Our team

At Melanoma Institute Australia every clinician is also a researcher. Their efforts are multiplied by the corps of dedicated researchers across several campuses. The management team and board look after the institute’s business functions, managing the clinical trials, the BioSpecimen Bank and research information. You can read a bit about all of them here.

Professor John Thompson

Professor John Thompson - AO MBBS BSc(Med) MD FRACS FACS

Executive Director | MIA

Professor John Thompson is both the Director of MIA and Professor of Melanoma and Surgical Oncology of The University of Sydney. He was appointed to the Board of Directors as a Non-Executive Director upon inception of the company in 2007. He is author of over 650 peer-reviewed articles and holds positions on the editorial boards of several international journals. Prof Thompson is a past President of the International Sentinel Node Society, and was Chairman of the Australian and New Zealand Melanoma Trials Group until 2014. He is also a member of the Melanoma Staging Committee of the American Joint Committee on Cancer, and chairing the Working Group to update the Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Cutaneous Melanoma in Australia. Prof Thompson was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2014, “for distinguished service to medicine in the field of oncology research, particularly melanoma, to international and national professional organisations, and to medical education.” 

Location: Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, The Poche Centre
Associate Professor Jonathan Stretch

Associate Professor Jonathan Stretch - AM D.Phil (Oxon) FRACS

Deputy Director | MIA

Associate Professor Jon Stretch has been the Deputy Director of MIA since its evolution in 2007 from the Sydney Melanoma Unit. He was one of the founding Board of Directors at that time. A/Prof Stretch undertook his surgical training in Sydney becoming a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (Plastic Surgery) in 1987. Thereafter he was Overseas Fellow at the Radcliffe Infirmary and Research Fellow in the Nuffield Department of Surgery, Oxford. His doctoral research investigated the local dissemination of melanoma. He was appointed to Royal North Shore Hospital in 1991 and the Sydney Melanoma Unit and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 2002. He is Associate Professor of Melanoma and Skin Oncology at The University of Sydney. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012. 

Location: The Poche Centre
Reg Richardson

Reg Richardson - AM FCPA FCIS ACSA Dip CM

Chairman | MIA

Reg Richardson was appointed the Chairman of the Melanoma Institute Australia in 2007. Throughout his career he has owned and managed diverse businesses predominantly involved in service industries.  Reg is involved with a number of philanthropic organisations including Melanoma Institute Australia, Friends of the Mater Foundation, and the Poche Centre of Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney, Flinders University, Melbourne University and University of Western Australia. Previously, Reg has served on the boards of the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Gallery of NSW Foundation, the Mercy Foundation and the Ted Noffs Foundation. He has shown himself to be a useful member of these groups, raising over $120 million for charitable purposes.

In 2007 Reg was made a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the visual arts as a supporter, patron and collector, and to the community through a range of social welfare and medical research organisations.  In 2013 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney.

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Board
Jennifer Elliott

Jennifer Elliott - BA, LLB (Hons), MA, FAICD

Jennifer Elliott was appointed as a Non-Executive Director of Melanoma Institute of Australia in 22nd of August 2012, and as Chair of the Finance Committee in 19th of March, 2013. Jennifer has broad Australian and international experience in the financial services industry, with a particular focus on business strategy, corporate governance and regulation, and human resources. She previously held various roles within Moody's Corporation for 20 years, including Regional Head - Asia Pacific for Moody's Investors Service, and Chief Human Resources Officer for the global Moody's Corporation. Prior to joining Moody's, Jennifer worked as a banking and finance lawyer in Sydney. She has degrees in English Literature and Law from Sydney University, and a Master in Asian Business Studies from SOAS at London University. In addition to her roles at the Institute, Jennifer is a Non-Executive Director of the Clarius Group and a Volunteer Ethics Teacher for Primary Ethics NSW.

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Board
Garry Sladden

Garry Sladden - BBus CPA FINSA

Garry was appointed as a Non-Executive Director of Melanoma Institute Australia in April 2011. Garry is a business and strategic adviser who has a diversified business background in the areas of real estate, private equity, business operations, banking and finance, and equity raising, having held the position of General Manager Operations at Consolidated Press Holdings for six years and more recently the role of Group Operations Executive for a real estate investment, development and funds management group. Garry is Non-Executive Chairman of Folkestone Limited, Ashton Manufacturing Pty Limited and Clarius Group.

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Board
Dr Lauren Aoude

Dr Lauren Aoude - PhD

Lauren completed Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Arts degrees at the University of Queensland in 2004, after which she worked in the Drug Discovery and Oncogenomics laboratories at QIMRB before enrolling in a PhD in melanoma genetics through the University of Queensland, which she completed in 2014. Her research is primarily focused on discovering high-risk mutations in Queensland Families with melanoma. The project uses a next generation sequencing approach to sequence genomes and exomes of affected family members for candidate mutations potentially responsible for increased melanoma risk.

Location: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Involved in: Genome Project
Dr Farad (Fred) Azimi

Dr Farad (Fred) Azimi - Bsc (Med), MBBS, Masters of Surgery, Fellow Of Royal Australasian College of Surgeons

Fred is a General Surgeon with an interest in Melanoma Surgery. He’s an MIA research completing a Masters in Surgery. In the upcoming year he aims to carry out further research with this world-leading institution and develop the clinical expertise to give melanoma patients access to the best available treatments.

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Surgeon, Translational Care
Suzanah Boyd

Suzanah Boyd

Senior Research Assistant

Ms Suzanah Boyd has worked with Prof Rizos in melanoma research since 2007. She is highly skilled in mammalian cell culture and the functional analysis of oncogenic signalling pathways. Suzanah has contributed to six research publications since 2010, and is currently involved in the genetic analyses of melanoma tumours progressing on targeted therapies.

Location: Australian School of Advanced Medicine at Macquarie University
Involved in: Targeted Therapy
Professor Fran Boyle

Professor Fran Boyle - AM MBBS (QLD) FRACP PhD

Professor Boyle is a Medical Oncologist at North Sydney’s Mater Hospital, where she is Director of the Patricia Ritchie Centre for Cancer Care and Research, and Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Sydney. She is involved in the oncology teaching program of the Sydney Medical School and in communication skills training through the Pam McLean Centre.

Professor Boyle's clinical practice at the Poche Centre focuses on breast cancer and melanoma. Her current research interests include clinical trials of new cancer treatments, psychosocial and supportive care, and communication. Fran Chairs the Board of Directors of the ANZ Breast Cancer Trials Group, and is a founding Director of the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance. She was honoured with Membership of the Order of Australia in 2008 for services to cancer research, advocacy, policy development and professional education.

