Professor Duan was trained in both Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine in Shanghai, China in the early 1980s. He practised medicine and taught in a medical school in Shanghai before moving to Australia. He completed his Doctor of Philosophy in the field of molecular endocrinology in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Faculty of Medicine of University of Melbourne in 1991.
He has published over 98 original research papers and review articles in international refereed journals. He won "Researcher of the Year Awards 2008 - Biotechnology Award" from the Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development, State Government of Victoria and Smart Geelong Network.
Current major research pursuits of Professor Duan are nuclei acid aptamer technology, aptamer-targeted cancer drug therapy and aptamer-guided molecular imaging of cancer stem cells using PET/CT. The Cancer Nanomedicine Programme headed by Professor Duan is a multidisciplinary programme involving Material Scientists, Mechanical and Electronic Engineers, Polymer Chemists, Molecular Cell Biologists, Pharmacologists, Cancer Biologists, Radiopharmaceutical Scientists, Oncologists, Surgeons and Nuclear Medicine Specialists.One of the key technology platforms in Professor Duan’s laboratory is the development of novel cancer stem cell-targeting RNA aptamers. The Cancer Nanomedicine harnesses disparate expertises in the fields of chemistry, polymer science, molecular biology, cancer science and clinical medicine in both Deakin University and other institutions (e.g. University of Melbourne and ANSTO). We employ techniques in molecular cloning, protein expression, cancer stem cell isolation and characterisation, flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, tumour xenograft, nanoparticle preparation, pharmacokinetics, HPLC and in vivo live animal imaging.
Professor Duan’s laboratory has developed the world first RNA aptamer (only 19 nucleotides long) against a cancer stem cell surface marker protein (epithelial cell adhesion molecule, EpCAM). This novel EpCAM aptamer binds to cancer cells specifically with high affinity. Importantly, this aptamer is rapidly internalised by the cancer cells upon binding, making it an excellent targeting molecule for both anti-cancer drug/siRNA delivery and molecular imaging (Cancer Science, Volume 101, Issue 5, May 2011).
Being an Australian leader in developing aptamers against cancer stem cells, Professor Duan is well recognised for his innovative and translational medical research. For example, his work of developing RNA aptamer for cancer diagnosis and treatment was cited by Senator Kim Carr, in his press release on 7 January 2011 as a fine example of the world-class research carried out by Australian leading researchers funded by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research: Partners in Scientific Discovery
In addition, Professor Duan's work has enjoined wide coverage by both domestic and international media.
Potential Honours Students and Ph.D. Students who are interested in commanding the latest nanotechnology and cancer molecular cell biology, and research into novel nanomedicine-based cancer therapy and diagnostics, are welcome to enquire about positions in the Nanomedicine Laboratory.