Members in focus

Each month we invite a Sydney Catalyst member to open a window to their corner of the translational cancer reasearch world. We hope their profiles will help other members put faces to names and encourage collaboration across the various Sydney Catalyst member groups.

 

"Double Shot With ..."

 

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In June 2015 we switched to our new format Member in Focus feature: "Double Shot With ..." where we showcase our chosen members through ten short, sharp, complete-this-sentence style questions. We hope to reveal a more personal side of our members to encourage common ground connections that may help with future collaborations.

 

August 2015


This month we meet Dr Joe Jabbour BMedSci (Hons) MBBS (Hons) PhD candidate

 

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1.        Describe your role in one sentence .... I'm a part time PhD student (clinician by profession) for the Comprehensive Head and Neck Cancer Education Needs and Support project currently being undertaken at multiple institutions around NSW (Liverpool hospital, Royal Prince Alfred hospital and Westmead hospital).
2.        I chose this career path because …. I wanted to integrate my passion for evidence based health care into best clinical practice to ensure patients receive tailored information regarding their head and neck cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship concerns.
3.        My proudest career achievement has been …. being given the privilege to work with head and neck cancer patients to be a voice for their unmet information needs in order to provide the ideal quantity and quality of information.
4.        At work I'm always learning that …. working in a research team is pivotal to ensure that the objectives are achieved in a timely manner.
5.        The most rewarding part of my job is …. being able to have both the clinical exposure and research experience in order to contribute to the rapidly evolving evidence based health care.  
6.        I chose to join Sydney Catalyst because …. of its erudite multi-disciplinary team and wide contribution to translational research from the bench to the bedside. It provides many aspects of support to researchers at all stages of their career.
7.        If I hadn't chose this career I'd probably be …. a full time researcher as it provides great satisfaction and excitement everyday to be working towards scientific discovery that will hopefully make a clinical difference.
8.        The best piece of advice I've ever been given is …. "never memorise anything you can look up" - Einstein
9.        One thing about me that most people don't know is …. I enjoy cycling daily which incorporates exercise and is quite therapeutic.
10.   The person I most admire in my industry is …. the late Prof Chris O'Brien who has pioneered the multi-disciplinary comprehensive cancer centre and head and neck cancer research. 

 

July 2015


This month we meet Dr. Wojciech Chrzanowski, PhD, DSc

 

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  1. Describe your role in one sentence: I am a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Pharmacy University of Sydney and Visiting Professor at Department of Nanobiomedical Science and Global Research Center of Regenerative Medicine, Dankook University. The research of my group is balanced between basic and translational sciences and focuses on nanomedicine where we develop multifunctional nanomaterials, interrogate cell responses to these materials and utilise them to solve outstanding biomedical problems, e.g. 'combat' cancer.
  2. I chose this career path because .... though my work, dedication and diligence I want to contribute to our knowledge, which can take us closer to the development of truly effective treatments for millions of cancer sufferers.
  3. The most difficult thing I've had to deal with at work is .... a very large amount of grant applications we have prepare to obtain funding for our research, which is due to low success rate.
  4. I do what I do because ....  being solution-focused, persistent and organised we can help and make an impact.
  5. Right now I wish I was .... a little younger with the same experience.
  6. The most rewarding part of my job is .... when I can see that our work can really help patients.
  7. I chose to join Sydney Catalyst because .... it offers unique opportunities to access expertise and link to experts with whom we (bioengineers) have to work to know where the problem resides. It is also an outstanding platform for meeting people and triggering new project ideas.
  8. The best piece of advice I've ever been given is .... "There may be many times when you try to invent something, that people tell you that it is impossible, that it will never work. But I think that it is very rarely true. I think if you really believe in yourself, if you are persistent and work hard, there is very little that is truly impossible".
  9. The person I most admire in my industry is .... Robert Langer, chemical engineer who revolutionised the way some drugs are delivered.
  10. I manage an effective work/life balance in an all-consuming career by .... planning my day, week, month and year, and making sure that family, sport and friends (social activates) are a part of the plan.

