Bsc(Hons): The University of Melbourne (1988); PhD: The University of Melbourne (1993) Postdoctoral training: Imperial Cancer Research Fund and King's College, London, UK (1993-1998)
Executive Dean, Faculty of Science and Professor of Molecular Biology

Melissa Brown completed her PhD at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne in 1993, on the regulation of genes encoding haemopoietic growth factors and their receptors, and the role of mutations in these genes in human leukaemia. She then undertook postdoctoral training at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and King’s College in London, supported by EMBO and ICRF fellowships, where she was involved in the isolation and characterization of the first breast cancer susceptibility gene, BRCA1. She was appointed as a Lecturer at The University of Queensland in 2000, and is now a Professor, Research Group Leader and former Head of The School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences at UQ. Her current research is focussed on understanding the regulation of breast cancer associated genes, and is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Queensland Cancer Fund and The University of Queensland.

Brief Research Description: 
Molecular genetics and biology of breast cancer
Research Focus and Collaborations: 

Breast cancer results from abnormal expression or function of multiple tumour suppressor genes and oncogenes. Our laboratory is interested in the regulation and function of a number of breast cancer- associated genes including those encoding BRCA1, BRCA2, and several non-coding RNAs. We use a wide variety of molecular and cellular techniques to study how the expression of these genes is regulated and to examine the molecular and cellular consequences of disrupting their function in breast epithelial cell-lines and the mammary gland of mouse models.

Current research projects:

  • Project 1: Regulation of the breast cancer susceptibility genes
  • Project 2: Evaluation of disease-associated variants in non-coding regions of breast cancer susceptibility genes
  • Project 3: Regulation of non-coding RNA genes in advanced breast cancer
Secondary Research Areas: 
Funded Projects: 

NHMRC: Clinical classification of regulatory variants in breast cancer susceptibility genes. 2016-2018


Second year Genetics

Third year Human Molecular Genetics

Significant Professional Activities and Awards: 


  • 2010   The University of Queensland Excellence in Research Supervision Award
  • 2005  International Union against Cancer Technology Transfer Fellowship
  • 2002  The University of Queensland Foundation Research Excellence Award
  • 1999  The Selby Research Award
  • 1995  Imperial Cancer Research Fund (UK) Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 1993  European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Long-term Fellowship
  • 1992 Student Bursary for Poster Presentation at the Lorne Cancer Conference
  • 1989 Australian Postgraduate Research Award

Professional Activities

  • Member of the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
  • Member of Kathleen Cunningham Foundation Consortium for Research into Familial Breast Cancer .
  • Member of Grant Review Panels for NHMRC and Cancer Councils.
  • Reviewer for multiple international journals.

Current Research Group Members

Senior Research Fellows

  • Dr Annette Shewan (NBCF ECR Fellow)
  • Dr Kyle Upton (UQ PDRF)

Senior Research Assistant

  • Dr Lez Burke

PhD students

  • Gurveen Sandhu
  • Korinne Northwood

Honorary lab members

  • Emma Tudini (Spurdle lab, QIMR-B)
  • Dr Darren Korbie (Trau lab, AIBN, UQ)
  • Gaetana Gambino (Caligo lab, University of Pisa)

Past Research Group Members

Dr Michael Milevskiy (WEHI)

Dr Jan Sevcik (Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)

Dr Stacey Edwards (QIMRB)

Dr Juliet French (QIMRB)

Dr Jodi Saunus (UQCCR)

Dr Ania Wronski (Tufts University, Boston, USA)

Dr Chanel Smart

Dr Chris Pettigrew

Dr Eugene Wee

Dr Paul Lovelock


Current collaborations


  • Assoc Prof Amanda Spurdle, Queensland Institute of Medical Research.
  • Prof Georgia Chenevix-Trench, Queensland Institute of Medical Research.
  • Drs Stacey Edwards and Juliet French, Queensland Institute of Medical Research.


  • Prof Susan Clark, The Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney.
  • Assoc Prof Alexander Dobrovic, The Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, Melbourne.


  • Dr Etienne Rouleau, Curie Institute, Paris, France.
  • Dr Paolo Peterlongo and Prof Paolo Radice, Fondazione Istituto FIRC di Oncologia Molecolare, Milan, Italy
  • The ENIGMA consortium.
Selected Publications: