Research Team 

Professor Paul J. McMurrick (Head)
MBBS (Hons), FRACS, FASCRS
Frölich-West Chair of Surgery
Colorectal Surgeon.

Professor McMurrick is a specialist colorectal surgeon who specialises in treatment of colorectal cancer, and benign colorectal conditions including inflammatory bowel disease, diverticular disease, perianal disease and pelvic floor disorders. He is a specialist in laparoscopic and minimally invasive surgery, and interventional colonoscopy, having trained in surgery at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.   A Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Professor McMurrick is a member of ASCRS; he completed the Clinical Fellowship in Colon and Rectal Surgery at the Mayo Clinic, and is the Colorectal Tumour Stream leader for the MCCC. Professor McMurrick became Head of the Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery in 2009 where he leads the bowel cancer research activities at Cabrini, and is a member of the Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer committee [https://www.letsbeatbowelcancer.com.au].

Mr Stephen Bell
MBBS, FRACS
Colorectal Surgeon

Mr Bell is a member of the CSSANZ, and Chairman of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Committee, The Cancer Council; Editor of Gastrointestinal Cancer Update; and a Senior Lecturer in Surgery, Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery. Mr Bell is a colorectal surgeon with an interest in laparoscopic and robotic surgery. He treats colon and rectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis), diverticular disease and functional bowel disorders (incontinence and constipation), anorectal disorders (haemorrhoids, fistulae, and fissures), and hernias.  

Mr Roger Berry
MBBS, Diploma of Anatomy, FRACS
General Surgeon, Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeon 

Mr Berry is a General and HPB Surgeon specialising in surgery of the liver, gallbladder and biliary tree and pancreas. He performs all forms of liver, pancreatic and biliary surgery, with a major interest in hernia surgery, particularly laparoscopic abdominal wall and laparoscopic groin hernia surgery. Mr Berry also treats patients with acute abdominal pain, acute appendicitis, cholecystitis and obstructive jaundice

Mr Peter Carne
MBBS, FRACS
Colorectal Surgeon

Mr Carne is a member CSSANZ and International Fellow of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. He is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery and Member Australasian Gastrointestinal Trials Group.  He is the Director of the Colorectal Unit at The Alfred Hospital. Mr Carne is a colorectal surgeon whose practice is limited to management of diseases of the colon, rectum and anus. His training was undertaken on the CSSANZ training program, including a Colorectal Fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. Special interests include: colorectal cancer (including recurrent rectal cancer), appendiceal tumours, pelvic tumours (including pre-sacral tumours), inflammatory bowel disease, diverticular disease, stomas, rectal prolapse, and perianal conditions. Mr Carne's technical areas of expertise include: open, robotic and laparoscopic colorectal surgery, colonoscopy, colonic stents, and transanal endoscopic microsurgery. 

Mr Martin Chin
MBBS, FRACS
Colorectal Surgeon 

Mr Chin is a member of CSSANZ and a colorectal surgeon with an interest in the diagnosis and management of conditions including colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and anorectal disease. Procedures performed include colorectal surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and colonoscopy.

Mr Pravin Rachod
MBBS (Hons), FRACS
Colorectal Surgeon

Mr Ranchod is a specialist Colorectal and Advanced Laparoscopic Surgeon who provides consultative discussion and surgical management for all types of colorectal and perianal disorders. His practice focuses on surgery for colorectal cancer laparoscopic surgery, colonoscopy, anal fistula and management of pelvic floor disorders and incontinence, including sacral nerve stimulation. 

Dr Paul Simpson
Colorectal Surgeon

Mr Simpson completed his medicine/law degree at Monash University in 2002.  He then trained in General Surgery at The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne before becoming a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons in 2011. He completed two years of specialist colorectal training as a member of the Australian & New Zealand Colorectal Fellowship Training Program. This was followed by an international Colorectal Fellowship at the world renowned Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.

Mr Simpson is a specialist Colorectal Surgeon and a member of the Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand. He is widely published in the field of colorectal surgery and has an active interest in education and research. He currently holds public appointments at The Western Hospital and Alfred Health.

Mr Simpson has a particular interest in minimally invasive colorectal surgery and enhanced post-operative recovery. His specific skills are laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, robotic and trans-anal microsurgery techniques, which are all designed to expedite recovery and improve patient outcomes. He has advanced training in complex pelvic surgery and the surgical management of inflammatory bowel disease.

