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Senior Research Officer

BSc., MSc., PhD

Dr Carlos Aya-Bonilla’s research aims at elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of treatment resistance and relapse in children with leukaemia. His research focuses on the identification and in-depth study of the very cells that evade treatment and initiate relapse to devise therapeutic strategies and monitoring tools that target these cells, with the goal to help clinicians to provide a relapse-free future for children with leukaemia.

Carlos completed his Bachelor’s in 2003 with his work on the antigenic characterisation of different strains of Trypanosoma parasites (causative agent of American Trypanosomiasis). In his masters (2005-2008), Carlos devised molecular workflows to monitor residual disease and detect treatment-resistant mutations in BCR-ABL and PML-RARA positive leukemias. During his PhD (2013), Carlos identified novel tumour suppressor genes and unveiled shared pathogenic mechanisms across common forms of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), which could be exploited therapeutically. As part of his first post-doctoral position at Edith Cowan University (2015-2018), Carlos developed and implemented workflows for unbiased and label-free isolation of rare melanoma CTCs (Circulating Tumour Cells), the very cells responsible for tumour spreading in advanced melanoma patients. Also, he profiled melanoma CTCs, at the phenotypic, molecular and transcriptomic level, finding prognostic utility of molecular signatures within circulating melanoma cells. In 2018, Carlos joined the GenomicsWA (TKI’s NGS service provider) to implement omic workflows within the institute. Building from his expertise on cancer biology, genomics, and precision medicine, Carlos joined the Translational Genomics in Leukaemia team (2020) to dissect the tumour cell diversity of clinical and preclinical (patient-derived xenografts) models of paediatric leukaemia by studying each cell’s response to treatment.

Carlos’ current research interests are precision medicine, single cell (spatial) multi-omic profiling, monitoring of minimal residual disease, and preclinical drug testing in paediatric leukaemia and cancer.

  • Education and Qualifications