The Cancer Epidemiology Division (CED) conducts a broad range of research aimed at expanding our understanding of the factors that contribute to or protect against the development of cancer, or survival following a cancer diagnosis. It comprises a team of epidemiologists, statisticians, and support staff, committed to understanding how to improve our cancer control.
CED research is based on several research platforms and programs that contribute to the generation of knowledge about cancer. These include the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (Health 2020); the Australian Breakthrough Cancer (ABC) Study; the Rare or Under-Researched Cancers Program; the Prostate Cancer Program; the Lifestyle Epidemiology Program which contains two major sub-programs, Diet & Nutrition and Physical Activity; the Genomic & Molecular Epidemiology Program which encompasses germline and tumour genetics, epigenetics and other omics; and the Analysis of Linked Information on Cancer Program. CED researchers collaborate extensively with other researchers in Australia and overseas.
Our main areas of research are:
- lifestyle epidemiology (with an emphasis on diet and physical activity)
- genomic and molecular epidemiology
- big data analysis using record linkage
We study all cancers, but have developed a special focus on
- prostate cancer, especially its aggressive forms
- less common cancers for which the epidemiology is poorly understood
- molecular subtypes of common cancers
- To provide a high-quality epidemiological infrastructure for Cancer Council Victoria in terms of research resources and scientists.
- To generate knowledge to underpin cancer control efforts by conducting, and collaborating on, a range of high-quality, population-based research, focussing on:
- causes of cancer.
- cancer families and cancer genetics.
- cancer risk prediction
- cancer survival.
- To form and maintain strategic and collaborative links with cancer research and control programs and related institutions, nationally and internationally.
- To facilitate and collaborate on epidemiological research into other chronic diseases.
- To disseminate epidemiological knowledge about cancer.
CED Staff Profiles
A/Prof. Roger Milne (Head of Division)
BCom, BSW, BA, Grad Dip Clinical Epi, MSc, PhD
Roger is an epidemiologist with over 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 at The University of Melbourne, and later in the Human Genetics Programme at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) in Madrid, where he completed his PhD in Public Health. Roger joined the CED at Cancer Council Victoria in 2013 and was appointed its Head in 2017.
Roger’s work is focused on cancer epidemiology, including genetic and lifestyle-related risk factors, genetic and gene-environment interactions and DNA methylation. In 2015-2017 he held an NHMRC project grant to assess the influence of health-related lifestyle factors on DNA methylation. He currently holds an NHMRC partnership grant to investigate underlying causes of observed inequalities in cancer outcomes by sex, socio-economic position and geographical remoteness.
Roger has expertise in the management and analysis of large-scale epidemiological, genetic and epigenetic studies and vast experience working collaboratively within consortia. He is Chair of the Data Access Coordination Committee of the Breast Cancer Association Consortium and a member of the Steering Committee of the NCI Cohort Consortium. He is also principal investigator on the Australian Breakthrough Cancer Study.
Prof. Graham Giles (Associate Head of Division & Head of Research)
BSc, MSc, PhD, AM
Graham obtained his PhD in medical geography from the University of Tasmania in 1980 and joined Cancer Council Victoria in 1983 as inaugural Director of the Victorian Cancer Registry. In 1986, he was appointed as inaugural Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Centre and in 2012 became Head of the Cancer Epidemiology Division. In 2017 he stepped down as Head of Division to focus on research. He holds honorary professorial appointments at Melbourne and Monash Universities.
His interests include the epidemiology of cancers of the breast, prostate, bowel and skin, focusing on dietary and other lifestyle factors and family history and genetics. More recently his focus has moved to less common cancers particularly the epidemiology of the haematological malignancies. He is a longstanding member of the principal international research consortia for the genetic epidemiology of cancer, particularly of the prostate and breast. Graham is the chief investigator of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (Health 2000, Health 2020) and the Australian Breakthrough Cancer (ABC) Study. He's also the chief investigator of several epidemiological studies of prostate cancer and a principal investigator of large population-based case-control studies of families with cancers of the breast and bowel, which he instigated with John Hopper in the 1990s. Graham is currently the chief investigator of an NHMRC Program Grant that aims to increase the precision of public health interventions for cancers of the breast, prostate and bowel.