Location: The Poche Centre
Georgia Cairns

Georgia Cairns - Dip App Sc. Nursing, MNurs, Grad Cert, Cert 4 Assessment and Training

Georgia has been a registered nurse since 1989.Working in multiple specialty areas across all phases of care (acute, rehabilitation and primary care) as an educator, specialist, consultant and manager. Georgia holds a Masters degree in Acute Care Nursing from The University of Technology, Sydney, graduating in 2005.

Georgia’s decision to join the Institute resulted from her interest in skin health and nursing  people with an alteration to their health due to skin breakdown. Prior to joining The Melanoma Institute, Georgia was working as the owner/operator of a small wound care practice looking after patients with skin breakdown. In the last 5 years, Georgia worked as a nursing consultant in reconstructive plastic surgery and a medical device company with a product range associated with rapid wound healing. Georgia has previously worked as a health manager for an NGO, where she was involved in creating multiple educational resources for patients and has also been instrumental in designing multiple continence assessment tools and a booklet titled ‘solving common bowel problems for people with a spinal cord injury’ available on the CFA website. 

Georgia was appointed to the role of Clinical Nurse Consultant at the Melanoma Institute Australia in November 2014.

Location: The Poche Centre
Dr Heidi Cameron

Dr Heidi Cameron - MBBS, FRACS

Heidi joined the QIMRB in March 2014 as a Masters of Philosophy student. Prior to this, she worked as a general surgeon. Heidi was awarded the MBBS from Monash University in 2004, then returned to Queensland, where she completed surgical training and was awarded a FRACS in February 2012. She then completed a BreastSurg ANZ Fellowship with an interest in melanoma surgery. Heidi’s research activities focus on assessing the feasibility of applying individualised treatment for patients based on the mutations detected in their resected metastatic tumour specimens, in an effort to begin to translate research advances to the clinic.

Location: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Dr Matteo Carlino

Dr Matteo Carlino - BMedSc, MBBS, FRACP

Matteo Carlino is a Medical Oncologist at Westmead and Blacktown Hospitals. He is in the final stages of completing his PhD examining predictors of response and mechanisms of resistance to BRAF and MEK inhibitor treated melanoma.

He continues to be involved in the translational research program based at the Melanoma Institute Australia and the Westmead Institute for Cancer Research. He is an investigator on multiple phase I,II and III clinical trials in melanoma targeted and immunotherapy.

Location: Westmead Hospital, Blacktown Hospital
Dr Annette Chakera

Dr Annette Chakera - MD, PhD

Annette has been a Poche Fellow in Melanoma and Surgical Oncology at MIA since July 2013. She is a Danish trained plastic surgeon, and since her graduation from University of Copenhagen she has been passionately involved in research and developing in the melanoma field. She completed her PhD in sentinel diagnostics in melanoma and breast cancer in 2009 as a collaboration between MIA and her home group in Copenhagen. She is the first author of the current European sentinel node guidelines in melanoma, and she has continued her research interests as well as interests in developing in this area.

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Surgeon, Translational Care
Associate Professor Sydney Ch’ng

Associate Professor Sydney Ch’ng - MBBS, PhD, FRACS

Dr Sydney Ch’ng was jointly appointed to the Departments of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Head & Neck Surgery, and Surgical Oncology and Melanoma at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Cancer Centre in 2013 upon her return from post-FRACS training overseas. She is also an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney.

Dr Ch’ng received her medical degree from the University of Melbourne. She undertook General Surgery training before specialising in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. During her training, she participated in the Surgeon Scientist Programme of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and completed a PhD in the molecular biology of advanced skin cancers. Upon qualification as a Board certified Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, she undertook fellowship training in Head and Neck Surgical Oncology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 2011. Her further sub-specialty training took her overseas to Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan for experience in adult facial trauma, and subsequently to Houston, Texas. She was a Microsurgery Fellow at M D Anderson Cancer Center from July 2012 – July 2013 as part of the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery fellowship programme.

Location: The Poche Centre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Involved in: Surgeon, Translational Care
Dr Anne Cust

Dr Anne Cust - PhD, MPH(Hons), BSc, BA

Senior Research Fellow

Dr Anne Cust is an epidemiologist who conducts collaborative research aimed at identifying genetic and environmental causes of cancer, and improving cancer control and cancer outcomes. She is the recipient of fellowships from the NHMRC and the Cancer Institute NSW.

Location: Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney
Involved in: Other Research
Professor Diona Damian

Professor Diona Damian - PhD

Diona Damian is Professor of Dermatology at the University of Sydney, Clinical Academic at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Associate of the Melanoma Institute Australia. Her research focuses on the role of skin immunity and cellular energy in the causation, prevention and treatment of skin cancer. Current projects include skin cancer prevention and topical immunotherapy for recurrent melanoma.

Location: Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, The Poche Centre
Libby Emmett

Libby Emmett - RN, Onc Cert, MMedSc

As a registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience working in oncology in Australia and the UK, Libby’s career has focussed on clinical trials. She has extensive experience working with patients in both the hospital setting and in the pharmaceutical industry. At MIA, Libby is responsible for developing and introducing new trials to the organisation, taking them from the feasibility stage to enrolment. 

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Senior Management
Dr Gerald Fogarty

Dr Gerald Fogarty - BSc, MBBS, FRANZCR

Professor Gerald Fogarty is the Director of the Mater Sydney Radiotherapy Centre.  He is also on staff at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. He has spearheaded to use of Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT), Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy(VMAT) and Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)  and therapy (SBRT or SABR) , modern radiotherapy techniques, in those departments. The Mater Sydney is the nation leader in Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy, an even more conformal means of delivering external beam radiotherapy safely, more rapidly and more economically. He trained at Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, Australia’s largest cancer centre. He is a recognised authority in the radiation treatment of skin cancer. He has over 50 publications. He has NHMRC funding to over $1.2 million for an ongoing randomised trial of radiation in melanoma, He is also currently the Master of Warrane College, a university residence at University of NSW, Sydney.

Location: The Poche Centre
Carina Fung

Carina Fung

Senior Research Assistant

Ms Carina Fung has worked with Prof Rizos in melanoma research since 2009, and is highly skilled in molecular and cellular biology. Carina has contributed to six research publications since 2010, and is involved in the functional analyses of melanoma-associated tumour suppressor proteins and oncoproteins.

Location: Australian School of Advanced Medicine at Macquarie University
Involved in: Basic Science
Dr Stuart Gallagher

Dr Stuart Gallagher - PhD

Postdoctoral Scientist

Stuart is a cell biologist who has worked in melanoma research since 2004. He is working in Professor Hersey's laboratory investigating the emerging field of epigenetics, which studies how DNA is structured. His work is focusing on how epigenetics can be used to treat melanoma or make existing treatments more effective. He is an expert in melanoma cell culture, cell death mechanisms and oncogenic signalling pathways.

