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Genetic epidemiology


Epidemiology in the 1980s predated the Human Genome Project and was very focused on environmental exposures. Anticipating growth in genetic technology during the lifetime of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, we collected blood from all subjects as a resource to analyse DNA.

Similarly, in our case-control family studies, developed in collaboration with colleagues at The University of Melbourne, we sampled blood not only from probands (the primary people tested) but also from their relatives. This positioned us to be eligible for National Institutes of Health funding for population-based collaborative family studies. These studies have already been delivering information that is important for cancer control in hereditary breast and colorectal cancer. For more information see the PEDIGREE website.

Selected Current collaborations:


Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC) 

The Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study has contributed to BCAC information about women with a diagnosis of breast cancer and women with no history of breast cancer. This includes demographics, clinical data and key epidemiological risk factors, and genetic material. BCAC has developed guidelines for genotyping to ensure the quality of data between participating institutions.

CED Investigator: Graham Giles,


  • To combine breast cancer data from many studies.
  • To provide a reliable assessment of the risks associated with genes that may be related to the risk of breast cancer.

PRACTICAL (PRostate cancer AssoCiation group To Investigate Cancer Associated aLterations in the genome)

CED Investigators: Graham Giles,  Robert MacInnis, Roger Milne,


  • To combine prostate cancer data from many studies.
  • To provide a reliable assessment of the risks associated with these genes that may be related to the risk of prostate cancer.

National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cohort Consortium

The Cohort Consortium is a partnership formed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to address the need for large-scale collaborations to pool the large quantity of data and biospecimens necessary to conduct a wide range of cancer studies. The Consortium, through its collaborative network of investigators, provides a coordinated, interdisciplinary approach to tackling important scientific questions, economies of scale, and opportunities to quicken the pace of research.

Some of the projects that we contributed Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study data to are:

CED Investigators: Graham Giles, Roger Milne, Robert MacInnis, Dallas English, Harindra Jayasekara.