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Alexander Swarbrick, PhD

Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Sydney, Australia

Titles and Affiliations

Senior Principal Research Fellow and co-Leader of the Cancer Ecosystems Program in the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney Australia
Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney
Leadership Fellow National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia

Research area

Decoding breast cancer cellular microenvironments to discover new biomarkers and treatments for aggressive disease.


Despite the availability of numerous new treatments for breast cancer, many patients experience clinical recurrence, caused by acquired or innate resistance of their cancer to treatment. Dr. Swarbrick’s work aims to identify patients at high risk of recurrence and discover the cellular mechanisms responsible for drug response versus resistance.

What’s next

Some breast cancer patients receive a course of treatment prior to surgical removal of the tumor, known as neoadjuvant therapy. Dr. Swarbrick’s team is collecting tissue from newly diagnosed patients before, during and after treatment. They are applying cutting-edge technology to understand the changes in breast cancer microenvironment caused by treatment, and how these changes differ between tumors that responded versus those that did not.


Alexander Swarbrick, PhD completed his PhD at UNSW, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship with Nobel Laureate J. Michael Bishop at UC San Francisco. Dr. Swarbrick studies breast cancers as complex cellular ecosystems, aiming to understand the way that cellular interactions impact tumor behavior. He is a leader in the application of single-cell & spatially-resolved ’omics to human disease, which he uses to discover new ways to predict the behavior of a patient’s cancer and novel treatments for patients unlikely to benefit from established therapies. Dr Swarbrick is chair of the Cancer Council NSW cancer research committee and co-convenor of the Australian Translational Breast Cancer Research Symposium.

BCRF Investigator Since


Areas of Focus

Treatment Tumor Biology