Location: Kolling Insitute of Medical Research, University of Sydney
Involved in: Targeted Therapy
Danielle Gibbs

Danielle Gibbs

Research Assistant

Danielle is a research assistant on the Genetic Epidemiology of Melanoma family study.  Her main role entails the recruiting participants, obtaining biological samples, and collating and updating  epidemiological, environmental risk factor, clinical and outcome information of study participants. She is currently completing a degree in Medical Science and has previously worked in Clinical Trials and Administration within oncology.

Location: Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research
Involved in: Other Research
Maria Gonzalez

Maria Gonzalez - BN BA M.Hlth.Sc

Clinical Trials Operations Manager

Maria earned her combined Bachelor degrees in Nursing/Arts (English Literature and Gender Studies) and her Masters of Health Science from the University of Sydney. She has 10 years of clinical experience in surgical nursing but for the last 7 years has focused on clinical trial research nursing. During this time Maria has coordinated over thirty clinical trials predominantly in phase II and III research and has developed a particular interest in the management of investigator initiated protocols. In her current role as Clinical Trials Operations Manager, Maria leads a team of trial nurses and science graduates who are responsible for the coordination of surgical, medical and radiation clinical trials at the Poche Centre and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Maria joined the Institute in 2010 and is currently working on adjuvant systemic therapy trials investigating the use of targeted treatments following and preceding complete lymph node dissection.

Location: The Poche Centre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Dr Kavitha Gowrishankar

Dr Kavitha Gowrishankar - PhD

Post-doctoral research associate

Kavi (Kavitha) has worked with Professors Richard Kefford and Helen Rizos from 2009 till 2013 studying mechanisms of resistance to targeted therapy in melanoma, specifically BRAF inhibition. She is skilled in establishing primary cell lines from patient tumors and cell biological analyses of gene expression, including oncogenic signalling pathways. She is currently working with Prof Peter Hersey focussing on improving immunotherapy and is developing assays to study the impact of anti-melanoma drugs/antibodies on immune cells and function. She has contributed to nine scientific publications as part of MIA and her abstract on PD-L1 regulation in melanoma was selected recently for an oral presentation at AACR (2014). Her self described goal is to set up crucial pre-clinical models encompassing patient tumor cell lines, fibroblasts and immune cells, results of which can be extended to personalised medicine for melanoma.

Location: Kolling Insitute of Medical Research, University of Sydney
Associate Professor Pascale Guitera

Associate Professor Pascale Guitera - FACD PhD

Pascale Guitera is a dermatologist from Paris. She was awarded a fellowship in the largest Dermatology Department in Paris (Hospital Saint-Louis). She has completed a PhD in collaboration with the Curie Institute on instrumentations for the diagnosis of skin tumours at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. She has been awarded the Australasian College of Dermatologist Fellowship in 2007. She is now director of the Sydney Melanoma Diagnostic Centre at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and senior consultant at the Melanoma Institute Australia. She holds a senior researcher academic position at Sydney University.

Location: The Poche Centre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Professor Nick Hayward

Professor Nick Hayward - PhD

Nick is an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow and Senior Scientist at QIMRB, where he heads the Oncogenomics Laboratory. After graduating with a PhD from the University of Queensland in 1983 he joined QIMR and has studied the molecular genetics of melanoma for 30 years. He is a foundation member of the International Melanoma Genetics Consortium (GenoMEL) and the Society for Melanoma Research. His work focuses on identifying high and low penetrance melanoma predisposition genes through linkage and genome-wide association studies, positional cloning and candidate gene analysis, as well as whole-genome and exome sequencing. Additionally, a large part of his research program involves identification and characterization of somatic mutations, structural aberrations, or gene expression differences associated with melanoma development and progression.

Location: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Professor Peter Hersey

Professor Peter Hersey - MBBS, FRACP, D.Phil (Oxon)

Professor Peter Hersey is a graduate of the University of Adelaide where he completed his clinical training  as a physician. He completed his scientific training in the University of Oxford as a  Nuffield Dominion Fellow  in tumour Immunology.  He has held positions as a Staff Specialist in Immunology in  Sydney Hospital and the Calvary Mater hospital in Newcastle where he also held the positions of research director at the Newcastle melanoma unit and Conjoint professor of Oncology in the University of Newcastle. In 2010 he was appointed to the inaugural chair of  Melanoma Biology in the University of Sydney and there has established a translational research laboratory working on melanoma in the Kolling Medical Research Institute based in the Royal North Shore Hospital. He continues his melanoma clinic in the Melanoma Institute  of Australia and at the Lake Macquarie Private hospital in Newcastle.

Since taking up the staff specialist position in Sydney hospital he has carried out research on melanoma. The translational research activities have involved phase I-III trials in melanoma such as the conduct of a large phase III trial of immunotherapy in melanoma, use of modified peptide antigens and other melanoma vaccine  initiative such as use of dendritic cell vaccines.  He has taken a leading role in studies  on properties of melanoma cells that make them resistant to treatment and new treatment approaches to overcome these properties.  He is generally recognised as a pioneer of immunotherapy for melanoma in Australia and in focusing on properties of melanoma cells that make them resistant to therapies. He has held a number of consulting positions for pharmaceutical companies developing new treatments for melanoma and has held peer reviewed funding for melanoma research throughout his career. He has authored over 300 peer reviewed publications on melanoma and has been involved in conduct of over 50 clinical trials in melanoma.

Location: Kolling Insitute of Medical Research, University of Sydney
Anna Hoadley

Anna Hoadley - BA, MNurs, Grad Cert (Oncology)

Clinical Nurse Consultant

Anna holds a Master of Nursing from Sydney University, graduating in 2007. Anna was appointed to the role of Clinical Nurse Consultant at the Melanoma Institute Australia in November 2013.

Anna holds a Graduate Certificate in Oncology Nursing and Australian Immunisation Certification. 

Working in melanoma since 2009, she has experience in both medical and surgical oncology, complex wound and drain care, vascular access and chemotherapy.

Prior to her current role, Anna worked as the Ambulatory Care RN at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Melanoma Nursing Clinic for three years. Throughout 2013, she also worked as a Clinical Facilitator for Sydney University School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Anna’s earlier studies include a Bachelor of Arts from Auckland University in European languages, literature and music.

Location: The Poche Centre
Elizabeth Holland

Elizabeth Holland - BSc Macquarie University

Senior Research Assistant

Liz has worked with the Melanoma Genetics and Epidemiology Group and Professor Graham Mann since the early 1990’s. This group is part of a comprehensive research program focused on outcomes that will improve our understanding of melanoma and identify risk factors that will translate into better prevention strategies and treatments for patients.  Liz's main role involves  experimental design, database and biospecimen management, whole genome and exome sequencing, liaising with external and international research groups such as the GenoMEL consortium as a founding member.

