Dr Sarah Best is a Laboratory Head and fundamental biology lead in the Brain Cancer Research Lab. In this position, Sarah brings her expertise from multiple solid tumours to tackle the challenges of brain cancer.
After completing her PhD on breast cancer at WEHI, Sarah moved to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston to study tumour suppressor genes in squamous non-melanoma skin cancer. In 2016, Sarah returned to WEHI to work on precision therapies for KEAP1-mutant lung cancer. In 2018, Sarah was awarded the Griffith University Discovery Award (Research Australia) for her work on biomarkers for KEAP1-mutant lung cancer.
In 2021, Sarah was appointed to Laboratory Head, co-leading the Brain Cancer Research Laboratory with Dr Jim Whittle (clinical lead) and Dr Saskia Freytag (bioinformatics lead) in the newly established Brain Cancer Centre at WEHI.
Sarah has been supported by Carrie’s Beanies for Brain Cancer (CB4BC), the Victorian Cancer Agency, Cancer Australia, Cancer Council Victoria, MRFF and NHMRC.
Her interest lies in the genetics of solid tumours, with a focus on the design of personalised therapeutics for patients.
Australia, University of Melbourne, PhD, 2014
Australia, University of Melbourne, BSc (Hons), 2009
2018, Discovery Award: Research Australia, Griffith University
2020, Engagement Award: Kellaway Excellence Award for outstanding leadership, WEHI
2020, Honourable Mention: Award for Outstanding Cancer Research, Monash Partners Comprehensive Cancer Consortium
2023, Harold and Cora Brennan Benevolent Trust
2023, Norman Ann and Graeme Atkins Charitable Trust
2023-2027, Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), Australian Brain Cancer Mission (ABCM)
2023-2026, Mid-Career Research Fellowship, Victorian Cancer Agency (VCA)
2022, William Angliss Philanthropic Grant
2022-2023, Cancer Council Venture Grant
2022-2023, Perpetual IMPACT Philanthropic Grant
2021 – 2023, Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme (PdCCRS), Cancer Australia
2021, DSP Research Grant, NanoString GeoMx
2019 – 2021, NHMRC Project Grant
2017 – 2018, Early Career Seed Grant, Victorian Cancer Agency (VCA)
Radio interview, The Carrie and Tommy show Fox FM, 2023
Invited speaker, Dine for a Cure Gala Dinner, 2022
Lecture at Ivanhoe Library and Culture Hub, University of the third Age (U3A) Banyule, 2022
Radio interview – Einstein a go-go, 3RRR, 2022, 2021, 2019, 2018
Mentor, Career Trackers Young Indigenous Women in Science Academy program, 2020-2021
Speaker, Melbourne Pint of Science event, 2019
Speaker, GTAC “Understanding and Treating Cancer” with Nobel laureate H. Varmus, 2017
1. S. Best, P. Gubser, S. Sethumadhavan, A. Kersbergen, Y. Negrón Abril, J. Goldford, K. Sellers, W. Abeysekera, A. Garnham, J. McDonald, C. Weeden, D. Anderson, D. Pirman, T. Roddy, D. Creek, A. Kallies, G. Kingsbury, K. Sutherland. Glutaminase inhibition impairs CD8 T cell activation in STK11/Lkb1 deficient lung cancer. Cell Metab. 2022. *Co-corresponding author. PMID: 35504291
2. J. Hess, K. Sutherland and S. Best. Exploring natural killer cell immunology as a therapeutic strategy in lung cancer. Transl Lung Cancer Res. 2021. 10(6) 2788-2805. *Senior and co-corresponding author. PMID: 34295678
3. S. Best, C. Vandenberg, E. Abad, L. Whitehead, L. Guiu, S. Ding, M. Brennan, A. Strasser, M. Herold, K. Sutherland, A. Janic. Consequences of Zmat3 loss in C-MYC and mutant KRAS-driven tumorigenesis. Cell Death Dis. 2020. 11(10):877. PMID: 33082333
