About Australian Cancer Research Foundation

Our mission is to back brilliant research by giving scientists the technology and equipment they need to find new and improved ways to prevent, detect and treat ALL types of cancer.

We know that only brilliant ideas can tackle something as big as cancer. By supporting ACRF you will be backing projects that push boundaries and blaze new trails. By backing brilliant we are committed to our vision of one day reaching a world without cancer.



  • You’ll be funding research into all cancers, not just one.
  • You’ll be supporting cancer research which has a high possibility of success.
  • You’ll be funding technology, equipment and infrastructure – which may be shared by several major cancer research institutions and many researchers. By doing so, you could support multiple advances and breakthroughs.
  • You’ll give Australia’s best cancer researchers the tools to succeed; and make their work attractive to leading global collaborators.
  • The dollars you donate will add up to millions of dollars of impact for the 2 in 5 Australians who will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 85.

Since 1984, thanks to our generous supporters, we’ve awarded 86 grants totalling over $184 million to 44 research institutions across Australia.

To this day, ACRF is overseen by an eminent Board of Trustees.


ACRF was founded in 1984 by the late Sir Peter Abeles and the late Lady Sonia McMahon. After surveying several scientists and medical professionals, asking what they needed most to progress cancer research in Australia, they identified a primary need for physical buildings in which to conduct research activities and so determined the focus for The Foundation. As the research landscape has evolved, so has the areas of funding for ACRF. Nowadays, ACRF grants cover technology, equipment, and infrastructure – both physical and virtual.


Cancer and the crab have been linked since the early days of medicine. The origin of the word cancer has been linked to the Greek physician Hippocrates (460 – 370 BCE), who is widely considered to be the “Father of Medicine”. Hippocrates used the term ‘karcinos’ (the word for crab) to describe a tumour, because the blood vessels which surround a tumour are crab-like in shape.

The Roman physician, Celsus (28-50 BCE) later translated the Greek term into cancer – the Latin word for crab – while another Roman physician, Galen (130 – 200 CE Common Era) used the word ‘oncos’ (Greek for swelling) to describe tumours. Although the crab analogy of Hippocrates and Celsus is still used to describe malignant tumours (eg. carcinoma), Galen’s term is now used to refer to the specialist study of cancer, oncology.

Your generosity will mean that ACRF can continue to back brilliant ideas and programs that lead to breakthroughs and discoveries that help each individual diagnosed with this complex and disruptive disease.