Mr Pravin Ranchod
BHB, MBChB, FRACS
Colorectal Surgeon, General Surgeon 

Mr Ranchod is a specialist Colorectal and Advanced Laparoscopic Surgeon who provides consultative discussion and surgical management for all types of colorectal and perianal disorders. His practice focuses on surgery for colorectal cancer laparoscopic surgery, colonoscopy, anal fistula and management of pelvic floor disorders and incontinence, including sacral nerve stimulation. 

Dr Paul Simpson
Colorectal Surgeon

Mr Simpson completed his medicine/law degree at Monash University in 2002.  He then trained in General Surgery at The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne before becoming a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons in 2011. He completed two years of specialist colorectal training as a member of the Australian & New Zealand Colorectal Fellowship Training Program. This was followed by an international Colorectal Fellowship at the world renowned Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.

Mr Simpson is a specialist Colorectal Surgeon and a member of the Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand. He is widely published in the field of colorectal surgery and has an active interest in education and research. He currently holds public appointments at The Western Hospital and Alfred Health.

Mr Simpson has a particular interest in minimally invasive colorectal surgery and enhanced post-operative recovery. His specific skills are laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, robotic and trans-anal microsurgery techniques, which are all designed to expedite recovery and improve patient outcomes. He has advanced training in complex pelvic surgery and the surgical management of inflammatory bowel disease.

Mr Raymond Yap 

Mr Raymond Yap is a consultant Colorectal and General Surgeon at Cabrini Health as well as being a Fellow of the Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand, he is a steering committee member of the Binational Colorectal Cancer Audit and honorary research fellow with Monash University.   He specialises in the care of colorectal diseases such as colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, perianal pathology and advanced colonoscopy. In addition to the Australian sub-speciality training he received, he completed advanced training in robotic and transanal techniques (including ta-TME) at Adventhealth in Orlando, Florida. He has conducted numerous studies into colorectal cancer outcomes and surgical education, with a multitude of publications and book chapters.

 

Academic staff 

Dr Rebekah Engel
BSc (Hons) PhD
Research Officer

Dr Engel graduated with a PhD in Immunology from the University of Queensland in 2012. In her first postdoctoral position, Dr Engel worked as a Research Officer in the Cellular Immunology Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane. Here she investigated the functional influence of naturally occurring polymorphism in T cell receptor genes on protective immunity. Since joining the Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery in November 2016, Dr Engel has been working on a collaborative project with A/Prof Helen Abud and her team at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. Her primary role is to establish and grow organoid cultures, or “mini-guts”, from colorectal cancer patients, which will be used as a pre-clinical research tool for the development of personalised drug therapy testing.

Dr Christine Koulis
BSc (Hons) PhD
Research Officer

Dr Georges (née Koulis) has completed a Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Melbourne, Australia, majoring in Pharmacology and Pathology, after which she completed her Honours Degree in Pharmaceutical Science at the Victorian Collage of Pharmacy (Monash University), specialising in the role of protease-activated receptors in the immune system. In 2004, she was awarded the Victorian Collage of Pharmacy Honour’s prize along with a prestigious Melbourne Research Scholarship to study for a PhD at the University of Melbourne. Her PhD involved investigating the role of protease-activated receptors in tumour growth (colon and melanoma), experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and skin transplantation. 

At the completion of her PhD in 2008, Dr Georges undertook her first post-doctoral position at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Research Institute (Melbourne). Her role involved research on diabetes-associated atherosclerosis with a focus on advanced glycation end-products and toll-like receptors. Dr Georges has published her research in a number of high impact medical journals including Circulation, Hypertension and Diabetes Metabolism and is an invited reviewer for a number of journals including Diabetes and Diabetologia.

Her work has allowed her to establish an international profile with a number of invited presentations at major national and international meetings, including Life Sciences Conference, The Australian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists (ASCEPT), The Australian Health and Medical Research Congress (AHMRC), International Conference on Coronary Artery Disease, International Diabetes Federation (IDF), The Australian Atherosclerosis Society and The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. In addition, Dr Georges has also lectured and tutored at The University of Melbourne and Monash University.

