Winners announced for TRI development awards

Friday 02 February 2018

February 4 is World Cancer Day, a day that unites the world’s population in the fight against cancer.

Currently, 8.8 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, out of which, 4 million people die prematurely, aged between 30 and 69. 

World Cancer Day is the ideal opportunity to spread the word and raise the profile of cancer in people’s minds and in the world’s media.

Mater Foundation Senior Research Fellow Dr Gregor Kijanka is one of the recipients of this year’s Translational Research Institute (TRI) Development Awards for his research in tackling advanced melanoma.

In Australia melanoma is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed and in 2015 more than 1520 people died due to melanoma.

As part of the award Dr Kijanka received $10 000 to go towards his project predicting the success of immunotherapies.

The aim of this collaborative project is to tackle advanced melanoma with a multitude of approaches across several research teams to improve current immunotherapies and to develop safer and more effective treatments in the near future.

“The recent advances in cancer immunotherapies have helped many patients with advanced disease. Remarkably, immunotherapies switch on the body’s natural defence mechanisms to tackle melanoma.

My research aims to characterise the precise changes of the immune system in patients undergoing treatment. We can then use these findings to identify patients who will respond better to certain therapies, and to tailor treatment specifically to each patient minimising potential side-effects,” Dr Kjanka’s said.

“This award will give me the opportunity to work with some of the key scientific and medical leaders in the melanoma field and our collaborative effort will hopefully result in a more focused approach to the treatment of melanoma patients and ultimately result in more lives being saved.”

Dr Kijanka will be using the award to increase the hours of a dedicated research nurse within the Melanoma Unit, who will be working to identify, gain consent and collect data of approximately 40 advanced melanoma patients undergoing immunotherapy.

Dr Magid Fahim, a nephrologist, was also a recipient of this year’s TRI Development Awards.

Congratulations to Dr Kijanka and Dr Fahim.