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QIMR Berghofer Deputy Director awarded Australia Day Honour

QIMR Berghofer Senior Scientist and Deputy Director Professor David Whiteman has been appointed a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia (General Division) in today’s Australia Day Honours List.

Professor Whiteman has been awarded the honour for his significant service to medical research in the field of cancer epidemiology.

The senior scientist, who heads QIMR Berghofer’s Cancer Control Research Group and is on the executive of the Australian Skin and Skin Cancer Research Centre, said he was humbled by the award.

“I think this award recognises all the work being undertaken here at QIMR Berghofer to find the most effective ways of preventing cancer from occurring among Australians, as well as finding better treatments for those who do develop cancer,” Professor Whiteman said.

“The knowledge and advancements in cancer research, prevention and treatment have grown significantly since I entered the field in 1993, and it’s exciting that Queensland, and QIMR Berghofer, are now leaders in the area.”

“I’m lucky to have a truly talented team of researchers and other colleagues at QIMR Berghofer who share my goal for a world free from cancer.

“Our research shows that a large proportion of cancers can be prevented through changing certain aspects of our lifestyles. While we will probably never be able to prevent all cancers from occurring, we certainly have the knowledge to reduce the burden significantly and ensure better quality of life for those who develop cancer.”

Professor Whiteman has led a number of landmark cancer studies, including identifying that almost 40 per cent of cancer deaths in Australia each year are potentially preventable; finding a link between smoking and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin; and conducting a global analysis of melanoma incidence and mortality rates.

Since 2016 he has also launched two separate tools to predict the risk of people aged 40 and over developing melanoma and other common skin cancers, and he continues to work with national and state cancer societies, medical research organisations and health departments in advising and implementing cancer prevention strategies.

He currently heads the QSkin study, which is the world’s largest study of skin cancer, and is collecting data and DNA samples from nearly 45,000 Queenslanders to determine the extent to which different factors influence the risk of common skin cancers and melanoma.

QIMR Berghofer’s Director and CEO, Professor Frank Gannon, congratulated Professor Whiteman on the honour.

“David is a bright mind who continues to work tirelessly in cancer research, and we’re lucky to have him help lead the way in cancer research here at the Institute,” Professor Gannon said.

“Just this week he and his team published new recommendations for sunscreen use which, if adhered to, could make a fantastic difference to the lives of about two in every three Australians who are diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70.”