Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

What we funded in the 2020/2021 financial year


$2.6M

in funding allocated to support cancer research
Research

80

local cancer researchers supported
People

Over 40

WA-based research projects funded
Donate

Click the headings below to find out more about the projects we have been able to fund in 2021 thanks to community donations and support.

The Cancer Council WA Research Excellence Awards have been established to recognise and celebrate the achievements of Western Australia’s best and brightest cancer researchers. They also serve to reinforce the importance of cancer research as an aspirational career choice and provide encouragement for the next generation of leading cancer researchers.

Award: Cancer Council WA Early Career Cancer Researcher of the Year
Recipient: Dr Henry Hui
Description: Early Career Cancer Researcher of the Year is awarded to Dr Henry Hui for the development of a new technique in the detection of chromosomal defects in blood cancer cells, called “Immuno-flowFISH”, which will advance personalised treatment and improve health outcomes for blood cancer patients.
Funding from Cancer Council WA: $5000
Supported by: Blueprint Wealth

 

Award: Cancer Council WA Cancer Researcher of the Year
Recipient: Dr Jason Waithman
Description: Cancer Researcher of the Year is awarded to Dr Jason Waithman for his contribution as part of an international collaboration which made a crucial breakthrough – subsequently published in the prestigious international journal, Nature – in understanding how the immune system puts cancer to sleep.
Funding from Cancer Council WA: $5000
Supported by: Friends of Cancer Council WA

 

Award: Cancer Council WA Cancer Research Career Achievement Award
Recipient: Professor Christobel Saunders AO
Description: The Cancer Research Career Achievement Award is awarded to Professor Christobel Saunders AO for her outstanding track record of achievement in cancer research, and leadership and mentoring. This is reflected in her Order of Australia and other prizes, her international standing including an advisory role to other national governments, and numerous invited presentations at international meetings.
Funding from Cancer Council WA: $5000
Supported by: Blueprint Wealth

 

Our Research Project Grants aim to provide one to two years of support to help local, world-class cancer researchers further their research. Grants are initially short-listed through the national expert review process of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and are then further assessed by the Cancer Council WA Research Grants Advisory Committee.

Grant applications are assessed on the basis of quality, practicality, value for money and contribution to the advancement of cancer knowledge.

See below the 2021 Cancer Council WA Research Project Grants

Project title: Novel targeted medicines for children’s cancers
Recipient: A/Prof Pilar Blancafort
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Research description: Ewing’s Sarcoma (EWS) and Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) are highly aggressive cancers frequently diagnosed in children and young adolescents. There are no targeted therapies available for these cancers; current treatment involves chemotherapies, radiation and surgery, which are often highly toxic for children and severely impact their quality of life.

The root cause of EWS and RMS are fusions between chromosomes that form a new cancer driver (a fusion protein) that does not exist in normal cells. We propose to develop novel molecules, named Epi-CRISPR. These molecules bind the gene that produces the fusion protein and radically shut-down its expression with longlasting effects. In this way, we aim to re-educate the cancer internally by restoring ‘normal-like’ features.

We also propose novel treatment modalities to apply these new technologies in the clinic. This work will produce novel targeted treatments for aggressive childhood cancers where no targeted therapy is currently available.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $100,000
Supported by: Swan Athletic Senior Citizens, Gilmac (WA) Pty Ltd, Estate of Anthea Gilbert & Estate of Doreen Mae Laurensen

 

Project title: Towards preventing relapse in childhood leukaemia
Recipient: Dr Sébastien Malinge
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Research description: Acute leukaemia is the most common type of cancer seen in children (15 to 20 new cases each year in Western Australia). Although treatments and outcomes have improved remarkably, leukaemia remains the second highest cause of death by cancer in children. Furthermore, many children still suffer from treatment toxicity or develop relapse. These clinical features are exacerbated in children with Down syndrome (DS), who already have higher risks of leukaemia compared to other children.

This study aims to identify the leukaemia cells that resist treatment and are responsible for relapse, to better track them and discover new methods to destroy them. We will use animal models uniquely available in our lab to reproduce the standard therapy used in clinics and to test new drugs in a preclinical setting. Outcomes from this study are intended to develop new treatments and tools for clinicians to improve the quality of care and long-term survival of all children with leukaemia.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $99,023
Supported by: Australia Post and Estate of Delys Nash

 

Project title: Using new drugs to make old treatments work better for children with deadly brain tumours
Recipient: A/Prof Nicholas Gottardo
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Research description: Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common childhood brain cancer and is very difficult to treat. Sadly, 60 per cent of children with high-risk MB will die. The purpose of our research is to cure more patients with high-risk MB by finding new medicines that can be used clinically.

We tested thousands of drugs, known to be safe for people, for their ability to kill MB cells. Over the last few years we have tested the best drugs further and selected the two most promising. We now aim to investigate these drugs in combination with each other and with radiation – a major part of MB treatment.

We mimic human MB in the lab as closely as is currently possible by using gold-standard animal models and use sophisticated equipment to deliver radiation therapy. Our experiments are designed to determine if these drugs can work safely and effectively alongside radiation. In this way, the results can be rapidly translated into the clinical setting to improve survival and benefit children and their families.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $99,021
Supported by: Mason Investments (WA) Pty Ltd

 

In 2021 this scheme is supported by Cancer Council WA, Government of Western Australia, Cancer Research Trust, Charlies Foundation for Research, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, The University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute.

See the full list of recipients below.

Project title: Exploiting the healing process to prevent cancer coming back after surgery
Lead researcher: Dr Rachael Zemek
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Team: Dr Rachael Zemek, The University of Western Australia
Dr Melvin Chin, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital
Dr Elena Denisenko, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research
Project description: Soft tissue sarcomas are cancers derived from muscle, fat or connective tissues, characterised by local aggressive growth. Despite surgery and aggressive chemotherapy, this cancer frequently grows back at the site of removal, decreasing survival.

Our ultimate research goal is to prevent sarcoma relapse after surgery. We aim to do this by using the wound healing process against the cancer; surgery causes an increased immune response and can expose vulnerabilities in cancer cells. We will use this to our advantage to prevent cancer growing back, to improve outcomes for patients.

