Cancer patients to receive cutting edge treatments faster

15 July 2011

Scientific breakthroughs will get taken up into routine practice faster thanks to these centres.
Scientific breakthroughs will get taken up into routine practice faster thanks to these centres.

Cancer patients will benefit from new scientific breakthroughs and treatments much sooner than at present, thanks to a multimillion dollar program announced by the NSW government that University of Sydney researchers are playing a key role in.

The University will head two new Translational Cancer Research Centres - bodies which will bring together researchers, educators, doctors and other health workers to ensure cancer patients receive the best treatments available.

The University will also head up a new unit based at the North Shore Hospital with a focus on personalising treatments for cancer patients, and play a key role in a new centre for the application of childhood cancer research.

NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research Jillian Skinner said the program "is about getting doctors and specialists, who treat cancer patients every day, working closely with our cutting-edge researchers and expediting the latest possible evidence into patient care.

"Researchers in turn will be able to hear first hand from doctors and nurses the issues that need to be addressed to improve outcomes at the treatment table," Mrs Skinner said.

Professor Jill Trewhella, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Sydney welcomed the announcement. "This is a terrific outcome for us and recognition of the great strength in cancer research across the University of Sydney," she said.

"By leading two of the new Translational Cancer Research Centres, one at Westmead and another at Camperdown, we will deliver the breadth and depth of translational clinical research needed to improve care and outcomes for cancer sufferers in NSW and beyond."

Each centre will involve collaborations with a number of partners, including the Westmead Millennium Institute, the Melanoma Institute Australia, the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse at Royal Prince Alfred and the Kinghorn Cancer Centre at the Garvan Institute.

Additionally, University of Sydney researchers at the Kolling Institute at Royal North Shore Hospital will lead a new Translational Cancer Research Unit, while others will partner with the Children's Medical Research Institute at Westmead and contribute to the Children's Translational Cancer Research Centre.

The University of Sydney-led research hubs and related projects will receive approximately $15.5 million in NSW government funding, with the University contributing additional funds. Two new Chairs of Translational Cancer Research will also be established at the University of Sydney to provide overall leadership and strategy for cancer research.

"To ensure our researchers capitalise on this visionary change in the NSW cancer research landscape, led by the Cancer Institute NSW, the University will make a substantial strategic contribution to these centres from our Cancer Research Fund," said Professor Trewhella.

"In all we will be investing over $1 million in 2012 in the four centres, with funding continuing for the life of the centres, supporting the recruitment of key researchers to our translational cancer research efforts."

Chief Executive Officer of the Cancer Institute NSW Professor David Currow said the program marks an exciting time to be working in cancer research in NSW.

"Think of what can be achieved by getting our best and brightest medical and research minds working together," Professor Currow said.

"We know that it can take some time for scientific breakthroughs to be taken up into routine practice across the health system. This program will speed this process up, helping us to save even more lives."

Key new research hubs

  • Sydney Catalyst: The Translational Cancer Research Centre of Central Sydney and Regional NSW
    Director: Professor John Simes
  • Sydney-West Translational Cancer Research Centre
    Director: Associate Professor Paul Harnett
  • Northern Translational Cancer Research Unit
    Director: Professor Stephen Clarke

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Kath Kenny (Mon, Wed, Thurs), 0478 303 173, 9351 1584,