NSW Cancer Research Achievements Report 2010
This annual achievements report provides a snapshot of the diverse types of cancer research that we are proudly supporting in NSW and introduces some of the people behind this important work. This publication is a tribute to their dedication and ingenuity and acknowledges their many achievements over the past year.
Celebrating the achievements of our researchers
We are proud to be associated with some of the best cancer researchers in Australia. Many of them are featured in this report and celebrated at the Cancer Institute NSW Premier's Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research. Some of the results our researchers have achieved over the past year include:
- Dr Yong Li from the University of New South Wales, a Cancer Institute NSW Research Fellow and the Head of Cancer Research Program, St George Hospital and Conjoint Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine at UNSW was recently honoured in the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) 2010 Achievement Awards for Career Development which recognise the highest ranked recipients of grants and fellowships in 2010.
- A national team led by University of Sydney Professor Rick Kefford has been awarded a $12.065 million NHMRC Program Grant to continue its world-class research into the causes and treatments of melanoma. The team is working closely with the Melanoma Institute Australia and is building on its ground breaking research to further advance the individualisation of targeted treatment for this dangerous cancer.
- Professor Roger Reddel of the Children's Medical Research Institute (featured with Dr Jeremy Henson on page 26) has been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, one of the highest accolades bestowed on scientists in Australia. Professor Reddel, together with then PhD student Tracy Bryan (now a Cancer Institute NSW Career Development Fellow), was instrumental in the discovery of Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres, or ALT, in human cells, which has been recognised as an important cell immortalisation mechanism found in many cancers. More recently Professor Reddel and Dr Jeremy Henson, a Postdoctoral Fellow (and recipient of a Cancer Institute NSW Career Development Fellowship) in Reddel's team published a paper in Nature Biotechnology that described a sensitive, accurate and rapid assay for detecting ALT activity in tumours, and showed that it could be used as a blood test for diagnosing the presence of ALT-positive tumours.
- Dr Vanessa Hayes from the Children's Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA), co-led an international team of scientists from the CCIA, the University of New South Wales and Penn State University in the USA, to sequence the genomes of indigenous southern Africans. The genomes of four Kalahari Desert Bushmen and an ethnic Bantu are the first to be sequenced from an indigenous population. More than 1.3 million new genetic variants have been added to databases of Human Genome Variation which, until now, have been largely Eurocentric. Featured as the cover story in the prestigious journal Nature, the discovery has important implications for medical research, providing potential markers for the origins, treatments and cures for many of the most complex diseases, including cancer.
Celebrating outstanding contributions to cancer research in NSW
The Cancer Institute NSW Premier's Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research were established in 2006 to acknowledge the achievements and commitment of NSW cancer researchers at all levels. There are five categories awarded each year:
- Outstanding Cancer Researcher.
- Outstanding Cancer Research Fellow.
- Outstanding Cancer Research Scholar.
- Excellence in Translational Cancer Research.
- Innovation in Cancer Clinical Trials.
The award for Outstanding Cancer Researcher honours an individual who has made significant and fundamental contributions to any field of cancer research in NSW. These contributions must have had a lasting impact on the cancer field and must have demonstrated sustained progress against cancer.
The Fellow and Scholar honours are awarded to a Cancer Institute NSW supported Fellow and Scholar who have demonstrated significant achievements and progress in their research over the previous year.
The Premier's Award for Excellence in Translational Cancer Research is awarded to one of the Cancer Institute NSW funded Translational programs considered by our external interstate evaluation committee as having made the most significant achievements in its field and was deemed most likely to have a highly significant impact on the outcomes of cancer patients in NSW.
The Premier's Award for Innovation in Cancer Clinical Trials recognises the achievements or activities undertaken by staff within a clinical trial unit under the umbrella of the NSW Cancer Clinical Trials Network which demonstrates innovation
in relation to the conduct of clinical trials. Areas of innovation may include: increasing access to clinical trials, strategies to address underrepresented groups (tumour groups, populations), promoting a research culture, collaboration, developing training opportunities and community involvement.