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 multidisciplinary team of epidemiologists, dieticians, statisticians, data managers and support staff, committed to understanding how to improve our efforts at 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 Study; the Rare or Under-Researched Cancers Program; the Prostate Cancer Program; the Lifestyle Epidemiology Program which contains two major sub-programs, Diet and Nutrition and Physical Activity; and the Genomic and Molecular Epidemiology Program which encompasses germline and tumour genetics, epigenetics and other omics. CED researchers collaborate extensively with other researchers in Australia and overseas.
CED's main areas of research are:
- lifestyle epidemiology (with an emphasis on diet and physical activity)
- genomic and molecular epidemiology
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
Prof. Roger Milne (Head of Division)
BCom, BSW, BA, Grad Dip Clinical Epi, MSc, PhD
Roger is an epidemiologist with expertise in international collaboration and the analysis of genetic and lifestyle data from observational studies. He joined Cancer Council Victoria in 2013 and was appointed the Cancer Epidemiology Division’s Head in 2017. He is Chief Investigator of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (Health 2020) and the Australian Breakthrough Cancer Study.
Roger’s work focuses on cancer epidemiology, including genetic and lifestyle-related risk factors, genetic and gene-environment interactions and DNA methylation. He currently holds an NHMRC partnership grant to investigate underlying causes of inequalities in cancer outcomes by sex, socio-economic position and geographical remoteness.
A/Prof Brigid Lynch (Deputy Head of Division)
BSc, MScs Comm, PhD
Brigid is a cancer epidemiologist whose research focuses on how physical activity and sedentary behaviour are associated with cancer risk, and health outcomes for cancer survivors. Her research interests include furthering our understanding the biological mechanisms underlying these associations and applying causal inference methods to epidemiological studies of physical activity and sedentary behaviour.
Brigid leads the Australian Breakthrough Cancer Study’s Accelerometer Sub-Study, which has collected accelerometer data from ~4,000 adults to better characterise patterns of sleep, sedentary behaviour and physical activity, and investigate their associations with chronic disease. She is also involved in analyses of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study and leads the research project How does physical activity reduce the risk of breast cancer? funded by the World Cancer Research Fund.
Prof. Graham Giles, AM (Distinguished Research Fellow)
BSc, MSc, PhD
Graham is a cancer epidemiologist with 40 years of research experience. He joined Cancer Council Victoria in 1983 and stepped down as Head of the Cancer Epidemiology Division in 2017. He is the Founding Investigator of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (Health 2020) and the Australian Breakthrough Cancer Study. Additionally, he heads a large program of epidemiological studies of prostate cancer that includes the Australian Prostate Cancer Family Study.
Graham’s research interests include the epidemiology of cancers of the breast, prostate, bowel, blood and skin, focusing on lifestyle, diet and genetics.
Full profile for Professor Graham Giles
Dr Fiona Bruinsma (Senior Manager, Research Operations)
BSc, Grad Dip App Psych, MA App Sc (Epidemiology), DPH
Fiona is an epidemiologist with over 20 years’ experience, primarily in cancer, reproductive and perinatal epidemiology. Since joining Cancer Council Victoria in 2011, she has coordinated studies investigating lifestyle and genetic risk factors for prostate cancer, kidney cancer and multiple myeloma. Fiona is an investigator on the Forgotten Cancers Project and is a co-investigator on the Australian Breakthrough Cancer Study.
Fiona has expertise in cohort studies, particularly long-term follow-up studies using record linkage.
Prof. Dallas English (Senior Principal Research Fellow)
BSc, MSc, PhD
Dallas is a cancer epidemiologist with over 35 years’ experience. He is a co-investigator on the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study. His research interests include the epidemiology of breast, colorectal and prostate cancer and of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.
Dallas also leads work on vitamin D in relation to cancer, diabetes and mortality. His other main research interest is in evaluating cancer screening programs.
