Professor Sunil Lakhani

Research Interests

Professor Lakhani's Group investigates the molecular and cellular pathology of breast disease, in particular in breast carcinogenesis. The overall objective of the group is to combine cutting edge molecular technologies with traditional pathological assessment to deepen our understanding of breast cancer development. The group is part of a global push to better define molecularly distinct groups of breast cancers. This is pursued not only to develop better prognostic and predictive markers to improve patient management in the clinic but also to uncover mechanisms of tumour initiation and spread with the hope of uncovering new candidates for targeted therapy With joint academic (The University of Queensland) and clinical appointments (Pathology Queensland), Professor Lakhani is an integral part of breast cancer patient management at the Breast Unit of the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (RBWH).
The research team comprised of both scientists and practicing clinicians ensures a translational focus to the research portfolio. Questions arising from clinical practice within the Breast Unit are brought into the laboratory for investigation with the hope of translating the information back to the clinic for practical use in making patient related decisions.


The group is also part of the Breast Cancer Working Group of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC). The consortium was established in 2008 to conduct comprehensive, high-resolution analysis of the full range of genomic changes in 50 different cancer types. The Breast Cancer Working Group, chaired by Professor Mike Stratton at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (UK) brings together renowned leaders of multiple disciplines including pathology, epidemiology, oncology, genetics, genomics and bioinformatics to generate a comprehensive catalogue of genomic abnormalities of the disease and thereby accelerate research into the causes and control of breast cancer.

Research Projects


Immunofluorescent staining of normal human breast tissueUncovering mechanisms of lobular carcinoma progression and metastasis: LCIS to ILC and ILC to local and distant metastases

Mechanisms of basal breast cancer metastasis and colonisation to the brain


Mucinous Carcinoma H&E stainGenetic and transcriptomic definition of classic and pleomorphic lobular carcinoma and other variants

Studies of basals/metaplastics and familial breast cancers & role of DNA repair


CK19 staining in TDLU of normal human breastThe differential effects of microenvironmental changes on normal luminal and myoepithelial cell plasticity

Investigating tumoursphere in vitro modelling to identify breast cancer stem cells

Selected Publications

Lakhani S.R., Manek S., Penault-Llorca F., Flanagan A., Arnout L., Merrett S., McGuffog L., SteeleD., Easton D.F. (2004). Pathology of ovarian cancers in BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers. Clin CancerRes 10: 2473-2481.

Jones C., Ford E., Gillett C., Ryder K., Merrett S., Reis-Filho J.S., Fulford L.G., Hanby A., Lakhani S.R. (2004). Molecular cytogenetic identification of subgroups of grade III invasive ductal breast carcinomas with different clinical outcomes. Clin Cancer Res 10: 5988-5997.

Jones C, Mackay A, Grigoriadis A, Cossu A, Reis-Filho J.S, Fulford L, Dexter T, Davies S, Bulmer K, Ford E, Parry S, Budroni M, Palmier G, Neville AM, O'Hare MJ, Lakhani S.R. (2004) Expression profiling of purified normal human luminal and myoepithelial breast cells: identification of novel prognostic markers for breast cancer. Cancer Res 64(9), 3037-3045.

Stephens P., Edkins S., Davies H., Greenman C., Cox C., Hunter C., Bignell G., Teague J., Smith R., Stevens C., O'Meara S., Parker A., Tarpey P., Avis T., Barthorpe A., Brackenbury L., Buck G., Butler A., Clements J., Cole J., Dicks E., Edwards K., Forbes S., Gorton M., Gray K., Halliday K., Harrison R., Hills K., Hinton J., Jones D., Kosmidou V., Laman R., Lugg R., Menzies A., Perry J., Petty R., Raine K., Shepherd R., Small A., Solomon H., Stephens Y., Tofts C., Varian J., Webb A., West S., Widaa S., Yates A., Brasseur F., Cooper C.S., Flanagan A.M., Green A., Knowles M., Leung S.Y., Looijenga L.H., Malkowicz B., Pierotti M.A., Teh B., Yuen S.T., Nicholson A.G., Lakhani S., Easton D.F., Weber B.L., Stratton M.R., Futreal P.A., Wooster R. (2005). A screen of the complete protein kinase gene family identifies diverse patterns of somatic mutations in human breast cancer. Nat Genet 37: 590-592.

