Precision Medicine

Our working definition of Precision Medicine includes: creation of the evidence for, and its cost-effective application, to achieve better prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, monitoring and other issues related to health care that will lower the impact of disease based on an individual’s lifestyle, behaviour, environment, clinical, genomic, epigenomic and other molecular measures.  Precision Medicine, thus, aims to improve health outcomes and save money by targeting health interventions to those individuals who are most likely to benefit, underpinned by better understanding of individual diversity.  This encompasses, but is not the same as, Genomic Medicine.

Cancer is currently one of the principal foci for Precision Medicine and exemplifies the opportunities and challenges for the discipline.  Our team have been pivotal to the establishment of large epidemiological research resources that are now being utilized to address key questions in cancer research.  Highly selected groups of men women are participating in our studies to support the identification of heritable risk factors (genetic and epigenetic) and large population-based samples of men and women are enabling research to further characterise the prevalence and penetrance of risk factors to enable clinical translation of new information and inform healthcare policy.

With an initial focus on common cancers such as breast and prostate cancer we now aim to impact key stages across the disease and life course, including:

  1. defining the best molecular tests for placing each man and woman individually and accurately on the breast or prostate cancer risk spectrum throughout life.
  2. defining the best molecular tests for early detection, targeted therapies, prognostication and disease monitoring throughout the disease course.
  3. devise best practice guidelines and drive necessary policy change.
  4. develop a workforce trained in the environment anticipated for future clinical research that demands a knowledge base and connection from basic research through to clinical outcomes that integrates molecular data at all decision points across the life and disease course. Our work is therefore also providing the foundation for the emerging Precision Pubic Health era.

Visit the Southey Lab website for further information.

Group Head

Professor Melissa C. Southey, BSc (Hons) PhD, GradDipLaw, is a molecular geneticist (FHGSA) and a Founding Fellow of the Faculty of Science, Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (FFSc, RCPA). Her research program has a population-based focus that has been pivotal to the establishment of large genetic epidemiological research resources that are now being utilized to address key questions in cancer research. Melissa is best known for her work with multiple-case cancer families and heritable risk factors that has provided the evidence base for best practice guidelines for the clinical management of individuals at high risk of the disease. In July 2017 Melissa joined the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health as Monash University’s first Chair of Precision Medicine.

Find out more about Professor Melissa Southey.

Researchers