Melanoma researchers shine at the State's premier cancer awards ceremony

Melanoma researchers shine at the State's premier cancer awards ceremony

3 November 2017

Melanoma Institute Australia’s world-leading researchers have excelled at the 2017 Cancer Institute NSW’s Premier Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research.

Hosted by the Cancer Institute NSW, the Awards honour the achievements of individuals and teams working across the cancer research sector to lessen the impact of cancer on the people of NSW.

Leading researchers from MIA have been acknowledged with three prestigious awards for their excellence in melanoma research which is changing clinical practice and saving lives.  

MIA’s Conjoint Medical Directors, Professor Richard Scolyer and Professor Georgina Long, and their research team received the award for Excellence in Translational Cancer Research. The award recognises contributions having a lasting impact and demonstrating sustained progress against cancer.

The team has made key discoveries and transformed global melanoma patient care. Their discoveries range from defining new determinants of risk in primary melanoma which have impacted international reporting guidelines; development of diagnostic tests that have become clinical practice worldwide; identifying novel molecular phenotypes of melanoma; and leading development of novel treatments particularly in patients with advanced melanoma where there were no effective therapies previously.

Professor Richard Kefford AM has been named Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year. This prestigious award is given to an individual who has made an outstanding and sustained contribution to cancer research and has a record of substantive and noteworthy publications.

Professor Kefford’s research has played a seminal role in revealing the genetics of melanoma and he has authored more than 300 journal publications, chapters and books. He has been a Principal Investigator on more than 40 clinical trials exploring new immunotherapies that are transforming the treatment of melanoma. In addition, he has mentored a new generation of leading laboratory and clinical researchers in the field of cancer.

Professor Helen Rizos and the Melanoma Translational Research Team have won the Wildfire Highly Cited Publication Award. The award is given to researchers for a highly cited publication that is expected to significantly influence cancer control or further research. The publication that won Professor Rizos and the MIA team the award was published in Clinical Cancer Research and determined that first line combination therapies that target multiple pathways may have more success than an adaptive sequential approach. This publication has led to a new standard of care for patients with BRAF-mutant advanced melanoma being treated with combination BRAF and MEK inhibitors.

“We are extremely proud of our award winners but also our wide network of MIA-affiliated research teams,” said MIA’s CEO Carole Renouf. “The goal we all share is zero deaths from melanoma and we are making rapid progress towards cure.”

MIA’s Conjoint Medical Director Professor Richard Scolyer said, “The depth and breadth of research undertaken at MIA ensures that we are key players on the world stage of melanoma research. It is an honour to lead this organisation and I am delighted that our people are being recognised for their tremendous efforts.”

MIA’s Conjoint Medical Director Professor Georgina Long added, “The passionate people at MIA work tirelessly to consistently produce research that has a direct positive impact on the lives of patients and their families.”

Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow said, “Ten years ago, people diagnosed with advanced melanoma had their life expectancy measured in months. Now, Australian people with melanoma have a range of increasingly personalised treatment options. This has seen response rates improve from less than 10 per cent with older chemotherapy to between 40 and 70 per cent today.

“I commend these researchers for their tireless efforts and congratulate them on their tremendous success in changing the way we treat these cancers.”

The awards ceremony was held on Friday 3rd November at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. Adam Spencer, as the Master of Ceremonies, joined more than 300 pre-eminent guests from the health and medical research sector to share successes and forge collaborations.

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