Philanthropy supports prostate cancer research

6 October 2011

(L-R) Dean of Sydney Medical School, Professor Bruce Robinson, with Daniel Petre.
(L-R) Dean of Sydney Medical School, Professor Bruce Robinson, with Daniel Petre.

Underfunding and lack of awareness has prompted Australian philanthropist Daniel Petre to donate $2 million to the Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney.

The funds will be used to appoint a chair of prostate cancer research at the University of Sydney, who will work closely with cancer researchers based at the Garvan Institute for Medical Research. It is the first such chair in Australia.

Petre says the male cancer, which remains one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Australia, does not receive the attention nor the support it deserves in the wider community.

"Diagnosing prostate cancer is not the issue today. The issue is determining which tumours need to be removed and which can be left untreated. This counter-intuitive approach is due to the significant repercussions that occur for men who have been treated for prostrate cancer."

"While treatments are becoming more sophisticated, with lower levels of impotence and incontinence post surgery, the holy grail in terms of prostate cancer research is to first work out which tumours can be left alone and then to find non-invasive treatment options with minimal side effects," says Petre.

Mr Petre, who is the head of the Petre Foundation, said the University of Sydney had the right approach to collaborative cross-disciplinary medical research, and he hoped his donation would increase the chances of finding a cure and raise awareness of prostate cancer.

He is encouraging other wealthy Australians to follow his example:

"Investment in a university has many benefits. Firstly it is an investment in Australia's academic future, but it is also an investment in the future health of Australians through the discovery of new treatments and prevention strategies.

"It is a simple choice for me and one I would encourage others to make", he said.

The University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence said:

"This is a wonderful act of generosity by the Petre family. Support like this is an endorsement of the lifesaving and transformational research that is being conducted at University of Sydney.

"It is a great privilege to accept these funds on behalf of the University of Sydney.

"Matching the donation with the best possible use in prostate cancer research at the Garvan Institute will yield a greater benefit than would have been possible by either institution alone."

Professor Rob Sutherland, director of the Garvan Institute's Cancer Research Program, said:

"At the Garvan we take a multidisciplinary approach to prostate cancer research using the expertise of a number of cancer researchers within and outside Garvan, including clinicians and pathologists from a number of Sydney's major teaching hospitals, including the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and St Vincent's Hospital."

The funds provided by the Petre family will help us seek and engage the best possible prostate cancer expert," he said.

Currently the Petre Foundation also supports a chair of breast cancer research at the Garvan Institute and neuromuscular research at the Institute for Neuromuscular Research, Children's Hospital at Westmead.

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