Breast Cancer Special Interest Group

The Breast Cancer Special Interest Group (BCSIG) will be a multi-disciplinary group of well-established researchers from the University of Sydney. Their backgrounds include physiotherapy, oncology, diagnostic testing and imaging, surgery, biology, clinical exercise physiology, evidence synthesis, public health and psychology. The Group focuses on identifying, preventing and modifying risk of breast cancer and its sequelae, including the short and long-term sequelae of breast cancer treatments, to improve prognosis and overall quality of life. It also explores methods of optimizing early detection. The researchers within this group have been successful in attracting competitive research funding, publish in leading journals and collaborate with world-leading institutions.

Mission statement

The University of Sydney BCSIG brings together a critical mass of multi-disciplinary cancer researchers to collaborate on important issues in breast cancer. The group is committed to promoting knowledge generation and translation in the scientific and broader community, and mentorship of young researchers to develop the next generation of world leading researchers.


Our purpose is to bring together researchers from the clinical and basic sciences who are exploring breast cancer; this SIG will also have specific areas of focus that include (but are not limited to) the following: optimization of medical imaging and other breast cancer testing, short and long term needs and outcomes of breast cancer patients, biology of breast cancer, effectiveness of interventions for sequelae of breast cancers and its medical treatment, and survivorship research. It will also support and promote research across all stages of breast cancer, including advanced disease.

The BCSIG has developed an Action Plan to guide activities from 2014 – 2017.


The primary objectives of the BCSIG are to:

  • To develop a research network with expertise in prevention, diagnosis and management of breast cancer patients;
  • Deliver two activities a year that will involve seminars, invited lectures and interdisciplinary discussions and community engagement;
  • Build interdisciplinary activities across the university that will facilitate novel and significant shifts in our approach to diagnosis and management of breast cancer patients, develop a critical mass in breast cancer that is recognized within the university and beyond for its impact and importance and promote a comprehensive and multifaceted approach to grant proposals;
  • Develop a network of experts that will offer mentoring and support to our early career cancer researchers.


In the first year of operation the BCSIG plans to:

  • Identify individuals and groups who may be interested in participating. This will be done via personal contacts and the Cancer Research Network;
  • Run two activities per year that will involve seminars, invited lectures and interdisciplinary discussions to promote opportunities for multidisciplinary dialogue, contribute to PhD student training, facilitate external evaluation of our activities and develop future direction and community engagement;
  • Develop a cohort of expertise that can respond competently to media requests and react collectively to new reports or publications;
  • Establish a forum to enable global reach and impact;
  • Contribute to the CRN critical mass that can influence policy at state and federal levels and contribute to strategies employed by regulatory and funding bodies;
  • Recruit outstanding local and international PhD students and explore avenues for gaining support for students via scholarships;
  • Establish firm relationships and collaborate with the key University centres to develop strong research and teaching links and catalogue findings for appropriate audiences/bodies;
  • Proactively target and react to new breast cancer initiatives;
  • Catalogue research publications produced by the group.

Members of the Steering Committee

  • A/Professor Jane Beith
  • Professor Patrick C Brennan (Chair)
  • Professor Glen Davis
  • Dr Haryana Dhillon
  • A/Professor Nehmat Houssami
  • Professor Sharon Kilbreath
  • Professor Peter Lay
  • Professor Kathy Refshauge
  • Professor Mary Rickard
  • Professor Shih-Chang Wang
  • Mr Zechariah Marting


