fbpx Joel Petit | HMRI

Dr Joel Petit

Dr Joel Petit

Research Interests

My research focuses on utilising the DNA from cancer cells that is released into the blood stream to create an early detection test for that type of cancer. Specifically, my current research is focused on the early detection of bowel cancer using the epigenetic changes that are seen in this cancer however this same methodology has the potential to be translated into other cancers and diseases as we continue to advance our understanding of the variance in the epigenetic landscape in these diseases. How these molecular markers will be integrated into and change a wide array of cancer care pathways in the future is also of keen interest to me as a clinician. 

Why did you get into research?

As a clinician I aim to provide the best care I can to each individual patient I see, and I realise that medical research underpins all of the care I provide. On a professional level, my involvement in research continually improves my ability to help individual patients but also gives me the satisfaction of trying to affect a greater number of people on a societal level than the individual patients I treat. On a personal level I have had a number of young friends and colleagues that have had the unexpected diagnosis of late-stage bowel cancer and suffered long battles with the disease. The loss of these friends and colleagues continues to motivate my research efforts in this area.  

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

My ultimate goal is to develop a number of diagnostic markers for various types of cancers that would enable early detection and curative surgical management. The diagnosis and treatment of early stage cancer has significantly better outcomes for patients and allows healthcare workers, like myself, to see more people live long and prosperous lives after a cancer diagnosis. I also hope that the techniques and methods developed by my research into bowel cancer biomarkers will create possibilities for biomarkers in other cancers and diseases that are hard to monitor or diagnose.  


Dr Petit is health practitioner currently completing his PhD in Medical Genetics at the University of Newcastle as well as undertaking General Surgical training in the Hunter New England Local Health District. Dr Petit completed his Bachelor of Science (Chemistry) in 2006 through the Western Sydney University before immediately commencing his medical degree at the University of Sydney. During the next four years he continued to teach Organic Chemistry at the Western Sydney University and completed his MBBS in 2010. Dr Petit undertook rural training for his first four years at Dubbo Base Hospital which was followed by one year at Nepean Hospital and since then he has remained in the Hunter New England network since 2016. In 2016 he also completed his Master’s in Medicine (Paediatrics/Pain Medicine) through the University of Sydney. From 2017 to 2019 Dr Petit worked in the surgical Clinical Research Fellow program that is promoting collaboration in high quality surgical research between the University of Newcastle and the Hunter New England Local Health District. Currently his research is based at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) whilst completing his PhD which focuses on novel circulating tumour DNA biomarkers for the detection of early-stage colorectal cancer. 

Future Focus

Dr Petit will continue to develop, validate and facilitate translation of circulating tumour DNA biomarkers for cancer and other diseases. He aims to do this in the Hunter region by promoting collaboration between the University of Newcastle and the Hunter New England Local Health District to produce high quality surgical research in the Hunter community.

Specialised/Technical Skills  

• Droplet Digital PCR analysis

• Biomarker design and development

• Surgical Oncology techniques 

• Circulating tumour DNA and cell-free DNA extraction


• HMRI Cancer Group
• Hunter Cancer Research Alliance (HCRA) 
• Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) • General Surgeons Australia (GSA)