CIE Seminar Series 2016 – Learning to live with cancer: ecology, epidemiology and evolution in Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease

rodrigo-hamedeSPEAKER: Dr Rodrigo Hamede, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania, Hobart

DATE: Friday, 9th December 2016
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds – room ka4.207
TIME: 1:30pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, LT5 (B3.07); and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.22

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ABSTRACT: Transmissible cancers in wildlife have been recently considered a new threat to conservation and biodiversity. Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) is a rare clonally transmissible cancer affecting the largest extant marsupial carnivore, the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii).

The epidemic has caused dramatic population declines and has been regarded as a serious concern for the survival of this species. Since it was first detected in 1996, DFTD has undergone evolutionary changes, producing several karyotype variants, all capable of transmission between devils.

This presentation will discuss the mechanisms that allow cancer cells to be transmitted between individuals as well as the epidemiology, ecology and evolution of DFTD and the extent to which different tumour lineages could change the development of the epidemic and its population effects.

Understanding the evolutionary dynamics of wildlife diseases and assessing how they influence transmission and epidemic outcome in host population is vital for managing infectious diseases. The Tasmanian devil/DFTD system provides a broad and interdisciplinary framework to understand the role of cancers in wildlife health and the complex mechanisms that could be involved in their appearance and persistence in wild populations.



  • University of Tasmania  Biology and Epidemiology – Postdoctoral Fellow 2012-2016
  • University of Tasmania Biology and Epidemiology – PhD 2012
  • University of Tasmania  Biology and Environmental Sciences – BSc (Hons) 2004


  • Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA Recipient 2017)
  • Australian Research Council    Postdoctoral Research Fellow – National Science Foundation, UTas – Washington State University  2014-2016
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Australian Research Council, UTas – Griffith University 2012-2013


Around 20 publications in multidisciplinary journals including: Nature Communications, PNAS, Ecology Letters, Conservation Biology, Journal of Applied Ecology, Evolutionary Applications, Veterinary Pathology.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Beata Ujvari.