We will investigate which genes are switched on in sarcoma following surgery and use computational methods to identify drug targets and currently available drugs to re-purpose. We will then test these drugs in mouse models.

In the future, we aim to develop local therapies for the clinic, which can be applied after surgery to prevent  relapse.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $20,727 from Cancer Council WA ($64,600 in total)
Supported by: Friends of Cancer Council WA , Frank and Sheila Granger & Cynthia Noonan

 

Project title: How does the immune system control the growth and spread of cancer?
Lead researcher: Dr Alison McDonnell
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Team: Dr Alison McDonnell, The University of Western Australia
Dr Peter Lau, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital
Dr Melanie McCoy, St John of God Health Care
Dr Jesse Armitage, Telethon Kids Institute
Project description: There is an urgent need to improve outcomes for patients with advanced solid cancers, including melanoma.

The immune system can fight cancer by eliminating malignant cells or by preventing the growth and spread of cells that escape eradication. We want to understand how the immune system controls tumour growth so we can develop new immunotherapies to eliminate cancer.

We have developed a world first animal model that allows us to examine how the immune system can keep cancer cells in a dormant state. Using this model, we found that specialised immune cells called tissue resident memory T cells, controlled tumour development. Using cutting edge technology, we will investigate how these T cells communicate with other immune cells, and cancer cells, in the skin to prevent melanoma
growth. This will allow us to identify new ways of manipulating immune cells, such as boosting their numbers or their cancer killing activity for more effective treatment of cancer.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $20,854 from Cancer Council WA ($64,997 in total)
Supported by:  Jill Tilly

 

Project title: Finding treatments to prevent the spread of ocular melanoma
Lead researcher: Dr Weitao Lin
Institution: Edith Cowan University
Team: Dr Weitao Lin, Edith Cowan University
Dr Elena Denisenko, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research
Dr Nima Mesbah Ardakani, Pathwest Laboratory Medicine WA
Dr Rodrigo Carlessi, Curtin University
Project description: Uveal melanoma (UM) is a tumour emerging from the middle coat of the eye (the uveal tract). UM is the most common type of ocular melanoma. In around 50 per cent of patients with UM, the tumour spreads from the eye to distant organs; this process is defined as metastasis. UM commonly metastasises to the liver, causing death within 2 years in >90% of patients. There isn’t any effective treatment available for UM patients with metastatic tumours. Therefore, there is an urgent need to find effective treatments to prevent or treat metastatic UM.

This project aims to analyse both UM tumours from the eye and the liver. We will use cutting-edge technology to analyse thousands of the cells that form a tumour, one at a time. The results of this project will aid our understanding of how UM tumour cells behave within the metastases, and how UM cells interact with liver cells to enable the tumour growth. This study is expected to find new ways to treat the disease and prevent the development of metastasis.

 

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $20,765 from Cancer Council WA ($64,718 in total)
Supported by: Peter and Iris Cook Grant for Metastases Research

 

Project title: Testing novel therapies to treat high-risk infant acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
Lead researcher: Dr Sung Kai Chiu
Institution: Curtin University
Team: Dr Sung Kai Chiu, Telethon Kids Institute
Dr Hendra Gunosewoyo, Curtin University
Dr Rishi Kotecha, Perth Children’s Hospital Oncology
Dr Laurence Cheung, Telethon Kids Institute
Project description: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) is the most common form of childhood leukaemia, with over 200 cases diagnosed each year in Australia.

Treatment for ALL using chemotherapy has improved significantly in past 50 years and now over 9 out of 10 children with ALL are alive at 5 years from diagnosis, with most cured of their leukaemia. Unfortunately, infants with ALL (iALL) have much poorer survival rates due to early leukaemia relapse.

At Telethon Kids Institute we have identified a class of drugs that is active in iALL that have never been used for treating iALL. Concurrently our local collaborator has produced 10 new drugs in this very same class that has never been tested in cancer. We aim to test these agents together in more detail to determine their effectiveness in treating iALL. We also aim to translate the use of these novel agents into clinical trials and improve the survival rates in iALL.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $20,850 from Cancer Council WA ($64,983 in total)
Supported Jan Cooper, Brent, Jake and Ross Luckman

 

Early Career Investigator Grants are designed to help talented early career cancer researchers develop the skills and necessary track record to advance their career. These one year awards give many researchers their first step in their career as an independent cancer researcher.

See below for the 2021 grant receipients.

Project title: Identification of melanoma-specific signatures that can predict response to immunotherapies
Lead researcher:  Dr Leslie Calapre
Institution:  Edith Cowan University
Research description: Immunotherapies have a positive impact on metastatic melanoma management, but only 20 per cent of patients will have a durable response to these treatments. As immunotherapy can cause significant and life-threatening side-effects, melanoma-specific markers that can be used to predict patient response to immunotherapies is a critical unmet need in the clinic.

This study aims to better understand the biology of each patient’s melanoma and identify if the presence of certain DNA modifiers (epigenetic markers) in the blood of patients can be used to predict response to treatment. These signatures can then be developed into a blood test which in turn will allow easy identification of tumours that will respond to immunotherapies or those who may require alternative therapy to ensure an optimal outcome. The outcomes of this study will help clinicians make informed treatment decisions and improve patient outcomes.

Funding from Cancer Council WA:  $34,960
Supported by: Peter O’Shaughnessy for Deeny O’Shaughnessy

 

Project title: Creating cancer cell maps, using advanced technology, to understand why ovarian cancer keeps growing after treatment
Lead researcher:  Dr Elena Denisenko
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Research description: Over 1500 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Australia in 2019. Less than half of these women will survive longer than five years after their diagnosis. This is because ovarian cancer is mostly found at late stages (due to lack of specific symptoms), and typically becomes resistant to the treatment, even after an initially good response.

Treatment often fails because an ovarian tumour is made up of many different types of cancer cells. Some types of cancer cells may be destroyed by the treatment, while other types turn out to be resistant and allow the tumour to grow further. The research team proposes to investigate the different types of ovarian cancer cells to understand how they are related and why some of them are not killed by the treatment.

A novel technology called spatial transcriptomics will be used, which will allow for the creation of maps of cells in an area of the tumour. Several different areas in each tumour will be mapped and the cancer cells examined. This will enable the comparison of cells and cell interactions in different areas of the tumour.