 

June 2015


This month we meet Gemma Collet, BMedSc

 

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  1. Describe your role in one sentence …. I'm the Project Coordinator for the Lung Cancer Demonstration Project. I work closely with the Sydney Catalyst T2/T3 group to develop and implement models for providing effective lung cancer care, closing the gap between the evidence and practice.
  2. I chose this career path because …. I wanted to incorporate my passion for patient care and improving treatment outcomes, with my clinical experience in reproductive science and work in complex qualitative research models with kidney disease patients to improve service delivery and experiences of people affected by lung cancer.
  3. My proudest career achievement has been …. working closely with end-stage kidney disease patients, helping to improve their quality of life and symptom burden.
  4. The people I work with are …. busy, motivated, enthusiastic and passionate about translational cancer research.
  5. Right now I wish I was …. somewhere warm and tropical answering these questions.
  6. The most rewarding part of my job is …. working across a multidisciplinary team with some amazing people to implement changes in the service delivery and clinical procedures which aim to improve the lung cancer care journey for patients and their families.
  7. The worst part of my job is …. the delays and hurdles involved in ethics and research governance.
  8. If I hadn't chosen this career I'd probably be …. an astronaut, that was my childhood dream job.
  9. The best piece of advice I've ever been given is …. you might not know where you are going until you get there.
  10. If I was stranded on a desert island and I could take one thing with me, it would be …. my Swiss Army Knife, there is nothing it can't do!

 

 

May 2015


This month we meet Fadi Gurgis, BPharm (Hons I) 

 

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Mr Fadi Gurgis, BPharm (Hons I) 

Background:
I grew up in Abu Dhabi (UAE) and moved to Sydney after finishing my high school in 2008. I graduated with a Bachelor degree in Pharmacy with first class honours from the University of Sydney in 2011. After completing my undergraduate studies, I then worked as an intern pharmacist in a community pharmacy for a year before getting registered in 2012. After receiving an Australian Postgraduate Award in 2013, I undertook a PhD in pharmacology at the University of Sydney under the supervision of Dr Lenka Munoz. My PhD has been focused on finding novel treatments for brain tumours. My studies have encompassed understanding the response of brain tumour cells with oncogenic mutations to inflammatory cytokines, pharmacology of novel anticancer agents and ways to improve the efficacy of chemotherapy used in brain tumour treatment.  I have 2 first author publications in Molecular Pharmacology and Oncogene and 1 provisional patent. I still practice once a week as a community pharmacist and enjoy tutoring/demonstrating pharmacology units of study taught by the Discipline of Pharmacology.
 
Research interests:
I am interested in finding novel drug treatments for brain cancer as well as discovering new ways to improve response to the current chemotherapeutic used in the clinic. I consider myself lucky to work on brain cancer as there is a lot to be done. I believe that the brain cancer research field is unfortunately not well established in contrast to many other types of cancers. Patients with brain tumours have only one choice of chemotherapy drug and its effectiveness is usually hampered down by resistance. My current PhD project aims to discover new anticancer drug candidates for brain tumour treatment and also assess the potential of combining kinase inhibitors with temozolomide, the chemotherapeutic agent used in the clinic.
 
Involvement in Sydney Catalyst:
I have recently joined the Sydney Catalyst (November last year) for its focus on translational cancer research. I presented at the Sydney Cancer Conference November 2014 and received a best poster presentation award. I am keen to get involved in the International Translational Cancer Research Symposium in July later this year.
 
"If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?"
 Somewhere that combines the ancient history of Egypt, luxury of Abu Dhabi and landscape of Australia.

 

April 2015


This month we meet Brooke Nickel, BSc(Hons), MIPH

 

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Brooke Nickel BSc(Hons), MIPH

Background:
I currently work as a psychosocial researcher for the Screening and Test Evaluation Program (STEP) in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney. After completing my Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Canada and Master of International Public Health degree at the University of Sydney I began working in public health research with STEP. My previous research experience also involves public health research in rural Indonesia and Canada. I am now about to commence my PhD under the supervision of Professor Kirsten McCaffery in the School of Public Health. As well as Sydney Catalyst, I am also affiliated with the Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-based Decision-making (CeMPED), Psycho-oncology Co-operative Research Group, and the Cancer Research Network at the University of Sydney.
 
Research Interests:
I am interested in understanding psychosocial aspects of cancer diagnosis and treatment. My specific area of interest is examining how different terminologies for early stage cancer or precancerous conditions affect patients' psychological outcomes and decision making regarding treatment. To help reduce overdiagnosis and possible overtreatment of cancers with low-malignant potential, recent questions surrounding the terminology used have been raised. I hope to investigate this new area of research further which aims to improve health outcomes of individuals diagnosed with early stage cancer or precancerous conditions, and address the clinical management of overdiagnosis and overtreatment in cancer.

