Melissa has a track record in both molecular diagnostic pathology and molecular genetic research. Her research programs are focused on characterizing the genetic and epigenetic factors responsible for cancer predisposition and progression, including familial aggregation of cancers. She leads a large active team of researchers, and in parallel, has numerous national and international productive collaborations. Significant focus is placed on the common cancers (breast, colorectal and prostate cancer) utilizing PEDIGREE's mature population-based studies and the application of new genetic technology. She leads well advanced studies using highly selected multiple-case families that are applying massively parallel sequencing to identify new “high risk” breast and prostate cancer susceptibility genes, has recently led the formation of an international consortium COMPLEXO that aims to pool data to expedite discoveries in this area and has worked to define modes of translation of new genetic information into clinical practice. Her team has substantial activities based on Methylation-Wide Association Studies (MWASs) utilizing the resources of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study that are working to identify epigenetic risk factors for cancer. These initiatives are working towards improving the healthcare outcomes for individuals at high risk of cancer and providing the foundation for the emerging "Precision Public Health" era.
The laboratory has a state-of-the-art genomics facility for high density and high throughput molecular genetic research, facilities for molecular pathology, and extensive biorepository and bioinformatic capabilities to support a broad range of molecular genetic research based in large population-based studies of disease.