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04 Jul 2018
Opinion Piece

Progress and achievement

  • Royal Women's Hospital
  • Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
  • Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
  • University of Melbourne
  • Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre
  • Royal Melbourne Hospital
  • National Health and Medical Research Council

July 2018

Mei Krishnasamy receiving an award

It has been inspiring to see so many partner organisations and individuals recognised with a variety of prestigious awards and accolades in the past month or so.  Throughout our partnership we have such a pool of talent and for me, this highlights the depth of opportunity a united and collaborative comprehensive cancer centre represents.

I’d like to join with many of you to acknowledge the efforts and leadership of these recent award recipients:

Professor Clare Scott, Medical Oncologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Women’s Hospital and Peter Mac, and Laboratory Head at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, who received the Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia 2018 Recognition Award for her influence in improving outcomes for women with gynaecological cancer in her clinical and research roles.

The outstanding contribution of Professor Meinir (Mei) Krishnasamy, VCCC Research & Education Lead for Cancer Nursing and Professor of Cancer Nursing at the University of Melbourne (pictured right above with Lucy Patton, President CNSA) was recognised by the Cancer Nurses Society of Australia which awarded her Life Fellowship of the society.

The team at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Researchreceived the 2018 Clunies Ross Knowledge Commercialisation Award from the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering: Professor David Huang, Associate Professor Peter Czabotar, Associate Professor Guillaume Lessene and Professor Andrew Roberts were acknowledged for their roles in the development of the anti-cancer agent Venetoclax, which involved a collaboration with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, and AbbVie.  This achievement was supported by critical clinical trials at Peter Mac and the Royal Melbourne Hospital led by Prof John Seymour and Prof Con Tam.  

Professor James McCluskey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at The University of Melbourne and member of the VCCC Board, received an AO, Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia in recognition of his distinguished service to medical education, including as an academic in immunology, and through research into immune systems response to viruses.

And finally, Professor David Bowtell and Professor Joe Trapani were elected Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science for 2018 for their outstanding contributions to science and scientific research.

We will be celebrating the achievements of some younger, up-and-coming award recipients when we present the VCCC’s Picchi Awards for Excellence in Cancer Research next Monday 9 July. This special, catered lunchtime event is open to all and I’d love to see a strong turnout to recognise the talent we have coming up through the ranks of the VCCC partnership.

Looking to the future, an exciting collaborative opportunity has been made possible through the National Health & Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC), Medical Research Future Fund.  Significant investment is available within the $240m Frontier Health and Medical Research Program to translate the ‘big questions’ in science to improve patient outcomes. Big thank you to those involved in the early, important work to develop ideas for this program.  I am confident that Victorian researchers will work together to put forward some transformative programs that will ensure these vital funds bring maximum benefit to the community.

The ability to progress cancer care begins with a firm education base and an informed workforce.  This week, two significant new opportunities to extend and share the VCCC’s expertise will be rolled out to support medical practitioners further afield.

I’m very proud that, with support from the Victorian State Government, a collaboration between the VCCC, the University of Melbourne has produced a landmark new program: Cancer Survivorship for Primary Care Practitioners. A growing body of evidence shows the critical role that primary care practitioners play in improving outcomes for cancer patients through post-treatment care and support. This free, online program, delivered as a Massive Open Online Course provides engaging and accessible content to practitioners wherever they may be, supported by a series of optional face-to-face workshops featuring some of the world-class cancer experts responsible for the content. 

We also reach an important milestone in the much-anticipated Master of Cancer Sciences program this week as registrations open. The result of another collaboration between the University of Melbourne and the VCCC, this is a major program of work. With input from so many experts from across the alliance, it’s a terrific demonstration of the potential of our partnership to really make an impact on cancer education, and ultimately support better outcomes for patients. 

Professor Grant McArthur
Executive Director