PhD Scholarship Top-up student profile: Leonardo Pasalic

Pathogenesis of Thromboembolism in Cancer: Neutrophils, Tissue Factor and Microparticles

Award:  Leo is a recipient of a three-year PhD Scholarship Top-up

Supervisor: Dr Vivien Chen, Coagulation in Cancer Team Leader, Lowy Cancer Research Centre; Prof Philip Hogg, Director Lowy Cancer Research Centre 

The overall aim of this project is to elucidate the links between the coagulation system and malignancy. I aim to understand the biology of cancer-related thrombosis and to discover biomarkers that might predict thrombotic risk in cancer patients – allowing us to define a high risk group that would benefit from primary venous thromboembolism prophylaxis. This study will use an innovative mouse model of thrombosis to directly visualise the events occurring during cancer-related thrombosis to drive development of plasma biomarkers such as tissue factor microparticles and circulating neutrophil nucleic acids. Tentative biomarkers will be validated in a cohort of ovarian cancer patients.


What translational link does your research have to cancer care?

Cancer is a procoagulant state and venous thromboembolism (VTE) is the second leading cause of death in patients with solid tumours. Six years after the hallmark CLOT study of anticoagulation in cancer patients demonstrated that low-molecular-weight heparin (LWMH) therapy reduced all-cause mortality, we still have no firm guidelines on primary prophylaxis for VTE in cancer patients. This project aims to identify the patients that will best benefit from a therapy known to improve mortality, LWMH primary prophylaxis, to formulate a strategy which can be rapidly implemented into clinical practice. The longer term goal is to identify new therapies which can address the increased mortality in patients with cancer and VTE that occurs even when therapeutic LMWH is used


“The TCRN will provide me with access to very experienced researchers with a wide range of backgrounds and skills, and my research will benefit from their research expertise. Furthermore, there will be opportunities for professional development and mentoring, which are a very important but often neglected part of the PhD process.”

Leo commenced his first year of PhD studies at the Prince of Wales Clinical School, UNSW in 2012. 

TCRN PhD Scholarship Top-up awardee Leonardo Pasalic