About the CEC & staff

Cancer Epidemiology Centre Staff

CEC staff profiles

What's cancer epidemiology?

It's the collection, analysis and dissemination of information about the occurrence, distribution and causes of cancer.

Why have a Cancer Epidemiology Centre (CEC)?

To perform strategic research that helps direct our cancer control efforts.

The large-scale epidemiological studies conducted by the CEC are expanding our understanding of the factors that contribute to and protect against cancer. The aim has traditionally been to find out the causes of common cancers in Australia, particularly those we can change. We've recently expanded our efforts to research less common cancers. The CEC collects and analyses data on the effect of nutrition, lifestyle, behaviour and genetic factors on cancer risk. We collaborate extensively with other researchers in Australia and overseas.

The 4 main areas of research are:

  1. nutritional epidemiology,
  2. genetic epidemiology,
  3. prostate cancer and
  4. less common cancers.

Our aims

  1. To provide an epidemiological infrastructure for Cancer Council Victoria in terms of high-quality human and data resources.
  2. To generate knowledge on cancer control by conducting and assisting a range of innovative, internationally competitive, population-based, aetiological research.
  3. To generate knowledge on cancer control by conducting and assisting a range of innovative, internationally competitive, population-based, research on cancer families and cancer genetics.
  4. To generate knowledge on cancer control by conducting, assisting and evaluating innovative, internationally competitive, public health programs.
  5. To form and maintain strategic and collaborative links with cancer research / control programs and related institutions nationally and internationally.
  6. To disseminate epidemiological knowledge about cancer.
  7. To generate knowledge on cancer control by assisting population-based clinical research.
  8. To assist innovative, internationally competitive, epidemiological and public health research into other chronic diseases as appropriate.

CEC Staff Profiles


Professor Graham GilesProf. Graham Giles

BSc, MSc, PhD, AM
Head, Cancer Epidemiology & Intelligence Division
Director, Cancer Epidemiology Centre

After post-doctoral work on the epidemiology of leukaemia and lymphoma in Tasmania, Graham Giles joined Cancer Council Victoria in 1983 as Director of the Victorian Cancer Registry. In 1986, he was appointed Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Centre, and in 2001 became Deputy Director of the Cancer Control Research Institute. He has honorary professorial appointments at Melbourne, Monash and Deakin Universities, and serves on several national and international committees including the Scientific Council of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyons, France.

His research interests include the causes of cancers of the breast, prostate, bowel and skin focusing on dietary factors and family history and genetics. He is the chief investigator of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (Health 2000). He's also a principal investigator of a number of large population-based studies of families with cancers of the breast, bowel and prostate, and melanoma, which he instigated with Professor John Hopper at the University of Melbourne.

Full profile Professor Graham Giles

Assoc. Prof Roger Milne

BCom, BSW, BA, Grad Dip Clinical Epi, MSc, PhD
Deputy Director, Cancer Epidemiology Centre

Roger is an epidemiologist with 15 years’ experience in the analysis of genetic and lifestyle data from observational studies. He first worked as a researcher at the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University of Melbourne and later in the Human Genetics Programme at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) in Madrid. He has a broad working knowledge of issues relevant to the management and analysis of large-scale genetic and epigenetic studies and expertise in the application of appropriate statistical techniques. 

Roger leads CEC Research Enabling Services, which encompasses the Statistical Analysis and Data Management Teams as well as project coordination and support. He currently holds an NHMRC grant to assess the influence of health-related lifestyle factors on DNA methylation. He is also principal investigator on the Australian Breakthrough Cancer (ABC) Study.

Dr Fiona Bruinsma

BBSc, Grad Dip App Psych, MA App Sc (Epidemiology), Dr Pub Health
Research Coordinator

Dr Fiona Bruinsma has worked in cancer and reproductive epidemiology for over 15 years. She completed a Doctorate of Public Health in 2010, which investigated the effects of treatment for cervical dysplasia on pregnancy outcomes. Since joining us in early 2011, Fiona has been involved in coordinating studies investigating lifestyle and genetic risk factors for prostate cancer, kidney cancer and multiple myeloma. She has also been involved in the development of the Forgotten Cancers Project and is a principal investigator on the Australian Breakthrough Cancer (ABC) Study.

Suzi NeumannSuzi Neumann

Department Manager

Suzi joined Cancer Council Victoria in 1981 as a clerical assistant in the Victorian Cancer Registry. In 1983, she became personal assistant to the director. Over time she's taken on further responsibilities for the administration of the Centre and became Departmental Manager in 2004.

