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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Radar Tires [Omni United] Award

Area(s) of Focus

John Forbes, MB BS; FRACS, AM

Director of Research
Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group
Professor of Surgical Oncology
University of Newcastle
Newcastle, Australia

Current Research

Well-designed randomized clinical trials may provide information about prevention strategies and effective treatments for women at risk of, or diagnosed with, breast cancer. A major limitation of clinical trials, however, is that results apply to the trial group  as a whole, but not necessarily to each individual woman, because individual responses are influenced by the patient’s and the tumor’s unique DNA, or genetic profile. The goal of the BCRF research led by Drs. Forbes and Cuzick is to more precisely identify risks for individual women, who have a very high or very low chance of getting breast cancer based on testing of molecular markers. To do this, they are building a High Risk Breast Bio-Bank (HRBB) to discover new protein and gene biomarkers from blood, tumor tissue and mammograms that can predict outcomes for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Their goal is to collect reliable clinical outcome data and tissue with long-term follow-up of individual women in prevention and treatment trials to reduce risks for women.  In the coming year, the research team will continue follow-up of women on the International Breast Intervention Study  (IBIS)-I, IBIS-II and LATER trials to collect tissues and long-term clinical outcomes for biomarker discovery. IBIS-I is a primary prevention trial for pre- and postmenopausal women at increased risk of BC, testing tamoxifen for chemoprevention. IBIS-II is a similar trial for postmenopausal women, testing anastrozole.  LATER is a long-term treatment trial testing letrozole for a further five years for women disease free five years after diagnosis.  Drs. Forbes and Cuzick will continue tissue collection for the HRBB and analyses of clinical outcome data and biomarkers to improve prediction of risks for the trial population. As new breast cancer trials including (a) the pilot study IBIS III, a study investigating prevention of late recurrence in ER+ breast cancer survivors following 5 years of adjuvant treatment; and (b) ELIMINATE, a randomized phase II neoadjuvant trial with or without concurrent aromatase inhibitor endocrine therapy, are activated, tissue collected from these trials will also be added to the HRBB, expanding this excellent resource for future translational research.


John Forbes is Professor of Surgical Oncology, University of Newcastle (Australia); Director, Department of Surgical Oncology, Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital; and Director of Research, Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group. His breast cancer research encompasses national and international clinical trials to develop new treatments and prevention strategies. He graduated in Medicine at the University of Melbourne and completed his surgical training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and studied further at the Welsh National Medical School, Cardiff, Wales. On his return to Australia, he and colleagues established the Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group, and the International Breast Cancer Study Group, formerly known as the Ludwig Breast Cancer Study Group, and he was a founding member of the Breast International Group. He has presented papers at scientific meetings internationally, and published over 250 papers on many aspects of breast cancer – in particular on prevention, biomarkers and endocrine treatment. He Chairs, Co-chairs, or is a Member of Steering Committees for national and international breast cancer clinical trials, and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons of England. In 2012 he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), being recognized for service to medicine in the field of breast cancer research, to the development of improved clinical practice standards and service to the community. He was recognized as one of the world’s leading scientific researchers on Thomson Reuters’ list of "The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds – 2014."