Involvement with Sydney Catalyst:
I am new member of Sydney Catalyst (since Jan 2015) and look forward to participating in the upcoming Sydney Catalyst Post Graduate and Early Career Researcher Symposium, as well as the Sydney Catalyst International Translational Cancer Research symposium.
 
Who do you admire most in your industry and why:
Since I started working in public health research I have met, listen to and read work by so many inspirational researchers whose careers I admire, however, I would probably have to say that I most admire the team of researchers I work with day in and out. All of them are so driven and hardworking and have really helped me progress in the field of research.

 

March 2015


This month we meet John Stubbs, BA Dip Acct.

 

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John Stubbs  BA, Dip Acct.

Background:
Fifteen years ago I was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. Since that time I have been a committed and passionate advocate for people affected by cancer. Holding degrees in Accounting and Arts I am a regular speaker at medical conferences and seminars on cancer policy, advocacy, clinical trials and related issues. I am currently voluntary CEO of CanSpeak a national cancer consumer advocacy group.  In 2009 I was awarded an Honorary Associate of the University of Sydney, School of Medicine for work in the promotion of Clinical Trials in this country and in 2011 a Recognition Award from the Federal Department of Health for - "long standing commitment to advancing the quality of radiation oncology services in this country".

Research Interests:
My commitment is to recognise and support research and clinical trials for blood cancers which are often not considered - often the main cancer focus appears to be on 'tumours'.  However, as researchers are aware, the same 'rules' apply - ethics approval, patient consent and information for the participant.

With more people living longer and with cancer we find ourselves in a new environment - and need to understand the issues and develop the evidence to support new treatment protocols for people post cancer. There is now more evidence regarding exercise, diet, and lifestyle and I am extremely interested in supporting research in these areas. Interventions of this type can be easily translated into practice, are supported by the cancer community, and for a lot of this research, are cost-effective with good outcomes longer term.

Involvement with Sydney Catalyst:
In Australia we have some the world's best clinicians and researchers across all cancers and cancer treatments. Sydney Catalyst can boast a number in this category. Their dedication to improving patient outcomes cannot be underestimated. Their engagement of consumers in the process gives people 'like me' the opportunity to assist in their important work and in some cases provide the balance that may be required at various times during the project.  
       
These can be any of the following -
 

  • Review and advise on concept development, recruitment processes and information, patient materials and questionnaires;
  • Advice on protocols, ethical issues, safety reporting and stopping rules;
  • Participation in decision making processes and committees;
  • Review and advise on relevant publication content and lay material prepared for the dissemination of research results to the broader community;
  • Feedback, insight and perspectives on the impact of patient participation in treatment during research and the holistic implications of the research on the patient/family.

 
And also most importantly - further research opportunities that have value to the community.

"What early influences led you to follow this career path?" 
I was enrolled in a clinical trial in 2000 and was appalled by the size and complexity of the consent form and the processes required to obtain ethics approval. There had to be a better and easier way to do this. Patients are traumatised  by a cancer diagnosis, and clinical trials, ethics, and consent are an added burden - it is more of a mystery. Helping to breakdown the research lexicon is an integral part of consumer engagement.
 
'Cancer consumerism' is my second career but a strong influence in my decision to be involved in cancer research came from my haematologist. As a clinical researcher she would talk to me about research and how important it was for cancer patients - clinicians needed to know more about diseases and research and clinical trials were the portal to more knowledge. To be a part of this environment is challenging, confronting, but gratifying to the extreme.

 

February 2015


This month we meet Dr. Adam Cook, BMedSc(Hons), PhD

 

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Dr Adam Cook  BMedSc(Hons), PhD

Background:
I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Sydney and subsequently a PhD under the supervision of Dr Christopher Jolly at the Centenary Institute (Sydney) where I investigated the role of DNA repair proteins in antibody gene class switching and mutation in B lymphocytes. A recipient of La Ligue Contre le Cancer (French Cancer Council) and NHMRC CJ Martin Postdoctoral Fellowships, I joined the lab of Dr Geneviève Almouzni at the Institut Curie in Paris where I turned my attention to the regulation of chromatin dynamics in maintaining genome function and stability. I returned to Australia in 2011 to join the lab of Prof. David Tremethick at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University (Canberra). In 2012 I was awarded a University of Sydney Postdoctoral Research Fellowship which allowed me to return to the University and Centenary Institute in 2013 where I am continuing my research within the Immune Imaging Laboratory. 
Publications: http://scholar.adamcook.net

Research interests:
I am broadly interested in understanding how the packaging of our genome with histone proteins into chromatin is properly regulated to ensure genome integrity and function. My specific area of interest is the role of histone chaperone proteins in coordinating histone dynamics and metabolism and how failure to regulate their activity can lead to genome instability and cancer. 