Location: Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research
Involved in: Genome Project
Dr Lodewijka Holtkamp

Dr Lodewijka Holtkamp - MD

Phd Student

Graduated in Belgium and originally from the Netherlands, Lodewijka (Wieke) started her PhD in 2013 at the University of Groningen (Netherlands) in collaboration with Melanoma Institute Australia. Her research involves surgical, pathological and radiotherapeutic aspects of locoregionally spread melanoma as well as imaging strategies in patients with stage III melanoma.

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Other Research
Dr Angela Hong

Dr Angela Hong - MBBS MMed FRANZCR PhD

Dr Angela Hong is a radiation oncologist at the Melanoma Institute Australia. She has been an active investigator on several radiation therapy trials with the aim to advance the treatment of melanoma. She is also a keen advocate in applying new technology in the management for advanced melanoma. 

Location: The Poche Centre
Associate Professor T. Michael Hughes

Associate Professor T. Michael Hughes - MBBS (Hons I) Sydney, FRACS

Associate Professor Michael Hughes graduated from the University of Sydney with First class honours in 1989. In 1996 Michael completed residency and advanced general surgical training at Westmead Hospital, Sydney. He was then appointed Clinical Supervisor in Surgery at Westmead and supervised surgical trainees across the Western Sydney Area. At the same time he developed his interest in Surgical Oncology, establishing a Melanoma and Surgical Oncology Service at Westmead with the guidance and support of Professor Rick Kefford. Michael also had the support and mentoring of Prof John Thompson, Prof Bill McCarthy  and the team at the then Sydney Melanoma Unit(SMU) at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. In 1998, Michael travelled to the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, to take up a Surgical Oncology Fellowship in the areas of Melanoma, Sarcoma and Breast Cancer. In mid 1999, Michael returned to the SMU as Lecturer. In 2000 he returned to Westmead to head up and further develop the Surgical Oncology Unit as well as working at the NSW Breast Cancer Institute. At that time Michael was also appointed as a consultant at the Sydney Adventist Hospital(SAH), Wahroonga, Sydney.

In 2010, Michael was appointed Associate Professor in Surgery at the newly established Sydney Adventist Hospital Clinical School, part of the Sydney University Medical School. As a consequence he left Westmead and works at SAH and Hornsby Hospital. Michael is now Head of General Surgery at SAH and chairs the Breast Cancer MDT with the planning of a melanoma MDT well under way. He continues to participate in the MIA MDT meetings on a regular basis. He looks forward to even stronger clinical and research links to MIA.

Location: Sydney Adventist Hospital
Involved in: Surgeon, Translational Care
Mai Irvine

Mai Irvine

Senior Research Assistant

Ms Mal Irvine has worked with Prof Rizos in melanoma research since 2006. Mal brings significant technical expertise in mammalian cell culture and co-ordinates the Tissue Culture Facilities for our team. Mal has been involved in five recent research publications and is currently working on the therapeutic efficacy of ERK inhibitors in melanoma.

Location: Australian School of Advanced Medicine at Macquarie University
Involved in: Targeted Therapy
Valerie Jakrot

Valerie Jakrot

BioSpeciman Bank Manager

Val started out as a registered nurse and then completed a Computer Science degree at The University of Sydney. Working in IT research at Westpac, Val gained a passion for research and completed a Masters of Commerce. Eight years ago, Val commenced working at MIA combining her passion for research and medicine, firstly in clinical trials working mainly on the MSLT-II surgical trial and then for the last 4 years as the BioSpecimen Bank Manager. Val manages a team of research staff across the Poche Centre and RPAH, and coordinates the consenting, collection and release of specimens (both blood and tissue) for research from patients seeing clinicians at MIA. 

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Senior Management
Dr Peter Johansson

Dr Peter Johansson - PhD

Peter obtained his master's degree in 2001 and PhD in 2006 in Theoretical Physics at Lund University, Sweden. In his thesis he developed new algorithms for ‘omics’ data as well as used machine learning methods to dissect the molecular architecture of cancers such as melanoma and breast cancer. In 2007 he received an NCI Cancer Research Training Award and joined the Pediatric Oncology Branch at the National Cancer Institute within the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. Peter has spent more than 10 years writing scientific software and analysing biological data. He has extensive experience with building statistical models to distil large ‘omics’ data sets and identify variations of interest. In 2012 he joined the Oncogenomics Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer where he has set up an analysis pipeline for whole-genome and exome sequencing data as well as developed novel tools for identification of structural variants, DNA copy number aberrations and allelic imbalances.

Location: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Involved in: Genome Project
Professor Richard Kefford

Professor Richard Kefford - AM MB BS PhD FRACP

Richard Kefford is Professor of Cancer Medicine at Macquarie and a Consultant Medical Oncologist at Westmead Hospital. He is Co-Director of Research at Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and an Honorary Professor in Medicine at the University of Sydney. He is Chief Investigator on NHMRC and CINSW Program Grants researching the molecular biology of melanoma, with particular focus on melanoma genomics and MAPK inhibitors. He has been an investigator on over 50 Phase I, II , III  and adjuvant Clinical Trials in melanoma, including the recent development of targeted therapies and immunotherapy. He has authored over 340 peer-reviewed journal articles. He was Professor of Medicine at Westmead Hospital from 1998-2014. He has served as a member of the Australian NHMRC Academy, Research Committee, and Project and Program Research Committees and is a Member of the Ethics Committee of the Medical Oncology Group of Australia (MOGA) and the Board of the National Breast Cancer Foundation. He has served as a consultant to multiple biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies on melanoma drug development and clinical trials. He was awarded Member of the Order of Australia in 2009 for services to medicine in the area of oncology research, to professional organisations, and as an educator.

Location: Westmead Hospital
Dr Teresa Lee

Dr Teresa Lee - PhD

Dr Teresa Lee is a physiotherapist who specialises in lymphoedema and musculoskeletal problems related to cancer care. She attained a PhD in physiotherapy rehabilitation of breast cancer patients in 2008. She is a Research Associate at The University of Sydney. She started the Lymphoedema Clinic at the Sydney Melanoma Unit in 2008 and was the NSW representative for the Australasian Lymphology Association 2012 - 2014.

Her clinical interest includes the use of bioimpedance to assess limb extracellular fluid impedance ratios before and after surgery and/or radiotherapy. Her aim is to improve the management of patients at risk of, or who have, lymphoedema secondary to melanoma treatment. She has published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at oncology and physiotherapy conferences worldwide. She is an investigator in a number of Clinical Trials underway at the Melanoma Institute Australia.

Location: The Poche Centre
Associate Professor Georgina Long

Associate Professor Georgina Long - BSc PhD MBBS FRACP

Associate Professor Georgina Long BSc PhD MBBS FRACP is a clinical researcher and Medical Oncologist at Melanoma Institute Australia, University of Sydney. She is the author of over 80 peer-reviewed publications in clinical and translational research in melanoma since 2011 and has presented her work at international conferences and meetings on more than 100 occasions.

