Last Friday the ACRF attended the 2015 Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research. These awards honour the achievements of the individuals and teams that work across the cancer research sector to lessen the impact of cancer on the community through prevention, early detection, innovation, and research discoveries.
The event marked the 10th anniversary of the awards and was hosted by the Cancer Institute NSW at Doltone House, Hyde Park. Over three hundred guests from the health and medical sector attended.
The night celebrated excellence and innovation in cancer research, acknowledging the immense contributions of professionals who have dedicated their life’s work to improving the lives of people with cancer, and commending ‘rising stars’ who are embarking on brilliant new research endeavours.
Throughout the night, speeches not only discussed the scientific implications of their findings on future treatments and preventions, but recognised the real world difference cancer research is making to patients battling the disease today.
Keynote speaker Professor Terry Speed, a world-leader in statistics and bioinformatics, marvelled at the impact cancer research teams have on patients. “I severely underestimated the realism of the people in this room. It was a moment of awakening for me, when I realised that someone I knew from an institute that I worked at had made such an impact on my nephew who just had a stem cell transplant.”
Winner of the ‘Wildfire’ Highly Cited Publication Award, Ms Amber Johns, acknowledged the collaborative nature of cancer research worldwide, “it’s important to thank the dedicated scientists undertaking the research, the clinicians for everything they do for our patients and to our patients who volunteer for these studies, and allow researchers into their bedside at such a vulnerable time in their lives.”
Dr Geoffrey McCowage, a paediatric oncologist at the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network Westmead won the Excellence in Translation Cancer Research Award for his work with Gene Therapy. He shared insight on the emotional impact of working in this field. When asked whether the scientific rewards outweigh how difficult it is to work with childhood cancers, Dr McCowage responded with “Absolutely, however people often ask me if it gets any easier to deal with tragedy, and as the years go on I honestly have to say it gets harder.”
Despite the difficulties, Professor Speed revealed that in his experience he found that many researchers are motivated to continue on by a single thought: “There’s a driving force at the back of our minds – if a Eureka moment does happen, there will be an army of people who will bring this discovery from the bench to the bedside.”
The Australian Cancer Research Foundation thanks the nominees and award winners for their hard work and dedication. We know that these awards go beyond recognition of a scientists achievement, they are a celebration of the shared progress that brings us closer towards finding a cure for all cancers.