The findings of this study may be used in the future to make tumours more sensitive to treatment and improve outcomes of women with ovarian cancer. The proposed strategy, once established, can also be applied to many other types of cancer.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $35,000
Supported by: P New

Our Research Fellowships fund outstanding biomedical and health researchers working in the field of cancer so they can undertake research of major importance. They provide salary support for up to five years with the aim of advancing the quality and impact of cancer research in WA and promoting collaboration and partnerships, locally, nationally and internationally.

Full list of 2021 Cancer Council WA Research Fellowships:

Project title:  How does impaired energy production cause prostate cancer?
Lead researcher:  Prof Aleksandra Filipovska
Institution:  The University of Western Australia
Research description: Prostate cancer is one of the six most common cancers in the world; the incidence rates of this cancer vary due to genetic and environmental factors. Several genes are responsible for the development of sporadic and, in particular the gene ELAC2 is one of the most relevant candidate genes for prostate cancer. Many mutations have been identified in ELAC2 that predispose to prostate cancer. Unfortunately, it is not known how these mutations cause prostate cancer. We have generated mice containing ELAC2 mutations and develop prostate malignancy that closely mirrors the prostate cancer pathogenesis in humans.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is the only screening biomarker for prostate cancer but because it is not always produced by malignant cells, this biomarker is not entirely reliable since it can generate false results. There is an urgent need for identification and validation of biomarkers and prostate cancer genes. Our study will be the first to address both of those needs.

Funding from Cancer Council WA:  $20,000 for 2021 ($80,000  in total for 2019-2022)
Supported by: The Ladies of the Guild of Saint Richard (Inc)

 

Project title: Developing blood tests to guide treatment of melanoma
Lead researcher: A/Prof Elin Gray
Institution: Edith Cowan University
Project description: Melanoma now represents a significantly increased proportion of cases in clinical oncology departments, with melanoma incidence increasing worldwide and in Australia. Once melanoma has spread through the body, the average (or usual or expected) survival is six to nine months, with a five year survival rate of less than 40 per cent. The recent implementation of new treatments has improved patient outcomes and survival. However, there is an urgent need for a better test to guide the doctors while they are treating their patients.

The proposed studies aim to develop tests that can be done from a blood sample. These tests make use of new technologies to test for evidence of markers derived from the growth (tumour) found in the blood of patients with melanoma. These markers could serve as a guide of what is going on in the cancer. A/Prof Gray aims to demonstrate that in melanoma, these tests can effectively and accurately provide the oncologists with information about the growths, for them to take better informed treatment decisions.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $100,000 for 2021 ($400,000 in total for 2019-2022)
Supported by: Olga Zampedri

 

Project title: Improving psychosocial support and education for patients diagnosed with brain or head and neck cancer and their carers
Leader researcher: A/Prof Georgia Halkett
Institution: Curtin University
Project description: Being diagnosed with brain or head and neck cancer is distressing as it is often life threatening, and has a large impact on people physically and/or mentally. Hence, it is essential that education and support programs are developed and tested to reduce distress and unmet needs for people diagnosed with these cancers and their carers. Two programs have been developed:

1. Radiotherapy Prepare program

This program focuses on preparing people for radiotherapy. Little research has been conducted in this area. This team’s work in preparing people diagnosed with breast cancer for radiotherapy is recognised internationally; however, this program needs to be refined for people with other cancers. Receiving radiotherapy for brain cancer or head and neck cancer may cause distress due to the head mask they must wear to stop them moving and side effects they might experience. People receiving radiotherapy for head and neck cancer are at risk of severe skin reactions, dry mouth, oral discomfort, mouth ulcers, infections, difficulty chewing and swallowing, impaired taste and extreme weight loss. People receiving radiotherapy for brain cancer may fear side effects such as headaches, hair loss, nausea, extreme tiredness, hearing loss, skin changes, speech difficulties and seizures. Education and support provided by the radiotherapy team before treatment is likely to reduce their anxiety and help them manage side effects. Research methods for this program will include interviews, development and testing of the education packages and a large scale clinical trial. Main outcomes will include anxiety and distress, concerns and knowledge about radiotherapy and how prepared they feel for treatment.

2. Carer’s Education and Support Program

This program focuses on improving a carer’s confidence to look after their loved one after a cancer diagnosis and reducing their level of distress. This research focuses on carers of patients diagnosed with brain cancer or head and neck cancer because these groups would benefit most from extra support. If carers are unable to support their loved one, it is likely that the person with cancer may need additional emergency room visits or hospital admissions. During the program a nurse conducts a telephone assessment, visits the carer at home, provides an individualised resource manual and regular telephone follow-up for 12 months. This program is currently being tested in a randomised controlled trial with carers of people with brain cancer. It needs to be adapted and tested for carers of people with head and neck cancer. Research into these two programs is essential to improve the education and support provided to individuals and their carers following a diagnosis with either brain cancer or head and neck cancer. The team will also determine the cost of providing these programs and the impact they have on overall healthcare costs.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $43,024 for 2021 ($460,000 in total for 2017-2023)
Supported by: Gilmac (WA) Pty Ltd & Jill Lally for Robert Lally

 

Project title: Improving detection and therapy in treatment-resistant cancers
Lead researcher: Dr Juliana Hamzah
Institution: The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research
Project description: This research program will potentially benefit patients suffering from treatment-resistant cancers such as triple negative breast cancer and liver cancers. Approximately one in eight Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85. Similarly, liver cancer is the third leading cause of death in Australia. Treatment options that include conventional chemotherapeutics are currently ineffective.

Dr Hamzah has identified tumour stiffness as the major problem in breast and liver cancers. Tumour stiffness is caused by the over-production of non-cellular matrix components that protect tumour cells from being accessible to anti-cancer drugs. Consequently, the stiffer the tumour matrix, the more resistant it is to drug therapy. Recently, this team has developed a new medication and treatment to specifically dissolve tumour stiffness. Degradation of matrix stiffness effectively exposes the tumour cells to anti-cancer medications. Dr Hamzah’s goal is to explore the use of this drug to treat breast and liver cancers.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $120,000 for 2021 ($480,000 in total for 2018-2021)
Supported by: Jill Tilly

 

Project title: Towards targeting treatment-resistant cancer cells to prevent relapse in childhood leukaemia
Lead researcher: Dr Sébastien Malinge
Institution: Telethon Kids Institute
Project description: Acute leukaemia is the most common type of cancer seen in children (>200 cases per year in Australia). Although treatments and outcomes have improved remarkably, leukaemia remains the second highest cause of death by cancer in children. Furthermore, many children still suffer from treatment toxicity or develop relapse. These clinical features are exacerbated in children with Down syndrome (DS).

