Celebrating 60 years of melanoma research to save lives

Celebrating 60 Years of melanoma research to save lives

19 April 2017

Melanoma Institute Australia is proud to be celebrating an important milestone – the 60th anniversary of melanoma research and Australian-led global efforts to find a cure.

It was back in 1957 when Sydney Hospital recorded its first data on a melanoma patient. This patient record marked the beginning of what was to become the Melanoma Research Database (MRD), which is now the biggest database of its kind in the world. With more than 41,000 patient records, the MRD continues to play a vital role in underpinning the ground-breaking work of Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and around the world.

“Melanoma used to be viewed as a disease with a dismal outlook for patients, but I am pleased to say that today things are much different,” said Professor Richard Scolyer, MIA’s Conjoint Medical Director. “The foresight of our colleagues at Sydney Hospital to start recording patient data back in 1957 set us on a path towards greater understanding of the disease, and we are now leading the world in advancing melanoma treatment and research.”

“Life expectancy for advanced melanoma patients has tripled in the last five years, and we are even seeing some patients who are recovering fully,” comments Professor Georgina Long, MIA’s Conjoint Medical Director. “However we still have a long way to go, with one Australian dying from melanoma every six hours.”

Critical to our story is the work of Professor Gerry Milton (pictured) of the Sydney Melanoma Unit (now Melanoma Institute Australia) who in 1968 was trying to better understand the disease. He recruited Dr Helen Shaw to collect and collate all the records of melanoma patients treated at Sydney Hospital over the previous decade. Always forward thinking, the Unit decided to embrace the “high technology” of the day and convert the entire patient catalogue to punch cards – and so the database was born. The detailed patient records included diagnosis, treatment and disease course over time.

The MRD database is now managed by a team including IT specialists and clinical data managers, dedicated to its refinement, preservation and cultivation. It serves as an invaluable resource to identify and extract specific sub-sets of information for research projects related to causes, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment outcomes in melanoma patients. The knowledge gained from these studies assists in the management of melanoma patients around the world.

“We celebrate this Diamond Anniversary with much gratitude to our professional predecessors for their pioneering work that was way ahead of its time. We also have immense appreciation for those thousands of melanoma patients who over the last 60 years have allowed their clinical records to be included in our research database which have enabled us to improve the lives of melanoma patients that have followed them,” Professor Scolyer said.

“They have quite literally given the gift of life to other melanoma patients, and will be the unsung heroes when we finally achieve our goal of ending melanoma.”

Australasian Melanoma Conference AMC2021
19 Nov - 20 Feb 2021

Australasian Melanoma Conference AMC2021

The 2021 Australasian Melanoma Conference (AMC2021) will held in Sydney, Australia.

Predicting disease spread in thin melanoma
05 Mar 2021

Predicting disease spread in thin melanoma

A new MIA online risk calculator for clinicians can determine the likelihood of thin melanoma spreading.   

Tags: melanoma
Exploring our own clinical questions through MIA's new trials initiative
04 Mar 2021

Exploring our own clinical questions through MIA's new trials initiative

MIA has recently established a new division of our Clinical Trials Program which co-ordinates and manages investigator-led multi-centre trials. 

Tags: melanoma
Young researchers awarded Fellowships to pursue innovative treatments for melanoma
04 Mar 2021

Young researchers awarded Fellowships to pursue innovative treatments for melanoma

Two young researchers from MIA and The University of Sydney awarded Cancer Institute NSW fellowships.

Tags: melanoma
Young researchers receive boost to develop innovative treatment for melanoma
04 Mar 2021

Young researchers receive boost to develop innovative treatment for melanoma

Two young researchers from MIA and The University of Sydney awarded Cancer Institute NSW fellowships.

Tags: melanoma
Launch of Melanoma March 2021
01 Mar 2021

Launch of Melanoma March 2021

Aussies urged to leave their footprint on melanoma as efforts step up to save lives from the disease.

