Keynote speakers

Keynote speakers

The MelNet Executive Committee are pleased to announce the following keynote speakers for the 2018 New Zealand Melanoma Summit.

Check out the final programme here.


Professor David Whiteman BMedSc, MBBS(Hons), PhD, FAFPHM 

Senior Scientist and Deputy Director, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute 

Professor David Whiteman is a medical epidemiologist with a special interest in the causes, control and prevention of cancer. He has an international reputation for research into melanoma and skin cancer, particularly discovering how environmental and genetic factors interact to cause cancer, and then applying this knowledge to the prevention and control of disease. Professor Whiteman is responsible for the QSkin study, the world’s largest prospective study of skin cancer with almost 44,000 participants. As part of this study, Professor Whiteman led the development of a risk prediction model to help people aged 40 and over predict their risk of developing melanoma over the next three and a half years. Research into the safety and use of sunscreen is also part of Professor Whiteman’s portfolio. In March this year Professor Whiteman convened a Sunscreen Summit in Brisbane to identify strategies to educate Australians about sunscreen’s role in sun protection and find new ways to improve public understanding of how to prevent skin cancer. In addition to his research activities, he is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, a Fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, a member of the Academy of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) and currently Chairs the Barrett’s Neoplasia Guidelines Committee for the Cancer Council Australia and the Breast Cancer Risk Factors Working Group for Cancer Australia.

Associate Professor Victoria Atkinson, MBBS, FRACP

Senior Staff Specialist Medical Oncologist, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane Australia

Associate Professor Victoria Atkinson is a medical oncologist who practises as a Senior Staff Specialist at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia. She also practises private practice at Greenslopes Private Hospital and is affiliated with the University of Queensland Clinical School of Medicine where she was appointed as an Associate Professor in 2016. Associate Professor Atkinson graduated from the University of Queensland in 1998. She then completed her physician training at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital before training in medical oncology at the Princess Alexandra and Royal Brisbane Hospitals, completing her fellowship in 2006. Her main tumour interests are melanoma oncology. She has extensive experience with targeted therapies for melanoma including Vemurafenib, Dabrafenib, Trametinib, Ipilimumab and Nivolumab and is involved as Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator in clinical trials at both Princess Alexandra Hospital and Greenslopes Private Hospital.

Associate Professor Cliff Rosendahl MBBS PhD 

Director of the Master of Medicine (Skin Cancer) Programme, University of Queensland, Australia  Distinguished Visiting Professor at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran

Associate Professor Rosendahl is a medical practitioner with over 40 years’ experience. He has a background in general practice and forensic medicine, and has worked in a Brisbane suburban practice as a general practitioner with a special interest in skin cancer, particularly melanoma.  Associate Professor Rosendahl has collaborated with colleagues in Brisbane and Austria to research the early diagnosis of melanoma, and together they have evaluated and promoted the diagnostic methods ‘Chaos and Clues and Prediction without Pigment’. He is founder and a coordinator of the Skin Cancer Audit and Research Database (SCARD). He has published over 50 papers in peer-review scientific journals, is co-author of the textbook Dermatoscopy which is published in eight languages, and is a contributing author to several other textbooks in English and two in Spanish.

Professor John Kelly AM, MD, FACD  

Director, Victorian Melanoma Service, The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

Professor John Kelly founded one of Australia’s largest multidisciplinary treatment services for melanoma, the Victorian Melanoma Service, at the Alfred hospital in 1994. He trained as a dermatologist in Melbourne and undertook his Doctorate at the Melanoma Clinic, University of California, San Francisco, on the subject of melanoma diagnosis and management. With a longstanding interest in melanoma research, Professor Kelly has published more than 100 papers, particularly with respect to clinical features, diagnosis and treatment. Professor Kelly has served on the board of the Australia and New Zealand Melanoma Trials Group, and is a member of the Executive Steering Committee and contributing author for the wiki-based Australian Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Melanoma 2017.

Professor John Thompson AO, MD, FRACS, FACS

Professor of Melanoma and Surgical Oncology, The University of Sydney; Senior Surgeon, MIA  

Professor Thompson is internationally recognised for his leadership in developing the sentinel node biopsy technique in the management of melanoma. He pioneered the Isolated Limb Perfusion and has trained surgeons around the world in the technique which is now performed regularly. Professor Thompson was the Director of Sydney Melanoma Unit from 1998 and thereafter Executive Director of Melanoma Institute Australia until the end of 2016.  He is a past President of the International Sentinel Node Society, and was Chairman of the Australian and New Zealand Melanoma Trials Group for 15 years. He is a member of the Melanoma Staging Committee of the American Joint Committee on Cancer, and chair of the Working Group responsible for updating the Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Cutaneous Melanoma in Australia and New Zealand.  He is an Honorary Fellow of the American Surgical Association and the American College of Surgeons, and an Inaugural Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. Professor Thompson is author of over 700 peer-reviewed scientific articles and holds positions on the editorial boards of several international journals. Professor Thompson has received several awards for his contribution to cancer research and medical education.