Georgina is principal investigator on phase I, II and III clinical trials in adjuvant and metastatic melanoma, including trials in patients with active brain metastases. She is chief investigator on NHMRC funded research into the molecular biology of melanoma, with a particular focus on clinical and tissue biomarker correlates of systemic therapy sensitivity and resistance. In recognition of her ground breaking research, Associate Professor Long has received a number of awards at the CINSW Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research: in 2014, she was awarded the Wildfire Award for the most highly-cited, original, peer-reviewed article published in 2011, and in 2013 was the Outstanding Cancer Research Fellow. Georgina is also the recipient of a Cancer Institute NSW Fellowship, was awarded a University Medal in Chemistry prior to commencing a PhD in Chemistry and medical studies (MBBS) at the University of Sydney, and was awarded a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship at Scripps Research Institute, USA. Georgina became a Fellow of the Australasian College of Physicians after completing Medical Oncology training in Sydney, Australia

Location: The Poche Centre
Professor Graham Mann

Professor Graham Mann - PhD

Chair, University of Sydney Cancer Research Network<br/> Co-Director, Centre for Cancer Research | Westmead Millennium Institute <br/>Research Director | Melanoma Institute Australia

Professor Graham Mann is Research Director of the Melanoma Institute Australia, and co-Director of the Centre for Cancer Research, Westmead Millennium Institute in Sydney Medical School.

He leads a translational research program on melanoma with the support of NHMRC, Cancer Institute NSW and Cancer Council NSW. This program is engaged in all aspects of melanoma control, from the genetics of melanoma risk and its environmental and psychological aspects, to the use of molecular markers and targets to improve the diagnosis and treatment of melanoma.

He is Chair of the University of Sydney Cancer Research Network, a member of the Health Care Committee of NHMRC, and of the Scientific Steering Committee of the International Cancer Genome Consortium.

Location: Westmead Hospital, The Poche Centre
Dr Linda Martin

Dr Linda Martin - BSc(Med) MBBS(Hons) MMed FACD

Linda Martin graduated in Medicine with first class Honours from the University of New South Wales in 2003. She completed her Dermatology training at Prince of Wales, Westmead and Royal Prince Alfred Hospitals in Sydney. She undertook a fellowship at St John's Institute for diseases of the skin in London, where she gained expertise in photodermatoses and cutaneous lymphoma. Linda is also a Staff Specialist Paediatric Dermatologist at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.

She is interested in the early diagnosis of melanoma in high risk individuals, skin care while on chemotherapy and general dermatological problems. Linda is committed to educating patients about skin cancer prevention.

Location: The Poche Centre
Jim McBride

Jim McBride - BSc

Information Technology Manager

After graduating from Sydney University with a BSc in Computer Science, Jim’s career began in information technology roles in the petroleum then insurance sectors. His passion for how information technology can make a difference in the health sector took him to the Garvan Institute as their inaugural Information Technology Manager in 1995. He then moved in 2013 to MIA, taking the role of Information Technology Manager. Jim remains passionate about how information technology can make a huge difference in both direct patient care and in the longer-term benefits of research.

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Senior Management
Professor William McCarthy

Professor William McCarthy - AM

Professor McCarthy is Emeritus Professor of Surgery (Melanoma and Skin Oncology) at the University of Sydney. He was former Executive Director of the Sydney Melanoma Unit, and continues as a director of the Melanoma Foundation. A world leader in melanoma treatment and research, Professor McCarthy's contribution to the field was recognised in 1993 by Membership in the Order of Australia (Australia's highest community award).

Dr Catriona McNeil

Dr Catriona McNeil - MBBS BSc(Med) PhD FRACP

Dr Catriona McNeil is an honours graduate of The University of Sydney. She undertook postgraduate medical training in Medical Oncology at Westmead Hospital, and later completed a PhD in molecular biology at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. As a result of these studies she is a co-author of numerous scientific publications, and continues an active interest in Translational Cancer Research.

Dr McNeil is a Staff Specialist in Medical Oncology at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where she has a clinical interest in the care of patients with melanoma and breast cancer. She is actively involved in the development and conduct of clinical trials of new agents targeting these malignancies, as well as in Phase 1 clinical trials across a range of malignancies.

Location: Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Chris O'Brien Liifehouse
Involved in: Medical Oncologist
Dr Alex Menzies

Dr Alex Menzies - BSc(Med) MBBS (Hons) FRACP

Dr Alex Menzies is a Medical Oncologist and PhD student at Melanoma Institute Australia, Royal North Shore Hospital, and The University of Sydney. He graduated with honours from the University of New South Wales in 2003, and undertook general medical training at Royal North Shore Hospital prior to completing specialist training in medical oncology at Westmead Hospital, part of which included a fellowship in early phase melanoma clinical trials. He commenced a PhD in 2012, exploring biomarkers of response and resistance to targeted therapy in metastatic melanoma. He has been an investigator on several clinical trials in melanoma, including the phase I trials of dabrafenib as monotherapy and in combination with trametinib, and has authored several publications in clinical and translational research in melanoma. He has worked as a medical oncologist at MIA since 2012.

Location: The Poche Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital
Carol Morris

Carol Morris - M Phty BSc Dip Sports Therapy

Lymphoedema Physiotherapist

Carol Morris is a musculoskeletal physiotherapist who developed an interest in lymphoedema whilst working in the UK. After completing lymphoedema training in Austria, she continued treating patients both in the private and post-mastectomy hospital setting. Returning to Australia in 2007, Carol went on to complete her Masters of Physiotherapy. She also worked as a research assistant with the Breast Cancer Research Group at The University of Sydney and started working with Dr Teresa Lee at the Lymphoedema Clinic at Melanoma Institute Australia in 2012.

Carol's clinical interests include the effects of exercise and an active lifestyle on the affected limb after node removal surgeries and radiotherapy. Also working as a Sports Physiotherapist, Carol aims to provide patients with an integrated lymphoedema management approach to return patients to their pre-cancer activity levels.

Location: The Poche Centre
Professor Omgo E. Nieweg

Professor Omgo E. Nieweg - MD, PhD

Omgo E. Nieweg received his medical (1976) and Ph.D. (1983) degrees at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He undertook training in nuclear medicine and surgery at the University Hospital Groningen. He completed his surgical oncology fellowship at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas in 1991. He was a staff member in the Department of Surgery, The Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam from 1992 to 2013. He joined the Melanoma Institute Australia in 2013 and was appointed to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney Day Surgery and The Mater Hospital in 2014. He is Professor at The University of Sydney. 

