The consortium is creating an Australian-first collaborative and integrated cancer research centre where clinicians who diagnose and treat cancer patients will work closely with scientists researching the disease.
The institutions involved are the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Royal Women’s Hospital, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, The Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and the University of Melbourne.
ACRF chairman Tom Dery said: “We were impressed with the proposed Melbourne Comprehensive Cancer Centre (MCCC) and the $5 million grant will help establish the ACRF Centre for Therapeutic Target Discovery as its scientific cornerstone.”
Led by Associate Professor Geoffrey Lindeman, an MCCC team of highly regarded scientists and clinicians with one of the best track-records in the country will initially focus on bowel cancer, breast cancer and cancers of the blood.
“A lot of cancers are still very difficult to treat and we want to provide hope to people where there isn’t hope now,” said Prof. Lindeman.
Added Professor Douglas Hilton, head of division of molecular medicine at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute: “The ACRF grant application process was very competitive, and it is an enormous honour to be awarded its largest grant ever.”
“The $5 million ACRF grant will deliver funding that can be targeted at critical research and it will also help us leverage funding from other bodies. This is the start of a snowball effect,” said Prof. Hilton.
“Dramatic technological advances in cancer research since ACRF’s establishment in 1984 had increased the likelihood of a cancer breakthrough, but also the costs associated with finding a cure,” Mr Dery said.
In analysing the shortlist for the grant, the ACRF engaged Professor Sir David Lane, the scientist renowned for his discovery in 1979 of the tumour-suppressing protein p53, and Director of the Cancer Research UK Transformation Research Group at the University of Dundee in Scotland.
Lane provided valuable input on short listed applicants and described the winning team as “world-class”.
“This group is competing at the very top in its field on a worldwide basis and there is a very real chance it will come out with new treatments for cancer. With this group, the money will never be wasted,” Lane said.
The MCCC consortium will be adopting an approach to cancer research in line with renowned Texas institute the MD Anderson Centre, finding new avenues to discover how cancers develop and progress.
“We are determined that our funding will continue to make the big differences it already has in contributing to results-oriented cancer research projects in Australia,” said Mr Dery.
The Australian Cancer Research Foundation which was established in 1984 provides grants of $1 million upwards to leading Australian cancer research teams, for infrastructure, capital works and equipment.
For interviews and images please contact:
Andrea Kererkes, Open Dialogue PR, 0418 427 412, Brad Allen, MCCC, 0403 036 116 or
David Brettell, ACRF, 02 9223 7833