Gianluca Severi

Assoc Prof Gianluca Severi is a senior genetic and molecular epidemiologist with a national and international reputation in the field of cancer epidemiology gained during almost twenty years. His main research interest is genetic epidemiology, and, more recently, epigenetic epidemiology, of cancer. Between 2008 and 2013 he was the Deputy Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Centre of the Cancer Council Victoria (CEC), a leading research centre in Australia. In this role he had various responsibilities for large-scale collaborative studies including case-control studies, family studies and prospective and retrospective cohort studies. Assoc Prof Severi is an independent scientist with a career total of more than 180 peer-reviewed papers and a personal H-index of 32.
His excellent scientific production is sustained by a demonstrated ability to attract significant research funding with more than 3.5 million euros in competitive grants as principal investigator attracted in the last five years. His funded research projects have been large-scale, cross-disciplinary, and with a particular focus on building resources for molecular, genetic, and clinical epidemiology of cancer. In more recent years he has played increasing leadership roles in international collaborative research particularly on prostate and breast cancer, and less common cancers like glioma and kidney cancer.
He is an active members of several international consortia that study cancer risk and survival focusing in particular on genetic risk and prognostic factors. In early 2013 he received funding from the U.S. National Cancer Institute to establish the International Consortium for the Investigation of Renal Malignancies (I-ConFIRM) of which he is currently the Chair.

In addition to original research, Assoc Prof Severi has written invited book chapters and reports for organisations like the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre (now part of Cancer Australia). He has also presented his research at numerous local, national and international forums, and he regularly performs scientific reviews for major international medical journals and funding bodies. Assoc Prof Severi regularly presents to patients, families, clinicians and the general public and he has always been committed to work together with these components to bring research closer to the community.

Education & Early Career
Assoc Prof Severi graduated in 1994 in Physics at the University of Genoa, Italy. The following year he joined the Istituto Scientifico Tumori in Genoa as a research assistant to help establishing the Regional Mesothelioma Register and undertake data analysis for retrospective cohort studies of workers exposed to asbestos and other carcinogens. In 1996 he was awarded a Fellowship from the Italian Association for Research on Cancer (AIRC) to work at the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology of the European Institute of Oncology (EOI) in Milan where he gained experience in ecological studies, descriptive epidemiology and clinical studies. During the same period he enrolled in a post-graduate, three-year course in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Milan that he completed in 1999 with a research thesis on age-period-cohort models. As a biostatistician and epidemiologist at EOI, where he worked until 2004, he worked on several national and international projects on the epidemiology of skin and prostate cancer.
In 2001 he was awarded an ICRETT fellowship from the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) to undertake studies on the molecular epidemiology of prostate cancer using data and biological samples from the Australian Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer case-control study. In the following years he further expanded this work that led to more than 10 publications in international journals and became the focus of his PhD with the University of Birmingham, UK, that he completed in 2004. During his PhD he developed a deep interest in genetic epidemiology and initiated studies of the genetic risk factors for prostate cancer. In a genetic association study and meta-analysis, for example, he demonstrated that common genetic variation in the ELAC2 gene, considered at the time a prostate cancer susceptibility gene, was not associated with prostate cancer risk (J Natl Cancer Inst 2003).

Senior roles and collaborations
In 2004 Assoc Prof Severi moved to Australia to work at the CEC as Senior Research Fellow, a position funded by the Australian government (NHMRC Capacity Building Grant) to continue his work on the genetic epidemiology of prostate cancer and initiate studies within the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study. After two years he was promoted to the role of Principal Research Fellow and in March 2008 he became Deputy Director of the Centre. During this period Assoc Prof Severi focused his work on expanding studies within the Prostate Program and building international collaborations with scientists in Europe and the U.S. Genome-wide association studies that stemmed from these collaborations led to the discovery of several susceptibility loci for prostate cancer. These breakthroughs in our understanding of the aetiology of prostate cancer were reported in major papers in the journal Nature Genetics. Under the leadership and initiative of Assoc Prof Severi the CEC became member of major consortia and pooling projects. Results from a collaboration with the University of Oxford, for example, were widely cited and demonstrated that sex hormone levels measured in adulthood are not associated with prostate cancer risk (J Natl Cancer Inst 2008) while high levels of IGF-I are associated with increased prostate cancer risk (Ann Intern Med 2008).

In the last few years at CEC Assoc Prof Severi initiated a new program on less common cancers while continuing to study the aetiology of prostate, breast, and bowel cancer with an increasing focus on molecular, genetic, and epigenetic epidemiology. His new program on less common cancers includes a series of family studies on kidney cancer, glioma and other cancers as well as collaborations to undertake genome-wide association studies for several types of rarer cancers pooling samples from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study and from international studies.

In 2010, Gianluca Severi was nominated Honorary Principal Fellow at the School of Population Health of the University of Melbourne with the title of Associate Professor. In this role he supervises post-graduate students that play a key role in developing his research projects and exploring new ideas.

With the Centre for Molecular, Environmental, Genetic, and Analytic Epidemiology of the University of Melbourne and the Life Sciences Computation Centre he is focusing on the development of statistical models to predict cancer risk and prognosis and methods to take advantage of family study designs and effectively analyse "omics" data, in particular microarray and next-generation sequencing data.