Location: The Poche Centre, The Mater Hospital, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney Day Surgery
Involved in: Surgeon, Translational Care
Dr Aleksandra Ochnik

Dr Aleksandra Ochnik - PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Ochnik completed her PhD at University of Adelaide in 2011. Her doctoral studies investigated the molecular actions of medroxyprogesterone acetate (a synthetic variant of progesterone) on the promotion of breast cancer. She continued her research into breast cancer, with a focus on IGF-1 signalling, at the University of Minnesota, and joined the Australian School of Advanced Medicine as a postdoctoral research fellow in 2014. She is currently investigating the impact of BRAF inhibitors on immune regulatory pathways in melanoma.

Location: Australian School of Advanced Medicine at Macquarie University
Involved in: Basic Science
Dr Joseph Ohana

Dr Joseph Ohana - M.D. ACCAM

Already as a medical student in France in the 1970’s, Joseph/Dr Ohana had a special interest in melanomas, to the point where he did his doctoral thesis on the subject.

After graduating as “Docteur en medicine”, from the University of Montpellier Joseph/Dr Ohana spent several years working in hospitals in Orange NSW, Sydney (RPAH) then Jerusalem (Hadassah Cancer Dept), before settling in Sydney with his Australian-born wife in 1980.  Since then he has worked in General Practice in the inner west, focusing mainly on skin cancers and aviation medicine.  In 2000 he was appointed Honorary VMO in the Dept Surgical Oncology and Melanoma at RPAH, where he worked with the Sydney Melanoma Unit prior to its becoming the MIA. He is now Clinical Associate at the MIA in the practice of Professor John Thompson and Dr Robyn Saw.

Location: The Poche Centre
Janine Owen-Koorey

Janine Owen-Koorey

Fundraising and Marketing Manager

Janine joined MIA in February 2014 and leads a passionate team dedicated to raising funds and awareness of melanoma. Janine graduated from The University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Social Work and The University of Sydney with a Graduate Certificate in Marketing. Janine has more than 14 years of experience in fundraising, marketing, events, partnerships, business development and public relations, with 9 years specialising in the Not-For-Profit Sector. 

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Senior Management
Jane Palmer

Jane Palmer - RN

Research Nurse

Jane is a research nurse with a career-long interest in melanoma who acts as the participant liaison. Her main role consists of recruiting participants, obtaining biological samples, and collating and updating genotype, epidemiologic, environmental risk factor, clinical and outcome information of study participants.

Location: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Involved in: Other Research
Svetlana Pianova

Svetlana Pianova - MSc

Svetlana has extensive experience in electron microscopy before she joined the Melanoma team at Westmead. Svetlana has worked with the Melanoma Genetics and Epidemiology Group and Professor Graham Mann since 2009. This group is part of a comprehensive research program focused on outcomes that will improve our understanding of melanoma and identify risk factors that will translate into better prevention strategies and treatments for patients. Svetlana's main role involves biospecimen management, biospecimen database management, whole genome and exome sequencing, DNA and RNA extractions for tumour and bloods and liasing with external researchers in genome projects. 

Location: Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research
Involved in: Genome Project
Dr Raoul Pope

Dr Raoul Pope - MBChB (Otago) FRACS (Sydney)

Neurosurgeon and Spine Surgeon

After gaining a Neurosurgical Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Dr Pope undertook additional Specialist training as a Fellow in advanced spinal surgery at the prestigious Foothills Medical Centre, University of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada for an appointment of 1 year. 

Dr Pope then returned to Concord Hospital as his Public Hospital Appointment and he operates privately at The Mater Private Hospital in North Sydney and consults at the Poche Centre where his main rooms are located. He consults also at The Sydney Spine Institute in Burwood.

Dr Pope has been thoroughly trained in all aspects of Adult cranial and spinal neurosurgery. He operates in all areas of Neurosurgery with the exception of Cranial Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery.

Dr Pope has particular interest in Spinal Tumours and minimally invasive surgical techniques.

Dr Pope is a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), a member of the Neurosurgical Society of Australasia (NSA), the International Society for the Advancement of Spinal Surgery (ISASS), the Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (SMISS), and the South Pacific Underwater Medical Society (SPUMS). He is also a member of the Australian Medical Association (AMA). 

Dr Pope is the Head of Department of Neurosurgery at the Mater Private Hospital.

Location: The Poche Centre, The Sydney Spine Institute, Concord Hospital Oupatients
Dr Antonia Pritchard

Dr Antonia Pritchard - PhD, BMedSc

Antonia completed a BMedSc degree, followed by a PhD in genetics at Birmingham University, UK, before moving to Brisbane in 2005. Dr Pritchard's current research interests include tumour immunology and melanoma immunotherapy, in particular, the development of a new method to identify tumour specific vaccine and/or drug targets. Additionally, Dr Pritchard has continued her interest in genetics, to include familial susceptibility to melanoma, rare familial disorders and tumour genetics. 

Location: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Involved in: Basic Science
Gullietta Pupo

Gullietta Pupo - PhD

Gulietta is part of the Melanoma Genetic and Epidemiology Group led by Professor Graham Mann. This group is part of a comprehensive research program focused on outcomes that will improve our understanding of melanoma and identify risk factors that will translate into better prevention strategies and treatments for patients.  

Gulietta is involved in the genetic analyses of melanoma tumours progressing on targeted therapies, exploring biomarkers of response and resistance to targeted therapy, and exploring prognostic biomarkers in metastatic melanoma. 

She has extensive experience with gene expression microarrays, DNA whole genome and exome sequencing, RNA sequencing, nanostring technologies and genome linkage analysis.

Location: Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research
Leo Raudonikis

Leo Raudonikis

Freelance database developer since 1997 specialising in the FileMaker platform Database development on the Westmead campus since 1997. Ongoing development and support for the Cancer Genetic Epidemiology group, Storr Liver Unit, LECRR and Gynaecological Cancer.

Current clients at Westmead hospital include: Anaesthesia, Westmead Fertility, Gastroenterology and Dermatology departments.

Location: Centre for Cancer Research, Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research
Involved in: Other Research
Dr Jazlyn Read

Dr Jazlyn Read

Jazlyn graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery in 2013, after completing a Bachelor of Physiotherapy in 2009. Following more than a year of work as a part-time research assistant in the Oncogenomics Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer, she commenced study towards an MPhil in 2013. Her current project is investigating familial melanoma risk genes and links with other cancers.

Location: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Dr Rebecca Read

Dr Rebecca Read - BSc (Hons) MBBS, DPhil, FRACS

Rebecca Read was a Poche Fellow at MIA in 2014. She completed her specialist training in General Surgery through the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital training network in early 2013 and has since undertaken post-fellowship training in surgical oncology. Rebecca previously completed her doctorate in cell cycle biology at the University of Oxford and has continued research interests that include studies in in-transit melanoma metastases. 