Leach M.O., Boggis C.R., Dixon A.K., Easton D.F., Eeles R.A., Evans D.G., Gilbert F.J., Griebsch I., Hoff R.J., Kessar P., Lakhani S.R., Moss S.M., Nerurkar A., Padhani A.R., Pointon L.J., Thompson D., Warren R.M. (2005). Screening with magnetic resonance imaging and mammography of a UK population at high familial risk of breast cancer: a prospective multicentre cohort study (MARIBS). Lancet 365: 1769-1778.

Lakhani S.R., Reis-Filho J.S., Fulford L., Penault-Llorca F., van der Vijver M., Parry S., Bishop T., Benitez J., Easton D.F. (2005). Prediction of BRCA1 status in patients with breast cancer using estrogen receptor and basal phenotype. Clin Cancer Res 11: 5175-5180.

Davies H., Hunter C., Smith R., Stephens P., Greenman C., Bignell G., Teague J., Butler A., Edkins S., Stevens C., Parker A., O'Meara S., Avis T., Barthorpe S., Brackenbury L., Buck G., Clements J., Cole J., Dicks E., Edwards K., Forbes S., Gorton M., Gray K., Halliday K., Harrison R., Hills K., Hinton J., Jones D., Kosmidou V., Laman R., Lugg R., Menzies A., Perry J., Petty R., Raine K., Shepherd R., Small A., Solomon H., Stephens Y., Tofts C., Varian J., Webb A., West S., Widaa S., Yates A., Brasseur F., Cooper C.S., Flanagan A.M., Green A., Knowles M., Leung S.Y., Looijenga L.H., Malkowicz B., Pierotti M.A., Teh B.T., Yuen S.T., Lakhani S.R., Easton D.F., Weber B.L., Goldstraw P., Nicholson A.G., Wooster R., Stratton M.R., Futreal P.A. (2005). Somatic mutations of the protein kinase gene family in human lung cancer. Cancer Res 65: 7591-7595.

Chenevix-Trench G., Healey S., Lakhani S., Waring P., Cummings M., Brinkworth R., Deffenbaugh A.M., Burbidge L.A., Pruss D., Judkins T., Scholl T., Bekessy A., Marsh A., Lovelock P., Wong M., Tesoriero A., Renard H., Southey M., Hopper J.L., Yannoukakos K., Brown M., Easton D., Tavtigian S.V., Goldgar D., Spurdle A.B. (2006). Genetic and Histopathologic Evaluation of BRCA1 and BRCA2 DNA Sequence Variants of Unknown Clinical Significance. Cancer Res 66: 2019-2027.

Smart CE, Clarke C, Brooks KM, Raghavendra A, Brewster BL, French JD, Hetherington R, Fleming JS, Rothnagel JA, Wainwright B, Lakhani SR, Brown MA (2008) Targeted disruption of Brca1 in restricted compartments of the mouse mammary epithelia. Breast Cancer Res Treat 112(2), 237-241.

Da Silva L., Buck L., Simpson P.T., Reid L., McCallum N., Madigan B.J., Lakhani S.R. (2009). Molecular and morphological analysis of adenoid cystic carcinoma of the breast with synchronous tubular adenosis. Virchows Arch 454:1:107-114.

Shin S.J., Simpson P.T., Da Silva L., Jayanthan J., Reid L., Lakhani S.R., Rosen P.P. (2009). Molecular evidence for progression of microglandular adenosis (MGA) to invasive carcinoma. Am J Surg Pathol 33:4:496-504.