In 2016, Dr Georges joined the Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery at Cabrini Health with a focus on translational research and improving colorectal cancer patient outcomes. Currently, Dr Georges is involved in two main projects. The first is the Patient Reported Outcome Measures or PROMs program which aims to personalise patient care by providing valuable information from a patient’s perspective on their treatment, wellbeing and quality of life. The second project is the colorectal tissue microarray (TMA) project which will allow the translation of various biomarkers into clinical outcomes. In future, biomarker analysis may assist in personalising the most effective treatment for patients. Find out more about Dr Georges’ research: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3651-7621

 

Dr Simon Wilkins
BSc (Hons) PhD
Senior Research Fellow

Dr Wilkins obtained his PhD in the biology of malaria in the mosquito from Imperial College, London in 1997. Following his first post-doctoral position on breast cancer, he worked on a varied theme of brain-related diseases including cerebral malaria, neurodegenerative eye diseases, and prion diseases. Dr Wilkins emigrated to Australia in 2004 and joined a commercial research team based at the Mental Health Research Institute investigating potential treatments for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. In 2009 he joined the Monash Institute of Medical Research (now Hudson Institute) to investigate a paediatric developmental disorder, as well as studying the biochemical and molecular basis of cancers such as glioblastoma, medulloblastoma and osteosarcoma. In 2012 Dr Wilkins joined Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (DEPM), Monash University at the Alfred Hospital managing of a number of clinical-quality blood disease registries. Dr Wilkins continues to be an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at DEPM. Dr Wilkins joined the Cabrini Monash University Dept. of Surgery in 2013 and his role focuses purely on research, including both clinical and translational research projects related to bowel cancer. Dr Wilkins brings to our Cabrini team twenty years of academic training and expertise which adds great value to our research program. Find out more about Dr Wilkins’ research: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7712-4114

 

Administrative and management staff

 Mr John Paul Plazzer – Database Manager

John Paul holds a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Melbourne and a Bioinformatics diploma from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. His career began by developing laboratory information management systems, then expanded into bioinformatics and various research projects with a focus on human genetics. He has extensive experience as a database curator combined with a strong background in database management and development.

Since 2011, he has been a database curator for the International Society for Gastrointestinal Hereditary Tumours (InSiGHT) which maintains the most comprehensive database of DNA variants that contribute to inherited gastrointestinal cancer. An important contribution was facilitating the clinical classification of Lynch Syndrome variants, as determined by the InSiGHT Variant Interpretation Committee which resulted in publication in Nature Genetics in 2014. John Paul has also supported international research projects including the Prospective Lynch Syndrome Database, Colon Cancer Family Register, and the Human Variome Project to improve our understanding of the genetics of colorectal cancer.

With this experience, he assisted with the development of database systems to store and curate Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) data, including the deployment of the prototype database used for the initial Melbourne Genomics flagship projects. John Paul has been instrumental in the creation of the InSiGHT Variant Curation Expert Panel and new classification guidelines for mismatch repair gene variants. Grants held by John Paul include Hugh Rogers Fellowship, CASS foundation grant, grant-subaward for Colon Cancer Family Registry Cohort and a Royal Melbourne Hospital Alan Watt Fellowship in Colorectal Cancer.

In 2022, John Paul joined the Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery at Cabrini Health as the Database Manager for the Cabrini Monash Colorectal Neoplasia Database. Find out more about Mr Plazzer’s research: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5114-4301 

 

Dr Stefanie Elbracht-Leong – Database Manager

Dr Stefanie Elbracht-Leong studied physics at the Karlsruhe University, Germany. Stefanie was awarded a master’s degree working on A Toroidal LCH ApparatuS (ATLAS) and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland. At the completion of her masters, she moved to Australia and completed a PhD at the University of Melbourne. The focus of her thesis was the development and improvement of a new next generation state of-the-art X-ray imaging detector. Stefanie’ studies were done in collaboration with the Paul-Scherrer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland. As her first post-doctoral role, Stefanie joined Australian Genomics, a National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded project on genomics research in rare diseases and cancers administered by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). Stefanie’s role at MCRI was data coordinator and governance officer.  As part of her responsibilities, she oversaw the implementation and compliance of data governance policies related to the 18 flagship studies, as well as data management for those flagships.

At the start of 2021, Stefanie joined Cabrini Research as the data manager for the lung cancer registry, developing a comprehensive database to collect information on diagnosis, treatment and outcomes of all Cabrini Hospital’s patient suffering lung cancer. She is working in collaboration with the Victorian Lung Cancer Registry. Later in 2021, Stefanie was invited to join the Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery at Cabrini Hospital to manage the Cabrini Monash Colorectal Neoplasia Database (CMCND). The CMCND has been collecting data on colorectal neoplasia patient’s diagnosis and treatment since 2010. It now has a comprehensive dataset for Cabrini Health and other Monash affiliated hospitals. In 2013, the Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSSANZ) developed the Bi-National Colorectal Cancer Audit (BCCA), a duplicate version based on a minimal dataset of the CMCND, with participation from over 435 contributors across Australia and New Zealand. Find out more about Dr Elbracht-Leong’s research: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2907-900X