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Surgeon, Translational Care
Professor Helen Rizos

Professor Helen Rizos - BSc (Hon) PhD

Professor Helen Rizos is a cancer cell biologist with an international reputation in the field of melanoma senescence, tumour suppressor proteins and oncoproteins. Her work combines genetic analyses of melanoma tumours with functional molecular and cell biology in order to understand the role and regulation of genes and cellular pathways that influence the development and therapeutic response of melanoma. Professor Rizos is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and recently moved to Macquarie University (January 2014) with her research team and Professor Kefford. Her research will continue to focus on melanoma cell biology and Macquarie University has all the required facilities and infrastructure.

Location: Australian School of Advanced Medicine at Macquarie University
Involved in: Targeted Therapy
Dr Robyn Saw

Dr Robyn Saw - MBBS, FRACS, MS

Robyn Saw MBBS, FRACS, MS is a Senior Lecturer in Surgery at the University of Sydney.  She is a Surgical Oncologist with the Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and also a General Surgeon at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Robyn has a specific interest in the surgical management of melanoma and other skin cancers.

Research that can translate into clinical benefit for patients is the focus for her research activity. This includes a research interest in the development of lymphoedema (swelling of a limb) following lymph node surgery. As the Principal Investigator for a study looking at lymphoedema following axillary and groin sentinel node biopsy (supported by the NSW Cancer Council in 2005-2007 for 3 years for $180,000), the findings were presented at the 7th World Congress of Melanoma in Vienna 2009. A further paper has been published looking at lymphoedema following groin dissection in association with A/Prof Andrew Spillane.

A current project aims to establish an innovative Stage III melanoma pre- and post-lymph node dissection clinic that combines physiotherapy, clinical nurse consultants and surgical consultants (with associated research opportunities to study patients preoperatively and postoperatively). This has the potential to improve the quality of care of all Stage III melanoma patients, and hopefully subsequently the quality of life of patients.

Currently, she is involved as Principal Investigator for an investigator led trial of  “High Dose Vitamin D in High Risk Melanoma Patients” RPM Saw, B Armstrong, R Mason. R Morton (recruitment started Dec 2010). Involvement from the start with development of the trial protocol, and currently active in recruitment of patients, coordination of resources, supervision of trials staff, managing trial complications and advertising the trial has required commitment and significant time resources. This trial has generated significant international interest.

Intense involvement in the MIA biospecimen bank and contributing patients for various clinical projects has also been on the agenda. She has also initiated banking of serial serum for all Stage III melanoma patients in the future hope of development of serum biomarkers for assessment of prognosis and identifying early stage IV melanoma.

A range of students and junior medical staff have been supervised for research projects, including honours students for MBBS, interns interested in research and surgical trainees undertaking research projects as part of their Masters of Surgery research requirement.

Location: The Poche Centre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Involved in: Surgeon, Translational Care
Helen Schmid

Helen Schmid - RN, RM, DipAppSc, DipMgt, MPH

Project and Business Manager, Cancer Genetic Epidemiology

Helen has a background in general and midwifery nursing and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Sydney.   She has previously worked in Boston and New York on HIV and AIDS clinical trials.  She joined the melanoma research group at Westmead Millennium Institute  for Medical Research in 1996 with Professor Graham Mann.  Her main role is managing and coordinating the cancer genetic epidemiology projects for the Melanoma Research Program at Westmead and liaising with external and international research groups such as the GenoMEL consortium.

Location: Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research
Involved in: Other Research
Dr Sarah-Jane Schramm

Dr Sarah-Jane Schramm - PhD

Between January 2009 and July 2012 Sarah-Jane completed her PhD, titled 'Molecular biomarkers of melanoma progression and prognosis',  under the supervision of Professor Graham Mann. Since that time, she has continued to work with the Melanoma Genomics Research Group, focussing on the burgeoning and multi-disciplinary field of cancer systems biology. Here, fields including statistics, molecular biology, genomics, pathology, and oncology are combined to discover and validate disease biomarkers that may have clinical utility. Since 2011, Sarah-Jane has co-authored more than nine research publications. She writes a monthly blog for the Sydney West Translational Cancer Research Center: The Inside Voice – reflections and ramblings of a newly minted post-doc.

Location: Centre for Cancer Research, Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research
Involved in: Genome Project
Professor Richard Scolyer

Professor Richard Scolyer - BMedSci, MBBS

Richard Scolyer studied medicine at the University of Tasmania (BMedSci, MBBS). After completing clinical training in Australia and overseas, he undertook pathology training at the Canberra Hospital and at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital leading to Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia. Richard is currently Consultant Pathologist and Co-Director of Research, Melanoma Institute Australia; Senior Staff Specialist, Tissue Pathology and Diagnostic Oncology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney; and Clinical Professor, The University of Sydney.

Richard has presented on more than 150 occasions at conferences throughout the world, and is a co-author of more than 300 articles and book chapters on melanocytic pathology and related research. In 2006, Richard was awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine by The University of Sydney for his thesis of publications on melanocytic pathology. He received a NSW Premier's Award for Outstanding Cancer Research in 2009 and 2012. He is also an editorial board member of the American Journal of Surgical Pathology, a member of the International Editorial Advisory Board of Histopathology and Senior Associate Editor of Pathology. In 2013, Richard was appointed Vice Chair of the Melanoma Expert Panel of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) for the 8th edition of their Cancer Staging System. He is currently President-Elect of the Australasian Division of the International Academy of Pathology. Together with other MIA colleagues, Richard is chief investigator on 5 year program grants from both the NHMRC and CINSW which were each renewed in 2010 and he also holds personal Fellowships from the NHMRC and CINSW.

Richard's wife Katie is also a pathologist and they have 3 children. In his spare time, he tries to keep fit, races his kids at swim club, barracks for the Sydney Swans and loves visiting the Tasmanian wilderness.

Location: Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, The Poche Centre
Dr Hamideh Shahheydari

Dr Hamideh Shahheydari - PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Shahheydari completed her PhD at University of Sydney in 2013. Her doctoral studies investigated the the molecular and signalling function of the tumour protein D52 in cancer. She joined the Australian School of Advanced Medicine as a postdoctoral research fellow in 2013. She is currently investigating epigenetic mechanisms of melanoma resistance to BRAF inhibitors in melanoma.

Location: Australian School of Advanced Medicine at Macquarie University
Involved in: Targeted Therapy
Dr Kerwin Shannon

Dr Kerwin Shannon

Surgeon

Dr Kerwin Shannon specialises in Head and Neck surgery and received his first clinical appointment to the Sydney Melanoma Unit in 1996. He subsequently undertook a 12-month Fellowship in Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Hong Kong, followed by a 2 year Fellowship in Head and Neck Oncology at the University of Tennessee, under the auspices of the American Head and Neck Society. Returning in mid 1999, Dr Shannon was appointed to the Department of Head and Neck Surgery of the Central Sydney Area Health Service and also resumed his association with the Sydney Melanoma Unit.

