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07 Aug 2019
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Executive Director's Message August 2019

  • Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre

Last month we filled the Woodward Conference Centre at Melbourne Law School bringing together leaders from all VCCC alliance members. The meeting was to inform our next strategic plan and business case for consideration in the Victorian Budget 2020/2021. Thank you to the more than 80 participants who invested considerable time and thought into the consultation.

Chair of the VCCC Board, Professor Linda Kristjanson opened the meeting and acknowledged the important strides we have made together during the current four-year funding period. Linda reminded all in the room that the powerful shared opportunity for the alliance is even, equitable, quality care for all.

Since the first strategic research plan launched in October 2016, new and innovative programs have been mobilised in clinical trials, education and professional development, regional oncology, cancer genomics, cancer immunotherapy, new specialist centres of excellence, primary care and cancer survivorship, nurse-led research, consumer engagement and more.

New strategic plan by year end
I believe our ability to engage and involve people working across a wide range of disciplines is what makes the VCCC special. Consultations such as last month’s meeting enable us to consider a range of ideas that focus our energies on being better together.  

I’d like to thank Chair of the VCCC Cancer Research Advisory Committee, Professor Andrew Roberts, who among his many roles also heads up clinical translation at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Andrew's leadership in the recent consultation helped participants to structure thinking and suggestions around VCCC prioritising and guiding principles.

Andrew explained a prioritising principle as being something that incorporates an unmet need – something that wouldn’t necessarily be tackled easily by an individual member organisation. A guiding principle would be something that really builds capacity – not only within the alliance but more broadly.

Within the current strategic research plan there are a mix of initiatives, some of which require systemic change and investment over an extended period, and therefore might be viewed as being more challenging. Examples include prevention strategies incorporating precision medicine and data linkage to enable transformative informatics research.  

These initiatives sit alongside projects identified as reaching goals and being achievable in the short-term; where the opportunity going forward is to continue to harness individual talent across the VCCC alliance and amplify it. The huge cast of individuals in every discipline who are helping to design and deliver the new, leading-edge Master of Cancer Sciences is a good example of this.

Town Hall meetings begin this week
From this week, we will share some of the ideas and suggestions emerging from consultations so far as we begin to move into details of the strategic plan and potential new programs. VCCC Town Hall meetings will be held at different locations over the next fortnight and I encourage you to be involved. 

We hope to hear from champions of proposed activities; get some feedback on the ideas being formulated and, with your help, identify any further gaps and opportunities. What is next in workforce development, health economics, technology and data? What are the bold moves we can make in cancer prevention and early detection? How do we build transformative research environments? What about childhood cancers and clinical trials?

Welcome Professor Sir John Savill
Following his official commencement last week, and on behalf of VCCC, I am very pleased to welcome Professor Sir John Savill to Melbourne. John is the new executive director for the advanced health research and translation centre, Melbourne Academic Centre for Health (MACH). John’s significant competence and experience in building clinical medical research capacity is well documented, and I am looking forward to supporting the contribution he will undoubtedly make to Victorian healthcare and our region more broadly.

CSL to build precinct base
Finally, in exciting news announced yesterday, VCCC members welcome a new close neighbour and partner in collaboration. The Parkville precinct is to be further bolstered with a purpose-built facility to house Biotech CSL's headquarters. Biomedical research is a major contributor to the economy and expanding activities in the sector is good news for Victoria’s future.


Professor Grant McArthur
Executive Director