The patient is at the heart of what we do.

Our shared mission to reduce and ultimately eliminate asbestos and dust-related diseases globally, while providing support and hope to those affected is what drives the unrelenting approach of the team to push boundaries and advance our research. It is this medical and scientific understanding that guides our global education and training initiative.

Our team of doctors, scientists and researchers are passionate, innovative and committed to striving for excellence at every junction of their work. They never lose sight of the people whose lives will be impacted the most.

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Dr Anthony Linton

Academic and Research Director

Dr Linton is a senior staff specialist in medical oncology at the Concord Cancer Centre in Concord Repatriation General Hospital, specialising in thoracic, genitourinary and brain malignancies. Dr Linton received his medical degree at the University of New South Wales before completing physician and oncology training at Concord Repatriation General Hospital.

He has been associated with the Asbestos and Dust Diseases Research Institute since 2011, when he joined as the first Biaggio Signorelli Fellow and completed his PhD at ADDRI investigating prognostic factors and new therapeutic targets in malignant pleural mesothelioma. He continued to collaborate with ADDRI researchers in translational research projects as an expert advisor and in 2024 was appointed the academic and research director of the institute.

He has published widely in international peer reviewed journals and he has presented on mesothelioma and other thoracic malignancies at national and international meetings. Dr Linton is a principal investigator on a number of clinical trials and is passionate regarding the translation of research from the laboratory to the clinic.

Dr Linton has a keen interest in education and training, previously serving as network director of physician training at the Concord Hospital Network, and is a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Sydney.

Publications

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Dr Elham Hosseini Beheshti

Principal Scientist

Dr Elham Beheshti is a leading scientist at the forefront of her field, boasting a robust academic background and extensive expertise as an Extracellular Vesicles Scientist. During her pursuit of a PhD in Experimental Medicine, she uncovered the role of exosomes in cancer.

Joining ADDRI in May 2023, Elham brings a diverse skill set and a multidisciplinary background. She holds a Master of Science degree in health, nutrition, and food chemistry from the University of British Columbia, along with a Bachelor of Engineering from Iran. In 2023, Elham was awarded the prestigious REDI Fellowship and in this capacity serves as an Investment Analyst at IP Group Australia, where she gains valuable insights into the commercialisation of medical research. This unique perspective allows her to bridge the gap between scientific inquiry and real-world impact, facilitating the transition from laboratory bench to patient bedside.

In 2024, Elham assumes her role at ADDRI full time. As Principal Scientist, she will delve into the function of extracellular vesicles in relation to mesothelioma, harnessing her passion to accelerate the translation of scientific breakthroughs into tangible clinical applications. She is committed to making a positive and lasting impact on the lives of patients battling mesothelioma and dust-related diseases.

Publications

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Dr Ben Johnson

Post-Doc Fellow

Dr Ben Johnson joined ADDRI in June 2019. Ben attained his PhD in 2015 from the Western Sydney University. Prior to being employed at ADDRI, Dr Johnson was a Research Officer at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research where he gained sound experience in a range of molecular biology/biochemistry-based techniques, human cell culture and data analysis. Since completing his PhD, Dr Johnson has continued to further develop his medical research skills and has presented his findings at national conferences and published several research articles in peer-reviewed journals.

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Dr Peter (Huaikai) Shi

Post-Doc Fellow

Dr Shi joined ADDRI after being awarded a PhD in Jan 2021, where he can utilise his expertise in immunology and animal modelling in thoracic cancer research. Dr Shi established preclinical cell and animal models to develop a novel approach that combines beneficial immunotherapy with anti-cancer natural products to improve the treatment outcome of the current incurable cancer malignant mesothelioma. His work is now translated into a Phase 1 clinical trial to investigate Leptospermum extract (QV0) as a novel anti-drug for mesothelioma. If successful, this will provide a natural option for combinational treatment in pleural mesothelioma. In the meantime, Dr Shi discovered that tumour cells grown in a 3D dimension produced a hypoxic core that led to alterations in gene and microRNA expression. Dr. Shi has published in prestigious peer-reviewed papers that testify his contributions to the field of thoracic cancer research where he designed and carried out experiments, analysed the data and wrote manuscripts. His current research interests investigate the microbiome in mesothelioma and its links to the efficacy of immunotherapy.

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A/Professor Steven Kao

Medical Oncologist

Dr Steven Kao is a Medical Oncology Staff Specialist at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital since 2013, where he has overseen the thoracic oncology clinical service, particularly the programme of malignant mesothelioma.

Steven has a wide clinical, translational, and psycho-social research interest in thoracic cancers including malignant mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer.

