Dr Jennette Sakoff
(PhD, Chief Hospital Scientist, Medical Oncology )

DepartmentMedical Oncology
Research AreasTherapy and Treatment
Research TopicsBreast Cancer, Colon Cancer, New Drugs, Clinical Toxicity
Research TypesClinical Trials, Laboratory Research

Dr Jennette Sakoff has been conducting laboratory based research in the Department of Medical Oncology at Calvary Mater Newcastle since 1996 and is the leader of the Experimental Therapeutics Group in this department. Her research interests combine knowledge of cellular biology with the development of new drugs for the treatment of cancer particularly those found in the breast, colon and brain.

Her research into the development of better chemotherapy treatments for cancer patients also includes identifying better drug combinations and predicting chemotherapy induced toxicity. Dr Sakoff is a committee member of Calvary Mater Newcastle Research Committee.

Dr Sakoff also holds a senior conjoint appointment at the University of Newcastle.

More information about Dr Sakoff's academic achievements may be found here:



Getting to know you

When did you start doing research?

Soon after the Newcastle Earthquake in 1989.

What research projects are you currently working on?

The development of new chemotherapy drugs for the treatment of breast cancer and brain cancer. I have had a long collaboration with clever colleagues in the Chemistry Department at the University of Newcastle who design and synthesise our new compounds.

What research achievement are you most proud of?

The discovery of a group of small molecules that potently kill breast cancer cell lines while having little to no effect on normal breast cells or on cells derived from other tumour types. We are now testing the ability of these drugs to stop cancer growth in mice bearing human tumours.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by a friend of mine who died of brain cancer. I often think of her and where she would be if she was still with us. I am driven by the need to find better treatments. I am driven by the hope that I will look down the microscope and see cancer cells dying from a new treatment that we have discovered.

What did you do before coming to work at Calvary Mater Newcastle?

After completing my Science Degree I worked in various pathology labs in Newcastle, then I went back to University and obtained my PhD. During this time I tutored students and cleaned cages in the University Animal House.

What has helped you the most in your research at Calvary Mater Newcastle?

Having a really strong group of dedicated colleagues who share my passion for better outcomes for cancer patients.

What was your first / worst / best / strangest / memorable /etc job in research?

When I worked in the University Animal House my job every morning was to examine the mice to see which ones had mated during the evening, this was easy I just had to look for the ones smoking a cigarette.

What do you do to relax?

Gardening and play tennis.

What is the craziest thing you have ever had to do "in the name of research"?

While on a skiing holiday I had to respond to a query from the National Health and Medical Research Council in regards to a research grant that I had submitted. I didn't have internet access in the cabin that I was staying, so each night for three nights I would put my daughter to bed, pack my computer into a backpack and trek through the snow in the dark to the nearest internet site which just so happened to be in a seedy pub. I then had to beg the staff for use of their computer. By the third night we were all good friends.


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