Genomics expert to assume Petre Foundation Chair of Prostate Cancer Research

29 November 2013

The University of Sydney and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research are proud to announce that from January 2014 Professor Vanessa Hayes will assume the inaugural Petre Foundation Chair of Prostate Cancer Research.

In 2011, the Petre Foundation donated $2 million to the University of Sydney to enable the University of Sydney Petre Foundation Chair of Prostate Cancer Research, who upon appointment, wouldwork closely with researchers at the Garvan Institute. The Petre Foundation was established in 1999 by Daniel and Carolyn Petre as a vehicle to provide donations to a range of worthy charities and causes.

Professor Hayes currently heads the Laboratory for Human Comparative and Prostate Cancer Genomics at Garvan. She also holds a position as Professor of Genomic Medicine at the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego, California.

Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Professor Hayes moved to Australia in 2003 to research the inherited and acquired genetic events that cause prostate cancer. Her significant contributions led to many awards and honours, including: the Cancer Institute of NSW Premier's Award for Outstanding Cancer Research Fellow (2007); the Australian Academy of Science Inaugural Ruth Stephens Gani Medal for Human Genetics (2008); the NSW/ACT State Government Australian Young Tall Poppy Award (2008); and an Australian-American Fulbright Professional Scholarship (2009).

In 2010, Professor Hayes led a team that generated the first complete personalised human DNA sequences (human genomes) for Africa, namely South African and Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Gubi, a Kalahari Bushman from Namibia. She also co-led a project in 2011 that generated the complete genome and facial tumour genome of Australia's Tasmanian devil.

Professor Hayes will be located in The Kinghorn Cancer Centre (TKCC), a joint venture of Garvan and St. Vincent's Hospital. TKCC houses patients, clinicians and researchers with the aim of bringing research breakthroughs rapidly to the bedside.

Professor Hayes will also play a role in Australia's third National Prostate Cancer Research Centre, which was established at TKCC in August 2012 under the clinical leadership of Conjoint Associate Professor Phillip Stricker, Chairman of Urology at St.Vincent's Private Hospital.

Director of Cancer Services and Acting Director of TKCC at St Vincent's Hospital, Professor Allan Spigelman, is delighted at the appointment. "Having such an accomplished and high profile recruit is truly welcome and bodes well for the future of our prostate cancer research team," he said.

Professor John Mattick, Executive Director of Garvan, said he believed the expertise of Professor Hayes would find an ideal outlet in TKCC. "I am confident that Professor Hayes will enrich cancer research here, as well as foster important international collaborations and connections," he said.

In addition to pursuing her research work, Professor Hayes will continue her input to a number of international advisory boards on prostate cancer research and will maintain a close association with the J. Craig Venter Institute and the University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Professor Bruce Robinson, Dean of the University of Sydney Medical School, said the new Chair was an important development, and he welcomed the stronger link with the Garvan Institute. "The appointment of Professor Hayes will strengthen the cancer research programs at both the Garvan Institute and the University of Sydney,"
 he said.

About Garvan:The Garvan Institute of Medical Research was founded in 1963. Initially a research department of St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, it is now one of Australia's largest medical research institutions with over 600 scientists, students and support staff. Garvan's main research areas are: Cancer, Diabetes & Obesity, Immunology and Inflammation and Neuroscience. Garvan's mission is to make significant contributions to medical science that will change the directions of science and medicine and have major impacts on human health. The outcome of Garvan's discoveries is the development of better methods of diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately, prevention of disease.

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