Doctor Tara Roberts

Doctor Tara Roberts

Senior Lecturer, Oncology,
School Of Medicine



2001-2004       PhD (Cellular and Molecular Biology) Institute for Molecular Bioscience. The University of Queensland. "Cellular Responses to Immunostimulatory DNA". (Supervisors – Dr Kate Stacey, Professor David Hume, Dr Matthew Sweet). PhD Awarded 2005.

2000                Bachelor of Science (Hons I) (Biochemistry) The Queensland Institute of Medical Research. "Characterisation of Epstein-Barr Virus Encoded BamHI A Rightward Transcripts (BARTs)’. (Supervisors – Dr Norbert Kienzle, Dr Tom Sculley). University of Queensland, Department of Biochemistry.  

1997-1999       Bachelor of Science (Biochemistry and Microbiology) University of Queensland.


2015-2018       NHMRC Project Grant ‘To investigate the role of ATM protein in protecting against neurodegeneration’ Prof Martin Lavin, Dr Tara Roberts, Dr Sergei Kozlov, Dr Mark Graham. ($920 798)

2014-2019       Cancer Institute New South Wales Future Research Leader Fellowship ($1 225 257)

2011                  QIMR-University Collaborative seed funding grant. ($28 800)

2011-2013       NHMRC Project Grant ‘The mechanism of cell death in response to cytoplasmic DNA, and its role in tumour suppression.’ Dr Katryn Stacey, Dr Tara Roberts ($500 022)

2010-2012       ARC Discovery Grant DP1092486 ‘To investigate the role of the protein kinase SMG-1 in the stress response.’ Professor Martin Lavin, Dr Tara Roberts. ($285 000)

                           NHMRC Project Grant 631472 ‘Cytoplasmic DNA as a danger signal for mammalian cells.’ Dr Katryn Stacey, Dr Tara Roberts, Dr Matthew Sweet. ($582 360)

2007-2011       NHMRC Peter Doherty Postdoctoral Fellowship – ‘The role of stress granules and PIKKs in the response to cytoplasmic DNA’ ($292 000)                      

2006-2009       NHMRC Project grant 455920 Dr Katryn Stacey, Dr Tara Roberts, Prof David Hume ‘Cellular Activation and Apoptosis in response to foreign cytoplasmic DNA’ ($477 000)

This information has been contributed by Doctor Roberts.


  • PhD University of Queensland

Professional Memberships

  • Franklin Women (2016)
  • Australian Society for Medical Research (2006)
  • Australian Sociey of Immunology (2005)


  • Cancer
  • Neurodegenerative Disease
  • Stress and the Immune System
  • innate immunity

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • School Of Medicine


Phone: (02) 8738 9020
Location: Off Campus

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Chapters in Books

  • Stacey, K., Clark, F., Young, G. and Roberts, T. (2008), 'Discrimination of self and non-self DNAs', Nucleic Acids in Innate Immunity, CRC Press 9781420068252.