This study aims to identify the treatment-resistant cells that are responsible for relapse, and discover new methods to destroy them. The study will use animal models to reproduce the standard therapy used in clinics and add two promising drugs to destroy these cells. The study will also look for agents that improve the efficacy of these two drugs, and extend to non-DS children with leukaemia that have a similar molecular makeup to DS children. Outcomes from this study are to develop new treatments for clinicians to improve the quality of care and long-term survival of West Australian children with leukaemia.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $120,000 in 2021 ($480,000 in total for 2020-2023)
Supported by: Nannup Craft and Quilting Group

 

Project title: Empowering the immune system to attack melanoma and other advanced cancers
Lead researcher: Dr Jason Waithman
Institution: Telethon Kids Institute
Project description: Melanoma is Australia’s third most common cancer resulting in the ninth highest number of cancer-related deaths. There is traditionally a poor prognosis once it spreads. New treatments that harness the immune system can cure many people with advanced melanoma. However, there is urgent need to help patients that aren’t responding to these immunotherapies. To address this, the research strategy focuses on the following aims: to improve the body’s immune system to fight cancer and thereby increase the number of patients surviving; to help the immune system to better detect and attack cancer cells, which leads to saving lives; to understand how the immune system can be improved to stop the spread of melanoma cancer in the brain – this is critical as it is a very poor prognosis once in the brain; and to understand how specific immune cells might offer protection from skin cancer and keep tumours dormant, thereby directly saving lives.

The purpose of this research is to gain more insight into how the immune system interacts with cancer cells and develop new ways to make the immune system fight cancer. To do this the research work focuses on T cells, which recognise and marshal an attack against diseased cells.
The team are engineering T cells with additional capabilities, making them more able to eradicate tumour cells. They are also generating a vaccine that causes T cells to multiply so they can overwhelm cancer cells and eliminate them.

As melanoma frequently spreads to the brain, the team are also investigating how an immune response is directed against tumours within the brain and testing whether the new therapies are effective.

Also, tumours can remain dormant for prolonged periods of time and patients can live normally. Little is known about how this occurs. The team will identify the role of the immune system in tumour dormancy, which will lead to new therapeutic approaches that convert aggressive cancer into a stable chronic condition.

Through this work the intention is to identify multiple ways to drive and enhance T cell immunity against cancer. This research will save lives by improving the overall survival rate, especially in patients currently deemed terminal and non-responsive to immunotherapy.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $120,000 in 2021 ($480,000 total for 2018-2021)
Fully supported: in the name of the Rosemary Grant Zaks Melanoma Research Fellowship

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships give support for cancer researchers in the early stages of their career, providing improved career stability and encouraging the best and brightest young researchers to continue in the discipline of cancer research. These fellowships provide funding over a period of three years.

See the full list of 2021 recipients:

Project title: Predicting liver cancer before its appearance to improve detection of individuals at high risk
Lead researcher: Dr Rodrigo Carlessi
Institution: Curtin University
Project description: Liver cancer causes about 10 per cent of all cancer-related deaths globally; and in Australia, it is the fastest increasing cause of cancer death. A screening program for early detection of liver cancer does not exist in Australia. Due to lack of so-called biomarkers that can be used to identify people at high-risk, patients are generally diagnosed with the disease at advanced stages, where treatment options are extremely limited.

After developing a new analytical platform that involves acquisition of large amounts of biological information from thousands of liver cells with unprecedented levels of detail, the aim is to identify molecular signatures that can predict liver cancer before it develops.

It is important to predict cancer as early as possible as liver health can be restored before the damage becomes permanent and catastrophic. Early detection will improve survival and quality of life, as seen with other cancer types for which screening programs are in place.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $75,000 in 2021 ($225,000 total for 2021-2023)
Supported by: Friends of Cancer Council WA & Leah Jane Cohen Research Fund

 

Project title: Prognostic significance of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in people with advanced non-small cell lung cancer
Lead researcher: A/Prof Vinicius Cavalheri De Oliveira
Institution: Curtin University
Project description: Globally, lung cancer has the highest number of deaths per year compared to all other cancers. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the main type, making up about 85 per cent of all lung cancer. At diagnosis, almost 70 per cent of patients have an advanced form of the disease and unfortunately, only 1-8 per cent of patients are alive five years post-diagnosis.

Due to symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath, people with advanced NSCLC report adopting a sedentary lifestyle. In people with breast cancer, diabetes, heart or lung disease, time spent being physically active during the day is linked with longer survival, whereas prolonged time spent sedentary during the day is linked with shorter survival. Although prolonging survival is the main goal of treatments for people with advanced NSCLC, studies in these people have not yet investigated the link between time spent either physically active or sedentary during the day and survival. So, the aim of this study is to investigate if time spent in physically active or sedentary during the day predicts survival in people with
advanced NSCLC.

The intention is to recruit people diagnosed with advanced NSCLC and ask them to wear a physical activity monitor 24 hours per day for seven days in a row. This monitor will show the amount of time people spent physically active and the amount of time they spent sedentary during those seven days. After these assessments, the team will keep track of them for one year. Of note, exercise training will not be offered as part of this proposed study. The number of deaths during that one year will be recorded, and the team will investigate any links between the times spent being physically active or sedentary during the day with survival.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $7,500 in 2021 ($217,500 total for 2017-2021)
Supported by: Friends of Cancer Council WA

 

Project title: Cracking the code to successful cancer immunotherapy
Lead researcher: Dr Jonathan Chee
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Project description: Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos that develops in the lining of the lungs. Australia has one of the highest incidences of mesothelioma in the world. The prognosis is very poor, with five year survival rates of only 3 per cent for men, and 12 per cent for women.