A/Prof. Allison Hodge (Principal Research Fellow)
BAgSc (Hons), BSc, Grad Dip Diet, MEnvSc, Grad Dip Epi Biostats, PhD
Allison is an epidemiologist with over 20 years’ experience in nutritional epidemiology. She collaborates with researchers in Australia and overseas who have used dietary data from CED studies or collected dietary data using CED-developed dietary questionnaires.
Allison has a particular interest in nutrition in relation to cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular outcomes. She also works closely with health promotion and communications colleagues at Cancer Council Victoria to advise on health messages and ensure their scientific validity.
A/Prof Robert MacInnis (Principal Research Fellow)
BSc (Hons), Grad Dip Epi Biostat, PhD
Robert is an epidemiologist with over 20 years’ experience in the design and analysis of studies examining the role of genetic and environmental causes of chronic diseases, particularly cancer. He has worked on large cohort studies and twin studies, as well as family study designs.
Robert has had a long-standing involvement with large international collaborations. He also collaborates closely with the Australian population-level relevance of risk factors for cancer pooling project. His main research interests are risk-prediction models for cancer and obesity research. He currently leads two NHMRC projects focused on breast cancer model development and validation.
Dr Harindra Jayasekara
MBBS MSc MD PhD
Harindra is a medically qualified epidemiologist. He previously worked at the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Melbourne, and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. He joined Cancer Council Victoria in 2015.
Harindra’s work focuses on the factors that affect the occurrence of cancer and survival from it, with at particular focus on long-term alcohol consumption. He currently holds an NHMRC Project Grant 1163120
Dr Julie Bassett
BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD
Julie is a biostatistician who oversees the work of the Cancer Epidemiology Division’s Statistical Analysis Team. Her work focuses mainly on investigating the influence of diet and other lifestyle factors on cancer risk using data from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study.
Rebecca is a health services researcher. Her research interests include inequities in cancer care, particularly rural-urban inequities, access and timeliness of cancer care, optimal care pathways, and understanding cancer policymaking. She has experience conducting qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research.
Rebecca is currently working on an NHMRC partnership grant led by Prof Roger Milne with Cancer Council Victoria and the Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services. She is also a member of the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership Module 4 working group. .
Suzanne is a cancer epidemiologist whose research is focussed on lifestyle risk factors for cancer, specifically disentangling the relationships between obesity, poor metabolic health, and cancer risk, and on determining how, when, and for whom lifestyle interventions to improve weight and metabolic health will prevent cancer. Her other main research interest is meta-research - investigating the research process with the goal of improving quality and reducing waste.
Suzanne is currently working to address research questions relating to the role of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in cancer prevention and post-diagnosis care, using data from large international consortia.
Ann trained as a reproductive biologist, and has spent much of the last 25 years on laboratory-based work and heading research teams, working to unravel the mechanisms that locally regulate ovarian function and lead to the development of ovarian pathologies such as infertility and ovarian cancer.
Ann is currently investigating by systemic review the mechanisms responsible for the protective effect of exercise on breast cancer development.
Sherly is a registered dietitian whose research interests include how hereditary factors modify the association between lifestyle risk factors (e.g. diet) and risk of chronic disease and whether screening and lifestyle interventions could be tailored to optimise disease prevention efforts. She also has an interest in metabolic diseases and paediatric nutrition.
Sherly currently works with A/Prof Robert MacInnis on validating risk prediction models for breast, prostate and colorectal cancer in a contemporary Victorian population within the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, and using National Cancer Institute Cohort Consortium data to examine whether family history modifies the effect of certain lifestyle-related factors on the development of these cancers.
Geoff is a research psychologist and statistician with extensive experience in mental health research, including psychiatric epidemiology, mental health services, and mental health policy research. He has pursued a parallel career in experimental psychology (visual perception and attention), human factors, developmental neuropsychology and neuroimaging. He brings his expertise in quantitative methods to the study of cancer epidemiology.