Vargas A.C., Lakhani S.R., Simpson P.T. (2009). Pleomorphic lobular carcinoma of the breast: molecular pathology and clinical impact. Future Oncol 5:2:233-243.

Pakkiri P, Lakhani SR, Smart CE (2009) Current and future approach to the pathologist's assessment for targeted therapy in breast cancer. Pathology 41(1), 89-99.

Stephens PJ, Tarpey PS, Davies H, Van Loo P, Greenman C, Wedge DC, Nik-Zainal S, Martin S, Varela I, Bignell GR, Yates LR, Papaemmanuil E, Beare D, Butler A, Cheverton A, Gamble J, Hinton J, Jia M, Jayakumar A, Jones D, Latimer C, Lau KW, McLaren S, McBride DJ, Menzies A, Mudie L, Raine K, Rad R, Chapman MS, Teague J, Easton D, Langerød A; Oslo Breast Cancer Consortium (OSBREAC), Lee MT, Shen CY, Tee BT, Huimin BW, Broeks A, Vargas AC, Turashvili G, Martens J, Fatima A, Miron P, Chin SF, Thomas G, Boyault S, Mariani O, Lakhani SR, van de Vijver M, van 't Veer L, Foekens J, Desmedt C, Sotiriou C, Tutt A, Caldas C, Reis-Filho JS, Aparicio SA, Salomon AV, Børresen-Dale AL, Richardson AL, Campbell PJ, Futreal PA, Stratton MR. The landscape of cancer genes and mutational processes in breast cancer Nature. 2012 May 16;486(7403):400-4. doi: 10.1038/nature11017.

Funding Acknowledgement

RBWH Foundation


Prof Georgia Chenevix-Trench
Prof Kumkum Khanna
Dr Brent Reynolds
Dr Amanda Spurdle
Dr Nicola Waddell
Associate Professor Melissa Brown
A/Prof Ernst Wolvetang
Prof Luis Vitetta
Prof Owen Ung
Dr Liz Kenny
Dr Geoff Beadle
Dr Nicole McCarthy
Dr Roget Allison
Prof Jorge Reis-Filho 
Prof Ian Ellis
Prof Mike Stratton
Dr Sandra Shin
Dr Andrew Simpson
Dr Parmjit Jat
Prof Munro Nevlille
Prof Stephen Fox
Dr Ewan Millar
Dr Rosemary Balliene
A/Prof Michael Bilous
A/Prof Puay Hoon Tan
Dr Michal Michal   
Dr Alena Skalova
Dr Alan Porter
Dr R Pathmanathan
Dr Queenie Lau
Dr Tom Robertson
Dr Alex Swarbrick

PATHOLOGISTS in Breast Cancer Working Group

Prof Sunil Lakhani UQCCR/RBWH, Brisbane, Australia
Dr Andrea Richardson Dana Faber Cancer Centre, USA
Dr Jorge Reis-Filho Breakthrough Breast Cancer, London UK
Dr Anne Vincent-Saloman Institute Curie, Paris, France
Dr Jocylyne Jacquemier Marseille, France
Prof Marc van de Vijver Academic Medical Centre, Netherlands

Team Members

Dr Peter Simpson - Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Dr Jodi Saunus - Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Dr Amy McCart Reed - Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Dr Melanie Galea – Senior Lecturer
Dr Lewis Melville – Pathology Registrar
Debra Black – Research Assistant
Samir Lal – PhD Student
Flavia Marturana – Research Assistant
Colleen Niland – Research Nurse
Dr Julie Johnson – Research Officer
A/Prof Margaret Cummings - Honorary/Associates
Lynne Reid - Research Officer
Jamie Kutasovic- PhD Student
Ashwini Raghavendra- PhD Student
Dr Raja Koteeswaran - Senior Lecturer
Shari Bowker - PA to Prof Lakhani