Melanoma research gets a funding boost from NHMRC
9 December 2016
Research projects led by Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) have been awarded almost $6 million in the latest National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding round which will enable vital progression of research into melanoma prevention and treatment. Projects led by MIA researchers have been awarded the highly competitive funding:
- Professor Georgina Long (MIA and The University of Sydney) received a Practitioner Fellowship (5 years) to investigate the underlying biology of patients’ responses to treatment. By understanding why some patients respond well to therapies when others develop resistance will help us develop tests to ensure the best possible treatment is given to each individual patient. In addition, it will also help identify the ideal drug therapy combinations to improve patient outcomes further or prevent metastatic melanoma altogether.
- Professor Nicholas Hayward (MIA and QIMR Berghofer) received a Research Fellowship (3 years) to investigate genetic predisposition to melanoma in the general population and predisposed families, and the genes involved in traits underlying melanoma development. He was also awarded a Project Grant (5 years) to conduct a comprehensive genetic analysis of acral melanoma to ultimately identify new drug targets to treat this disease. Although an uncommon subtype of melanoma, acral melanoma has a bad prognosis and has been poorly characterised at the molecular level.
- Professor Helen Rizos (MIA and Macquarie University) received two Project Grants to investigate the cell biology of melanoma. These project grants involved a team of chief investigators from MIA, who have collaborated on melanoma response and resistance for many years, including Professor Richard Kefford, Professor Georgina Long, Dr Matteo Carlino, Dr Alexander Menzies and Dr Xu Dong Zhang, and new collaborator Professor Barbara Fazekas de St Groth. The first Project Grant (4 years) will be used to investigate the mechanisms of response and resistance to combination immunotherapies in order to enhance the duration and rate of patient response. The second Project Grant (4 years) will use tumour samples of patients who have developed resistance to immunotherapies to determine the underlying mechanisms involved. This information will accelerate the identification of new combination therapies to improve patient outcomes.
- Associate Professor Anne Cust (MIA and The University of Sydney) was awarded a 4-year Project Grant to improve skin cancer prevention. Her research will evaluate whether they can improve skin cancer prevention behaviours by giving personalised information about melanoma genetic risk. They will also explore the psycho-social, ethical and economic implications of receiving this information, with the ultimate aim to positively influence the future of skin cancer prevention in Australia.
To date, the 2016 NHMRC Grant Application Round has resulted in the commitment of more than $703 million to fund health and medical research across Australia.
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Two publications co-edited by MIA Co-Medical Director Professor Richard Scolyer are now available to healthcare professionals. They aim to provide assistance in the care and management of patients with skin cancer, including melanoma.
Melanoma Institute Australia has introduced a new educational program to teach teenagers about the dangers of melanoma and the importance of sun safety.
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Research that could change clinical practice for high-risk Stage III melanoma patients has been presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress in Munich.