Queensland takes the lead on cancer research

At a recent board meeting of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) both Professor Jennifer L. Stow and Professor Georgia Chenevix-Trench were confirmed as new members of the organization’s Medical Research Advisory Committee (MRAC).

Both said they were “honoured’’ by the announcement and agreed there was not a high proportion of women in the top echelons of the scientific medical community.

Professor Stow and I have both received great support over the years from the ACRF.” Professor Chenevix-Trench said. We know of each other from our work in Queensland but we will not have worked so closely together before. There are some very impressive scientists on the MRAC. It is great there are actually two of us involved on the committee and not just the regulation one woman’’ she added.

Since being formed by the late Sir Peter Abeles in 1987 the ACRF has provided more than $55 million in grants to Australian cancer research institutes. Last year the Foundation received 15 applications for more than $50 million to fund outstanding projects. Both women said they had decided to join the team at the ACRF because they had “seen first hand the great work” of the organization.

“The ACRF fills a niche that no other organization does in Australian medical research,’’ said Professor Stow. ACRF funding enables many facilities Australia-wide to establish world-class laboratories, fitted out with state-of-the-art equipment that they just could not otherwise afford. It is an organization that supports major Australian cancer research projects like no other,’’ said Professor Chenevix-Trench

The ACRF’s Medical Research Advisory Committee is headed by 2006 Australian of the Year, Professor Ian Frazer whose team discovered the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. The prestigious committee includes established scientists of the highest national and in some cases global repute. These leaders in Australian cancer research consider all applications received for grants funding and make recommendations to the Board of Trustees of ACRF.

All recommendations of the Committee are made on the basis of scientific merit and potential.

Membership of the Foundation’s MRAC is approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Professor Jennifer L. Stow (pictured right) did a Bachelor of Science, a BSc Honours (1st class), Department of Professors Georgia Chenevix-Trench and Jennifer StowImmunology & Pathology at Monash University and then a PhD, Department of Anatomy, all at Monash University, Melbourne. She is presently the Deputy Director (Research) at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland in Brisbane

Professor Georgia Chenevix-Trench (pictured right) was educated at both Trinity College Dublin and at The Medical College of Virginia USA. She is currently NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow at the QIMR, the head of the Cancer Genetics Laboratory, QIMR and a conjoint Professor with the Division of Health Sciences, at the University of Queensland

Queensland continues to lead the way in many areas of cancer research, as acknowledged by the ACRF in the awarding of almost $10 million in grants in the last three years.

Recently it granted $2.5 million to the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the Queensland University, to decipher gene and protein interactions which affect the behaviour of cancer cells.

In 2007 the ACRF awarded $2.7 million to the Queensland Institute for Medical Research, Brisbane to establish “The ACRF Centre for Cancer Epigenetics”, is headed by Professor Emma Whitelaw (left) another woman who is considered a world leader in this new field of cancer research. That year a further $3.2 million was granted to the Diamantina Institute for Cancer Immunology and Metabolic Medicine in Brisbane to establish the ACRF Comprehensive Cancer Genomics Facility.

In 2006 the ACRF granted $1.14 million to the Queensland Brain Institute for its Integrated Brain Tumour Flow Cytometry Screening Facility.

“There has been a lot of support in Queensland provided by the Federal and State Governments and organizations like the ACRF,’’ said Professor Stow.

“There is a growing level of recognition for the work we are doing up here and our medical research infrastructure is now very strong.’’

Professor Chenevix-Trench agreed about the huge progress being made in the Sunshine State.

“There has been a great deal of good people involved in cancer research up in Queensland for sometime now. It is not just seen as a stepping stone by people who come in and move on.’’

“We are attracting some of the best in the business to our institutions and facilities.’’

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