Cancer currently accounts for approximately 30% of all deaths within Australia. The progression of a tumour from one that is localised at the initial or primary site of growth, such as the breast or prostate, to one that spreads to other sites within the body, a process known as metastasis, is a major cause of death amongst patients.
Although cancers that originate within the joints, muscle and bone are relatively rare, many common cancers such as breast, prostate, melanoma, lung, and kidney spread to the bone causing severe pain, fractures and even paralysis in some instances. In addition, therapies that are used to treat many cancers can negatively impact upon the musculoskeletal system such as loss of bone density (osteoporosis) and increased fracture risk, joint pain and stiffness, bone pain, muscle pain and muscle weakness all adding to a poor quality of life for the cancer patient.
The focus areas of the program are to better understand the biology and the key molecular determinants of cancer metastasis, especially as it relates to the bone; to identify novel therapeutics that can effectively target the metastatic cancer cell; and to investigate the pathways responsible for the negative impact of cancer therapeutics upon the musculoskeletal system.

A/Prof John T. Price
Program Director
Associate Professor John T. Price is a Graduate Research Coordinator at AIMSS/Melbourne Medical School – Western, University of Melbourne. He is also Director of Research and Research Training College of Health and Biomedicine at Victoria University St Albans Campus, St Albans.

A/Prof Nigel Stepto
Project Director
Associate Professor Nigel Stepto completed his studies at the University of Cape Town South Africa before completing his PhD at RMIT University in 2002. He joined Victoria University in 2007 after working at Monash University. A/Prof Stepto, while having a substantive teaching load in the Exercise Science and Clinical Exercise Science courses at Victoria University, is actively undertaking basic and mechanistic research as well as clinical research in musculoskeletal science. His work aims to understand aetiologies of metabolic and endocrine diseases from the perspective of dysfunctional skeletal muscle, and understanding how exercise therapy can be used to address these metabolic and endocrine disorders (e.g. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). This work encompasses many disciplines, including molecular biology and biochemistry, cell biology, muscle physiology, clinical trials and implementation science. His work at AIMSS focuses mainly on the mechanistic disciplines where he is exploring the role of Transforming Growth Factor β (TGFβ) and is superfamily of ligands on muscle growth, metabolism and extracellular matrix deposition. This work is now undertaken by a growing team of dynamic early career researchers, HDR and undergraduate students.
  • Identification of Novel Mediators of Metastasis
  • The Impact of Anti-Cancer Therapeutics upon the Bone Microenvironment
  • The role of Stress Pathways upon Anti-Cancer Therapeutic Resistance