TRA researcher recognised in Victorian Premier’s Awards


Published: Sunday 20 December 2020

Congratulations to TRA researcher Dr Shuai Li who was announced as a finalist in the 2020 Victorian Premier’s Awards for Health and Medical Research.

The awards recognise the exceptional contributions and capabilities of Victoria’s emerging early career researchers in their PhD studies. Dr Li’s research aimed to understand why breast cancer occurs by looking at factors influencing how genes work. His full citation is below and a link to his research is here

(Dr Li is pictured at far right)


“DNA is the long molecule that contains our unique genetic code that make us individuals. DNA methylation changes how these genes work. It plays an important role in the development of health conditions and diseases.

Dr Li’s research investigated the genetic and environmental causes of DNA methylation and their implications in breast cancer risk, finding that it is largely determined by prenatal environmental factors, and that genetic factors have little influence.

The effects of the environment can start from the time of conception and continue into adulthood, potentially influencing breast cancer risk. Dr Li developed a novel and more powerful causal inference method that can be used to look for the causes of various diseases and found that several breast cancer risk factors cause changes in DNA methylation.

The findings of Dr Li’s research suggest that DNA methylation appears to be fundamentally about the way the environment influences the way genes work and that DNA methylation could be used to predict a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.”

Dr Li recently re-joined the TRA team after undertaking two-year post-doctoral research at Cambridge University, UK. His PhD with TRA featured innovative uses of twin study designs and methodologies, and included TRA’s long-running Australian Mammographic Density Twins and Sisters Study.

Find further information about the awards at


Twins Research Australia

Address: 3/207 Bouverie St
Carlton, Vic 3010


ABN: 84 002 705 224

Twins Research Australia has received continuous funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) since 1981, most recently through a Centre of Research Excellence Grant (2015-2022). TRA is administered by the University of Melbourne.

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