ACRF awards $8.5 million to 4 world-class cancer research initiatives

Australia’s best scientists have been given a major boost in their fight against cancer, with the announcement of $8.5 million worth of grants from the ACRF to the nation’s finest research institutions.

The Foundation awarded a total of three grants – to $2million grant to The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (Melbourne), $2.4million to Western Australian Institute for Medical Research and $1.6million to Monash Institute of Medical Research (Melbourne).  This is in addition to the ‘top-up’ grant of $2.5 million the ACRF pledged earlier to The Kinghorn Cancer Centre, a joint facility of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.

The ACRF grants are directed at creating the infrastructure, notably new laboratories and equipment, to fast-track key research and increase the knowledge of ways to prevent cancer and develop more effective treatments.

“With these grants, ACRF continues our critical contribution to world-class, breakthrough projects,” said ACRF Chairman Mr. Tom Dery.

“Essentially, we are accelerating innovative cancer research across this country by providing our best scientists with the infrastructure and equipment to do their jobs more effectively and quickly.”

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute Director, Professor Doug Hilton believes the ACRF support means cancer research that might have taken 5-10 years will now be able to be completed next year.

“Advances in cancer treatment requires research breakthroughs and research breakthroughs require teams,” said Professor Hilton. “This grant will allow us to build on our breakthroughs in breast cancer and extend this to lung and ovarian cancer. The funding will also provide facilities that will maximise our chances of using chemistry to generate new cancer medicines.

“The ACRF labs make our dream of creating a new division of Stem Cells and Cancer and a new division of Chemical Biology a reality.”

Deputy Director of the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, Professor Peter Leedman said the research grant will profoundly change the landscape for cancer research in Western Australia.

“For the first time ever in WA we will be able to subject our pre-clinical models of cancer to more intensive scrutiny and imaging which will speed up progressions of new therapeutic advances with cancer,” said Professor Leedman.

Monash Institute of Medical Research’s Director Professor Bryan Williams said the ACRF fills a vital niche by funding expensive, crucial infrastructure, particularly in the area of new technology development.

“This is critical to enable cancer researchers not only to advance the discovery process to access new technologies but also to fast-track research and provide new outcomes to cancer patients,” said Professor Williams.

Mr Dery added that this year’s review process was extremely tough due to the high number of quality applications. The ACRF received 13 applications from Australia’s leading scientists.

“While we were able to fund the very best projects, many missed out, some of which have the breakthrough potential to save the lives of the one in three Australians who will be diagnosed with cancer,” said Mr. Dery.

“The challenge to overcome cancer continues, but one day we aim to fund every project which meets our high standard of world-class research,” continued Mr Dery. “We are all relying on our scientists to find the cures. They rely on us to keep their work going.”

The ACRF has now provided 41 grants totalling almost $71 million to Australian cancer research institutes since 1987 ($48 million of which has been awarded in just the last six years).

Read more about the 2010 ACRF grant recipients.