Immunotherapy is an exciting treatment for mesothelioma. It works exceptionally well for some cancer patients, but there are side effects, and it is expensive. We want to be able to tell before treatment begins which patients will benefit and predict and prevent any bad reactions. Every person has a unique immune system and we can define features of that system like fingerprints. But these fingerprints change with time and wellness. Our study will map the changes associated with successful immunotherapy to see if we can predict therapy outcome.

The benefit of this study is that it will allow us to find out early in a treatment plan if that plan is working so that it can be altered if it is not.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $75,000 in 2021 (total $225,000 for 2019-2021)
Supported by: Marian and Don Byfield

 

Project title: Developing new therapies for cancer and identifying biological markers that predict successful cancer therapy
Lead researcher: Dr Alison McDonnell
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Project description: There is an urgent need to improve outcomes for patients with advanced solid cancers, including mesothelioma and melanoma. Immunotherpay has revolutionised the treatment of cancer by unleashing the immune system to attack tumours. However, not all patients benefit from treatment and there are side effects. This research aims to identify which patients will benefit most from these treatments, and develop new drugs for those patients who do not respond to current therapies.

T cells are specialised cells of the immune system that recognise and kill cancer cells. The team will examine how T cells become activated to kill cancer cells, which activation mechanisms correlate with improved survival, and explore new ways to ‘arm’ T cells for improved cancer killing ability. This will allow us to better predict which patients will benefit most from treatment and identify new ways of boosting the cancer killing ability of T cells for more effective treatment of mesothelioma, melanoma and solid cancers.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $75,000 in 2021 (total $212,564 for 2020-2022)
Supported by: Jill Tilly

 

These three year PhD Top Up Scholarships are awarded to applicants who have an outstanding academic record and the potential to pursue full-time PhD studies in cancer-related research.

See the full list of 2021 recipients below:

Project title: Making the unseen, seen: Turning on immune genes in breast cancer to improve treatment success
Recipient: Mr Eric Alves
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Project description: Breast cancer (BC) is the most common cancer in Australia, with approximately 20,000 diagnoses and 3000 deaths in 2020 alone. Most BC patients are diagnosed early enough to be successfully treated with surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and/or chemotherapy. However, 20-30 per cent of patients initially diagnosed with early-stage BC will eventually develop a metastatic disease (when the cancer spreads to other parts of the body). In these cases, chemotherapy is the only treatment option, as these drug types can travel through the body and kill the cancer cells that have spread beyond the original location.

Due to the high rates of relapse and drug resistance seen in chemotherapy, targeted cancer immunotherapies have been developed as alternative treatment options. These therapies boost a patient’s immune system, to help the immune cells find and kill cancer cells. However, though these treatments have worked well in some hard-to-treat cancers (e.g. melanoma), their use in BC has not been as successful. One major reason for this is that BC itself is able to “turn-off” important genes which help the immune system to “see” the cancer. In doing so, the cancer cells can stay hidden and survive.

This project aims to use state-of-the-art gene editing technology to design and test a new target treatment that can reverse this process and “turn-on” the important genes that BC has previously “turned-off”. If successful, the treatment designed as part of this project will help to make BC more visible to the immune system. Therefore, the patient’s immune system will better be able to “see” the cancer and work in combination with other currently available therapies to improve their rates of success. Furthermore, given other cancer types also “turn-off” the same genes, this treatment is likely to benefit other cancers as well (e.g. pancreatic cancer).

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $12,000 for 2021 (up to $30,000 in total for 2021-2023)
Supported by: Jan Cooper, Brent, Jake and Ross Luckman & the Estate of John Kilmaster

 

Project title: Harnessing the genetic signature of tumours that are eliminated by the immune system to improve current therapies
Recipient: Ms Hannah Newnes
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Research description: Immunotherapies work by boosting the immune system to clear tumours. While there have been impressive results, unfortunately a number of patients fail to respond. This project aims to understand the immune response driving elimination versus cancer escape, which is classically a binary response. Patients either have a ‘hot’ immune active tumour which is responsive to therapies or a ‘cold’ immune inactive tumour which is unresponsive to therapy.

Our early data suggests for successful treatment patients require a balance of both ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ signals to drive a finely tuned ‘warm’ environment. An ‘overheated’ response drives a short but ultimately ineffectual immune response, which may explain why some patients with a ‘hot’ tumour fail to respond to therapy. Using current technology, we can investigate the mechanisms driving ‘warm’ responses to recapitulate them in the laboratory. Using this knowledge, we can stratify patients and deliver personalised therapies to switch them from ‘overheated’ or ‘cold’ tumours to ‘warm’ tumours to improve their response to current therapies.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $12,000 for 2021 (Up to $18,000 in total for 2021-2022)
Supported by:  Lions Cancer Institute Karen and Joshua Chinnery PhD Top Up Scholarship

 

Project title: Investigation of psychosocial information and support needs and support service use of patients diagnosed with advanced cancer
Recipient: Ms Jade Newton
Institution:  Curtin University
Project description: Some people are diagnosed with cancer that has spread to other parts of their body and they are not able to be cured by current treatments. This is known as ‘advanced cancer’. Not a lot is known about how patients with advanced cancer manage the emotional and social (or, ‘psychosocial’) impact of their diagnosis, and how available support affects their experience.

This project will explore what psychosocial support patients with advanced cancer use, how it impacts them, and the costs and benefits of using psychosocial supportive care. This will be achieved by looking at what research has been done in this area, interviewing patients with advanced cancer to learn about their experiences, and undertaking a cohort study, where patients will be surveyed over six months to look at their needs, distress, and support services use over time.

Understanding the needs and service use of patients with advanced cancer will help to make sure the best support is being provided to lessen the distress and suffering they may experience.

Funding from Cancer Council WA:  $12,000 in 2021 ($36,000 in total 2019 – 2021)
Supported by: Lions Cancer Institute Karen and Joshua Chinnery PhD Top Up Scholarship

 

Project title: Do mesothelioma patients have the right keys to unlock a successful anti-tumour immune response?
Recipient: Miss Nicola Principe
Institutiton: The University of Western Australia
Project description: Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Australia has one of the highest rates of deaths from mesothelioma, with Western Australia having the highest incidence in Australia due to the mining of asbestos in Wittenoom. Chemotherapy is only palliative, with a short survival of 12 months after diagnosis.

