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International Day of Women and Girls in Science

cancer research, women in cancer research, International Day of Women and Girls in ScienceToday is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day to recognise the inspirational women who are achieving incredible feats, many of which we already benefit from. From our world-class Medical Research Advisory Committee (MRAC) we would like to recognise the following women who have dedicated their careers to advancing cancer research.

Professor Michelle Haber AM, BSc (Psych) (Hons), PhD, Hon DSc UNSW: Professor Haber was appointed to the MRAC in 2012. She is the Executive Director of the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia in Sydney. Additionally she is the Conjoint Professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of NSW.

Professor Jennifer Stow, BSc (Hons), PhD: Professor Stow was appointed to the MRAC in 2009. She is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and the Deputy Director for Research and Group Leader at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience located in the University of Queensland.

Associate Professor Connie Trimble, MD: Professor Trimble was appointed to the MRAC in 2014 and is one of the first international members of our committee. Professor Trimble is the Associate Professor of Gynecology, Obstetrics and Oncology at John Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, USA. She is also a Diplomat of the American Board of Pathology and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as a Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Professor Emma Whitelaw: Professor Whitelaw was appointed to the MRAC in 2012. She is an NHMRC Australia Fellow as well as the Director of the La Trobe Institute of Molecular Sciences.

Each of these women have done amazing work with the ACRF and is an inspiration to young women looking for mentors in leading roles. We’re extremely proud to work with these women on a regular basis and thank them all very much for their dedication to cancer research in Australia.

Professor Whitelaw: Fellow of Australian Academy of Science

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) would like to congratulate Professor Emma Whitelaw for her election into the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) last week.

Professor Whitelaw received this prestigious Fellowship in recognition of her work in epigenetics – including the study of complex diseases resulting from gene-environment interactions (such as cancer). Continue reading “Professor Whitelaw: Fellow of Australian Academy of Science”

ACRF grant recipient wins international award

A world-leading researcher and ACRF research grant recipient, Professor Emma Whitelaw, has been awarded top honours in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology during an international scientific meeting.

In 2007, ACRF awarded $2.7 million to Professor Whitelaw and her research team at the Queensland Institute for Medical Research (QIMR) to establish the ACRF Centre for Cancer Epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of mechanisms which modify DNA structure in subtle ways, and thus change gene expression, without influencing the DNA base sequence. Continue reading “ACRF grant recipient wins international award”

Researchers discover genes that increase melanoma risk

Queensland researchers believe they may have found an important factor in pinpointing who may be more susceptible to melanomas.

Scientists from the Queensland Institute for Medical Research, Brisbane (QIMR) have found two genes, which together, double a person’s risk of developing melanomas.

Professor Nick Hayward – who, with Professor Emma Whitelaw and her QIMR team, is among the Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s (ACRF)’s recent grant recipients – told ABC radio recently that Australia has the highest incidence of this most lethal form of skin cancer in the world, with more than 10,000 new cases rep

“We found two new genes that increased a person’s risk of melanoma. If you carry a variant of either one, you have about a 25 per cent increased risk of developing melanoma,” he said.

“If you have two variants at each of the two genes, then you have about a double, or twice the risk.”

Most people would associate melanoma with exposure to sunlight. But scientists have known that genes are involved in a person’s likelihood of developing the disease.

“What we found today are the first two gene variants that increase the person’s risk of melanoma, that actually act through increasing the number of moles on a person,” he said.

What is the impact of this discovery?

“It now gives us a sort of entree, if you like, into understanding the pathways that this regulated in melanoma development and also in mole formation, and how those two processes are related.

“With knowledge of the pathways that this regulated, hopefully at some stage in the future we might be able to determine possible new therapies that actually could counteract whatever is wrong in those pathways.”

But Professor Hayward says the new research doesn’t mean people should be rushing out to be genetically tested or screened if they are susceptible.

“The actual risk associated with either one of these gene variants is quite small,” he added.

“But what we’re hoping is that now giving us an extra two gene variants that we can put towards some kind of diagnostic or screening tests in the near future, let’s say, two to three years away where we might have a small collection of gene variants.

“There could be 10 or 20 different variants that we could look at simultaneously and together we can calculate a person’s susceptibility to melanoma.”

ACRF Chief Executive David Brettell said the breakthrough highlighted the Foundation’s focus on funding “ground breaking” work which will have a global impact on cancer.

“Last year we awarded The Queensland Institute for Medical Research $2.7 million in funding for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation Centre for Epigenetics. Our support reflects the brilliant work done by this team, who are considered to be world leaders in their field. QIMR is one of the best cancer research facilities in the world,” said Mr Brettell.

“This result is exciting and is one very important step on a road which could lead to further understanding and ultimately prevention of one of the most devastating of cancer types.”

orted every year.

Professor Hayward’s international research was published in the journal Nature Genetics recently.

Continue reading “Researchers discover genes that increase melanoma risk”