Suzi is responsible for coordinating all aspects of the centre’s administration and is a key link with other Council units and with external institutions. She's the keeper of the corporate history of the Cancer Epidemiology Centre.

Senior Researchers

Prof. Dallas English

BSc, MSc, PhD
Senior Principal Research Fellow

Dr English obtained a PhD in epidemiology from the University of Washington in Seattle, US in 1982. From 1982 to 1999, he worked at the University of Western Australia, first in the NHMRC Research Unit in Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, and later in the Department of Public Health. His last position there was Associate Professor. He joined us in February 2000. In 2006, he was appointed Professor and Director of the Centre for MEGA Epidemiology in the School of Population Health at the University of Melbourne.

He has substantial experience as a cancer epidemiologist. While in Perth, his main research interests were in skin cancer prevention and in cancer screening. Since moving to Melbourne, he has worked on the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study.

Allison Hodge

Dr Allison Hodge

BAgSc (Hons), BSc, Grad Dip Diet, MEnvSc, Grad Dip Epi Biostats, PhD.
Research Coordinator - Core Programs

Allison is an epidemiologist with qualifications in nutrition. After several years working in the epidemiology of type 2 diabetes in developing countries, she joined us in 1997, working on nutritional analysis in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, completing her PhD on diet and diabetes using data from the MCCS in 2006. She then left CEC to take up a post-doctoral fellowship at Melbourne University but returned in 2011 as Research Co-ordinator Core Programs.  In 2014 Allison’s role changed to that of Senior Research Fellow working part time on a variety of diet related studies and maintaining and up-dating our dietary questionnaires.

Dr Robert MacInnis

BSc (Hons), Grad Dip Epi Biostat, PhD
Senior Research Fellow

Robert first joined the CEC in 2000 as a statistician, having previously worked for 3 years in osteoporosis research at the University of Melbourne. While working with us he obtained a PhD in epidemiology from the University of Melbourne in 2006. From 2006-2010, he worked at the University of Cambridge, UK, as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Since his return he's continued his research at the University of Melbourne and in 2011 he re-joined us as a senior research fellow. 

Robert is involved in analyses of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study and genetic epidemiology projects with the University of Melbourne. His main interests include cancer risk prediction models and the association obesity has on mortality and cancer outcomes.  

Dr Brigid Lynch

BSc, MScs Comm, PhD
Senior Research Fellow

Brigid’s work focuses on how physical activity and sedentary behaviour are associated with cancer risk, biological mechanisms underlying risk, and health outcomes for cancer survivors.  

Brigid received her PhD in Population Health from The University of Queensland in 2008, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cancer epidemiology within the Department of Population Health Research, Alberta Health Services (Canada) from 2009-2011.  She was a Senior Research Officer in the Physical Activity Laboratory at Baker IDI for two years before joining us mid-2014.  Brigid is a National Breast Cancer Foundation Early Career Fellow, and a Director of the Australian Society for Medical Research.  

Dr Pierre-Antoine Dugué

MSc Statistics, PhD Public Health
Research Fellow 

Pierre-Antoine completed his PhD in 2014 at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. His research focused on the aetiology of cervical cancer and its prevention through screening. Prior to that, he worked as a biostatistician at the French National Institute for Medical Research, analysing data from clinical trials of colorectal cancer patients.

Pierre-Antoine joined the Cancer Epidemiology Centre at the end of 2014. He is involved in epidemiological analyses of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, in particular conducting studies exploring the associations between DNA methylation and cancer. He is also interested in the prevention of cancer through screening and a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Dr Harindra Jayasekara 

Research Fellow  

Harindra, a medically qualified epidemiologist, joined the CEC as Research Fellow in 2015. Harindra completed his PhD in Epidemiology from The University of Melbourne in 2014 having been awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council postgraduate scholarship.

Harindra’s work at CEC focuses on the factors that affect the occurrence of cancer and survival from it. In particular, he has been investigating the association between long term alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer.

Previously, Harindra worked at the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Melbourne, and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. He is a member of the Colorectal Cancer and Breast Cancer Groups at The University of Melbourne, and is involved in analysis of data from the Colon Cancer Family Registry and the Australian Breast Cancer Family Registry. He is also Adjunct Fellow at the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, La Trobe University.


Honorary Researchers

Dr Liesel Fitzgerald

BSc (Hons), PhD

Liesel obtained a PhD in molecular genetics from the University of Tasmania in 2007. From late 2007 to 2011, she took a position as a post-doc at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, gaining additional experience in genetic epidemiology. Liesel joined us in November 2012 as the inaugural David Hill Research Fellow.