Journal Articles

  • Ho, V., Chung, L., Singh, A., Lea, V., Abubakar, A., Lim, S., Chua, W., Ng, W., Lee, M., Roberts, T., Souza, P. and Lee, C. (2020), 'Aberrant expression of RAD52, its prognostic impact in rectal cancer and association with poor survival of patients', International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol 21, no 5 .
  • Ding, P., Becker, T., Bray, V., Chua, W., Ma, Y., Lynch, D., Po, J., Luk, A., Caixeiro, N., Souza, P. and Roberts, T. (2019), 'The predictive and prognostic significance of liquid biopsy in advanced epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated non-small cell lung cancer : a prospective study', Lung Cancer, vol 134 , pp 187 - 193.
  • Aghajani, M., Roberts, T., Yang, T., McCafferty, C., Caixeiro, N., Souza, P. and Niles, N. (2019), 'Elevated levels of soluble PD-L1 are associated with reduced recurrence in papillary thyroid cancer', Endocrine Connections, vol 8, no 7 , pp 1040 - 1051.
  • Liney, G., Jelen, U., Byrne, H., Dong, B., Roberts, T., Kuncic, Z. and Keall, P. (2019), 'Technical note : the first live treatment on a 1.0 Tesla inline MRI-linac', Medical Physics, vol 46, no 7 , pp 3254 - 3258.
  • Ding, P., Becker, T., Bray, V., Chua, W., Ma, Y., Xu, B., Lynch, D., Souza, P. and Roberts, T. (2019), 'Plasma next generation sequencing and droplet digital PCR-based detection of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations in patients with advanced lung cancer treated with subsequent-line osimertinib', Thoracic Cancer, vol 10, no 10 , pp 1879 - 1884.
  • Ho, U., Luff, J., James, A., Lee, C., Quek, H., Lai, H., Apte, S., Lim, Y., Lavin, M. and Roberts, T. (2019), 'SMG1 heterozygosity exacerbates haematopoietic cancer development in Atm null mice by increasing persistent DNA damage and oxidative stress', Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, vol 23, no 12 , pp 8151 - 8160.
  • Aghajani, M., Cooper, A., McGuire, H., Jeffries, T., Saab, J., Ismail, K., Souza, P., Bray, V., De Saint Groth, F., Niles, N. and Roberts, T. (2019), 'Pembrolizumab for anaplastic thyroid cancer : a case study', Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy, vol 68 , pp 1921 - 1934.
  • Quek, H., Lim, Y., Lavin, M. and Roberts, T. (2018), 'PIKKing a way to regulate inflammation', Immunology and Cell Biology, vol 96, no 1 , pp 8 - 20.
  • Nikesitch, N., Lee, J., Ling, S. and Roberts, T. (2018), 'Endoplasmic reticulum stress in the development of multiple myeloma and drug resistance', Clinical & Translational Immunology, vol 7, no 1 .
  • Lim, Y., Quek, H., Offenhauser, C., Fazry, S., Boyd, A., Lavin, M., Roberts, T. and Day, B. (2018), 'ATM inhibition prevents interleukin-6 from contributing to the proliferation of glioblastoma cells after ionizing radiation', Journal of Neuro-Oncology, vol 138, no 3 , pp 509 - 518.
  • Aghajani, M., Graham, S., McCafferty, C., Abdel Shaheed, C., Roberts, T., Souza, P., Yang, T. and Niles, N. (2018), 'Clinicopathologic and prognostic significance of programmed cell death ligand 1 expression in patients with non-medullary thyroid cancer : a systematic review and meta-analysis', Thyroid, vol 28, no 3 , pp 349 - 361.
  • Razdan, A., Souza, P. and Roberts, T. (2018), 'Role of microRNAs in treatment response in prostate cancer', Current Cancer Drug Targets, vol 18, no 10 , pp 929 - 944.
  • Quek, H., Luff, J., Cheung, K., Kozlov, S., Gatei, M., Lee, S., Bellingham, M., Noakes, P., Lim, Y., Barnett, N., Dingwall, S., Wolvetang, E., Moshimo, T., Roberts, T. and Lavin, M. (2017), 'A rat model of ataxia-telangiectasia : evidence for a neurodegenerative phenotype', Human Molecular Genetics, vol 26, no 1 , pp 109 - 123.
  • Quek, H., Luff, J., Cheung, K., Kozlov, S., Gatei, M., Lee, S., Bellingham, M., Noakes, P., Lim, Y., Barnett, N., Dingwall, S., Wolvetang, E., Mashimo, T., Roberts, T. and Lavin, M. (2017), 'Rats with a missense mutation in Atm display neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration subsequent to accumulation of cytosolic DNA following unrepaired DNA damage', Journal of Leukocyte Biology, vol 101, no 4 , pp 927 - 947.
  • Ding, P., Roberts, T., Chua, W., Becker, T., Descallar, J., Yip, P. and Bray, V. (2017), 'Clinical outcomes in patients with advanced epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated non-small-cell lung cancer in South Western Sydney Local Health District', Internal Medicine Journal, vol 47, no 12 , pp 1405 - 1411.
  • Ng, T., Shin, J., Roberts, T., Wang, B. and Lee, S. (2016), 'Molecular interactions of polo-like kinase 1 in human cancers', Journal of Clinical Pathology, vol 69, no 7 , pp 557 - 562.
