$7 million injection into cancer research

13 January 2012

Two University of Sydney cancer research teams have received almost $7 million in NSW government funding, announced at the Bernie Banton Centre today by the Minister for Health and Medical Research, Jillian Skinner.

The grants will be administered by the Cancer Institute of NSW, and have been awarded to the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) and the ANZAC Research Institute, based at Concord Repatriation General Hospital.

The ADRI group, led by director Professor Nico van Zandwijk, has received $3.5 million to research and help improve outcomes for people with asbestos-related cancer. Professor van Zandwijk is a coordinator in several international studies and has authored or co-authored more than 180 peer-reviewed international papers and chapters, as well as mentored more than 20 students who have become research leaders in the own right.

The ANZAC Research Institute team, led by Professor Derek Hart, has been awarded $3.47 million for the diagnosis and treatment of blood cancers. Professor Hart is a Rhodes Scholar and RCPA Distinguished Fellow. He has published 234 peer reviewed articles (89 in high impact or major specialty journals), with total citations of 8032.

During the visit, Professor van Zandwijk and Professor Hart took the Minister on a tour of the Bernie Banton Centre and presented the people, laboratories and technologies that are making cancer history.

Minister Skinner said the grants would be used to bring staff from seven new research hubs together to share knowledge, resources and technology.

"These grants will allow researchers to work closely with doctors and nurses on the front line of cancer care to get new treatments into practice sooner," she said.

"The cutting-edge research will have a direct impact on cancer outcomes across the state - providing our doctors and nurses with the latest information and expertise to provide world-class care."

The grants form part of the translational cancer research program and are in addition to the $30 million over five years already provided.

Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow, said the translational cancer grants would benefit cancer patients across the state.

"Australia has the world's highest incidence of malignant mesothelioma, a fatal cancer caused by asbestos. The translational research undertaken by Professor van Zandwijk will see NSW as a world leader in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma," he said.

"Combining this with the work of Professor Hart, these grants are also good news for people across NSW affected by acute myeloid leukaemia, recipients of bone marrow transplants and people diagnosed with Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

"Professor van Zandwijk, Professor Hart and their teams will take their work from research hubs through to treatment rooms and make a big difference in the lives of people with cancer and their families."

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Media enquiries: Rachel Gleeson (University of Sydney), 0403 067 342,

Alice Hardy (Minister Skinner), 0467 735 143

Melissa Devine (NSW Cancer Institute), 0403 833 099