Leading cancer researcher joins SAiGENCI

Melissa Davis smiles at the camera.

Cancer research expert Professor Melissa Davis has been appointed as Program Leader, Cancer Systems Biology at the South Australian immunoGENomics Cancer Institute (SAiGENCI).

Professor Davis brings a wealth of experience as a computational cancer biologist, analysing large-scale molecular data to discover the molecules and processes that play a major role in cancer.

SAiGENCI is a cancer-focused medical research institute established in 2021 that operates within the University of Adelaide’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, supported by an alliance with the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN).

Professor Davis said she was excited at the opportunity to build a world-class computational systems oncology program and work with other top researchers at SAiGENCI.

“I am honoured to lead a team that will make important discoveries and breakthroughs in cancer research,” said Professor Davis.

“The Computational Systems Oncology program will produce insights into where and why cancer appears and progresses, and how tumours respond to therapy.

“Our work will play a vital role in the fight to control cancer and find a cure.”

“Our work will play a vital role in the fight to control cancer and find a cure.”Professor Melissa Davis

SAiGENCI Director, Professor Christopher Sweeney said Professor Davis would have a sizeable impact on the Institute’s research capabilities.

“Professor Davis will help us achieve our goals of becoming a world leader in cancer research. Her knowledge in computational cancer biology is second to none, and she is one of the most respected experts in her field,” said Professor Sweeney.

The University of Adelaide’s Professor Benjamin Kile, Executive Dean, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, said Professor Davis’s appointment was a major coup for South Australia.

“The appointment of Professor Davis represents a unique opportunity for SAiGENCI and the broader cancer research community in South Australia. Importantly, it shows we are able to attract the best people to our state to help improve the lives and wellbeing of South Australians,” said Professor Kile.

University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor and President, Peter Hoj AC, added: “An appointment of this calibre strengthens the University of Adelaide’s position as a world-class, research-intensive university. The University is committed to pushing boundaries, breaking new ground and finding innovative solutions to society’s challenges.”

Professor Davis arrives at the University from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) at the University of Melbourne, where she is the joint Head of the Bioinformatics Division.

An internationally recognised expert in computational cancer systems biology, bioinformatics and the computational modelling of cancer plasticity, Professor Davis has written more than 85 research papers, and produced bioinformatics methods that are among the most widely used in her field. Her research has contributed to three ongoing clinical trials in brain, breast and lung cancer, and she has collaborated with the CRC for Cancer Therapeutics, a co-operative cancer drug development centre, on commercialisation projects with a headline value approaching $1.4 billion.

Professor Davis is currently the Vice President of the Australian Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Society, and holds honorary affiliations in the University of Melbourne’s Department of Clinical Pathology and the University of Queensland’s Diamantina Institute.

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