Steven completed his PhD at ADDRI and Sydney University in 2013. His research was focused on predictive and prognostic factors in malignant mesothelioma. With his continuing affiliation at ADDRI, he has continued his translational research in biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets in malignant mesothelioma. He has had several grants as a principal investigator in the field of mesothelioma. He was instrumental in completing the first-in-man phase I trial using a novel delivery system to replace miR15/16 in mesothelioma patients, sponsored by ADDRI.

Steven has received many awards in recognition of his research. These include: the Excellence in Translational Cancer Research in the 2014 Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research, Cancer Institute NSW; and, the Outstanding Cancer Research Scholar in the 2012 Premier’s Award for Outstanding Cancer Research, Cancer Institute NSW.

Grants

Publications

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Dr Vivek Dharwal

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Dr Vivek Dharwal is a respiratory researcher with over five years’ experience in chronic pulmonary inflammatory diseases. He joined ADDRI in October 2023, where his research will be focused on trying to delineate the role of extracellular vesicles in dust diseases like silicosis and mesothelioma. Vivek’s previous research projects focused on understanding the role of mitochondrial dysfunctions and immunometabolism in COPD, utilising preclinical models and in vitro studies. He was awarded his PhD in June 2019 at Panjab University, Chandigarh, India, for his project that involved repurposing an FDA-approved drug, Olaparib (PAPR inhibitor), which alleviated the disease feature in the established COPD mouse model.

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Richard Zelei

Research Assistant

Richard Zelei joined ADDRI in February 2023 as a Research Assistant after completing his Master of Biomedical Science (Infection and Immunity) at the University of Sydney in 2022. Where he investigated the binding affinity of patient-derived broad-spectrum neutralising antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
During his Honours project at the University of NSW, Richard gained experience operating in a Phase 2 clinical trial [NCT03113942] to explore the immunomodulatory effects of Pomalidomide to treat precancerous lesions caused by the Human papillomavirus.
Richard currently works with the research team at ADDRI on various projects that focus on pleural mesothelioma and silicosis. This includes biomarker discovery, pre-clinical therapeutics, extracellular vesicles, and 3D models.
Richard is passionate about incorporating recent advancements in technology and bioinformatics into his research and future Ph.D.
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Dr Sakthi Priya

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Dr Sakthi Priya graduated with a PhD from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, University of Sydney. During her PhD, Priya investigated the effect of hepatitis B and C viruses on mitochondrial function through different metabolic pathways. Previously, she worked to investigate the role of microRNA during viral infections at CCMB, India. Priya joined ADDRI in 2023 and has been working on therapeutic approaches and developing 3D models for drug screening in mesothelioma. She will be expanding her research work into silicosis. Priya has a strong interest in research and development where she can utilise and gain skills toward disease management/treatment.

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Dr Virginia James PhD

Biobank Officer

The ADDRI Biobank provides a unique collection and vital resource of ethically approved high-quality biospecimens and accurate, reliable and standardised clinical data to pave the way for dust-related diseases research. As Biobank officer, Dr Virginia James administers the collection, processing and storage of consented donated tissue, blood and fluids and associated clinical data, maintaining stringent laboratory quality control strategies to ensure sample integrity.

Virginia brings extensive experience to the team with over 30 years in diagnostic pathology departments and research laboratories, most recently at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR) as Biobank Officer and Advanced Histology Specialist. In 2023, she completed her PhD on the topic: Association of macrophage phenotypes with atherosclerotic plaque complex features

With a particular interest in histopathology and cytopathology techniques and image analysis, this statement by David Hume resonates with her: “No amount of observations of whites swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan is sufficient to refute that conclusion.”

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Dr Lucy Wang PhD

Biobank collection officer

Dongwei (Lucy) Wang joined ADDRI in May 2023 and is responsible for the sample collection for the ADDRI Biobank, working closely with the Biobank Officer. Lucy brings extensive experience to the team, having previously worked at the Institute Of Clinical Pathology And Medical Research (ICPMR) and the Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR) as a Specialist in Transmission Electron Microscopy, Biobank and Histology. Lucy has over 20 years’ experience in Histology, Light microscopy, Electron microscopy, Molecular Biology and Biobanking. She holds a PhD from the Department of Biochemistry at La Trobe University, Victoria.

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David Baker

Biobank Inventory Officer and Research Assistant

David has recently completed a Master’s degree at the Western Sydney University and is eager to pursue a PhD. His current research focuses on microRNAs as potential early diagnostic markers for mesothelioma. With a keen interest in molecular biology and a drive to make meaningful contributions to medical science, he brings academic excellence and hands -on laboratory experience to his work. David’s meticulous approach and unwavering pursuit of scientific understanding position him as a promising young researcher poised to shape the future of cancer diagnostics and treatment.

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