Involvement in Sydney Catalyst:
Attendance at Early Career Research Forum and participation in cross-institutional application for Sydney Catalyst Seed Funding.

"What early influences led you to follow this career path?"
I would have to point out two people as the strongest influences in leading me to pursue a career in science to where I am today. The earliest influence was my junior high school science teacher - an engaging, zany man with a passion for entertaining his students with explosive chemical reactions! - who inspired a fascination and curiosity for science and how the world works. More recently, as a guest lecturer in my undergraduate Immunology course at the time (and subsequently my PhD supervisor), Dr Chris Jolly really sparked my interest in molecular biology, DNA repair and genome stability and the intellectual challenge of a career as a research scientist.

 

December 2014


This month we meet Ms. Elizabeth Tracey, MPH (Syd) BSc Hons (UWA)

 

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Ms Elizabeth Tracey MPH (Syd) BSc Hons (UWA)
  
Background
I grew up in Perth WA and completed a science degree with honours in Anatomy and Human biology at UWA. My first position was as a Medical Laboratory Scientist at Fremantle hospital in Histopathology.  After marriage and two children, I began working part-time as a tutor in Anatomy and then as a full-time Associate Lecturer in Anatomy. I taught Anatomy to allied health students at the Cumberland College of Health Scientists and then undertook a part-time Masters of Public Health at Sydney University.  After finished my MPH in 1995, I worked at Wentworth Area Health Service as a Health Outcomes Manager, where I wrote a number of epidemiological profiles for the AHS. In 1999, I became the Manager of the NSW Central Cancer Registry, at the Cancer Council NSW. In 2004, I was involved in relocating the staff and systems of the CCR to the Cancer Institute NSW and in 2006, I became Senior Epidemiologist at the Cancer Institute NSW. I have published numerous reports on cancer incidence, mortality and survival and projections of cancer in NSW. I was the NSW representative on the International Benchmarking Study of Cancer Survival, which I enjoyed very much. In September 2010, I started a PhD. part-time at Sydney University.  In June 2012, I was fortunate to obtain a travelling fellowship from the Sydney University Medical School to spend six months at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where I undertook an Advanced Survival course and worked on my PhD as a visiting researcher.
 
Research interests:
Cancer survival, distance from surgical treatment, poorer cancer survival in women with bladder cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer, Vitamin D, linkage studies, service planning and cancer registration.
 
Involvement in Sydney Catalyst:
I presented to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital lung cancer priority setting planning day: "An overview of lung cancer survival in NSW 2000-2008 and distance from a specialist hospital," September 2013, and I attended last year's translational conference.
 
"How do you manage an effective work/life balance in an all-consuming career?"
Currently, I am working on finishing my PhD on Cancer survival in New South Wales (NSW) and the impact of distance from and access to cancer surgical services: A data linkage study. I will be submitting my thesis at the end of this month but I also work as a part-time research fellow at HMRI in Newcastle where I will be working on linkage project on the woman's longitudinal study. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends in Sydney and Newcastle as well as cooking, kayaking and sewing.

 

November 2014


This month we meet Assoc. Prof. Maija Kohonen-Corish, PhD, MSc, MHGSA

 

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Associate Professor Maija Kohonen-Corish, PhD, MSc, MHGSA  
 
Background:
I am Head of Colon and Lung Cancer Research at the Kinghorn Cancer Centre, Garvan Institute of Medical Research. I obtained my BSc and MSc in Genetics at the University of Helsinki in Finland and my PhD in Human Genetics at the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra. After graduating I stayed working at the John Curtin School and was invited to start a new lab in 'Cancer Genetics' in 1991. This work took me to Sydney in 1999, first to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and then to my current position at Garvan Institute (since 2002).  I have been Cancer Institute NSW Fellow since 2005.

