Melanoma pioneers named 2024 Australians of the Year


Monday, 29 January, 2024

Melanoma pioneers named 2024 Australians of the Year

University of Sydney Professors Georgina Long AO and Richard Scolyer AO, Co-Medical Directors of the Melanoma Institute Australia, have jointly won the 2024 Australian of Year award for their pioneering work in the treatment of melanoma, through an enduring partnership that has saved thousands of lives.

Less than a decade ago, advanced melanoma was fatal — but thanks to Long and Scolyer’s immunotherapy approach, which activates a patient’s own immune system, it has become a curable disease. The research partners are also sought-after media commentators and prominent advocates for sun-safe behaviour and melanoma prevention.

Furthermore, their immunotherapy approach was adapted to treat brain cancer in June 2023, after Scolyer was diagnosed with incurable grade 4 glioblastoma. In taking the experimental treatment with a risk of shortening his life, Scolyer became the world’s first brain cancer patient to have pre-surgery combination immunotherapy — and recently shared that, eight months later, there is currently no sign of cancer recurrence. The median time to recurrence is typically six months.

The Chair of the National Australia Day Council, John Foreman OAM, congratulated the 2024 Australian of the Year Award recipients.

“The 2024 Australians of the Year represent the very best of us,” Foreman said.

“Georgina and Richard are leading work which is saving countless lives now and, thanks also to the personal commitment of Richard, will lead to an even more extraordinary impact on the health of people around the world in the future.”

In accepting the award, Long and Scolyer said, “We stand here tonight proudly representing every melanoma patient and their families, all those impacted by brain cancer, and indeed, all cancers.

“We are immensely proud of the work we do at Melanoma Institute Australia and our laboratory at The University of Sydney.

“We never imagined our life work would lead us here.”

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Mark Scott AO said he offered his heartfelt congratulations to Long and Scolyer.

“Their life-changing research, unwavering commitment and leadership in revolutionising melanoma treatment have not only earned them this honour but have also saved thousands,” he said. “Their work is a genuine inspiration to us all.”

Image caption: Professor Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Image credit: NADC/Salty Dingo.

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