Melbourne Health

Professor Finlay Macrae

As a NHMRC Postgraduate Scholar at the RMH, he studied bleeding patterns from colorectal cancer and adenomas, quantitatively comparing these to FOB testing. This provided fundamental data for the RCTs of FOB screening by others demonstrating mortality reduction, leading to, inter alia, the Australian National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. In London, as NHMRC Applied Health Science Fellow working with Dr Christopher Williams, he implemented a large RCT of colonoscopic screening intervals in adenoma patients. Continuing at the RMH, he was co-PI of the Australian Polyp Prevention Project, the first RCT to identify a low-fat diet and unprocessed wheat bran as protective against advanced adenomas.

Contemporarily, he is the Australian PI of the successful CaPP RCTs of aspirin in Lynch Syndrome, and, with the CSIRO, the AusFAP RCT in familial adenomatous polyposis. He chaired the primary prevention chapter in the NHMRC guidelines on CRC. In 2008, he established the InSiGHT Variant Interpretation Committee, an international committee that addresses variants of uncertain significance in the mismatch repair genes. This committee has recently been funded to oversee interpretation of DNA variants in several GI cancer genes on the US ClinVar database.

Prof Macrae founded clinical inflammatory bowel disease services at the RMH, a role he shares now with Assoc Prof Britt Christensen. He is the key organ specialist (gastroenterology) in the multidisciplinary Familial Cancer Clinic at the RMH, focussing on families with inheritable forms of bowel cancer. Prof Macrae regularly supervise MD, and MGH and PhD students in their research projects and careers in genetics and inflammatory bowel disease.

He was awarded the Order of Australia (AO) for his work in genetics and genomics in 2016 and the World Gastroenterology Organization’s highest award of Master (2016) and the Gastroenterological Society of Australia's Distinguished Research Prize in 2021.

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