Full profile for Professor Graham Giles
Dr Fiona Bruinsma (Manager, Research Coordination)
BSc, Grad Dip App Psych, MA App Sc (Epidemiology), PhD
Fiona has worked in cancer and reproductive epidemiology for over 15 years. She completed her PhD in Public Health in 2010, investigating the effects of treatment for cervical dysplasia on pregnancy outcomes. She joined CED in 2011.
Fiona manages the Research Coordination Unit, which manages all recruiting epidemiological studies. She is a principal investigator on the Australian Breakthrough Cancer (ABC) Study, the Forgotten Cancers Project and the CONFIRM kidney study. Fiona also oversees the EMMA study which is investigating risk factors for multiple myeloma.
Larissa Popowski (Manager, Research Support)
Larissa has 20 years of healthcare experience, working in various clinical settings and clinical research organisations. She has extensive experience managing pharmaceutical and investigator-led clinical trials and a strong interest in research data management standards. Larissa is a member of the Health Informatics Society of Australia and ARCS Australia, and has provided research governance seminars at public hospitals on the topic of health data. She joined CED in 2015.
Larissa manages the Research Support Unit, including the Cohort Maintenance, Data Management, Systems and Quality Teams. This involves amalgamating CED’s ongoing cohort studies to a single research data platform and developing and documenting procedures to ensure that high data management standards are upheld. It also includes the receipt, storage, management of data receipt, maintaining and improving the information technology systems that support the work of the Division.
Suzi Neumann (Department Manager)
Suzi joined Cancer Council Victoria in 1981 and became the personal assistant to Graham Giles in 1983. She has been Departmental Manager since 2004. She is responsible for coordinating all aspects of CED administration and is a key link with other CCV units and with external institutions. She is the keeper of the corporate history of the CED and of the Victorian Cancer Registry (VCR).
Prof. Dallas English (Senior Principal Research Fellow)
BSc, MSc, PhD
Dallas obtained his 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 CED in February 2000. In 2006-2015, he was Director of the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Population & Global Health at the University of Melbourne.
Dallas 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 predominantly on the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study.
A/Prof. Allison Hodge (Principal Research Fellow)
BAgSc (Hons), BSc, Grad Dip Diet, MEnvSc, Grad Dip Epi Biostats, PhD
Allison is an epidemiologist with qualifications in nutrition. After several years working in the epidemiology of type 2 diabetes in developing countries, she joined CED in 1997, working on nutritional analysis in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study. In 2006 she completed her PhD on diet and diabetes using data from the MCCS and left CED to take up a post-doctoral fellowship at Melbourne University, returning in 2011 as Research Co-ordinator, Core Programs.
Since 2014, Allison has been a Senior Research Fellow, working on a variety of diet-related studies and maintaining and updating CED’s dietary assessment questionnaires.
A/Prof Robert MacInnis (Principal Research Fellow)
BSc (Hons), Grad Dip Epi Biostat, PhD
Robert first joined the CED in 2000 as a statistician, having previously worked for 3 years in osteoporosis research at the University of Melbourne. He obtained a PhD in epidemiology from the University of Melbourne in 2006. From 2006 to 2010, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, UK. He then returned to Australia, becoming a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. He joined CED in 2011.
Robert is involved in analyses of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, the Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer Study (RFPCS) and the Prostate Cancer Program. He represents CED at the principal international research consortia for the genetic epidemiology of prostate cancer (PRACTICAL and ICPCG). He also collaborates with colleagues at the University of Melbourne on the Australian Breast and Colon Cancer Family Registries. His main research interests include cancer risk prediction models and the association between obesity and cancer risk and cancer outcomes.
A/Prof Brigid Lynch (Principal Research Fellow)
BSc, MScs Comm, PhD
Brigid received her PhD in Population Health from The University of Queensland in 2008. She was awarded a NHMRC Sidney Sax Early Career Fellowship, and undertook postdoctoral training at Alberta Health Services (2009-2011) and at Baker Medical Research Institute (2012-2014). Brigid joined CED in August 2014; her research is currently supported by a NBCF Career Development Fellowship (2015-2018). Brigid is the co-Chair of the Sedentary Behaviour Council for the International Society for Physical Activity and Health, and serves on the Australasian Epidemiological Association Council.
Brigid’s research focuses on how physical activity and sedentary behaviour are associated with cancer risk, biological mechanisms underlying risk, and health outcomes for cancer survivors. Brigid is the Principal Investigator on the ACTIVATE Trial (a randomised controlled trial of wearable technology to promote physical activity to breast cancer survivors), and coordinates an accelerometer sub-study within the ABC Study . She is also involved in epidemiological analyses of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, in particular research questions focussed on physical activity.
