Professor David Currow: face of a new era
Our new CEO, Professor David Currow, is looking forward to the new opportunities working for the Cancer Institute will bring to enhance the lives of people diagnosed with cancer.
Brought up in Newcastle, Professor David Currow held clinical
roles in Sydney at Westmead and Nepean hospitals before going on to
complete a Masters of Public Health at the University of Sydney.
Now, as the new Chief Cancer Officer of NSW and our CEO, he is
coming back to his roots and is looking forward to working with the
people who mentored him throughout his study.
"I have been fortunate to have some extraordinary teachers in my
undergraduate years and in my postgraduate training," he says.
"Many of those clinicians are still practising in NSW, still
teaching, and still providing day-to-day evidence of excellence in
clinical practice that others can only attempt to emulate."
David's career has taken him from foundation director of the
Nepean Cancer Care Centre, Chair of Palliative and Supportive
Services at Flinders University to foundation CEO of Cancer
Australia, the Australian Government's National Cancer Control
Agency, before signing on to the Cancer Institute. While his
experience and expertise now includes a wide range of areas in
cancer control, he still maintains his passion for palliative care,
making sure that people aren't forgotten once they've received a
terminal diagnosis of cancer.
"There are an extraordinary group of
people at the Cancer Institute who are committed to improving
cancer outcomes. It is going to be a wonderful environment in which
"The reason working in palliative care is important is that it
is about the art of the possible," he explains. "It is the
time of people's lives when they really focus on what is important
to them. When you have limited life expectancy, limited energy and
potentially limited mobility, a person really does focus on the
things that mean the most to them. Ensuring they can make the most
use of that time is a privilege."
While David misses the side of clinical work that brings him
into day-to-day contact with patients and their families, he
believes this is an area that will be of vital importance to the
work of the Cancer Institute in the future.
"Working within government, we need to keep the focus on the
patient and the family," he says. "This can be maintained by
listening repeatedly and constantly to how their needs are being
met and how their needs could be better met. Each of us within the
Institute needs to ensure that we are hearing the issues that can
improve cancer control in order to influence this.
"The Cancer Institute has a unique role not only within the
state, but within Australia and arguably within South East Asia,"
explains David. "Internationally, there are very few organisations
that are really given the breadth of remit and the resources to
make a difference in cancer in the way that the Cancer Institute
NSW has been. The Cancer Institute NSW is uniquely positioned to
genuinely improve the cancer outcomes across the range of cancers
that affect our community.
"The opportunities to lessen the impact of
cancer across the community make the organisation a very attractive
place to be over the next decade."
"This is an energetic organisation with a lot of people who are
committed to improving cancer control and a passion for the work
that is being done and for the work that has yet to be done. To see
that passion translate into improved cancer outcomes is an exciting
Even though he sees enormous potential in the work of the Cancer
Institute over the next decade, he believes that one of the keys to
our success is to ensure we continue to strengthen the
collaborations with all groups who are interested in cancer
"Through these collaborations, we can have the widest possible
reach to improve cancer outcomes in our state and to demonstrate to
other states and territories and to the region that this can be
achieved," he says.
And his own personal vision of reducing cancer in New South
"That we can reduce lifestyle risk factors across the community,
demonstrate that cancer is being diagnosed earlier and that having
been diagnosed that we are genuinely improving survival not only
for the frequently encountered cancers but systematically across
the range of cancer encountered in our community," he says. "For
those who have been treated for cancer, there needs to be renewed
energy put into ensuring that they are able to reengage with life
wherever possible. This includes physical and psychological support
to recover from cancer and its treatment. If a person's life is
going to be shortened because of cancer, ensuring that they have
access to the world's best evidence-based palliative care is also
"Together these things really generate a motivation to ensure
that the health of our community is better as a result of the work
that we as a team will do into the future."