Dr Cherie Blenkiron

PhD 2003, The University of Edinburgh UK, BSc (hons) 1999 Biochemistry and Genetics, The University of Nottingham UK



1999 - 2003 - Ph.D. The University of Edinburgh, UK - Identification of tumour supressor genes in ovarian cancer

2003 - 2009 - Post Doctoral Research Associate, The University of Cambridge, UK - Analysis of microRNAs in breast cancer

2009 - 2020 - Reserach Fellow/Senior Research Fellow, The University of Auckland, NZ

2020 - current - Senior Lecturer, The University of Auckland, NZ.


Research interests

  • microRNAs
  • Cancer
  • Genomics
  • Extracellular Vesicles
  • Tissue Ethics
  • Disease Biomarkers

Research | Current


I am a cancer biologist by training, interested in the identification of molecular biomakers for cancer and other disease states. There are a number of challenges in how to accurately and affordably monitor patients with cancer through their clinical care pathway, making a simple blood test an attractive and feasible approach. My research uses cell biology and genomics methods with a focus on the analysis of cellular packages called extracellular vesicles (EVs) to use these as blood biomarkers for different forms of cancer. I am particularly interested in the identification of circulating minimally invasive markers that can be used to diagnose and monitor cancer, currently working to develop affordable microfluidic devices for their direct analysis in breast cancer and melanoma.

Many of my cancer related projects investigate rare, understudied tumours such a Merkel Cell Carcinoma, Granulosa Cell Tumours and Vulvar Squamous Cell Carcinoma using genomics to identify the mutations that drive cancer initiation and progression. These studies look at the evolution of tumours as they metastasise around the body to understand heterogeneity, how they change at the genetic and molecular level.

I also have a strong interest in the processes of tissue banking including bioethics, the appropriate consent, collection and storage of donor tissues for use in research.

I work collaboratively across disciplines on projects ranging from Cancer through to Placenta with researchers from across the University, in Aotearoa New Zealand and increasingly overseas. 



• Prof. Cristin Print, Dr Ben Lawrence, Dr Kate Parker and Prof. Mike Findlay - NETwork! neuroendocrine tumour project

• Prof. Larry Chamley - Placental Extracellular Vesicles

• Prof A. Phillips and A/Prof S. Swift - Bacterial Extracellular Vesicles in infection

• Prof. A. Shelling - the molecular and genomic analysis of Granulosa Cell Tumours and Vulval Squamous Cell Carcinoma

• A/Prof Mhoyra Fraser, Dept. of Physiology - Blood Extracellular Vesicles as a marker of fetal ischemia

• Auckland Regional Biobank - Development of a pathology tool for accurate recording of tissue sampling at point of collection

• Dr Colin Hisey, Dr Randy Carney (University of California, Davis) - Microfluidics Devices for the capture of biomarker disease extracellular vesicles in cancer


Teaching | Current

S1. MEDSCI 203 Mechanisms of Disease, Course Director 2021-onwards

S1. PHARM 211 Pathology Section lectures 2021-onwards

S1. MBChB 221B Principles of Medicine, Cancer and Epigenetics lectures and various workshops

S1. MEDSCI 714 Advanced Cancer Biology - Liquid Biopsies lecture

S1. NURSPRAC 704 Cancer Biology lecture

S2. MEDSCI 301 Cancer Genetics and ImmunoOncology lectures

S2. MEDSCI302 Cancer Genomics, Familial Cancer, Viral Cancer lectures

S2. MEDSCI 101G Environmental Threats to Human Health lectures

S2. BIOMED 399 Cancer and Therapeutics Pathway Mentor

Postgraduate supervision



• Tamsin Robb, PhD 2018 (Joint Main Supervisor with C. Print) Tumour Heterogeneity: a patient specific multilayered investigation. AMRF Scholarship. UoA

• Yohanes Nursalim, PhD 2018 (Joint Main Supervisor with L. Chamley) Genetic Feotomaternal Microchimerism. Marsden Fund Scholarship. UoA

• Matthew Kang, PhD 2017 (co-supervisor with L. Chamley) Genetic Fetomaternal Microchimerism. UoA Scholarship. UoA

• Vanessa Chang, PhD 2014 (co-supervisor with S. Swift) Mycobacterial Membrane Vesicles. UoA Scholarship. UoA

• James Hearn, PhD 2016 (advisor with M. Kalev) UoA

• Sandra Fitzgerald, PhD 2017 (advisor with C. Print) UoA



• Jia Wei, PhD 2016 (co-supervisor with L. Chamley), UoA

• Wei-Tzu Cheng, PhD 2017 (co-supervisor with A. Shelling), UoA

• Denis Simonov, PhD 2018 (co-supervisor with A. Phillips), UoA

• Julia Cree, MSc 2017 (co-supervisor with T. Merry), UoA

• Zachary Devereaux, MSc 2017 (co-supervisor with S. Swift) Fungal Extracellular Vesicles and the transfer of drug resistance. UoA

• Sai Kriti Aurora, MSc 2018 (co-supervisor with A. Muthukaruppan) The role of transforming growth factor receptor beta (TGF-B) in granulosa cell tumours of the ovary. UoA

• Katherine Robbins, MSc 2019 (Main Supervisor) Development of clinical genetic testing for granulosa cell tumours. UoA

• Ella Reshef, BioMed (hons) 2020 (main suervisor with C. Hisey) Rapid catch and release extracellular vesicle device for breast cancer monitoring. UoA.