Tags: melanoma
WA Melanoma Community Forum
25 Mar 2021

WA Melanoma Community Forum

An evening for WA melanoma patients, carers and the wider melanoma community, where speakers will provide updates on melanoma research, treatment and support.  

Olivia Vivian announced as MIA ambassador
12 Feb 2021

Olivia Vivian announced as MIA ambassador

Olivia is using her Ninja star power to shine a spotlight on melanoma prevention - in memory of her dad. 

Tags: melanoma
Melanoma breakthrough - neoadjuvant treatment saving lives.
09 Feb 2021

Melanoma breakthrough - neoadjuvant treatment saving lives.

Drug treatment before surgery, known as neoadjuvant therapy, is being hailed as one of the biggest breakthroughs in melanoma treatment since the advent of immunotherapy.

Tags: melanoma
Melanoma breakthrough - neoadjuvant therapy saving lives.
09 Feb 2021

Melanoma breakthrough - neoadjuvant therapy saving lives.

Drug treatment before surgery, known as neoadjuvant therapy, is being hailed as one of the biggest breakthroughs in melanoma treatment since the advent of immunotherapy.

Tags: melanoma
Are cancer patients on immunotherapy at a greater risk of severe COVID-19 infection?
04 Feb 2021

Are cancer patients on immunotherapy at a greater risk of severe COVID-19 infection?

New research, led by MIA, has revealed that cancer patients treated with immunotherapy are not at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 infection compared to other cancer patients.

Tags: melanoma
Are cancer patients on immunotherapy at a greater risk of severe COVID-19 infection?
04 Feb 2021

Are cancer patients on immunotherapy at a greater risk of severe COVID-19 infection?

New research, led by MIA, has revealed that cancer patients treated with immunotherapy are not at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 infection compared to other cancer patients.

Tags: melanoma
A message to all Australians from melanoma patient Stuart Taylor
16 Dec 2020

A message to all Australians from melanoma patient Stuart Taylor

Stuart has advanced melanoma which is not responding to treatment. He has shared his story on ABC's 7:30 in the hope that others can escape the same fate. 

Tags: melanoma
Olivia Vivian nominates MIA as Charity Partner on Channel 9's Celebrity Apprentice.
02 Dec 2020

Olivia Vivian nominates MIA as Charity Partner on Channel 9's Celebrity Apprentice.

A Ninja Warrior legend and Olympic gymnast, Olivia knows first hand the devastating impact of melanoma.

Tags: melanoma
It's 'Game On Mole' this summer!
01 Dec 2020

It's 'Game On Mole' this summer!

All Australians are urged to join the fight against melanoma this summer. 

Tags: melanoma
Prof Richard Scolyer named Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year  
27 Nov 2020

Prof Richard Scolyer named Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year  

The ground-breaking work of MIA's Co-Medical Director Prof Richard Scolyer has been recognised with NSW’s highest accolade for cancer research. 

Tags: melanoma
Dr James Wilmott wins 2020 Wildfire Highly Cited Publication Award
24 Nov 2020

Dr James Wilmott wins 2020 Wildfire Highly Cited Publication Award

A landmark study led by MIA's Dr Willmott is making a difference to melanoma treatment around the globe.

Tags: melanoma
MIA researchers feature on prestigious Highly Cited Researchers 2020 List
18 Nov 2020

MIA researchers feature on prestigious Highly Cited Researchers 2020 List

The highly anticipated annual list is the “who’s who” of the scientific elite from across the globe.

Tags: melanoma
Game On Mole is back this summer!
13 Nov 2020

Game On Mole is back this summer!

The uniquely Aussie awareness campaign ‘Game On Mole’ is back for its second year – with a new look but same important message.

Tags: melanoma
RCPA recognition for Professor Richard Scolyer.
12 Nov 2020

RCPA recognition for Professor Richard Scolyer.

Professor Richard Scolyer receives The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Distinguished Fellow Award.

Tags: melanoma