4. S. Best*, J. Hess*, F. Souza-Fonseca-Guimaraes, J. Cursons, A. Kersbergen, X. Dong, J. Rautela, S. Hyslop, M. Ritchie, M. Davis, T. Leong, L. Irving, D. Steinfort, N. Huntington, K. Sutherland. Harnessing natural killer immunity in metastatic small cell lung cancer. J Thorac Oncol. 2020. 15(9):1507-1521. *Equal contribution. PMID: 32470639
5. S. Best, S. Ding, A. Kersbergen, X. Dong, J.Y. Song, Y. Xie, B. Reljic, K. Li, J. Vince, V. Rathi, G. Wright, M. Ritchie, K. Sutherland. Distinct initiating events underpin the immune and metabolic heterogeneity of KRAS-mutant lung adenocarcinoma. Nat Commun. 2019. 10(1):4190. PMID: 31519898
6. S. Best*, C. Harapas*, A. Kersbergen, V. Rathi, M.L. Asselin-Labat, K. Sutherland. FGFR3-TACC3 is an oncogenic fusion protein in respiratory epithelium. Oncogene. 2018. 37(46):6096-6104. *Equal contribution. PMID: 29991799
7. S. Best and K. Sutherland. “KEAPing” a lid on lung cancer: the Keap1-Nrf2 pathway. Cell Cycle. 2018. 17(14):1696-1707. PMID: 30009666
8. S. Best, D. DeSouza, A. Kersbergen, A. Policheni, S. Dayalan, D. Tull, V. Rathi, D. Gray, M. Ritchie, M. McConville, K. Sutherland. Synergy between the KEAP1/NRF2 and PI3K pathway drives non-small cell lung cancer with an altered immune microenvironment. Cell Metab. 2018. 27(4):935-943.e4. PMID: 29526543
9. S. Best, A. Kersbergen, M.L Asselin-Labat, K. Sutherland. Combining cell type-restricted adenoviral targeting with immunostaining and flow cytometry to identify cells-of-origin of lung cancer. Methods Mol Biol. 2018. 1725:15-29. PMID: 29322405
10. S. Best, A. Nwaobasi, C. Schmults, M. Ramsey. CCAR2 is required for proliferation and tumour maintenance in human Squamous Cell Carcinoma. J Invest Dermatol. 2017. 137(2):506-512. PMID: 27725203
We use a variety of spatial technologies to investigate the tumour microenvironment, including transcriptomics and metabolomics, to better understand the architecture of glioma.
Venture Grant funding: ‘Brightest cancer researchers’: WEHI teams awarded new funding grants
Team members: Jurgen Kriel, Joel Moffet, Lutz Freytag, Tianyao Lu
The lab uses a variety of genomic techniques with a strong focus on technologies that can resolve cellular complexity, such as single cell transcriptomics, spatial transcriptomics, Nanostring and MIBIscope.
Project resource: GLIMMER funding
Team members: Oluwaseun Fatunla, Montana Spiteri
Our lab is developing a strong foundation of pre-clinical models to study glioma development in immune-competent systems with an intact blood brain barrier.
Team member: Shannon Oliver
Our lab generates patient derived models (eg. neuropshere, and patient derived xenografts) to test new anti-cancer agents and combinations.
Team members: Adam Valkovic, Zac Moore, Montana Spiteri
Our lab is intimately involved with the Australia-first perioperative clinical trial program for brain cancer, and is leading the translational research for these studies.
Team member: Rob Tobler
Correct brain development is critically dependent on genetic and environmental cues and signals. When the process goes wrong it can result in malformations of cortical development and cause severe epilepsy, often requiring surgical resection of the affected brain regions. Exploiting technologies that allow the characterization of individual cells, Saskia, and her collaborators at MCRI are investigating how epilepsy arises.