Research interests:
My laboratory at the John Curtin School was one of the first in Australia to study the inherited gene mutations that predispose to Lynch Syndrome (LS), a type of hereditary colon cancer. I am a member of an international expert committee interpreting the pathogenicity of LS gene variants and we recently published in Nature Genetics. However, my main current research is focused on understanding the biology and genetics/epigenetics of colon and lung cancer. We have discovered new epigenetically altered tumour suppressor genes, such as the MCC gene and identified new important biological functions for it. We have also made the unexpected discovery that an arthritis drug sulindac can cause colon cancer in some mice. Paradoxically, sulindac - as well as other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs - is best known for its beneficial anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. We are now investigating the reasons why the opposite occurs in some mice. This will help understand the very early steps of carcinogenesis and how cancer might be prevented. Finally, we are studying the genomic basis of chemoradiotherapy responsiveness of rectal cancer and implementing Next Gen sequencing in lung and colorectal cancer.

Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: 
I am supervising two PhD students who are receiving the Sydney Catalyst Top-up Research Scholar Award (Penelope De Lacavalerie and Fahad Benthani). I have strong collaborations with Sydney Catalyst members at the RPA in lung cancer and I received Pilot and Seed Funding in 2013 with Sandra O'Toole and in 2014 with Wendy Cooper.
 
"If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?" 
Relaxing at a cottage by a lake enjoying the midnight sun after a sauna - I love living and working in Australia but when I retire I hope to spend a summer or two in Finland.

 

October 2014


This month we meet Dr. Mark Cowley, PhD, BSc (Bioinf)

 

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Dr. Mark Cowley Phd, BSc (Bioinf)

Background:
Mark is a bioinformatician with expertise in genomics. Mark obtained a BSc (Bioinformatics) with first class Honours at the University of Sydney in 2003, and then a PhD in quantitative genetics, transcriptomics and bioinformatics from UNSW in 2009. Since completing his PhD, Mark has been working at the Garvan Institute. He started in the Peter Wills Bioinformatics Centre in 2008 and then moved to the Pancreatic Cancer Group in 2011, working with Prof Andrew Biankin and Dr Jianmin Wu. Mark's love of cancer and translational genomics stemmed from his involvement with the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative and the International Cancer Genome Consortium. Since 2013, Mark has been a senior bioinformatics research officer in the Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics (KCCG), where he is now the Head of Translational Genomics. He is also senior conjoint lecturer at St Vincent's Clinical School. In 2014, Mark was awarded an early career fellowship from the Cancer Institute NSW. Publications list: on Google Scholar.
 
Research interests:
Mark's research centres on translational genomics, where he is working towards moving clinically accredited genome sequencing into the clinic. In the cancer field, Mark is using next generation sequencing to identify clinically actionable variants or signatures in cancer genomes. With his Garvan colleagues, he is developing a targeted sequencing panel for cancer diagnostics.
 
Mark is also passionate about leveraging the sensitivity of next generation sequencing to exploit circulating tumour cells and DNA as early biomarkers of cancer,. This work will also be used to investigate tumour evolution, and guide rational therapeutics. In his role at the KCCG, Mark seeks to establish clinically accredited whole exome and genome sequencing, to be used for the diagnosis of inherited genetic disorders and for cancer diagnostic and prognostic testing.
 
Involvement in Sydney Catalyst:
Mark has been a member of Sydney Catalyst since early 2013. He participated in the 2013 International Translational Cancer Research Symposium and the 2014 Post-Graduate & Early Career Research Symposium. He has attended a number of educational dinners. Mark very much values being part of the Sydney Catalyst community and experiencing the full spectrum of translational cancer research.
 
"If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?"
Without a doubt, at the snow, whilst remotely checking on the status of the sequencing pipelines! Preferably on the slopes of Whistler Blackcomb in Canada, my favourite place in the world, with my skis, my wife Andrea, and two kids Lily and Ethan!

 

September 2014


This month we meet A/Prof. Natalka Suchowerska, BSc(Hons), MAppSc, PhD, FACPSEM

 

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A/Prof Natalka Suchowerska BSc(Hons), MAppSc, PhD, FACPSEM Head of Research and Education (Medical Physics) at Chris O'Brien Lifehouse

Background:
Natalka leads a multidisciplinary team, the VECTORlab, focused on advancing our ability to exploit modern technologies to improve cancer treatment. The VECTORlab team is almost exclusively comprised of PhD students, post docs funded by research grants and collaborators from diverse fields of medicine and science. Natalka's first degree (Birmingham UK), was a double major in physics and biology, followed by a Masters degree and then a PhD in the discipline of Medical Physics from the University of Sydney.Over the past decade Natalka has published more than 60 papers with an h-index of 19 since 2009, attracted NHMRC and Cancer Council research grants and secured a patent portfolio.