  • Nikesitch, N., Tao, C., Lai, K., Killingsworth, M., Bae, S., Wang, M., Harrison, S., Roberts, T. and Ling, S. (2016), 'Predicting the response of multiple myeloma to the proteasome inhibitor Bortezomib by evaluation of the unfolded protein response', Blood Cancer Journal, vol 6 .
  • Lim, Y., Roberts, T., Day, B., Stringer, B., Kozlov, S., Fazry, S., Bruce, Z., Ensbey, K., Walker, D., Boyd, A. and Lavin, M. (2014), 'Increased sensitivity to ionizing radiation by targeting the homologous recombination pathway in glioma initiating cells', Molecular Oncology, vol 8, no 8 , pp 1603 - 1615.
  • Roberts, T., Ho, U., Luff, J., Lee, S., Apte, S., MacDonald, K., Raggat, L., Pettit, A., Morrow, C., Waters, M., Chen, P., Woods, R., Thomas, G., Pierre, L., Farah, C., Clarke, R., Brown, J. and Lavin, M. (2013), 'Smg1 haploinsufficiency predisposes to tumor formation and inflammation', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, vol 110, no 4 , pp 285 - 294.
  • Sagulenko, V., Thygesen, S., Sester, D., Idris, A., Cridland, J., Vajjhala, P., Roberts, T., Schroder, K., Vince, J., Hill, J., Silke, J. and Stacey, K. (2013), 'AIM2 and NLRP3 inflammasomes activate both apoptotic and pyroptotic death pathways via ASC', Cell Death and Differentiation, vol 20, no 9 , pp 1149 - 1160.
  • Cridland, J., Curley, E., Wykes, M., Schroder, K., Sweet, M., Roberts, T., Ragan, M., Kassahn, K. and Stacey, K. (2012), 'The mammalian PYHIN gene family : phylogeny, evolution and expression', BMC Evolutionary Biology, vol 12, no 140 .
  • Lim, Y., Roberts, T., Day, B., Harding, A., Kozlov, S., Kijas, A., Ensbey, K., Walker, D. and Lavin, M. (2012), 'A role for homologous recombination and abnormal cell-cycle progression in radioresistance of glioma-initiating cells', Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, vol 11, no 9 , pp 1863 - 1872.
  • Roberts, T., Turner, M., Dunn, J., Lenert, P., Ross, I., Sweet, M. and Stacey, K. (2011), 'B cells do not take up bacterial DNA : an essential role for antigen in exposure of DNA to toll-like receptor-9', Immunology and Cell Biology, vol 89, no 4 , pp 517 - 525.
  • Roberts, T., Dunn, J., Sweet, M., Hume, D. and Stacey, K. (2011), 'The immunostimulatory activity of phosphorothioate CpG oligonucleotides is affected by distal sequence changes', Molecular Immunology, vol 48, no 8 , pp 1027 - 1034.
  • Brown, J., Roberts, T., Richards, R., Woods, R., Birrell, G., Lim, Y., Ohno, S., Yamashita, A., Abraham, R., Gueven, N. and Lavin, M. (2011), 'A novel role for hSMG-1 in stress granule formation', Molecular and Cellular Biology, vol 31, no 22 , pp 4417 - 4429.
  • Roberts, T., Idris, A., Dunn, J., Kelly, G., Burnton, C., Hodgson, S., Hardy, L., Garceau, V., Sweet, M., Ross, I., Hume, D. and Stacey, K. (2009), 'HIN-200 proteins regulate caspase activation in response to foreign cytoplasmic DNA', Science, vol 323, no 5917 , pp 1057 - 1060.
  • Trieu, A., Bokil, N., Dunn, J., Roberts, T., Xu, D., Liew, F., Hume, D., Stacey, K. and Sweet, M. (2009), 'TLR9-independent effects of inhibitory oligonucleotides on macrophage responses to S. typhimurium', Immunology and Cell Biology, vol 87, no 3 , pp 218 - 225.
  • Sester, D., Brion, K., Trieu, A., Goodridge, H., Roberts, T., Dunn, J., Hume, D., Stacey, K. and Sweet, M. (2006), 'CpG DNA activates survival in murine macrophages through TLR9 and the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-Akt pathway', The Journal of Immunology, vol 177, no 7 , pp 4473 - 4480.
  • Brummel, R., Roberts, T., Stacey, K. and Lenert, P. (2006), 'Higher-order CpG-DNA stimulation reveals distinct activation requirements for marginal zone and follicular B cells in lupus mice', European Journal of Immunology, vol 36, no 7 , pp 1951 - 1962.
  • Trieu, A., Roberts, T., Dunn, J., Sweet, M. and Stacey, K. (2006), 'DNA motifs suppressing TLR9 responses', Critical Reviews in Immunology, vol 26, no 6 , pp 527 - 544.
  • Roberts, T., Dunn, J., Terry, T., Jennings, M., Hume, D., Sweet, M. and Stacey, K. (2005), 'Differences in macrophage activation by bacterial DNA and CpG-containing oligonucleotides', The Journal of Immunology, vol 175, no 6 , pp 3569 - 3576.
  • Roberts, T., Sweet, M., Hume, D. and Stacey, K. (2005), 'Cutting edge : species-specific TLR9-mediated recognition of CpG and non-CpG phosphorothioate-modified oligonucleotides', Journal of Immunology, vol 174, no 2 , pp 605 - 608.
  • Stacey, K., Young, G., Clark, F., Sester, D., Roberts, T., Naik, S., Sweet, M. and Hume, D. (2003), 'The molecular basis for the lack of immunostimulatory activity of vertebrate DNA', Journal of Immunology, vol 170, no 7 , pp 3614 - 3620.

