About us

PROBE-Net is a Centre of Research Excellence for the study of common diseases of the oesophagus. (The oesophagus is the ‘food-pipe’ that joins the throat to the stomach). PROBE-Net brings together doctors and scientists from hospitals, institutes and universities around Australia. The Centre is currently funded by a $2.5 million grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (2013-2017), and was funded previously by the Cancer Council NSW (2008-2012).

Why PROBE-Net?

Every year in Australia, thousands of people visit their doctor with problems such as heartburn and acid reflux. Reflux occurs when acid from the stomach washes up into the oesophagus, and this causes symptoms such as heartburn. Some people develop a change in the lining of the oesophagus caused by the reflux. This change is called Barrett's oesophagus, and in a small fraction of people, this can lead to cancer.

PROBE-Net is trying to find out why some people develop Barrett’s oesophagus and cancer whereas most do not. Through this research, we want to prevent these diseases from occurring in the future. In particular, we want to look at the genes and environmental factors that might influence whether or not a person gets these disorders. PROBE-Net also seeks to find a method for identifying which patients with Barrett’s oesophagus will progress to cancer. Such a test will prove beneficial to patients and doctors.

The specific goals to be achieved by the PROBE-Net Centre of Research Excellence are to:

  • establish a network of research teams into a coordinated national endeavour;

  • build a tissue and data bank to support our research;

  • using the tissue bank, we will identify new tissue markers to identify people at high risk of developing oesophageal cancer;

  • test the markers for predictive accuracy and cost-effectiveness in independent, prospective validation studies; and

  • translate these findings into clinical practice.