Professor Richard Lock is Head of the Blood Cancers Theme and Group Leader of the Leukaemia Biology Group at Children’s Cancer Institute. He was recruited to the Institute in 1998 from the position of Associate Professor, Department of Medicine and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Louisville, USA.
Having already established a reputation for his research into the cell cycle and mechanisms of cell death (apoptosis), Richard set his sights on investigating the clinical problem of drug resistance in childhood cancer. ‘I wanted to take the opportunity to use my skills and training to focus in on a major unmet clinical need,’ he explains.
As well as investigating how cancer cells become resistant to anti-cancer drugs, Richard’s research focuses on developing new drugs for the treatment of children with high-risk leukaemia – children who tend to respond poorly to conventional chemotherapy. His team is credited with establishing the world’s most clinically relevant experimental model of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). This model is used extensively to test novel therapies and advance new drugs into the clinic and has led to the team’s involvement in a number of international drug testing groups, including the US National Cancer Institute's Pediatric Preclinical Testing Consortium.
Richard heads the Preclinical Drug Testing Core team for the in the Zero Childhood Cancer Program, jointly led by Children's Cancer Institute and Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick. Looking to the future, he sees a more personalised approach to treatment becoming the norm. ‘We need to devise treatments that are more targeted than conventional therapies, as well as tailor the right drugs to the right patient,’ he says.
An NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, Richard is the author of more than 160 peer-reviewed papers, including several in prestigious and high-impact journals. He is the inaugural Deputy Director of the UNSW Centre for Childhood Cancer Research, and holds a conjoint appointment in the UNSW Faculty of Medicine.