Conference Papers

  • Ng, W., Shin, J., Yang, T., Roberts, T., Wang, B., Begg, J. and Lee, S. (2016), 'Inhibition of polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) additively improves the outcome of ionising irradiation (IR) in colorectal cancer (CRC)', Australasian Division of the International Academy of Pathology. Annual Scientific Meeting, Brisbane, Qld..

In humans, chronic inflammation can increase cancer risk. Loss of a protein called SMG1 alters inflammation and stress-induced cell changes. In animals, decreased SMG1 protein results in an increased risk of developing lung cancer, lymphomas and chronic inflammation. Mutations in the Smg1 gene have also been found in human cancers. Part of this work focusses on how SMG1 controls the inflammation and the stress pathways that promote tumour growth. These pathways will be examined in cell, animal and human systems to determine how SMG1 regulation of these pathways alters cancer risk. SMG1 may therefore be a new target for cancer drug development or potentially used to identify cancers which could be successfully treated with targeted drugs.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Roberts.

Current Projects

Title: Cancer and Inflammation
  • Centre for Oncology Education & Research Translation (Cancer Institute NSW)
Western Researchers: Tara Roberts and Soon Lee
Years: 2019-07-01 - 2020-06-30
ID: P00025841

Previous Projects

Title: Understanding the role of SMG1 as a tumour suppressor
  • Cancer Institute NSW
Western Researchers: Tara Roberts
Years: 2014-01-01 - 2019-06-30
ID: P00021715
Title: To investigate the role of ATM protein in protecting against neurodegeneration [via UQ - no funding to UWS]
  • National Health and Medical Research Council (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Tara Roberts
Years: 2015-01-01 - 2018-12-31
ID: P00022781
Title: Molecular barcoding of tissue specimens: setting new benchmarks in biobanking quality assurance and quality control in NSW
  • University of Western Sydney
  • Cancer Institute NSW
Western Researchers: Kevin Spring, Paul De Souza, Soon Lee and Tara Roberts
Years: 2015-07-01 - 2016-06-30
ID: P00022764
Title: Identification of circulating tumour cells and circulating tumour RNA in patients with brain cancer
  • Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research
Western Researchers: Therese Becker, Paul De Souza and Tara Roberts
Years: 2015-03-24 - 2019-03-23
ID: P00022750


Current Supervision

Thesis Title: Improving outcome for patients with advanced lung cancer-investigating novel mutations and predictive/prognostic roles of circulating biomarkers
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: To investigate the role of SMG1 in human lymphoma development.
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Association between glutathione and thioredoxin redox homeostasis and DNA integrity, mutation and repair
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Efficacy of Tumor Vaccines and Cellular Immunotherapies in Thyroid Cancer
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Identification of Circulation Tumour Cells and Circulating Tumour RNA in Patient with Brain Cancer
Field of Research: Other Health; Medical Science

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