Dr Julie Bassett (Team Leader)
BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD
Julie obtained a PhD in Biostatistics and Epidemiology from University College London, UK in 1998. While in the UK, her main research interest was long-term health consequences of childhood obesity. She also briefly worked in diabetes research before joining CED in 2008.
Julie oversees the work of the Statistical Analysis Cluster and is involved in analysing data from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study. Her work focuses mainly on investigating associations between cancer and diet and other lifestyle factors.
Dr Kara Martin
BSc (Hons), PhD
Kara completed a PhD in Epidemiology in 2011 at Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, UTAS. She has worked as a biostatistician on a variety of projects, including cardiovascular disease, childhood school engagement and environmental epidemiology. She joined the CED in 2013.
Kara works mainly on the analysis of Victorian Cancer Registry data, and contributes to a range of projects both internal and external to CED.
Dr James (Jamie) Chamberlain
Jamie completed his PhD in applied mathematics in 2003. After graduating, he moved into the field of mental health statistics, working at the Mental Health Research Institute. He joined the CED in April 2015.
Jamie’s research interests and projects include the spatial epidemiology of cancer and cancer clusters, survival analysis (including flexible parametric and multistate models), compositional analysis techniques, generalised additive models and more recently DNA methylation and lifestyles factors associated with cancer risk.
Dr Harindra Jayasekara
MBBS MSc MD PhD
Harindra is a medically qualified epidemiologist. He completed his PhD in Epidemiology at The University of Melbourne in 2014 having been awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council postgraduate scholarship. He previously worked at the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Melbourne, and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. He joined the CED in 2015. He is also Adjunct Fellow at the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, La Trobe University.
Harindra’s work 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. 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 Breast and Colon Cancer Family Registries.
Dr Nga Nguyen
Nga completed her PhD in Epidemiology at The University of Texas, US, in 2016 and her MSc in Health Informatics at the City University, UK, in 2012. Over the past 10 years, Nga has developed research experience in a variety of public health and epidemiology areas such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, nutrition and health information technology. She joined the CED in early 2016, and is also an honorary research assistant at the Peter Doherty Institute.
Nga is currently the Coordinator for the ACTIVATE trial, a randomised controlled trial of wearable technology amongst breast cancer survivors. Her work focuses on physical behaviours such as sleep, and how they are associated with cancer risk and health outcomes for cancer survivors.
Theresa Whalen (ABC Study)
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.
Theresa joined Cancer Council Victoria in 2014 to manage the Australian Breakthrough Cancer (ABC) Study. In this role, she is responsible for setting up the study, recruiting participants and managing the collection of information and biological samples.
Alison Hopkins (Data Management)
B.App.Sc. and GradDip Biostats
Alison began her career working in histopathology laboratories. She was Program Co-ordinator and Data Manager with the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Quality Assurance Programs (RCPA QAP) for more than twenty years. Alison joined CED in 2011.
Alison co-ordinates the secure storage of data generated by the CED’s many research studies. She also assists the division’s researchers, and national and international research collaborators, to use the data effectively and accurately.
Cate Dellow (Systems)
Cate joined Cancer Council Victoria in 2001 as Database Administrator with the IT department. Since then she has worked across multiple CCV departments, supporting their business critical systems. In 2015-2016 she worked as CED’s IT Project Manager, working on the DICH (Data integration, Curation & Harmonisation) Project.
Cate was appointed to her current role as the CED Systems Team Lead in 2017. In this role she coordinates the development, implementation and effective operation of CED’s research information and reporting systems. She has more than 15 years of application support experience and holds MCSE and MCDBA certifications.
Melisa Bagnato (Quality)
Melisa joined CED in 2002. In 2004, she was appointed as a recruitment data manager for the Victorian Cancer Registry and in mid-2006 as data manager for the Prostate Cancer Program. In mid-2008, Melisa was promoted to the CED Prostate Cancer Program Manager.
Melisa’s current role as the CED Quality Manager involves providing strategic direction on all matters related to high quality epidemiological research. This includes developing and maintaining a CED document management system, supporting staff to comply with quality documentation and assisting in the development and implementation of systems that maintain and enhance research data quality and harmonisation.