Dr Donna Milne BNurs, Dip CanNurs/Pall, MNurs, PhD  

Advanced Practice Nurse in the Skin and Melanoma Service and a clinical nurse researcher in the Department of Cancer Experiences Research at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Victoria, Australia  

Dr Milne is a registered nurse who has been working in cancer care for 22 years. Her PhD investigated the perceptions of palliative care services held by people with advanced cancer. Her current research activities focus on identifying the needs of patients with melanoma and their family members, and the experiences and expectations of patients being treated with immunotherapies. Dr Milne is on the Executive of the Australian and New Zealand Melanoma Trials Group, and is an active member of the Cancer Nurses Society of Australia, Psycho-Oncology Co-operative Research Group and the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care. Dr Milne sits on national and international nursing advisory boards that advise on the educational and support requirements of patients with melanoma. She has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Dr Mike Hitchcock MBChB

Dermatopathologist, Anatomic Pathology Services, Auckland District Health Board

Dr Mike Hitchcock is a pathologist at Anatomic Pathology Services, Auckland District Health Board, specializing in dermatopathology. After gaining his FRCPA in Auckland in 1989, Dr Hitchcock completed American Boards in anatomic pathology and dermatopathology at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. Since then he has worked at Duke, Wake Forest University and in private practice. He has been active at all levels of the American Society of Dermatopathology, taught dermatopathology fellows at Wake, and dermatology residents at East Carolina University. 

Professor Rod Dunbar MBChB, PhD 

Director Maurice Wilkins Centre, Professor at School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

Professor Dunbar holds both a medical degree (MBChB) and a PhD from the University of Otago. He spent six years as a post-doctoral research fellow in human immunology at the University of Oxford, before returning to New Zealand in 2002 under a Wellcome Trust International Senior Research Fellowship. In 2009 he was appointed the Director of the Maurice Wilkins Centre, a national Centre of Research Excellence that promotes a multi-disciplinary approach to the discovery of new medicines and vaccines. His main research area is human cellular immunology, especially the development of therapies for cancer that utilise the immune system.  He cloned the first T cells recognising the cancer antigen NY-ESO-1, leading to the development of a transgenic T cell receptor that has shown promising results in early phase clinical trials in melanoma and sarcoma.  In 2017 he and Professor Margaret Brimble founded SapVax LLC, a US-based company developing novel vaccines for use in immune therapy of melanoma and other cancers.

Dr Mary Jane Sneyd BSc MB CHB PhD 

Senior Research Fellow, Hugh Adam Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago

Dr Sneyd is a cancer epidemiologist whose main research interests include descriptive, analytical, and survival studies of melanoma, myeloma, and colorectal, breast and prostate cancers. As well as many descriptive epidemiological projects she has carried out several national case-control studies of cancer in New Zealand and has developed New Zealand–specific risk predictor models for melanoma and breast cancer for use in primary care.

Professor Mike Eccles BSc(Hons), PhD 

New Zealand Institute for Cancer Research Trust Chair in Cancer Pathology, Pathology Department, University of Otago

Professor Eccles specialises in molecular cancer research, with expertise in cancer genetics, human molecular genetics, and developmental genetics. His research background involves gene and chromosome mapping, epigenetic studies of gene regulation, and impacts on cell behaviour of gene expression. A current research focus is identifying genomic and epigenomic features characterising metastatic versus primary melanomas. Since 2006 Professor Eccles has been the Chair in Cancer Pathology of the New Zealand Institute for Cancer Research Trust. He has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals and is currently heading a research group in the Developmental Genetics and Pathology Laboratory in the Department of Pathology at the University of Otago. Professor Eccles is a Director of the New Zealand Institute for Rare Disease Research Ltd, a Principal Investigator (non-management) in the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, a founding member of MelNet and a founding member of Polycystic Kidney Disease Australia.

Dr Rosalie Stephens MBChB, FRACP, MD

Medical oncologist, Auckland DHB Oncology services

Dr Stephens is a medical oncologist at Auckland Hospital, specialising in the treatment of patients with melanoma, breast and gynaecological cancers. Dr Stephens completed a fellowship at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London between 2010 and 2013 where she undertook clinical and translational research in melanoma, kidney, breast and gynaecological cancers. In 2015, Dr Stephens completed her post-graduate research in tumour biology and evolution attaining a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of London. Melanoma is an active research focus, aiming to improve patient outcomes by access to new, improved therapies. Dr Stephens is a Trustee on the board of Melanoma NZ, a member of the NZ Gynaecological Cancer Group and a founder of the Melanoma Research and Therapy Special Interest Group. She has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals and contributed to patient and public education.

Dr Richard Martin MBChB, FRACS, ChM 

Surgical Oncologist, New Zealand Melanoma Unit team, Waitemata District Health Board, Auckland Regional Head and Neck Service, Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland 

Dr Martin is a melanoma surgical oncologist, managing over 500 melanoma cases each year. A New Zealand trained general surgeon, he spent two and a half years at the Sydney Cancer Centre specialising in melanoma and head/neck surgery. Most of his time was spent at the Sydney Melanoma Unit, the largest treatment and research facility for melanoma in the world. Dr Martin chairs the National Melanoma Standards group for the Ministry of Health plus the Auckland Regional Melanoma Multidisciplinary meeting and sits on the executive committees of MelNet, ANZMTG and Melanoma New Zealand. He has published in numerous academic journals, is a regular presenter at national and international conferences and is actively involved in research and clinical trials. 

Professor Peter Shepherd PhD 

Deputy Director Maurice Wilkins Centre 

Professor Peter Shepherd graduated from Massey University and, following postdoctoral positions at Harvard and Cambridge became a staff member at University College London where he was promoted to Professor in 2003. There he became involved in biotechnology and was named London Young Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the year in 2002. Since moving back to Auckland in 2004 he has continued to focus on research of the signal transduction pathways in the cell and how defects in these lead to the development of cancer and diabetes. He founded biotechnology company Symansis to develop novel tools for drug discovery and was co-founder of drug development company Pathway Therapeutics. Professor Shepherd has published in many peer-reviewed journals and is Chair of Queenstown Molecular Biology Meetings Society.