Surgery at The Royal Melbourne Hospital

About Us

The Department of Surgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital focuses specifically on the study of oncogenesis, and development of new therapies for cancer. The Department has special interest in brain cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer.  We possess a strong focus on the translation of basic research into clinical research involving scientists, academic surgeons, clinicians and high achieving students at a local, national and international level. We are located within the educational and research hub known as the Parkville Precinct, which allows our department to form strong linkages with research institutions, research facilities and world-renowned groups within the area.

Our Academic Lead

Professor Andrew Kaye

Professor Andrew H. Kaye is the Head of the Department of Surgery at the University of Melbourne and past Director of the Department of Neurosurgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. He graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1973, and subsequently trained in Neurosurgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.  He undertook further neurosurgery training in Oxford, London and at The Cleveland Clinic.  On returning to Australia in 1983 he was appointed Neurosurgeon at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and commenced research into neuro-oncology at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.  He was appointed Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Melbourne in 1992, and the James Stewart Professor of Surgery and Head of the Department of Surgery at the University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1997.

His main clinical and research interest involves neuro-oncology, pituitary tumours and cerebrovascular disease.  In 1992 he was awarded the John Mitchell Crouch Fellowship by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and in 1997 was appointed the Sir Arthur Sims Commonwealth Travelling Professor.  In 2003 the American Association of Neurological Surgeons honoured him with the Ronald Bittner Award for contributions to the treatment of brain tumours and in 2006 the Paul Bucy Award for his contribution to neurosurgery education.
In 2011 he was awarded the Medal of Honour from the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies for “outstanding contribution to neurosurgery.”  He was awarded the Commonwealth of Australia Centenary Medal in 2003 and Order of Australia in 2004.  He was the Honoured Guest of the American Congress of Neurosurgery for 2013.

He is a Director of the Hawthorn Football Club, Australian Football League.  He is the past President of the Asian Australasian Society of Neurological Surgeons and Chair of the Nominating Committee of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies.

He is the Foundation Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience.  He has authored and
co-authored over 200 journal articles and book chapters, as well as five books including being the
co-author of “Brain Tumours”, a text recognised as being the definitive work on the subject.

Key Research Areas

Our active collaborative approach to the study of oncogenesis has seen the evolution of successful clinical biobanking programs within the department allowing for highly competitive research into a number of research areas including:

  • Tracking the progression and performing a definitive analysis of metastatic subclones of prostate cancer
  • Establishing circulating micro-RNA as a biomarker in glioma
  • Understanding and overcoming tumour resistance to clinical therapies of glioma and colon cancer
  • Identifying novel therapeutics for combating cancer cell invasion by targeting invadopodia
  • Dynamic TGF-B signaling regulation of tumour cell dissemination and tumour-derived exosomes
  • Use of connexin43 peptides as a treatment for cancer
  • Molecular mechanisms of brain tumour associated epilepsy

Lead Researchers

Professor Alice P├ębay

Principal Research Fellow

Professor Kate Drummond

Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, the University of Melbourne, the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) Neurosurgeon, RMH Divisional Director Neurosciences, Cancer and Infection Medicine, RMH Director of Central Nervous System Tumour Stream, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre

Associate Professor Kate Drummond is a neurosurgeon with clinical and research specialisation in central nervous system tumours. She leads the brain tumour clinical research program in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, including clinical trials and the coordination of tissue and data collection for laboratory research. She is Divisional Director of Neurosciences, Cancer and Infection Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH), leading the strategic and operational development of these specialities. She is Director of the Central Nervous System Tumour Stream across the RMH, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Royal Women's hospital, leading the clinical and research direction in this collaborative endeavour.

Dr Hongjian Zhu

Lead Researcher, Head Cancer Signalling Research Laboratory. Department of Surgery Higher Research Degree and Honours Degree Student Coordinator.

Dr Hongjian Zhu’s research focuses on disruption of the fundamental molecular pathways, particularly the Transforming Growth Factor (TGF-beta) signalling during cancer development with specific advance on the field of the newest bioactive microvesicles, exosomes.

Professor Chris Hovens

Lead Researcher
Professor Chris Hoven's research focuses on deep genomic sequencing of clinical specimens.

Professor Alistair Royse

Co-director Ultrasound Education Unit, Deputy Head of Department of Surgery, co-director of Cardiovascular Research Laboratory and Cardiothoracic surgeon


Professor Colin Royse

Co-Director Ultrasound Education Unit. 

Professor Colin Royse co-directs the suite of e-learning courses managed by the ultrasound education group, codirected the clinical research group investigating outcomes following surgery, cardiac surgery, and anaesthesia.


Dr David Canty

Senior Lecturer and Director of Ultrasound Simulation

Dr Andrew Morokoff

Neurosurgeon and Senior Lecturer

Dr Rod Luwor

Laboratory Head

Dr Rod Luwor's main research interest is aimed toward gaining a greater understanding of molecular resistance mechanism used by tumour cells to current standard and targeted cancer therapeutics. He has a strong research interest in improving current treatments with novel and repurposed inhibitors.

Dr Luwor also oversees the day-to-day co-ordination of the many projects within the overall research program, and he is heavily involved with all the required laboratory administrative duties.

Dr Anita Skandarajah

Senior Lecturer and Consultant Surgeon

Dr Anita Skandarajah’s main research interests are clinical trials into tailored treatments in early breast cancer, prevention and screening of patients at high risk of developing breast and endocrine malignancies and outcomes in emergency general surgery.

Dr Niall Corcoran

Senior Lecturer, Joint Head, Prostate Cancer Program 

Dr Niall Corcoran's Research interests lie in the surgical and multimodal management of high-risk prostrate and bladder cancers.

Dr Hong Nguyen

Research Fellow, Brain Tumour Biology and Therapies Group

Research Groups

Brain Tumour Bioloy and Therapies
Research Group Leader - Professor Andrew Kaye

Cancer Signalling Research Laboratory
Research Group Leader - Dr Hong-Jian Zhu

Prostrate Cancer Research Group
Research Group Leader - Professor Chris Hovens

Ultrasound Education Group
Research Group Leader - Professor Colin Royse


Laboratory Facilities at Department of Surgery, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC)




Contact Us

Executive Assistant to Professor Andrew H. Kaye

Michelle Chu
Ph:  +61 3 8344 2033 / +61 3 8344 5492

Research Co-ordinator

Dr Hong-Jian Zhu
Ph:  +61 3  8344 3025

Graduate Research Programs Coordinator

Kim Ng
Ph:  +61 3  8344 3296


Royal Melbourne Hospital,
Centre for Medical Research building
Level 6 / 300 Grattan St, Parkville