospitals. President of the Australian Association for Chinese Biomedical Scientists, Belamy is active in facilitating collaboration between cancer researchers in China and those at Children’s Cancer Institute, setting up a number of valuable partnerships.