Board Member (Asia Pacific representative), International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (https://www.isev.org) (2018-present)

Board Member (Secretary and founding member), Australia New Zealand Society for Extracellular Vesicles (https://anzsev.org) (2020 - present)

Associate Investigator, Maurice Wilkins Centre for Biodiscovery (2018- present)


Associate Director for the Hub for Extracellular Vesicle Investigations (2018- present)

Scientific Advisory Board, Auckland Biobank (2017- present)

Core Operations Group, Auckland Regional Biobank (2017- present)


Associate Editor, Journal for Extracellular Vesicles (JEV), Wiley Publishing (2020 - present)


Ad Hoc reviewer for the International Journals: Journal of Extracellular Vesicles, Nature Protocols, Journal of Obesity, FEBS Open Bio, Frontiers in Oncology, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Immunology and Cell Biology, Proteomics, Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, European Journal of Nutrition, Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology, Scientific Reports, Journal of Molecular Medicine, Targeted Oncology.

For Grant Boards: NHMRC, Health Research Council, Wellington Medical Research Foundation, BBSRC UK, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, World Cancer Grant, National Heart Foundation, The Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia, Neurological Foundation, Christchurch Medical Research Foundation, Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust, National Science Centre of Poland.

Areas of expertise

  • microRNAs
  • Cancer
  • Genomics
  • Extracellular Vesicles
  • Tissue Ethics
  • Disease Biomarkers

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Member of the New Zealand Society for Oncology (2017- present)

Member of the NZ Melanoma Special Interest group (2017- present)



Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Heatlie, J., Chang, V., Fitzgerald, S., Nursalim, Y., Parker, K., Lawrence, B., ... Blenkiron, C. (2020). Specialized Cell-Free DNA Blood Collection Tubes Can Be Repurposed for Extracellular Vesicle Isolation: A Pilot Study. Biopreservation and biobanking, 18 (5), 462-470. 10.1089/bio.2020.0060
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Yohanes Nursalim, Ben Lawrence, Sandra Fitzgerald
  • Dauros-Singorenko, P., Hong, J., Swift, S., Phillips, A., & Blenkiron, C. (2020). Effect of the Extracellular Vesicle RNA Cargo From Uropathogenic Escherichia coli on Bladder Cells. Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, 7.10.3389/fmolb.2020.580913
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jiwon Hong, Simon Swift, Anthony Phillips
  • Akbarinejad, A., Hisey, C. L., Brewster, D., Ashraf, J., Chang, V., Sabet, S., ... Chamley, L. (2020). Novel Electrochemically Switchable, Flexible, Microporous Cloth that Selectively Captures, Releases, and Concentrates Intact Extracellular Vesicles. ACS applied materials & interfaces, 12 (35), 39005-39013. 10.1021/acsami.0c11908
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: David Barker, David Williams, Jadranka Travas-Sejdic, Yohanes Nursalim, Colin Hisey, Larry Chamley, Clive Evans
  • Henare, K. L., Parker, K., Wihongi, H., Blenkiron, C., Jansen, R., Reid, M., ... Print, C. (2019). Mapping a route to Māori engagement for clinical cancer genomics. Paper presented at New Zealand Society for Oncology Conference 2019, Wellington, New Zealand. 25 October - 26 October 2019. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Kimiora Henare, Papaarangi Reid, Michael Findlay, Ben Lawrence, Cristin Print
  • Blenkiron, C., Robb, T., Parker, K., Kramer, N., Stables, S., Tse, R., ... Lawrence, B. (2019). Tailoring a rapid autopsy protocol to explore cancer evolution: a patient collaboration. The New Zealand medical journal, 132 (1503), 83-92.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rexson Tse, Tamsin Robb, Cristin Print, Ben Lawrence
  • Henare, K. L., Parker, K. E., Wihongi, H., Blenkiron, C., Jansen, R., Reid, P., ... Print, C. G. (2019). Mapping a route to Indigenous engagement in cancer genomic research. The Lancet. Oncology, 20 (6), e327-e335. 10.1016/s1470-2045(19)30307-9
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Kimiora Henare, Papaarangi Reid, Michael Findlay, Ben Lawrence, Cristin Print
  • Woodhouse, B., Robb, T. J., Hearn, J. I., Houseman, P. S., Hayward, G., Miller, R., ... Print, C. G. (2018). Merkel Cell Polyomavirus is uncommon in New Zealand Merkel Cell Carcinomas. British Journal of Dermatology, 179 (5), 1197-1198. 10.1111/bjd.16903
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Tamsin Robb, Braden Woodhouse, James Hearn, Michael Findlay, Ben Lawrence, Cristin Print
  • Théry C, Witwer, K. W., Aikawa, E., Alcaraz, M. J., Anderson, J. D., Andriantsitohaina, R., ... Atkin-Smith, G. K. (2018). Minimal information for studies of extracellular vesicles 2018 (MISEV2018): a position statement of the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles and update of the MISEV2014 guidelines. Journal of extracellular vesicles, 7 (1)10.1080/20013078.2018.1535750
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Larry Chamley, Simon Swift


Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 504 - Bldg 504
Level 0, Room 018
New Zealand

Social links

Web links