Spreading the load of cancer research

The influence and support of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) is set to spread further with the news that three of the four major cancer research centres in the running for support this year have made the cut for the first time.

All of the centres involved are on the list of qualifiers for ACRF’S multi-million dollar annual funding program which supports projects which will have a global impact on cancer research.

The three new finalists are The Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) with University of Newcastle NSW, The Kolling Institute of Medical Research, Sydney and the Centre For Cancer Biology South Australian Pathology and the University of Adelaide.

A fourth organisation, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute Melbourne (WEHI), which in the past has received more than $6 million in two successful grant applications in both 2002 and 2006, is also up for consideration.

How are the applicants selected?

All grant applications received by the Foundation are reviewed by the ACRF’s Medical Research Advisory Committee (MRAC) whose members are scientists of the highest national and global repute.

This leading Australian scientific committee will make recommendations to the ACRF Board of Trustees after a rigorous review process. Assessment of applications is made by independent expert assessors and an inspection of sites where grants will be applied to fund laboratories and house equipment will now get underway.

“This year once again a wide range of organisations and facilities from all states in Australia sought the support of ACRF” said Chief Executive, Mr David Brettell.

“The four short-listed organisations are seeking funding for stand-out projects which are unique and which will have a global impact on progress towards finding answers to cancer.

We will now focus on the second round of applications followed by visits to the sites of the research projects to assess the final award recommendations which will be announced later this year”, Brettell added.

The four finalists are:

1) The Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) & University of Newcastle NSW. This joint application is requesting funds to purchase equipment and build two dedicated laboratories for what is arguably the world’s first Chemical Proteomics Centre for Kinomics.

Kinomics is a new discipline to Australia and can be best explained as a merger of genomics (concerned with genes) and proteomics (concerned with proteins) implicated in certain human cancers. Because of this role in cancer, kinases have become a priority for new drug targets.

2) The Kolling Institute of Medical Research, Sydney. This application is for equipment to enable the establishment of a new ACRF centre for cancer biomarker discovery at Sydney’s North Shore Hospital, which will provide a uniquely integrated facility for the discovery, identification, validation and localization of cancer biomarkers.

3) The Centre For Cancer Biology South Australian Pathology and the University of Adelaide. Funding is being sought for equipment to establish a new Cancer Genomics Facility, which will enable the researchers to obtain insights into the genetic modifications that underpin development of new tools for better diagnostics, disease prognosis, drug response, and resistance to chemotherapy. This is a new, centralised pathology centre, with a remarkable tissue bank regarded as among the best Bioinfomatics IT centres in Australia.

4) The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne. Funding is being sought for a new capital works program to expand and redevelop the organisation’s principal research laboratories in Parkville.

Great achievements in Cancer Research

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation this year celebrates 25 years supporting Australia’s leading cancer research scientists. The Foundation has awarded $62 million to institutes around Australia and almost $40 million in the last five years. The funding provided by ACRF has had a significant impact on progress in overcoming cancer.

Ten years ago a grant was made to Professor Ian Frazer for his groundbreaking research into cervical cancer. Today the vaccine developed as a result of that research is saving the lives of girls and young women in 90 countries across the globe.

For further information contact David Brettell on 02 9223 7833 or criddington@acrf.com.au

To download the ACRF Grants Short List For 2009 Media Release