Congratulations to Dr David Gyorki, Dr Andreas Behren and Dr Katherine Woods
In late February we hosted the inaugural VCCC Cancer Grand Challenge ‘Pitch’ led by then-Melanoma Research & Education Lead, now Executive Director, Professor Grant McArthur, and the VCCC Melanoma and Skin Cancer Strategy Group. Three multi-institution teams of melanoma experts were challenged to develop a collaborative research project of international significance and ‘pitch’ them at an open clinical forum.
Following an audience vote and careful deliberation by the Strategy Group, we are pleased to announce that Pitch #3 'Personalised/risk Stratified Follow up for those with Previous Melanoma Diagnosis', championed by Dr David Gyorki, Peter Mac/Austin Health, Dr Andreas Behren, Austin Health/Olivia Newton John Cancer Research Institute and, Dr Katherine Woods, Austin Health/Olivia Newton John Cancer Research Institute, has been selected to progress as the VCCC Cancer Grand Challenge – Melanoma.
The distribution of #1 ratings suggested that voters thought that each pitch addressed a clinical need and there was not a clear winner in this process. Given that each of the pitches was focussed on biomarker discovery, the VCCC/Victorian Melanoma Service/Skin Cancer Foundation Melanoma & Skin Cancers Strategy Group considered that the feasibility of each research project was likely to be similar. The group noted that all three teams took on an exceedingly difficult clinical problem as a Grand Challenge, which if successful, could significantly impact clinical practice.
Although all three ideas had potential and value, Pitch 3 was selected as the first Grand Challenge because: i) it focuses on a significant unmet clinical need and identified as a priority by consumers; ii) has potential to impact use of emerging adjuvant therapies and iii) takes multi-disciplinary approach.
The other two projects, which were championed by Dr Victoria Mar and Dr David Shackleton, may still be taken forward in future.
The champions of all three pitches will be invited to join the VCCC/VMS/SCF Melanoma & Skin Cancers Strategy Group as key experts. Pitch #3 will be supported and developed as a significant research project with assessment of feasibility as the first step, including reviewing case studies on successful strategies for discovery of clinically useful biomarkers and discussions with technology experts. Key experts will be invited to contribute to the development of the project.
The next step for the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Strategy Group is to draft and finalise their strategic plan. The 'Personalised/risk stratified follow up for those with a previous melanoma diagnosis project' will now be an integral part of this.
Thank you to our highly-engaged voting audience, and to all our Grand Challenge Pitch participants for their courageous, well-considered ideas. Warm congratulations to the successful team - it will be exciting to see where this ambitious project leads.