Dr Ashray Gunjur

Clinical Research Training Fellow

Ashray is a medical oncologist from Melbourne, Australia, currently undertaking a clinical PhD investigating the interplay between the gut microbiome and responses and/or toxicity to immune checkpoint blockade in patients with rare cancer types.

Skills

  • Clinical- Ashray is a qualified medical oncologist, with a specialist license to practice in Australia, and general medical registration in the UK. Clinical training details:
    • MBBS (hons) – University of Melbourne, 2012
    • Basic Physician Training – Royal Melbourne Hospital, 2014-2017
    • Advanced Training (Medical Oncology Registrar) – St Vincent’s Hospital (Melbourne, Australia), Austin Hospital (Melbourne, Australia), 2018-2019
    • Clinical trial fellowship (genito-urinary and central nervous system cancers)- Austin Hospital (Melbourne, Australia), 2020
    • Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (Medical Oncology) – 2020
  • Bioinformatics- Ashray has undertaken both formal and informal training in bioinformatics, statistical analysis and machine learning, and is proficient in bash, R and python. Specific courses include:
    • Datacamp – ‘Data Scientist with R’ career track
    • Accelerate Science / Cambridge Spark – ‘ Data Science for Science Residency’ (5-week intensive python course)
  • Research- Ashray has longstanding commitment to clinical research, which includes 20+ first-author PUBMED-indexed scientific manuscripts in prestigious journals such as Nature Medicine and Lancet: Oncology. A full listing is available at his google scholar page here. As below, his PhD has given him specific expertise in cancer & gut microbiome research.
  • Leadership- Ashray currently serves on the Outreach and Education committee of the Cooperative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology¬† (COGNO).

PhD focus

Predictive biomarkers for immune checkpoint blockade response / toxicity are currently lacking- Immune checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionised the care for many patients with a variety of solid-organ cancers. However, responses to these powerful therapies are highly variable, and toxicities are both capricious and potentially life-threatening. Better biomarkers to predict response and toxicity are urgently needed.

There is now clear evidence of a link between the ‘gut microbiome’ and outcomes to immune checkpoint inhibitors- Pivotal research over the last 5-years have shown a clear causal link between the composition of gut microbiota in a patient and their subsequent response to cancer immunotherapy. Unfortunately, consistent taxonomic biomarkers for response and toxicity have been elusive, possibly due to methodological inconsistencies and the low-resolution (species- or higher taxonomic rank) approaches previously deployed. Furthermore, little is known about the validity of the gut microbiome in predicting ICB response in patients with rare cancer types, which are less frequently studied.

As such, Ashray’s PhD involves high-resolution shotgun metagenomic analyses of baseline faecal microbiomes from a variety of cohorts of patients with rare cancers receiving immune checkpoint blockade. He and his colleagues hope this research will help to better define the link between gut microbiota and ICB response, particularly in patients with rare cancers, to ultimately use gut microbial diagnostics and therapeutics to improve cancer care.

 

My publications

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