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Professor Michelle Haber AM

BSc (Psych) (Hons), PhD, Hon DSc (UNSW) FAHMS
Executive Director and Head of Program, Experimental Therapeutics at Children’s Cancer Institute

Children’s Cancer Institute Professor Michelle Haber is a world leader in the field of translational childhood cancer research. In the course of a career spanning over 30 years, she has made a series of breakthroughs that have greatly advanced our understanding of the biological processes underlying certain childhood cancers, the ways in which they develop drug resistance and the approaches we can take to overcome that resistance.

Leading the Experimental Therapeutics Program at Children’s Cancer Institute, Professor Haber regularly collaborates with hospitals and clinicians throughout Australia to translate her findings into treatments. Professor Haber has focused on neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nervous system which is the most common cause of infant death from cancer, and on acute lymphoblastic leukaemia the most common childhood cancer. Many of her discoveries have been translated into new therapeutics that are being tested clinically, or will soon be entering clinical trial. Professor Haber and her team are well known internationally for developing Minimal Residual Disease testing – a molecular diagnostic intervention – for children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The test identifies children at highest risk of treatment failure, helping oncologists decide which children should receive more intensive treatment. Minimal Residual Disease testing has doubled the survival rates of the children with the highest risk of dying from their leukaemia. The test has now been adopted as ‘standard-of-care’, in Australia and abroad. Professor Haber has overseen the development of Children’s Cancer Institute from a small hospital-based laboratory into one of the most influential independent childhood cancer research institutes in the world and is the research lead spokesperson for the Zero Childhood Cancer program.