The $18 million awarded today will boost cancer research in WA. Photo: Attila Csaszar

$18m for WA cancer research

Monday, 3 July, 2017 - 13:53

A series of cancer research projects led by the University of Western Australia has been awarded $18 million from the Cancer Research Trust and other partner organisations.

A fund dedicated to making contributions to the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cancer research in WA, the Cancer Research Trust today announced a $13.5 million commitment to be spread over nine years.

The additional $4.5 million in funds has been backed by partner organisations including the Cancer Council WA, Telethon Kids Institute, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research UWA, Murdoch University, Curtin University, Notre Dame, the WA Department of Health and St John of God Healthcare.

The funding will boost research projects led by Alistair Forrest and Christobel Saunders, which have a direct and immediate impact on clinical outcomes, including research into cutting-edge technology that will have a fundamental impact on early diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Professor Forrest, a world-leading genomics researcher based at the UWA-affiliated Harry Perkins Institute, along with his team of scientists and medical practitioners from WA’s major research institutions, will use the grant to build a unique single-cell molecular atlas of hundreds of cancer samples donated by patients.

“To fight cancer we need to understand how it develops at the single cell level, which is now possible courtesy of major advances in technology,” Professor Forrest said.

“Understanding which genes switch on and off in every cell within a tumour will enable better understanding, earlier detection and ultimately, help kill these cancer cells.”

Professor Saunders, who is internationally recognised as one of Australia’s most prominent cancer surgeons, will oversee the Continuous Improvement in Care-Cancer (CIC-Cancer) Project, which will implement a program of research that places cancer patients first.

In addition to researchers it will involve patients, clinicians and health services, and generate and trial new interventions.

“Putting cancer patients first is my primary focus and this project will directly improve the lives of those diagnosed with cancer efficiently and effectively,” Professor Saunders said.

“The data will help us work out where to best direct our scarce resources.

“At a time when cancer care costs are escalating and the benefits to patients in terms of survival and quality of life are not always apparent, this project has the capacity to identify important deficits in care pathways.”