News in brief: Cancer researchers reap NHMRC Research Excellence Awards; Rare cancer portal helping hundreds of patients; Oncologist re-appointed as head of Cancer Australia

Wednesday, 6 Apr 2022

Cancer researchers reap NHMRC Research Excellence Awards

Cancer researchers have featured prominently in the NHMRC Research Excellence Awards announced last week.

Professor Trevor Leong from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, was named the inaugural recipient of the NHMRC David Cooper Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Award. Professor Leong, a Director of the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group (AGITG), was recognised for his research comparing chemoradiotherapy and chemotherapy for patients with gastric cancer.

Professor Susan Ramus of the University of New South Wales receives the NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grants Award – Basic Science (Leadership). The award is for developing clinical tests to improve treatment for ovarian cancer patients as part of the international Ovarian Tumour Tissue Analysis (OTTA) consortium

Professor Andrew Roberts, Cancer Theme Leader at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne, receives the NHMRC Fiona Stanley Synergy Grant Award for his research into understanding and averting blood cancer resistance to therapy. According to the NHMRC, Professor Roberts has been an academic leader in the development of venetoclax from the research laboratory through clinical trials.

Rare cancer portal helping hundreds of patients

The Australian Rare Cancer (ARC) Portal has helped hundreds of patients with treatment information and referrals to research in the first two years of its operations, according to its developers.

Marking its second anniversary of the online referral system, the ARC Portal reports that over 900 patients have consented to participate in the to date.

Clinician feedback has suggested that ARC portal positively impacted patient care in 42% of referrals, it adds.

Co-led by Professor Clare Scott and Professor David Goldstein,  the portal is part of the Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Centre.

The portal can provide help by identifying management guidelines and additional tests for rare cancers, help interpret existing genetic reports and suggesting when a referral for genetic testing is appropriate.

The portal can also streamline access to national rare cancer specialists and identify relevant clinical trials or other research opportunities.

Oncologist re-appointed as head of Cancer Australia

Professor Dorothy Keefe has been re-appointed as Cancer Australia CEO for a further three years.

Health minister Greg Hunt said Professor Keefe would play a key role in delivering the first Australian Cancer Plan, which will to set out national priorities and actions over the next 10 years to improve outcomes for people affected by cancer.

Professor Keefe is  a Medical Oncologist and Professor of Cancer Medicine at the University of Adelaide, where her areas of interests have included gastrointestinal toxicity of cancer treatment and supportive care in cancer.

Professor Keefe said she was delighted to have been reappointed and proud of the staff and agency’s accomplishments over the past three years.

“Cancer Australia has completed an enquiry into lung cancer screening, developed the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap, delivered extensive resources responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is creating a website for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by cancer,” she said.

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