Our vision is to improve the lives of all people impacted by cancer by delivering evidence-based practice in diagnosis, intervention and support. 

Cancer is one of the world’s greatest health challenges. There is much to do to advance the prevention, treatment and cure of this disease. UNSW Medicine & Health’s cancer research aims to improve the outcome of high mortality cancers – where the responses to current medicine and procedures are yet to change. 

We help turn scientific discoveries into cures. The expertise of our internationally recognised clinicians, researchers and educators spans the basic sciences, clinical trials, implementation research, public health and health services research. 


Cancer affects half the global population before the age of 80. Our research continues to advance medicine and transform the outlook for cancer patients. This includes better treatment options and survival rates, which has so far helped hundreds of thousands of people in Australia to either outlast cancer or survive with it. 


We improve the survival and quality of life for all people affected by cancer by working through our key areas of focus with clinically informed research. Our findings are relevant to real-world health challenges and can be rapidly implemented to improve outcomes. 

By working with consumers, government and non-government organisations, charities and industry, our research teams leverage, target and scale our current and developing strengths to achieve significant breakthroughs. 


We lead international research in clinical trials, including Australia’s first Molecular Screening and Trials in rare cancers as well as other large-scale investigator-driven international Phase 2/3 studies. 

Through the Garvan Institute of Medical Research Illumina XTen facility, we’re discovering new genes associated with cancer risk and progression. Identifying these genes will lead to new preventative and therapeutic targets. 

The Australian MRI-Linac at the Ingham Institute is a world-first research and technology project that will redefine and improve radiation treatment for cancer. 

We also host outstanding clinical facilities that deliver complex services to difficult and rare cancer cases. Through our involvement with United Nations agencies, such as the World Health Organization and International Atomic Energy Agency, we’re established leaders in the global fight for cancer control. 

Associate Professor Caroline Ford is bringing awareness to the deadliest form of cancer in women: ovarian cancer. Every day, four Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and three will die from it. 

  • Big Ideas Workshop

    Our cancer research theme is developing BIG Ideas or large programs of work for strategic investment. With an increased focus on collaboration we're leveraging our strengths to add value over and above the pre-existing landscape of initiatives and capabilities. BIG Ideas contribute to portfolio development with a focus on innovation, creativity and discovery.

    If you have a BIG Idea to contribute, submit it at any time to n.mcausland@unsw.edu.au for faculty support and development. The next BIG Ideas Workshop will be run in the second half of 2022.

    Cancer Research Seed Grants

    Seed grants are offered to support new and strategic research, with a focus on collaboration across organisations and disciplines. Unsuccessful seed grants are eligible for other forms of support, including grant preparation support or leverage funds for external funding applications above $2m and philanthropic exposure.

    Congratulations to the following 2022 recipients:

    • Dr Benjamin Daniels, Centre for Big Data Research - Understanding the impact of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) on Australian cancer treatment. 
    • Dr Leila Eshraghi, Garvan - Elucidating the oncogenic role of telomere dysfunction in drug resistant ER+ breast cancer.
    • Dr Jackie Huang, CCI -  Sensitisation and eradication of chemo-resistant T-ALL by repurposing epigenetic and myeloid-directed drugs.
    • Dr Ernesto Moles, CCI - In vivo controlled reprogramming of T cells with chimeric antigen receptor-encoding mRNA nanoparticles to potently suppress brain cancer.
    • Dr Brooke Pereira, Garvan - Repurposing PCSK9 inhibitor PF-846 to enhance immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer.
    Education Initiatives

    Research education and training is provided to support our research workforce in areas of identified need. Watch our presentation from the Therapeutic Development Workshop. We engaged close to 100 people, who shared their expertise across all stages of drug development. The workshop explored ideas around commercialising research into treatments, therapies or drugs to improve health across the community. Watch the presentation.

    A Medical Devices Workshop is now in development. It aims to strengthen interdisciplinary collaborations across UNSW faculties and will include information sharing in best-practice approaches to develop, test, seek approval and scale up interventional devices.

    Annual Events- UNSW Cancer Symposium

    The inaugural UNSW Cancer Symposia was held on 22 June 2022.

    Bringing together representatives from across the UNSW cancer community to hear short talks and panel discussions to stimulate conversations and new collaborations. Allowing students to senior researchers to connect, generate new ideas and an appreciation of the broad cancer research going on across our campuses and institutes.

    Congratulations to the Poster Presentations winners:

    PhD Student Poster Prizes – Felix Kohane and Beata Kiedik

    Early Career Researcher Poster Prize – Dr Shabani Gupta

    Mid-career Researcher Poster Prize – Dr Beatriz Perez San Juan


  • The governance of the UNSW Medicine & Health Cancer Theme is provided by the UNSW Cancer Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). 

    The Cancer Theme Lead, Professor Elgene Lim, chairs the SAC. The committee members represent all cancer research focus areas across UNSW and affiliated institutions and campuses including: the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD), the South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD), St Vincent’s precinct, the Garvan Institute and The George Institute for Global Health. 

    The SAC objectives are to represent the UNSW cancer community, facilitate research outputs, initiatives, internal and external collaborations, and attract and train the next generation of cancer researchers in UNSW. 

    UNSW Cancer Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) members

    Elgene Lim (Theme Lead/Chair)

    Garvan Institute - Kinghorn Cancer Centre/UNSW St Vincent’s Clinical Campus

    Alex Swarbrick (Deputy Chair)

    Garvan Institute - Kinghorn Cancer Centre/UNSW St Vincent’s Clinical Campus

    Paul Timpson

    Garvan Institute/ UNSW St Vincent’s Clinical Campus

    Jeff Holst

    UNSW School of Biomedical Sciences/School of Clinical Medicine

    Minoti Apte

    Pancreatic Research Group, UNSW South West Sydney Clinical Campus; Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research

    Geoff Delaney (SPHERE Lead)

    Sydney Partnership for Health Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE)/ UNSW South West Sydney Clinical Campus

    Carole Harris

    UNSW School of Clinical Medicine: St George Clinical Campus/SES LHD

    Anthony Joshua

    Garvan Institute - Kinghorn Cancer Centre/UNSW St Vincent’s Clinical Campus

    David Goldstein

    UNSW Prince of Wales Clinical Campus

    David Ziegler

    Sydney Children’s Hospital / Children’s Cancer Institute

    Claire Wakefield

    UNSW School of Clinical Medicine, Discipline of Paediatrics/ Sydney Children’s Hospital, Kids Cancer Centre

    Bruce Neal

    The George Institute for Global Health

    Mandy Hagstrom

    UNSW School of Health Sciences (Exercise oncology)

    Sallie Pearson

    UNSW School of Population Health
    Contact Us

    Professor Elgene Lim
    Principal, Cancer Theme
    E: e.lim@garvan.org.au 

    Nikki McAusland
    Research Development Manager
    E: n.mcausland@unsw.edu.au