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.”
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We have a winner!
Professor John Thompson, Executive Director at Melanoma Institute Australia, was one of 116 fellows appointed to the new Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences at a ceremony in Canberra on the 25th March.
Federal Minister for Health, the Hon. Sussan Ley, announced more than $14 million in funding for a research program to study the molecular determinants of risk, progression and treatment response in melanoma.
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Manly Melanoma March has changed to a new location.
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We want to share with you what your valuable Melanoma March donation and fundraising goes towards and our Research Director, Graham Mann explains the national research project the funds will be going towards.
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You are invited to provide comments for consideration by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC). The PBAC will consider the registration of the anti-PD1 drug, Keytruda (pembrolizumab) at the next meeting in March.
Melanoma patient Joel Allsop was congratulated today on completing his participation in the international surgical clinical trial, known as MSLT-II. He was the first person in the world to complete the 10 years of follow-up for this trial.
Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) has officially launched the 2015 ‘Melanoma March’ initiative in Melbourne.
Help us march towards a cure for melanoma research. See where your local march is and how you can get involved.
Under the leadership of world-leading melanoma pathologist Prof Richard Scolyer and medical oncologist A/Prof Georgina Long, third year PhD student, Hojabr Kakavand, is at the forefront of melanoma research.
Melanoma Institute Australia has launched a new smartphone app called ClinTrial Refer Melanoma to help busy clinicians find clinical trials for their melanoma patients.
MIA's Associate Professor Georgina Long and stage 4 melanoma patient, Maria, were recently interviewed by ABC Weekend Breakfast about the latest in clincial trials and melanoma treatments.
Sunbed campaigner, Jay Allen, has been acknowledged on the honour roll of Australia’s most influential people in the non-profit sector.
Today we launch the website we’ve dreamed about!
Our new summer campaign has you and your mates' backs covered!