Cancer Council researcher receives Premier's commendation

Tuesday 5 June, 2007

Dr Robert MacInnis, a researcher from The Cancer Council Victoria's Health 2020 research project, received a commendation from the State Government for his work in the area of obesity on Monday 4 June.

Representing the Premier, Health Minister Bronwyn Pike said ‘Victorian scientists have been able to think big and make vast gains over the past decades in our understanding of disease and what causes it, supported by the Bracks Government's ongoing, significant investment into long term research.'

Dr MacInnis' work, which formed the basis for his University of Melbourne thesis entitled ‘A Prospective Study of Body Size and Composition and the Risk of Cancer', focused on the links between overweight, obesity and cancer risk. His research showed that waistlines over 85cm for women and over 100cm for men can significantly increase the risk of some cancers.

‘It was quite an honour to receive the commendation,' said Dr MacInnis.

‘This piece of work is important to me because it will help raise awareness of the links between overweight and obesity - especially the significance of waist circumference.

‘Overweight and obesity can more often than not be prevented through lifestyle. We can't always influence our family history or other environmental factors, but we can take responsibility for developing healthy habits that can help us prevent cancer.'

The Premier's Award for Medical Research was presented to one overall winner and three commendation recipients. Dr MacInnis was commended for his ‘outstanding contribution made to Medical Research.'

‘This commendation is testament to the importance of Australian research. While some international research supports our findings, this is the first Australian research to be undertaken that provides evidence about the link between overweight/obesity and cancer,' said Professor David Hill, CEO of The Cancer Council Victoria.

‘I congratulate Dr MacInnis, Professor Dallas English, his supervisor at the Centre for MEGA Epidemiology at the School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, and Professor Graham Giles, Director of The Cancer Council Victoria's Cancer Epidemiology Centre and the initiator of the Health 2020 research project.'

‘Health 2020 has given us access to information from over 40,000 Victorians over a period of 17 years, and is still ongoing. No other research project of its kind is being undertaken in Australia.'

The research informed the development of The Cancer Council Victoria's current obesity prevention campaign. The campaign is running on Victorian television and radio stations, and community service announcements are running in The Age, The Herald Sun and in some regional newspapers.

Dr MacInnis completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne in early 2006 and was awarded a Sidney Sax Overseas Fellowship. He is currently based at the Cancer Research UK Genetic Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge University, where he is conducting research into prostate cancer.

For more information on The Premier's Award for Medical Research, visit

For more information on Melbourne University's School of Population Health, visit

Learn more about our obesity prevention campaign.