Research interests include organ preservation protocols, the use of regional chemotherapy for advanced head and neck cancers and sentinel node biopsy for melanoma of the head and neck.

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Surgeon, Translational Care
Chitra De Silva

Chitra De Silva

Laboratory Manager

Chitra has worked with Professor Peter Hersey for five years on the dendritic cell vaccine project. She then joined the melanoma biospecimen team collecting, processing & cryo-preserving specimens of melanoma tissue and blood, maintaining tumour bank database, overseeing quality control and record keeping while assisting with development of specimen collection protocols. She also participates as a member of the MIA research team to conduct clinical trials and major research programs. She has made  major contributions to build up and maintain the Melanoma BioSpecimen bank and worked closely with research scientists and positively contributed towards several publications.

Location: Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Associate Professor Andrew Spillane

Associate Professor Andrew Spillane - MD FRACS BM BS

Andrew Spillane is Associate Professor of Surgical Oncology at The University of Sydney, Northern Clinical School. He specialises in the surgical management of melanoma, breast cancer and soft tissue tumours. Andrew is currently a senior surgeon with Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and a VMO at the Mater, Royal North Shore and North Shore Private Hospitals.

Andrew’s current research interests investigate issues around quality assurance in surgery, safe introduction of new surgical techniques and promoting clinical trial involvement by surgeons. He is involved in clinical and translational research on aspects of melanoma and breast cancer. He has authored 95 peer reviewed publications and co-authored 2 book chapters. Andrew is on the Executive of the Australian and New Zealand Melanoma Trials Group. He is President of Breast Surgeons Society of Australia and New Zealand Inc., a member of the Australian and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group Locoregional Management Subcommittee and Chair of the Breast and Endocrine Surgical Group at the Mater Hospital. He lectures and teaches students at the University of Sydney’s, Northern Clinical School.

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Surgeon, Translational Care
Gayathri St. George

Gayathri St. George - Bmed.Sc, MSc.Med (RHHG),Cert III (Training and Assessment)

PhD candidate

Gayathri graduated with Bachelor of Medical Science and Master of Science in Medicine from The University of Sydney. She joined the Genetic Epidemiology group in 2007 and has been involved in various cancer genetic epidemiology projects for the Melanoma Program at Westmead.  Her role entails data and sample collection, database management, obtaining biological samples, tumour banking, collating and updating epidemiologic, environmental risk factor, clinical and outcome information of study participants. She is currently completing her PhD with Professor Graham Mann looking at causes of early-onset non-melanoma skin cancers.

Location: Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research
Mitchell Stark

Mitchell Stark - BAppSc(hons)

Mitchell completed a BAppSc(hons) in 1998 and then joined the Oncogenomics Laboratory at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute (QIMRB) as a Senior Research Assistant and more recently as a PhD student (since Jan 2012). Over this time Mitchell has been investigating aspects of melanoma aetiology, including gene dysregulation during tumour progression along with predisposition in families with high risk of melanoma. Mitchell’s PhD research focus is identifying ‘melanoma-specific’ microRNAs that may be useful for clinical management of disease.  Mitchell has extensive experience in the use of high-throughput genomic technologies, including microarrays to identify whole genome amplification and deletions in melanoma and next-generation sequencing for a variety of applications. The latter include small RNA (including miRNA) sequencing, CHiP sequencing to identify novel targets for transcription factors, along with whole-exome and genome sequencing to identify somatic mutations in melanoma as well as melanoma predisposition genes. 

Location: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Involved in: Genome Project
Judith Symmons

Judith Symmons - RN

Research Nurse

Judy is a research nurse who is responsible for coordinating the extraction, annotation and recording of patient information from state cancer registries and the National Death Index.

Location: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Involved in: Other Research
Varsha Tembe

Varsha Tembe - PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate - Genomics

Varsha works part time as a tissue bank officer and part time as a post doc on a translational project in a melanoma laboratory. Her tissue banking role involves collection and storage of tissues and bloods from patients seen in melanoma clinics at Westmead hospital. As a post doc she is investigating the use of circulating tumour DNA ( ctDNA) from plasma as a liquid biopsy.

Location: Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research
Lydia Visintin

Lydia Visintin - R.N, MCaHaemN

Clinical Nurse Consultant

Lydia is a highly experienced Registered Nurse and her career in cancer nursing began in 1990 at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where she gained an enormous amount of expertise in Medical Oncology. In 2014 Lydia completed her Masters in Cancer and Haematology Nursing at the University of Sydney. During her time in Cancer Services, Lydia has gained extensive experience in both clinical and management roles. 

Since 2004 Lydia has worked as a Clinical Nurse Consultant in melanoma providing support and expert nursing knowledge in the care of patients with advanced melanoma. She has comprehensive knowledge about targeted therapies and immune – oncology treatments for melanoma.  Her role includes complex care coordination, support and education of patients attending various clinics, which include RPAH, The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Melanoma Institute Australia and Westmead Hospital.  

Location: The Poche Centre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Westmead Hospital
Nicola Ware

Nicola Ware

General Manager

Nicola was appointed General Manager of MIA in 2008, tasked with establishing the operational structure of the organisation.

With a background in medical research, Nicola graduated from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor of Biotechnology (Hons) and then completed  her Master of Business Administration at Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Business. Prior to  her current role, she managed Operations at Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. 

Location: The Poche Centre
Involved in: Senior Management
Caroline Watts

Caroline Watts - RN, RM, BA (Hons), MPH

Project Manager, Melanoma Registrar

Caroline works part time on genetic epidemiology of melanoma studies. She’s currently enrolled in a Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine) at Sydney University. Her research is examining if it is cost effective from both a NSW health system and societal perspective to manage individuals considered at high risk of melanoma in a specialised clinic. Supervisors are Dr Anne Cust, Professor Graham Mann, Professor Scott Menzies and Dr Rachael Morton.

Location: Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research
Involved in: Other Research
Dr James WIlmott

Dr James WIlmott - Bsc(Hons) PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr Wilmott has worked at the Melanoma Institute Australia since 2008, where he joined the Biospecimen Banking team. He went onto complete his PhD in 2013 which was entitled "Biology and biomarkers of BRAF mutant, BRAF inhibitor treated metastatic melanoma". He has published over 30 manuscripts which have been cited over 364 times, 245 citations were in 2013 alone (H-index 13). His research interests are biomarker studies of patients treated with targeted therapies and he is currently working as the project manager for the Australian Melanoma Genome Project.

Location: Royal Prince Alfred Hospital