About us

The JCU Skin Cancer Research Unit in the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences at James Cook University is a multidisciplinary group researchers (staff, adjunct appointees and students) with a particular interest in conducting applied skin cancer research that influences policy and puts research findings into practice to reduce the health impact of sun-exposure, particularly in tropical and highly exposed populations. We are based in Townsville in the Education Wing on the Ground Floor of the Townsville Hospital.

Our team


Dr Simone Harrison

Dr Madeleine Nowak

Dr Damien Igoe

Dr Nathan Downs

Prof Petra Buttner

A/Prof Bev Raasch

Dr Lynne Bartlett

Dr Theophilus Emeto

Our History

The JCU Skin Cancer Research Unit was established in Townsville, North Queensland, Australia in 1990 thanks to the tireless devotion of the Late Emeritus Professor Bob MacLennan. Professor Bob MacLennan was a Professor at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and a representative on the Queensland Cancer Fund's Medical and Scientific Committee in the 1980s-1990s. Bob was an internationally respected skin cancer epidemiologist, who recognised the need for skin cancer research to be carried out in North Queensland, where the incidence of skin cancer is among the highest in the world.

The group was also lucky enough to have the mentorship of the Late Emeritus Professor Rick Speare for more than two decades. Rick was a public health physician whose vast knowledge, passion for science and enthusiasm for finding practical, "real-world" solutions to tackle public health issues was a positive influence for the JCU Skin Cancer Research Unit from the early 1990s. The selflessness of our mentors and the significant contribution they both made to public health research and training still continues to inspire us.


Emeritus Prof Rick Speare

Emeritus Prof Bob MacLennan