Our People

Georgia Chenevix-Trench

Professor | Distinguished Scientist | Head of Cancer Genetics

Cancer Genetics

+61 7 3362 0390




Professor Chenevix-Trench completed her PhD at the Medical College of Virginia (USA) in 1985 and came to QIMR Berghofer for a post-doc the following year. She established her own lab in 1992 when she received an NHMRC R. Douglas Wright award and has been continually funded by the NHMRC Fellowship/Investigator scheme.



  • NHMRC Investigator, Level 3
  • Head, Cancer Genetics Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer
  • Distinguished Scientist, QIMR Berghofer
  • Honorary Professor, School of Medicine, University of Queensland



2007-2011: NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, Queensland Institute of Medical Research

2004-2006: NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, Queensland Institute of Medical Research

1999-2003: NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, Queensland Institute of Medical Research

1996-1998: NHMRC Research Fellow, Queensland Institute of Medical Research

1992-1995: NHMRC R. Douglas Wright Fellow, Queensland Institute of Medical Research

1989-1991: Research Officer in the joint QIMR-University of Queensland Oncology Program

1986-1989: Research Officer, Queensland Institute of Medical Research

1986: Post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Human Genetics, Medical College of Virginia, USA









The Cancer Genetics Laboratory investigates why some people get breast cancer and how these cancers develop from a normal cell.  Using genome wide association studies (GWAS), we, with international colleagues, have identified over 250 breast cancer risk loci. Through extensive in vitro assays, Professor Chenevix-Trench’s team and collaborators have successfully identified some of the target genes at several of these loci.

The functional mechanism behind the associations usually involves perturbed regulation of target gene transcription by risk single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) lying in regulatory elements positioned some distance from the target. The nearest gene to the GWAS ‘hit’ is not necessarily the target of the association, and for some loci there are multiple gene targets. We have developed a pipeline (INQUISIT – integrated expression quantitative trait and in silico prediction of GWAS targets) for predicting target genes at GWAS hits but the challenge of functionally interrogating each risk locus to identify the target gene(s) is enormous.

With Dr Sefi Rosenbluh at Monash University, we have performed large scale pooled CRISPR knockout and activation screens of all the predicted target genes at these loci to identify novel breast cancer risk genes, using assays to identify genes that impact on proliferation, anchorage independence and tumorigenicity. We are now moving to assays that will allow us to find genes involved in immunosurveillance.  In addition, we are exploring opportunities for drug repositioning from knowledge of the GWAS target genes for prevention and treatment of breast cancer.



  • initiated the research in Australia that led to the discovery of the PTCH gene responsible for Nevoid Basal Cell Carcinoma Syndrome
  • collaborated with Dr Kum Kum Khanna to elucidate the role of the ATM gene as a breast cancer risk gene
  • founder/leader of multiple international consortia, discovering more than 250 genetic loci associated with risk of breast or ovarian cancer
  • led functional follow up of the breast cancer risk loci to identify the target genes and more recently developed an algorithm, INQUISIT, to predict these genes
  • led transcriptome-wide association studies and shown that some identified genes regulate growth of breast cell lines and others are targets only in immune cells
  • published one of the first functional CRISPR screens to identify the target genes at risk loci identified by GWAS



  • Australia and New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group
  • National Association of Research Fellows
  • Human Genetics Society of Australasia
  • American Society of Human Genetics




  • Suzanne Cory Medal, Australian Academy of Science
  • GSK Award for Research Excellence


  • Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences
  • Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences


  • National Breast Cancer Foundation Patron’s Award for Innovation and Vision in Research
  • NHMRC High Achiever in Australian Health and Medical Research
  • Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science


  • Ralph Doherty QIMR Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Medical Research


  • Sutherland Lecture (Human Genetics Society of Australasia), at the International Congress of Human Genetics, Brisbane



1985: Medical College of Virginia, USA – PhD

1980: Trinity College, Dublin – BA (Hons)