Prof Erik (Rik) Thompson studied extracellular matrix for his PhD and has been active in breast cancer research since the late 1980s, when he initiated postdoctoral studies on breast cancer invasion and metastasis at NIH, USA and the Lombardi Cancer Research Center, Georgetown University Medical Center, USA. He established his own breast cancer invasion and metastasis laboratory at Georgetown before returning to St. Vincent’s Institute, Melbourne in 1997 as Group Leader for Invasion and Metastasis in the Victorian Breast Cancer Research Consortium. He was appointed Associate Professor in the University of Melbourne Department of Surgery at St. Vincent’s Hospital at that time and promoted to Professor in 2010. He served as Associate Director of St. Vincent’s Institute (1999-2002), Director of Research of the O’Brien Institute (2002-206) and Director of Basic Science Studies at the University of Melbourne Department of Surgery at St. Vincent’s Hospital (2012-2014). In 2014, he was appointed Professor in Breast Cancer Research and Theme Leader for ‘Chronic Disease and Ageing’ at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation at QUT, and remains an honorary professor in the Department of Surgery at The University of Melbourne and an Adjunct Group Leader of the Invasion and Metastasis Unit at St Vincent’s Institute in Melbourne. He has pursued epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) research since the late 1980s, and has further research interests in matrix metalloproteinases, especially MMP13 and MMP14; and the pathobiology of mammography density as a risk factor for breast cancer. He created the EMPathy Breast Cancer Network in 2008 with National Collaborative Research Program support from the National Breast Cancer Foundation (Australia). EMPathy links 28 investigators across 20 Australian Institutions, seeking to exploit epithelial mesenchymal plasticity (EMP) for new diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic opportunities in breast cancer, especially metastatic disease. EMPathy has a focus on circulating tumour cells (CTCs) as a window into the metastatic process. He co-founded The International EMT Association (TEMTIA) in 2003 and was elected President in 2013. He will convene the 2015 TEMTIA meeting in Melbourne, Australia. He was also the founding President of AMATA in 2004 (now the Australasian Genomic Technologies Association) and has served as President of the Matrix Biology Society of Australia and New Zealand (2003) and the Metastasis Research Society (MRS, International, 2010-2012). In 2012, he convened the 12th International Congress of MRS in Brisbane, Australia, and created OzMRS – An Australasian Chapter of MRS.