Professor Murray Norris AM is Deputy Director of Children’s Cancer Institute. One of the original three scientists at the Institute when its laboratories first opened in 1984, Murray is Co-Head of the Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics Theme, and Group Leader of the Molecular Oncology Group. He is also the inaugural Director of the UNSW Centre for Childhood Cancer Research.
Murray’s research has focused on utilising new molecular technologies to improve the diagnosis, risk classification and treatment of childhood cancer. He has been responsible for developing and implementing unique technology enabling the molecular detection of minimal residual disease (MRD) for the early prediction of relapse in children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). This work, which formed the basis of a number of clinical trials and led to an effective doubling in survival rates in children with high-risk ALL, now underpins tailored treatment strategies for children diagnosed with ALL throughout Australia.
‘I’ve always been interested in the clinical application of my work’, says Murray. ‘Knowing that your research has contributed to saving the lives of children with cancer is a great feeling.’
A major theme of Murray’s current research is the N-myc (MYCN) oncogene, which is strongly linked to poor outcomes in neuroblastoma. This research uses functional genomics and screening strategies to identify critical molecules that interact with N-myc and then to target these using small molecule inhibitors. The goal of this research is to provide new treatment and prevention strategies for neuroblastoma.
Murray has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and his research has been recognised by several awards, including the inaugural Sally Crossing AM Award for an Outstanding Outcome in Cancer Research in 2019. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015 for significant service to medical research as a molecular biologist and through pioneering development of treatments for cancer in children.
Member of the Order of Australia, 2015