Immunotherapy is an exciting treatment for mesothelioma, working to boost a patient’s immune cells (in particular T cells) to clear tumours. Clinical trials combining chemotherapy and immunotherapy can be an effective treatment in some cancer patients, whilst other patients gain no benefit. This may be due to each patient having different T cell receptors (TCRs) or keys that need to unlock the immune system to produce a successful anti-tumour immune response.

With the current technology to study millions of keys at the same time, this project will map distinct combinations of keys associated with a successful anti-tumour immune response, to see if we can predict chemo-immunotherapy outcomes.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $12,000 for 2021 (up to $30,000 in total for 2020-2022)
Supported by: Marie-Claude Buegge-Meunier

 

Project title: The influence of muscle structure on treatment and survival in women with advanced ovarian cancer: Can an exercise intervention improve patient outcomes?
Recipient: Miss Christelle Schofield
Institution: Edith Cowan University
Project description: About 75 per cent of ovarian cancer (OC) cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage. Only 28 per cent of women with advanced OC survive five years. Research shows that women with better muscle structure (muscle mass + density) at diagnosis survive longer.

The project will determine if muscle structure:

1) changes during treatment,

2) is associated with treatment tolerance,

3) differs between treatment groups, and

4) can improve with resistance exercise.

Muscle structure will be measured using pre- and post-treatment CT scans. Treatment tolerance information will be collected from medical records. A group of women will participate in an exercise program to assess if exercise can improve muscle structure and function.

This research will investigate:

1) the usefulness of muscle structure to identify women with poor treatment tolerance and survival,

2) the potential of exercise to improve muscle structure and function.

Results will inform the development of better supportive care for women with advanced OC.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $6000 in 2020 ($30,000 in total 2019 – 2021)
Supported by: P New

Cancer Council WA Student Vacation Research Scholarships offer talented university students a taste of what cancer research can offer. They offer students a small stipend to conduct a specific research project over a period of four to 10 weeks.

Full list of 2021 recipients:

Project title: Genomic and transciptomic mechanisms of invasion and metastatic spread in leiomyosarcoma
Recipient: Ms Akanksha Das
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Project description: Leiomyosarcoma is a malignant cancer that affects smooth muscle tissue. It represents 24 per cent of all soft tissue sarcomas and has a mortality rate of 14 per cent, making this one of the most aggressive sarcomas. Although surgery is a well-established treatment strategy, novel targeted therapies have not yet been established in patients with metastasis.

The purpose of this project is to identify specific molecular mechanisms that dictate the invasion and spread of leiomyosarcoma using established programs. The project team will detect and analyse rare, clinically significant gene variants and their function through the Cancer Genome Atlas, a database containing leiomyosarcoma data analyses developed by the National Institute of Health.

Using paired tumour/normal tissue comparisons from local patients and correlation with disease progression will help to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of this aggressive tumour. This will assist in the detection of leiomyosarcoma and development of precision treatments.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $3000
Supported by: Abbie Basson Sarcoma Foundation

 

Project title: Exploring patient views about the importance of patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) in management of lung cancer patients
Recipient: Miss Emma Gardiner
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Project description: Lung cancer is the fifth most common cancer in Australia with the highest rate of cancer mortality. Research into what is important to patients in cancer care is being conducted by the Continuous Improvement in Care – Cancer Project, when patients are asked to complete patient-reported outcomes (PROs) questionnaires collecting information about their symptoms. This study asks patients if they think the surveys they completed capture their main symptoms and health concerns well.

The project will also ask how participants prefer to complete the survey – via phone, mail, email or whilst waiting for an appointment. Participants will take part in a recorded interview and feedback will be analysed to find out what is important to them.

This research will identify patient views of PROs and how they could be used effectively in routine clinical practice.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $3000
Supported by: Friends of Cancer Council WA

 

Project title: Histological screening of asbestos related disease in a mouse model of mesothelioma
Recipient: Miss Pristina Goh
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Project description: Mesothelioma is an aggressive asbestos induced cancer. Western Australia has the highest global per capita incidence of mesothelioma. Most people don’t develop disease even after high asbestos exposure. The research team believe a person’s genetic makeup affects their chances of developing the disease following asbestos exposure. As mesothelioma is a rare cancer, standard genetic tests used to identify genes that affect disease development are not useful. The team will utilise the unique MexTAg Collaborative Cross mouse model to identify genes associated with mesothelioma development.

Mice organs will be observed under a microscope to confirm the presence of mesothelioma after asbestos exposure. Disease severity will be scored using an assessment criterion and correlated with disease traits.

The results will improve the understanding of the biology of asbestos induced cancer and more importantly this work is likely to help identify new targets for the next generation of mesothelioma treatments.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $3000
Supported by: Swan Athletic Senior Citizens

 

Project title: A new high-content imaging tool for childhood brain cancer drug discovery
Recipient: Mrs Maren Jinks
Institution: Murdoch University
Project description: Brain cancers kill more children than any other disease. Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common childhood brain cancer. Treatment options for MB are harsh, damage healthy tissues, and fail to successfully treat a large proportion of children.

A new class of drugs has been discovered that are very effective against MB. These work by targeting the “cell cycle”, a central process that controls cancer cell replication.

This project aims to understand at what point in the cell cycle these new drugs kill the MB cells to explore any potential side effects if used in children. This will be undetaken by modifying MB cells to express fluorescent proteins that change colour throughout the cell cycle. After applying the drugs to the cells, time-lapse imaging will be used to visualise the effects.

This work aims to provide new laboratory tools to examine the effectiveness of new drugs for MB. The new tools will be applied to test new treatments, with the desired outcome being improved prognosis for this cancer.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $3000
Supported by: James Crofts Hope Foundation

 

Project title: Characterisation of immune infiltrates after local immunotherapy for soft tissue sarcoma
Recipient: Mr Aaron Meyers
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Project description: Sarcomas are a rare group of cancers that arise in connective tisues such as muscle, fat and bone. They predominantly occur in children and young adults – constituting 15 per cent of all pediatric cancers. Although the primary treatment is surgery, the cancer often cannot be removed in its entirety. Chemotherapy is given for this reason, but it can cause severe side effects and is often ineffective: one third of patients still die from the disease. Since treatments have remained essentially the same over the last three decades, the development of more effective therapies is critical.

