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Breast cancer places an incredible burden on Australian women. Every year, around 20,000 Australian women are diagnosed with breast cancer alone – a disease that devastates people’s lives and is often fatal. Our Breast Biology and Cancer Unit are researching the biological mechanisms that underpin this high incidence of breast cancer, and how we can better detect, diagnose and treat breast cancer. The Unit also investigates common breast conditions that arise during breastfeeding, including mastitis and low milk supply. The overarching objective of the Unit is to develop new technologies that help reduce the burden of breast cancer and other breast conditions, and help people take control of their breast health from adolescence through to old age.

The Breast Biology and Cancer Unit was established at the BHI in 2011 as part of the collaborative links established at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH).

Research projects for Honours, Masters and PhD students are available in our laboratory – please read the Projects available and contact [email protected] to discuss these further.

Other related websites: INFORMD (INformation FORum on Mammographic Density) and the Australian Breast Cancer Research website.



Student Alumni (since 2017)

NameDegreeYear AwardedThesis titleSupervisors
Amita GhadgePhD, The University of Adelaide2021The developmental origins of mammographic density and breast cancer risk Ingman W, Dasari P, Robker R
Keirrthana JothyFirst Class Honours, The University of Adelaide2021The impact of the ovarian cycle on tumour-associated macrophages in MMTV-PyMT miceIngman W, Townsend A
Zuhal NaderiFirst Class Honours, The University of Adelaide2021Androgen receptor signalling in high mammographic density Ingman W, Hickey T
Sarah BernhardtPhD, The University of Adelaide2020The effect of menstrual cycling on genomic predictive biomarkers in premenopausal breast cancerIngman W, Price T, Townsend A
Maddison ArcherPhD, The University of Adelaide2020Immune Modulation of Mammographic Density and Breast Cancer RiskIngman W, Evdokiou A, Dasari P
Vahid AtashgaranPhD, The University of Adelaide. Dean's Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence.2018Hormone and transcription factor regulation of cytokines in the mammary glandIngman W, Dasari P, Barry S
Siti Noor DinPhD, The University of Adelaide.2017Effect of C1q null mutation on mammary gland developmentIngman W, Robertson S


Artificial intelligence in breast cancer detection and diagnosis
Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence that enables computers to learn how to do complex tasks without being programmed by humans. This technology is driving what is known as the “fourth industrial revolution”. It has the potential to deliver massive benefits in biomedicine and we are only just starting to explore its capability. Working with experts in engineering, pathology, biology, radiology and artificial intelligence, we are developing new computational systems that aid in the accurate and efficient detection and diagnosis of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Risk and Prevention
Reducing breast cancer risk starts with developing a better understanding of how the disease develops. Breast density (also known as mammographic density) is the percentage of white and bright regions on a mammogram. Breast density is not related to how breasts look or feel and can only be assessed by mammogram. High breast density is both an independent risk factor for breast cancer and masks cancers on a mammogram. There is exciting potential for breast density to become a widespread health assessment tool, used to identify the women most at risk of breast cancer in order to intervene early and reduce that risk. Our research studies the underlying biology of breast density and how it affects the risk of breast cancer.
Exploring the impact of menstrual cycling on personalised medicine for premenopausal breast cancer patients
Gene expression profiling of breast cancer is a technology increasingly being adopted in the clinic as a personalised medicine approach to tailor treatment to individual patients. However, an underappreciated factor in premenopausal breast cancer diagnosis is that oestrogen and progesterone fluctuate dramatically during the menstrual cycle, and these hormones are likely to affect gene expression. Our research aims to determine whether fluctuation in oestrogen and progesterone associated with different stages of the menstrual cycle significantly affects gene expression profiles in breast cancers from premenopausal women.
Mastitis and Lactation Insufficiency
Lactation mastitis is an inflammatory breast disease affecting 17-27% of Australian breastfeeding women that causes pain, fever and low milk supply. The challenges posed by this disease lead many women to use supplementary formula, or cease breastfeeding altogether leaving their infants at increased risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases as babies, and non-communicable diseases including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, allergies, asthma, mental illness and chronic lung, liver and renal diseases as both children and adults. Our recent research has suggested that macrophages play a role in development of this disease. Our current research pursues new knowledge in how disease state develop in the breast. We explore revolutionary new concepts of how immune cells function in the breast, and how these cells affect breast disease development.

For a list of all publications please visit A/Prof Wendy Ingman’s University of Adelaide Researcher Profile.

The gut microbiome: a new player in breast cancer metastasis

Ingman WV. The gut microbiome: a new player in breast cancer metastasis. Cancer Research; 2019. 79(14):3539-3541.

Pubmed Link:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31308136

InforMD: A new initiative to raise public awareness about breast density

Hugo HJ, Zysk A, Dasari P, Britt K, Hopper JL, Stone J, Thompson EW, Ingman WV. InforMD: A new initiative to raise public awareness about breast density. eCancer;  2018. 12:807.

Pubmed Link:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29492101

Dissecting the biology of menstrual cycle-associated breast cancer risk

Atashgaran V, Wrin J, Barry SC, Dasari P, Ingman WV. Dissecting the biology of menstrual cycle-associated breast cancer risk. Frontiers in Oncology; 2016. 6:267.

Pubmed Link:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5183603/

CCL2-driven inflammation increases mammary gland stromal density and cancer susceptibility in a transgenic mouse model

Sun X, Glynn DJ, Hodson LJ, Huo C, Britt K, Thompson E, Woolford L, Evdokiou A, Pollard JW, Robertson SA, Ingman WV. CCL2-driven inflammation increases mammary gland stromal density and cancer susceptibility in a transgenic mouse model. Breast Cancer Research; 2017. 19(1):4.

Pubmed Link:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28077158

Hormonal modulation of breast cancer gene expression: implications for intrinsic subtyping in premenopausal women

Bernhardt SM, Dasari P, Walsh D, Townsend AR, Price TJ, Ingman WV. Hormonal modulation of breast cancer gene expression: implications for intrinsic subtyping in premenopausal women. Frontiers in Oncology; 2016. 6:241.

Pubmed Link:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27896218

Inflammatory mediators in mastitis and lactation insufficiency

Ingman WV, Glynn DJ, Hutchinson MR. Inflammatory mediators in mastitis and lactation insufficiency. Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia; 2014, 19:161–167.

Pubmed Link:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24961655

BHI Collaborators: Andreas Evdokiou (Breast Cancer Research Unit), Tim Price and Amanda Townsend (Solid Tumour Group)

External Collaborators: Erik Thompson, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia; Kara Britt, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia; Jennifer Stone, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia; John Hopper, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; Lisa Amir, LaTrobe University, Melbourne, Australia; Luke Grzeskowiak and Wendy Raymond, Flinders University, Adelaide Australia; Lucy Woolford, Rebecca Robker and Mark Hutchinson and Lucy Woolford, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia; Steve Birrell, Wellend Health, Adelaide, Australia.