Professor John F Forbes

DepartmentSurgical Oncology
Research AreasDiagnostics / Screening, Therapy and Treatment
Research TopicsBreast Cancer
Research TypesClinical Trials

Professor Forbes has been involved in breast cancer research throughout his professional career. In particular, he led the establishment of national and international clinical trials in Australia to develop new treatments and ultimately preventions for all types of breast cancer. He was instrumental in the establishment of the breast cancer screening program in the Hunter, and was a founding member of the Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group, which are both based in Newcastle.

Recent Awards

  • One of the Top 10 Global Researchers for Publications 2005-2006 (only Australian Researcher cited), Thomson Scientific ? March 2007.
  • Hunter Medical Research Institute Award for Research Excellence? 2008.
  • Excellence in Innovation Award, from Newcastle Innovation Limited, University of Newcastle ? 2009.
  • Clinical Oncological Society of Australia (COSA) Tom Reeve Oration Award for Outstanding Contributions to Cancer Care ? 2010.
  • Member of the Order of Australia (AM), Commonwealth of Australia ? 2012 ?(recognised for service to medicine in the field of breast cancer research, to the development of improved clinical practice standards and service to the community). 


These include: 1 book, 10 book chapters, 1 thesis, (Master of Surgery) 1 dissertation, (Bachelor of Medical Science) and over 250 publications in peer reviewed scientific journals, exclusive of abstracts.  These publications are on various aspects of breast cancer surgery, research and clinical trials.


Getting to know you

When did you start doing research?

After graduation, during surgery training.

What is your most significant contribution to research?

Getting the science right ? project design and analysis.

What research achievement are you most proud of?

Establishing Australia?s first national clinical trials group (Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group) with international collaboration, leading to new, effective treatments and to prevention of breast cancer.

What inspires you?

New discoveries and talented humble researchers who get the science right. 

What did you do before coming to work at Calvary Mater Newcastle?

First Assistant, Department of Surgery, Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne and initial Group Coordinator of the Australian New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group.

What did you do before you became a researcher?

Attended Medical School at the University of Melbourne.

What made you decide to do research?

An inquisitive mind and desire to do things better, and a good bit of luck (which to me is simply recognising opportunities when they present and being in a position to take advantage of them).

What was your first / worst / best / strangest / memorable / etc job in research?

Collecting blood samples from members of families with Hodgkins disease ? memorable because it required the family to get together, often at a weekend and often in the country. The blood samples had to be processed the same day/night on return to the Royal Melbourne Surgery Department. I learned the necessity of taking responsibility for all aspects of my research. 

What do you do to relax?

Just escape from intrusions, perhaps when walking or listening to music and letting my mind flow where it wishes.


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