This project is aimed at the development of a gel-based immunotherapy that can be applied locally during surgery to prevent recurrence. In order for this treatment to benefit patients, there must be an advanced understanding of the drug’s effect.

Using laboratory models of sarcoma, the project team aims to identify which cells take up the drug and characterise its interaction with the immune system. The insights gained from this research will facilitate the transition of this therapy into clinical development.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $3000
Supported by:  Abbie Basson Sarcoma Foundation

 

Project title: Genomic HLA as a predictive biomarker for survival among advanced melanoma patients treated with single-agent immunotherapy
Recipient: Mr Oliver Oey
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Project description: This research will focus on melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in Australia, with the 2019 Australia Institute of Health and Welfare report ranking melanoma as the third most common cancer in Australian men and women, and the most common cancer affecting the middle-age population (15 – 39 year old).

The aim of the research is to identify whether certain markers in the blood can be used to predict response to immunotherapy in melanoma patients. For this study, 100 advanced melanoma patients, who were due to start immunotherapy, were recruited. Bloods of these participants will be analysed for the presence of genes involved in the immune response. By correlating these results to clinical data, the team will establish if this test can be used to predict which patients are more likely to benefit from immunotherapy.

Therefore, this research will assist clinicians in deciding the most optimal therapy for advanced melanoma patients, thereby improving survival outcomes.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $3000
Supported by: Australia Post

 

Project title: Investigating the role of ion channels in the plasticity of diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas
Recipient: Miss Stephanie Tan
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Project description: Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) accounts for 10 per cent of all childhood central nervous system cancers. DIPGs are highly aggressive and difficult to treat because they are located in the brainstem and as a result DIPG is almost always fatal.

While targeted therapies have shown promise in other cancers, brain cancers don’t respond. This could be due to the opening of ion channels allowing certain particles to enter or leave cancer cells changing cellular pathways resulting in the ability of cancer cells to adapt, grow and spread. Blocking ion channels could stop this adaption and improve responses to targeted therapies.

This aim of this project is to confirm the presence of ion channels in DIPG cells and then after blocking them to measure the cells’ growth and survival, establishing whether ion channel blockers could be an effective treatment for DIPG.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $3000
Supported by:  James Crofts Hope Foundation

 

The Cancer Research Trust Enabling Grants were established in 2009 to promote and support collaborative cancer research in WA and make a globally-significant contribution to the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cancer.

See full list of recipients:

Project title: Enabling advanced single cell cancer genomics in Western Australia
Lead researcher: Prof Alistair Forrest
Institution: Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research
Project description: Tumours contain many different normal cell types that interact with the cancer cells. Although some cell types are associated with good or poor prognosis, relatively little is known about all the cell types that exist in a tumour. The team will use new ‘single cell technologies’ that look at the cell’s DNA to study hundreds of tumour samples from many different cancer types donated by patients across Perth. This will provide new insights into what cell types are present in each tumour and determine the genes switched on and off in thousands of cells from each patient’s tumour.

This information will be used to study four priority areas:

  1. What cell types are present in each tumour?
  2. Which drugs might kill these cancer cells, what fraction of cancer cells are likely to be resistant and why are some cancers resistant?
  3. What changes between the cancer cells in a primary when they move to a metastatic site?
  4.  Can new biomarkers be identified for early cancer detection and can cancer cells be detected in the blood?
Funding from Cancer Council WA: $50,000 in 2021 (total $250,000 for 2018-2022)
Supported by: Jemma Langer

 

Project title: Continuous Improvement in Care – Cancer (The CIC Cancer Project)
Lead researcher: Prof Christobel Saunders
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Project description: The CIC – Cancer Project will establish a new program of research that places cancer patients first. Consumers, clinicians, health services and researchers will work together to measure outcomes important to patients, identify any issues with their care, trial new ways to improve treatment and put proven care into practice rapidly.

In particular, this project will measure value-based outcomes in five cancers using internationally established methods (International Consortium for Health Outcomes – ICHOM). These outcome measures will be trialled in public and private settings in Perth. The data collected will be used to: feedback to individual services on the care they provide; work with health providers to identify gaps in services and variations in patient outcomes; and develop new research and development programs to address these gaps, and improve clinical practice. This project will directly improve the lives of those diagnosed with cancer efficiently and effectively.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $50,000 in 2021 (total $250,000 for 2018-2022)
Supported by: Jan Cooper, Bremt, Jake and Ross Luckman, RE & FJ Ledger Charitable Trust, Momentum For Australia Ltd & Joseph and Betty Pitschel Pain Relief Fund

The objective of the Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour Initiative is to direct funds to advance the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal stromal cancer

Project title: Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumours: Towards better outcome prediction and therapy
Lead researcher:  Prof Ruth Ganss
Institution: The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research
Project team: A/Prof Juliana Hamzah, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research
Prof Alistair Forrest,  Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research
Dr Hooi Ee, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital
Clin Prof Priyanthi Kumarasinghe, PathWest
Dr Mickael Johansson, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital
Dr Louise Winteringham, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research
Project description: Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST) arise from our digestive organs, for instance the stomach and intestine. If the cancer is discovered early, surgical removal may lead to a cure, but some cancers re-grow even after surgery. So-called advanced GIST have already spread to distant organs and in most cases are treated with a drug called Gleevec. Most advanced GIST patients respond well to this drug which slows cancer growth. However, 90 per cent of patients eventually become non-responsive to the drug due to drug resistance, enabling the cancer to progress and spread.

This project has two parts:

  1. To get a better understanding as to why some GIST re-grow after surgery and whether it would be possible to predict the outcome by looking more closely than before at the cancer’s make-up. New technologies will be used and a multi-disciplinary collaboration between clinicians, biologists and bioinformaticians to look at every single cell the cancer harbours to get a better understanding of the cancer “support cells” and how they may foster cancer re-growth.
  2. It is known that GIST that grow have escaped detection by our immune system. Immune cells usually patrol our body and fight infections and are also supposed to destroy cancers. Whilst some immune cells are found in GIST, it is not clear how to attract more of these cells into the cancer core and program them to fight the cancer from “inside”. The team has already developed new drugs which work in pre-clinical models of pancreatic cancers and improve therapy. These drugs will be applied to pre-clinical GIST models with the hope to improve Gleevec therapy for longer lasting anti-cancer results.