Biology & genetics


Dr Luke Anderson

Dr Anthony Ashton

Hasina Aktar

Mr Seher Balaban

A/Prof Rosemary L Balleine

Prof Robert C Baxter

Ms Kellie Bilinski

Ms Jane Carpenter

Prof Christine Clarke

Dr Dinny Graham

Ms Heidi Hilton

Dr Jeff Holst

Dr Andrew Hoy

Ms Lisa Kay

A/Prof Judy Kirk

Prof Graham Mann

 Dr Matthew Naylor

 A/Prof Geraldine O'Neill

 Mr JS Peter

 Ms Michelle Simmons

 Dr Patsy Soon

Epidemiology & public health
Name Email

Dr Meagan E Brennan

Ms Jennifer Butcher

Ms Jolyn Hersch

Dr Zakia Hossain

A/Prof Nehmat Houssami

Dr Sally Lord

A/Prof Kirsten McCaffery

 Ms Lisa Parker

 A/Prof Freddy Sitas

 A/Prof Karen Willis

 Dr Melina Willson

 Dr Xue Qin Yu

Imaging & detection
Name Email

Ms Dana Al Mousa

A/Prof Javid Atai 

Dr Roger Bourne

Prof Patrick Brennan

Prof John Canning

Ms Karen Dobelli

Ms Angela Hamilton

Mr Terry Jones

Dr Maria Joyce

A/Prof Jim Lagopoulos

A/Prof Warwick Lee

Dr Sarah Lewis

Ms Yanpeng Li

Dr Mark McEntee

 Prof Steven Meikle

 A/Prof Claudia Mello-Thoms

 Dr Mariusz Pietrzyk

 A/Prof Ann Poulos

 Mr Mohammad Rawashdeh

 Dr Warren Reed

 A/Prof Mary Rickard

 Dr Peter Rutledge

 Dr Elaine Ryan

 Dr William Ryder

 Ms Pauline Soh

 Dr Matthew Todd

 Prof Shih-chang (Ming) Wang

Treatment & rehabilitation
Name Email

Dr Sally Baron-Hay
A/Prof Jane Beith

A/Prof Fran Boyle

A/Prof Steven Cumming

Prof Glen Davis

Dr Rachel Dear

Ms Elizabeth Dylke

Dr Nasim Foroughi

DrLaurence Gluch

Ms Katrina Kastrious
Prof Sharon Kilbreath

Dr MiJoung Lee

Ms Lanni Lin

A/Prof Lynette Mackenzie

Prof Kathryn Refshauge

A/Prof Andrew Spillane

A/Prof Janette Vardy

Prof Kate White

Ms Jasmine  Yee

Name Organisation Email

Ms Lisa Allwell

Breast Cancer Network Australia

Dr Tracey Bessell


Dr Alison Butt

National Breast Cancer Foundation

Ms Sally Crossing

Cancer Voices NSW

Prof David Currow

Cancer Institute NSW

A/Prof Michele Ford

Sydney South East Asian Centre

Prof David  Goodman

China Studies Centre

Dr Cannas Kwok


Dr Gillian Lamoury


A/Prof Mu Li

China Studies Centre

Ms Sarah McGill

Cancer Institute NSW

Dr Eileen McGowan


Dr Richard Seymour

Sydney South East Asian Centre

Prof Stephen Simpson

Charles Perkins Centre

Ms Libby Topp

Cancer Council NSW

Ms Fleur Webster

Cancer Australia (NBOCC)

Dr Yingchun  Xu

Shanghai Renji Hospital; Shanghai Jiaotong University, School of Medicine

Name Email

Ms Sonya Corcoran

Mr Aleks Duric

Ms Merilyn Heuschkel

Ms Kriscia Tapia

Recent seminars

Inaugural Breast Cancer SIG Seminar

The inaugural BCSIG Seminar was held on 21 November in the New Law Building, The University of Sydney. Approximately 55 people attended and heard an inspiring program of presentations from the broad themes of the BCSIG: imaging and detection, treatment and rehabilitation, biology and genetics, and epidemiology and public health.

Thank you to our speakers: Prof Patrick Brennan, Prof Graham Mann, Dr Justine (Dinny) Graham, Prof Sharon Kilbreath, A/Prof Nehamt Houssami, Ms Elizabeth Dylke and Ms Jenny Butcher.

View photos from the seminar.

Breast Cancer Consumer Evening

The BCSIG held a very successful Breast Cancer Consumer Evening on 12 March 2014. The evening, attended by 80 people, was an opportunity to empower health consumers and educate them about the considerable scientific advances in recent years around understanding the stages of cancer development, which is driving improved research and leading to better prevention, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

University of Sydney experts presented on a range of topics including insights into prevention and treatment. They will also weighed in on the breast screening debate and discussed the critical issues of ensuring the wellbeing of survivors following treatment.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in Australia, with one in eight women developing the disease in their lifetime. Every day researchers are making breakthroughs in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment to improve survival rates.

View photos from the Consumer Evening.