Dr FitzGerald's main interest is in the genetic basis of prostate cancer, focusing specifically on genomic predictors for aggressive and fatal forms of this disease. She'll also be researching the genetic causes of rarer cancers, such as pancreatic and haematological malignancies. Liesel is involved in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (MCCS), the Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer Study (RFPCS), the Early Onset Prostate Cancer Familial Study (EOPCFS), the Aggressive Prostate Cancer (APC) study and the Forgotten Cancers Project (FCP).

Project Management

Theresa Whalen

BA (Exercise Physiology), MPH
Project Manager, ABC Study

Theresa joined Cancer Council Victoria in 2014 to manage the Australian Breakthrough Cancer (ABC) Study, a new research study which aims follow the health of 50,000 Australians over an extended period of time.

Theresa has many years’ experience working in public health in Australia and the United States. She was Field Coordinator for the Australian Diabetes, Obesity & Lifestyle Study (AUSDIAB), developed and managed Diabetes Australia’s Life! Telephone Health Coaching Program and managed the Kidney Evaluation for You (KEY) Program for Kidney Health Australia.  Her role as Project Manager of the ABC Study will involve setting up the study, recruiting participants and managing the collection of information and biological samples from those taking part. 

Larissa Popowski

Über Cohort Maintenance Program Manager

Larissa joined Cancer Council Victoria in 2015 to manage the Über Cohort Maintenance Program. She is responsible for managing the research and contact data for CEC’s ongoing cohort studies once they reach an appropriate stage of maturity.  

Larissa has almost 20 years of healthcare experience, working in various clinical settings and clinical research organisations. Larissa has extensive experience managing pharmaceutical and Investigator-led clinical trials. Larissa has a strong interest in research data management standards and is a current member of HISA (Health Informatics Society of Australia); a current member of ARCS; and has provided research governance seminars at public hospitals on the topic of health data. Larissa will use this experience to amalgamate CEC’s ongoing cohort studies to a single research data platform and will develop SOPs to help ensure good research data management standards are upheld.

Melisa Bagnato

BComm/Arts (Hons)
Prostate Cancer Program Manager

Melisa began working for the Cancer Epidemiology Centre in 2002 as an interviewer/appointment officer for the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study. In 2004, Melisa was appointed as a recruitment data manager for the Victorian Cancer Registry. This led to her next role in mid-2006 as data manager for the Prostate Cancer Program.

In mid-2008, Melisa was promoted to Prostate Cancer Program manager. In addition to coordinating recruitment and data management for existing prostate cancer studies, Melisa has established processes and systems for new studies.

Alison Hopkins

B.App.Sc.(Med Lab Sc) and GradDip Biostats
Team Leader, Data Management Cluster

Alison joined Cancer Council Victoria in 2011. Beginning her career working in histopathology laboratories, Alison was Program Co-ordinator and Data Manager with the Royal College of Pathologists’ Australasia Quality Assurance Programs (RCPA QAP) for more than twenty years.

Alison now co-ordinates the secure storage of data generated by the Cancer Epidemiology Centre’s many research studies.  She also assists the Centre’s researchers, and national and international research collaborators, to use the data effectively and accurately.

Dr Hayat Dagher

BSc (Hons), PhD, Dip Mgt (Medicine)
Project Manager Haematological Cancers and CONFIRM

Lisa Hochberg

Forgotten Cancers Project Manager

Lisa joined Cancer Council Victoria in 2013 as Project Officer with the Forgotten Cancers Project and, in 2014, was promoted to Senior Project Officer for the Australian Breakthrough Cancer (ABC) Study. Lisa was responsible for establishing study protocols and policies, managing participant contact processes and as assisting in the set up and development of database systems. Lisa has since returned to work with the Forgotten Cancers Project, and has now responsibility for overall management of the project. 

Prior to joining the Cancer Council, Lisa managed a study at the Center for Obesity Research and Education, Alfred Hospital, investigating the barriers to Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding (LAGB) aftercare attendance. 

Dr Carolyn Staines

BSc (Hons), PhD
Research Communications and Projects Officer

Carolyn obtained a PhD in injury epidemiology from Monash University in 2013. Carolyn previously held the position of Research Fellow at Monash University Accident Research Centre and joined Cancer Council Victoria in 2008.
With a degree in Psychology and Linguistics, and an early career background of research into the psychology of language.

Carolyn combines her research and linguistic skills to provide scientific writing and editing support for a broad range of projects at Cancer Council Victoria. She is also involved in investigations of the epidemiology of skin cancer in Australia.


Updated: 08 Jun, 2016