Therefore, this research program aims at improving GIST prognostics and developing new therapies which harness the immune system.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $41,557 in 2021 (total $514,950 for 2018-2020)
Supported by: The initiative for cancer research into the diagnosis and treatment of Gastro Intestinal Stromal Cancer through the provision of the late Sandra O’Keefe by including a gift in her Will to make this research possible

The objective of the Prostate Cancer Initiative is to direct funds to advance the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.

Project title: Can a telehealth delivered exercise program with nutritional advice be as effective as a supervised clinic-based exercise and nutrition program for weight loss and health enhancement in overweight and obese men with prostate cancer?
Lead researcher: Prof Daniel Galvão
Institution: Edith Cowan University
Project team: Prof Rob Newton , Edith Cowan University
Prof Dennis Taaffe, Edith Cowan University
Prof Dickon Hayne, Fiona Stanley Hospital
Prof Suzanna Chambers, University of Technology Sydney
Dr Colin Tang, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital
Prof Amanda Devine, Edith Cowan University
Prof Nigel Spry, Edith Cowan University
Prof David Joseph, 5D Clinics
Mr Pedro Lopez Da Cruz, Edith Cowan University
Project description: Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in Australia and the second most common cause of cancer-related death. Men who are overweight/obese are at increased risk for treatment-related side-effects and increased risk of the cancer to spread. A common treatment undertaken by men with prostate cancer is hormone therapy, however, it leads to an increase in weight due to gains in fat mass while muscle mass is lost. Therefore, treatments to improve weight loss are important, especially for those who have been exposed to hormone therapy. To date, strategies to combat this weight gain have been ineffective.

The team recently showed a clinic-based targeted and supervised exercise and nutrition program to be effective in reducing fat mass by ~3kg in these men. The problem is that not all men would have access to such a program, such as those in regional, rural and remote settings, or have the financial ability to pay. Telehealth has emerged as a viable way to deliver healthcare. The aim of the project is to determine if the program delivered via telehealth is as effective as the supervised clinic-based program for fat weight loss, reducing cardiovascular disease risk, and enhancing physical and mental health in overweight/obese men with prostate cancer.

The study will recruit 104 overweight/obese men with prostate cancer and current or past usage of hormones and randomise them to a telehealth delivered program or the supervised clinic-based program for six months and then follow them for an additional six months. The clinic-based exercise program, which comprises of resistance and aerobic training, with nutritional advice will be the same as that in the pilot study and will be adapted to be delivered by telehealth using the latest technologies such as video chat with remote monitoring.

If the telehealth delivered program is effective, then it can be rolled-out at a low cost to patients, regardless of their financial position or where they live.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $150,172 in 2021 ($472,739 total for 2021-2023)
Supported by: The initiative for cancer research into the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer through the provision of the late Alan Tuthill by including a gift in his Will to make this research possible

A combination of long and short-term research projects of specific strategic importance.

Full list of projects funded:

Project title: Chair of Clinical Cancer Research
Chair: Prof Michael Millward
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Research description: The Chair of Clinical Cancer Research provides academic leadership in clinical cancer research in WA and aims to increase the participation of local cancer patients in clinical trials of new cancer treatments.

The purpose of funding the Cancer Council WA Chair in Clinical Cancer Research is to improve the clinical care available to people diagnosed with cancer in Western Australia. There is compelling evidence that outcomes for patients are improved when they participate in clinical trials. A key vehicle therefore to improve outcomes in Western Australia is to actively promote clinical trials in the medical and general community. The means by which this may be achieved by the Chair are broken down into the following categories:

  • Research
  • Clinical trials
  • Leadership
  • Teaching
  • Advice
  • Representation
  • Promotion
Funding from Cancer Council WA:  $160,000
Supported by: Estate of Dorothy Gilbert

 

Project title: Cancer Council WA Cancer Prevention Research Unit
Recipient: Dr Moira O’Connor
Institution: Curtin University
Research description: Headed by Dr Moira O’Connor, the purpose of the Cancer Council WA Cancer Prevention Research Unit (WACPRU) is to increase our understanding of individual and societal factors that increase the risk of cancer in the community, and, through this understanding, develop more effective policies and programs to reduce cancer risk in the community.
Funding from Cancer Council WA: $160,000
Supported by: The Ee Family, Estate of Elizabeth McFall & Edward and Patricia Usher Research Fund

 

Project title: National Imaging Facility Western Australian Node Expansion
Institution: QEII Medical Centre
Research description: The Western Australian node of the National Imaging Facility (NIF) is expanding and will soon include state-of-the-art equipment dedicated to human imaging research. Medical imaging is an essential tool of modern healthcare that provides non-invasive tools for both early detection of medical conditions (diagnosis) and monitoring treatment (management and follow-up of patients). Research-dedicated imaging equipment is critical for running clinical trials to test new therapies and drugs, and to develop advanced imaging strategies.

The facility will be located on the QEII Medical Campus and is scheduled to open in early 2022. The WA NIF Node will soon offer a full-service suite of research dedicated human imaging equipment and expertise. The new equipment includes a 3T MRI, a digital PET/CT and the accompanying GMP lab for the production of PET radiotracers. Support staff and experts will run support programs to access the imaging equipment. The project is strongly collaborative with 14 organisations committing funding and is multidisciplinary, bringing together the skills of clinical researchers, technical staff, imaging specialists and informatics experts. The new facility is a statewide initiative, which addresses the current lack of dedicated imaging research infrastructure in WA. The expanded facilities will be open to all local research institutions.

This fully integrated facility will allow researchers to lead and collaborate in a diversity of clinical trials. Access to imaging facilities for human research will have benefits for the personal health and wellbeing of all West Australians. The WA NIF node facilities will be highly enabling for translational research and have broad applicability across all medical fields particularly oncology, respiratory conditions and neurology. As a Node of the Australia-wide National Imaging Facility (NIF), the WA Node will collaborate with the other nodes and adhere to the federal strategy for innovative research.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $500,000