Breast Cancer Consumer Forum

On 22 April 2015, the BCSIG held a fascinating Consumer Forum which focused on endocrine therapy and breast cancer in pre-menopausal women. Participants heard about the latest developments in the area, the significant challenges younger women face after a diagnosis with breast cancer, and the support options available. Special guest Julie McCrossin, broadcaster & journalist, did a fantastic job moderating discussions.

Thank you to the following clinical experts and consumer representatives who were on-hand to answer questions from the audience and share their insights:

  • A/Prof Nicholas Wilcken - Director of Medical Oncology, Westmead Cancer Care Centre
  • A/Prof Andrew Spillane - Surgical Oncologist, The University of Sydney, Melanoma Institute Australia, Poche Centre
  • Dr Bobby Cheema - Senior Lecturer, University of Western Sydney
  • Dr Joanne Toohey - Radiation Oncologist, Chris O'Brien Lifehouse
  • Annie Miller - Manager, Practical Support, Cancer Council NSW
  • Kim Hobbs - Social worker, Westmead Hospital
  • A/Prof Sarah Lewis, Catherin Rolston, Denise Newton, Vivien Dorko - Consumer representatives

Download a recording of the Consumer Forum.

Members’ recent achievements

Published papers

Marinovich ML, Houssami N, Macaskill P, Sardanelli F, Irwig L, Mamounas EP, Von Minckwitz G, Brennan ME, Ciatto S. “Meta-analysis of Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Detecting Residual Breast Cancer After Neoadjuvant Therapy”. J Natl Cancer Inst 2013 : djs528v1-djs528.

Houssami N, Macaskill P, von Minckwitz G, Marinovich ML, Mamounas E. “Meta-analysis of the association of breast cancer subtype and pathologic complete response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy”. European Journal of Cancer 2012;48:3342-54.

Autier P, Esserman LJ, Flowers CI, Houssami N. “Breast cancer screening: the questions answered”. Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology 2012;9:599-605.

Bernardi D, Ciatto S, Pellegrini M, Anesi V, Burlon S, Cauli E, Depaoli E, Larentis L, Targa L, Baldo P, & Houssami N. “Application of breast tomosynthesis in screening: incremental effect on mammography acquisition and reading time”. British Journal of Radiology 2012;85:e1174-e1178.

Houssami N, Turner R, Morrow M. “Preoperative magnetic resonance imaging in breast cancer: meta-analysis of surgical outcomes”. Annals of surgery 2013;257:249-55.

Marinovich M, Sardanelli F, Ciatto S, Mamounas E, Brennan M, Macaskill P, Irwig L, von Minckwitz G, Houssami N. “Early prediction of pathologic response to neoadjuvant therapy in breast cancer: Systematic review of the accuracy of MRI”. Breast 2012;21:669-77.

Hersch J, Jansen J, Barratt A, Irwig L, Houssami N, Howard K, Dhillon H, McCaffery K. “Women’s views on overdiagnosis in breast cancer screening: a qualitative study”. BMJ 2013; 346:f158 doi: 10.1136/bmj.f158

Brennan M, Houssami N. “Newly diagnosed early breast cancer An update on pre-operative assessment and staging”. Australian Family Physician 2012;41:871-4.

Awards and grants

A/Prof Nehmat Houssami (Public Health) was awarded a NBCF Practitioner Fellowship to support the breast cancer research plan (Evidence to guide early detection strategies in population screening and in women with a personal history of breast cancer) from 2013-2016.

Dr Mariusz Pietrzyk (Medical Radiation Sciences) was awarded a AUD $40k WUN Research Development Fund 2012 grant for his project “Breast Cancer Detection Network”. The project aims to improve mammography services and limit unreported breast cancer incidences.

Dr Kevin Tay (Medical Imaging) was awarded a AUD $400k from the Australian Government for his work on breast imaging algorithms.

Have you got a success story to share? Email details of your recently published work, grant success or awards to to be published on the BCSIG webpage.

Join the group

The BCSIG is Chaired by Professor Patrick Brennan (Discipline of Medical Radiation Sciences). Membership is open to all staff of the University of Sydney, its teaching hospitals and affiliated research institutes.

If you are interested in participating, please send the following information to the Cancer Research Office by :

  • Name:
  • Contact telephone number:
  • Email:
  • Department:
  • Up to 5 keywords (describing your research interests and technical expertise):