I study the molecular mechanisms which control the growth of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels (angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis, respectively) in development and disease. My team has made key contributions to the field’s understanding of signalling by vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) which play key roles in driving both angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis. We are focused on how these molecular mechanisms contribute to various diseases including lymphoedema and cancer.

Key achievements

2020   NHMRC Ideas Grant

2019   NHMRC Program Grant

2009   National Institutes of Health (USA); Member of Special Emphasis Grant Review Panel; NHMRC, “Ten of the Best Research Projects”; NHMRC Principal Research Fellowship

2008   NHMRC Program Grant

2006   Involved in founding Melbourne biotechnology company Vegenics Ltd

2005   Founded private biotechnology company Lymphatix Oy (Finland); Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; George Hodgson Medal for Medical Science

2004   NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship; NHMRC Program Grant

1991   Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany); Research Fellowship


Selected publications

Stacker, S.A., Williams, S.P., Karnezis, T., Shayan, R., Fox, S.B. and Achen, M.G.  Lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic vessel remodeling in cancer. Nature Reviews Cancer 14 (2014) 159-172. Invited review.

Karnezis, T., Shayan, R., Caesar, C., Roufail, S., Harris, N.C., Ardipradja, K., Zhang, Y.-F., Williams, S.P., Farnsworth, R.H., Chai, M.G., Rupasinghe, T., Tull, D., Baldwin, M.E., Sloan, E.K., Fox, S.B., Achen, M.G. and Stacker, S.A.  VEGF-D promotes tumor metastasis by regulating prostaglandins produced by the collecting lymphatic endothelium.  Cancer Cell 21 (2012) 181-195.

Harris, N.C., Davydova, N., Roufail, S., Paquet-Fifield, S., Paavonen, K., Karnezis, T., Zhang, Y.-F., Sato, T., Rothacker, J., Nice, E.C., Stacker, S.A. and Achen, M.G.  The propeptides of VEGF-D determine heparin binding, receptor heterodimerization and effects on tumor biology.  J Biol Chem 288 (2013) 8176-8186.

Davydova, N., Harris, N.C., Roufail, S., Paquet-Fifield, S., Ishaq, M., Streltsov, V.A., Williams, S.P., Karnezis, T., Stacker, S.A. and Achen M.G.  Differential receptor binding and regulatory mechanisms for the lymphangiogenic growth factors VEGF-C and VEGF-D. J Biol Chem 291 (2016) 27265-27278.

Stacker, S.A., Caesar, C., Baldwin, M.E., Thornton, G.E., Williams, R.A., Prevo, R., Jackson, D.G., Nishikawa, S.-i., Kubo, H. and Achen, M.G.  VEGF-D promotes the metastatic spread of tumor cells via the lymphatics.  Nature Medicine 7 (2001) 186-191.

Vogrin, A.J., Bower, N.I., Gunzburg, M.J., Roufail, S., Okuda, K.S., Paterson, S., Headey, S.J., Stacker, S.A., Hogan, B.M. and Achen, M.G.  Evolutionary differences in the Vegf/Vegfr code reveal organotypic roles for the endothelial cell receptor Kdr in developmental lymphangiogenesis. Cell Reports 28 (2019) 2023-2036