Associate Professor Elizabeth Algar

A Scientific Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists Australia, Associate Professor Elizabeth Algar leads research to provide clinical diagnostic testing for cancer biomarkers and paediatric cancer predisposition syndromes. A/Prof Algar is the Head of the Genetics and Molecular Pathology research group and is a Chief Investigator for the Paediatric Precision Medicine program and the AIM Brain project. She has played a leading role in developing molecular genetics on the Monash Health campus, in addition to managing an active research program in paediatric cancer. Her genetic service, currently based at the Monash Health site, was the first specialised NATA-accredited Australasian molecular genetic testing service established for paediatric cancers, neonatal growth disorders and renal nephropathy syndromes and has now expanded to include cancer biomarker testing in both solid and haematological malignancies.

After completing undergraduate studies at the University of Melbourne and postgraduate studies at La Trobe University’s Department of Biochemistry, A/Prof Algar accepted a position in biochemical genetics in the Division of Science and Technology at Griffith University, Qld. While at Griffith University, she completed PhD studies in Biochemical Genetics and subsequently received a postdoctoral fellowship from the University of Queensland to work on paediatric cancer genetics in the Department of Pathology. In 1996, she relocated to Melbourne where she set up a research group in the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, later joining Monash Health and Hudson Institute in 2012.

With a keen interest in understanding the genetic and epigenetic basis for cancer in childhood, A/Prof Algar continues to apply a variety of genomics tools to investigate cancer in both familial settings and in the context of cancer predisposition syndromes. Genomic imprinting, the process that controls gene dosage from the parental chromosomes in early development by epigenetic modification, is also a strong focus of her work.

Co-author of the approved USA Clinical and Laboratory Standard’s Institute guideline for Nucleic Acid Amplification Assays for Molecular Hematopathology, her significant body of work also includes over 65 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, and citations in the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) database for CDKN1C, IGF1R and the imprinting disorder, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. A regular participant on grant review panels, her roles have included positions on the Oncology and Cancer Biology grants review panel for the National Health and Medical Research Council. She is also a member of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia and the Australasian Society for Genome Diagnostics. She is a sought-after speaker and presenter, and has been recognised with numerous international awards as well as invitations to review from international funding bodies.

Selected publications

  • Berry W, Algar E, Kumar B, Desmond C, Swan M, Jenkins BJ, Croagh D (2017) Endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspirate-derived preclinical pancreatic cancer models reveal panitumumab sensitivity in KRAS wild-type tumors. Int J Cancer 140:2331-2343.

  • Eggermann K, Bliek J, Brioude F, Algar E, Buiting K, Russo S, Tümer Z, Monk D, Moore G, Antoniadi T, Macdonald F, Netchine I, Lombardi P, Soellner L, Begemann M, Prawitt D, Maher ER, Mannens M, Riccio A, Weksberg R, Lapunzina P, Grønskov K, Mackay DJ, Eggermann T (2016) EMQN best practice guidelines for the molecular genetic testing and reporting of chromosome 11p15 imprinting disorders: Silver-Russell and Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. Eur J Hum Genet 24:1377-87.

  • Muscat A, Popovski D, Jayasekara WS, Rossello FJ, Ferguson M, Marini KD, Alamgeer M, Algar EM, Downie P, Watkins DN, Cain JE, Ashley DM (2016) Low-Dose Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor Treatment Leads to Tumor Growth Arrest and Multi-Lineage Differentiation of Malignant Rhabdoid Tumors. Clin Cancer Res 22:3560-70.

  • Birks DK, Donson AM, Patel PR, Sufit A, Algar EM, Dunham C, Kleinschmidt-DeMasters BK, Handler MH, Vibhakar R, Foreman NK (2013) Pediatric rhabdoid tumors of kidney and brain show many differences in gene expression but share dysregulation of cell cycle and epigenetic effector genes. Pediatr Blood Cancer 60:1095-102.

  • Sabbath DE, Algar EM, Bhattacharyya PK, Bijwaard KE, Hong T, Lindeman N, Luthra R, Press RD, Rothberg PG, Domiati Saad R, Singh ZN, Winn-Deen ES (2012) Nucleic Acid Amplification Assays for Molecular Hematopathology; Approved Guideline – Second Edition. MM05-A2 CLSI Vol 32, No 6.

  • Rigby L, Muscat A, Ashley D, Algar E (2012) Methods for the detection of histone acetylation in blood. Epigenetics 7:875-882.

  • Algar E, Dagar V, Sebalj M, Pachter N (2011) An 11p15 Imprinting Centre region 2 deletion in a family with Beckwith Wiedemann syndrome provides insights into imprinting control at CDKN1C. PLoS One 6:e29034.

  • Dagar V, Chow CW, Ashley DM, Algar EM (2009) Rapid detection of SMARCB1 sequence variation using high resolution melting. BMC Cancer 9:437.

  • Algar EM, Muscat A, Dagar V, Rickert C, Chow CW, Biegel J, Ekert PG, Johnstone RW, Ashley DM (2009) Imprinted CDKN1C is a tumor suppressor in rhabdoid tumor and activated by restoration of SMARCB1 and histone deacetylase inhibitors. PLoS One 4:e4482.

  • Wojdacz TK, Dobrovic A, Algar EM (2008) Rapid detection of methylation change at H19 in human imprinting disorders using methylation-sensitive high-resolution melting. Hum Mutat 29:1255-1260.

  • Wilson M, Peters G, Bennetts B, McGillivray G, Wu ZH, Poon C, Algar E (2008) The clinical phenotype of mosaicism for genome-wide paternal uniparental disomy: two new reports. Am J Med Genet A 146A:137-148.

  • Algar EM, St Heaps L, Darmanian A, Dagar V, Prawitt D, Peters GB, Collins F (2007) Paternally inherited submicroscopic duplication at 11p15.5 implicates insulin-like growth factor II in overgrowth and Wilms’ tumorigenesis. Cancer Res 67:2360-2365.