Children’s Cancer Research Unit

Children’s Cancer Research Unit

This page is a research page. For clinical information, please view our Cancer Centre for Children service page on the Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website.

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"Using science to make kids cancer a disease of the past"

The Children's Cancer Research Unit (CCRU) is the laboratory research arm for the Cancer Centre for Children based at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Our dedicated teams of researchers undertake rigorous, science-based development of innovative treatments, better diagnostics, and preventative measures. In close collaboration with our clinical counterparts, we craft solutions that directly address the unique needs of our patients. Our commitment extends beyond the laboratory walls, fostering both internal and external partnerships to share our expertise and collectively drive solutions for the challenges faced by children and young people with cancer.

At the core of our mission is a simple yet profound goal: to enhance the survival rates and quality of life for children with cancer. Within the CCRU we are pioneering the development of cutting-edge therapies tailored to provide newfound hope for patients facing limited alternatives. Leveraging advanced technologies, we decipher the intricate secrets embedded in our patients’ cancers, advancing our capacity to prevent, detect and treat children’s cancers with precision and care.


Our research groups work together to embed new ways to diagnose and treat children with cancer. Ways we do this is by:

  • exploring how immune cell therapies can treat children with cancer
  • developing new analytical measurement procedures to detect cancer
  • investigating better ways to analyse biospecimens from children with cancer
  • build preclinical models to more accurately diagnose cancer in children
  • hunting for changes in genes that predispose some children to cancer.


  • We lead an Australian-first phase one clinical trial to treat childhood bone cancer using our locally developed and manufactured CAR T cells.
  • We identify novel cancer-predisposing genes that increase the risk of cancer development in children.
  • We develop gene technologies and drug therapies to prevent children from developing cancer.
  • We facilitate paediatric cancer translational research via providing quality specimens and annotated data.
  • We develop improved preclinical models to increase the rate of identifying successful treatment, and to reduce waste by more rapidly identifying futile treatments.
  • We detect cancer material from blood samples to reduce invasive biopsies and encourage simpler techniques with more precise monitoring of disease progression.


For enquires

Ms Janett Clarkson

CCRU Research and Development Manager


Prof Geraldine O'Neill

Prof Geraldine O'Neill

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Head, Children’s Cancer Research Unit. Conjoint Professor of Cancer Cell Biology with the Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney.
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Last updated Monday 18th December 2023