NSW Govt recognises leading cancer researchers

Wednesday, 15 November, 2023

NSW Govt recognises leading cancer researchers

University of Sydney Professors Georgina Long and Richard Scolyer, Co-Medical Directors of the Melanoma Institute Australia, have been named NSW Australians of the Year for their world-leading immunotherapy approach that has turned a diagnosis of advanced melanoma from a death sentence into a curable disease.

In June 2023, when Scolyer was diagnosed with incurable grade 4 brain cancer, he and Long developed a series of world-first treatments based on their melanoma breakthroughs. Scolyer went on to become the world’s first brain cancer patient to have pre-surgery combination immunotherapy — an experimental treatment that risked shortening his life — which has advanced our understanding of brain cancer and is now benefiting future patients. Scolyer has also generated widespread public interest by publicly documenting his own cancer treatment and progress.

The NSW award recipients will join those from other states and territories for the national awards ceremony in Canberra on 25 January 2024.

Meanwhile, world-renowned pathologist and researcher Professor Anthony Gill has been awarded NSW’s highest accolade for cancer research at the Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research. Minister for Health Ryan Park and Minister for Medical Research David Harris helped present the seven prestigious awards, which celebrate the research achievements of individuals and teams working to improve cancer outcomes in NSW.

Gill, a Professor of Surgical Pathology at the University of Sydney, was named Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year for making a significant and long-lasting contribution to cancer research in NSW and beyond. A global expert in the field of cancer diagnosis and pathology research, he helped put Australia on the map in pancreatic research and is known for discovering new types of cancer tumours which are helping improve early diagnosis and survival rates for people with a range of rare hereditary cancers.

The other awardees were as follows:

  • Associate Professor Alexander Menzies received the Outstanding Mid-Career Researcher award, for demonstrating exceptional research progress and accomplishment in melanoma, immunotherapy and neoadjuvant therapy.
  • Dr Anna Singleton received the Outstanding Early Career Researcher award, for demonstrating exceptional research progress and accomplishment in the development of digital health interventions to improve the health of cancer survivors.
  • Rebecca Simpson received the Rising Star PhD Candidate award (new), for making significant progress and showing the potential to make an impact in melanoma research.
  • Wollongong Hospital received the Outstanding Cancer Clinical Trials Unit award, for its cancer research unit’s performance and work in supporting local communities living with cancer, including a world-first clinical trial for adults with multiple myeloma.
  • The CanEngage Project Team at Macquarie University received the Improving Equitable Outcomes through Cancer Research award (new), for making an impact in improving cancer outcomes in communities that continue to have poorer cancer outcomes.
  • Cancer Voices NSW received the Consumer Engagement in Cancer Research award (new), for making a significant and sustained contribution to cancer research in NSW, supporting people living with or impacted by cancer.

Each winner received funding boosts as part of their prize, with Gill receiving $50,000 to further his cancer research.

Image caption: Professors Georgina Long and Richard Scolyer, NSW’s 2024 Australians of the Year.

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