UNSW Medicine’s Cancer Theme has committed $50,000 in new seed grants for two interdisciplinary projects led by early-career researchers (ECRs) to be undertaken in 2020.

Congratulations to the successful ECRs and their teams.

Dr Katrina Tonga (UNSW Sydney and St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney): CT radiomics to refine lung cancer risk in lung cancer screening
Organisations involved: Macquarie University Hospital, The Prince Charles Hospital QLD, St Vincent's Hospital Sydney, SWSLHD, UNSW Sydney, University of Sydney, Woolcock Institute

Lung cancer kills more people than any other cancer. As there is no routine screening for lung cancer, diagnosis is often made at a late stage when no cure is available. This project is the first of its kind to be carried out in Australia, and is part of a large multi-centre national and international trial. Low-dose lung CT (LDCT) and novel radiomics tools will be used to screen for lung cancer in high-risk populations. The study aims to detect lung cancer earlier and more accurately to improve treatment outcomes for patients.

Dr Helen Forgham (UNSW Sydney and Children’s Cancer Institute): Towards the development of serological biomarkers for therapy response in childhood brain cancers: Can extracellular vesicles guide the way?
Organisations involved: Children's Cancer Institute, SCHN, UNSW Sydney

In Australia, more children die from brain cancer than any other disease. Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant tumour in children, and in 30% of patients existing treatments don’t work or their cancer returns. A test that rapidly detects cancer biomarkers in the blood linked to tumour growth and treatment response could allow clinicians to more accurately monitor disease and intervene earlier by changing treatment. This cross-disciplinary project will be the first to isolate and characterise extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by chemotherapy-treated medulloblastoma cells. The study aims to take the first steps towards the development of a quick and simple test that accurately determines whether a child with medulloblastoma is responding to chemotherapy in real-time.

The ECR seed grants fund academics and clinical-academics up to 10 years post-PhD to lead new collaborative research with mentoring and support provided through a structured team. They aim to develop our research workforce and emerging leaders.

Find out more about UNSW Medicine’s Cancer Theme and how to get involved with our research. Or visit the Cancer Research Fund at UNSW Philanthropy to find out more about contributing financially to our cancer researchers.