Research interests:
The VECTORlab team of researchers has invented, built and validated treatment verification devices for brachytherapy and external beam radiation therapy. Natalka has pioneered the development of fibre optic dosimetry enabling real-time invivo measurement of radiation.

VECTORlab has also made a significant contribution to our understanding of radiobiology, particularly how spatial and temporal modulation of the radiation dose deposition affects cell survival. The new knowledge stemming from this research has given linac engineers and manufacturers direction into the capabilities that radiation generators need, to maximise the therapeutic effect. Natalka's innovative work into the radiobiology bystander effect has created an entirely new line of scientific inquiry aimed at optimising clinical radiotherapy. In collaboration with Macquarie University APAF laboratory, proteomics have been applied to the understanding of radiation induced bystander effects.

VECTORlab has applied 3D printing to the custom design and build medical equipment, including dosimetric arrays, patient specific anatomical structures for plastic surgeons and scaffolds for generating replacement organs.

Involvement in Sydney Catalyst:
Natalka has been a member of Sydney Catalyst since January 2012 . She is part of the team that has recently been awarded Catalyst seed funding for the project entitled "Nanoparticle Drug Carriers for Targeted and Externally Activated Chemotherapy".

"Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?"
It is less relevant where I will be than whether I have made a difference, irrespective of whether the work is paid or voluntary. Being purposeful and making a difference brings satisfaction and meaning to this life. Some aspects of life we can plan. Others like budget cuts or philanthropic donations, even grant funding are less predictable, presenting risks and opportunities. You can't always plan opportunities, but you can learn to adapt to make the most of them. I never imagined I'd be doing what I do today, but I'm enjoying every moment.

In 5 years, I want to see more of our research translated into the clinic so cancer patients can benefit. I want to still be able to make the choices that enable us to practice health care rather than just deliver a health service.

 

August 2014


This month we meet Dr. Cindy Sim Yee Tan, PhD, MNutrDiet, APD

 

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Background:
I graduated from Deakin University with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Food science and Nutrition) in 1999 and completed my Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Sydney in 2003. I have been working in medical oncology since 2004. In 2013 I completed my PhD thesis entitled 'Nutritional status and clinical outcomes in ambulatory cancer patients commencing chemotherapy' through The University of Sydney. I am currently working as a Research and Clinical Dietitian, specialising in cancer nutrition, at Concord Cancer Centre and Sydney Survivorship Centre.
 
Research interests:
I have always had an interest in the nutritional status of cancer patients and their response to cancer treatments. My PhD work enables me to demonstrate the importance of nutrition in cancer patients and how it may affect their clinical outcomes.  Since the completion of my PhD I have had the opportunity to work with researchers from different disciplines on a range of research projects.  My most recent work is centred on cancer survivorship, where one of the main focuses is to promote healthy eating as part of a lifestyle intervention to help cancer survivors stay healthy and fit.
 
Involvement in Sydney Catalyst:
I am fairly new to Sydney Catalyst, becoming a member at the end of 2013 after speaking with A/Prof Tim Shaw about what the group does and their intent to promote allied health's involvement in Sydney Catalyst.  I had an opportunity to participate in one of the communication workshops, which I think is very good for allied health members.    
 
"How do you achieve work/life balance while pursuing such an all-consuming career?"
It is always a challenge for me.  Luckily my family have been very supportive so that I can spend a bit more time on pursuing my career.  Another way of maintaining that balance is through engaging in regular exercise - this helps me to de-stress and keep myself sane!

 

July 2014


This month we meet Assoc. Prof. Marcel Dinger, PhD

 

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Associate Professor Marcel Dinger PhD

Background:  Marcel received his PhD from the University of Waikato in 2003. He undertook his postdoctoral studies in Professor Mattick's group at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at The University of Queensland to examine the role of long noncoding RNAs in mammalian development and disease. During his postdoc, Marcel led a number of key studies demonstrating the dynamic and specific expression of long noncoding RNAs that prompted extensive functional studies of these transcripts that were commonly assumed to be "junk". Marcel joined the Garvan Institute in 2012 to head the Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics. The Centre is developing clinical next generation sequencing services to clinicians for provide both more accurate diagnoses for cancer, which may help guide treatment, and also to identify the genetic basis of individuals with inherited diseases, which can also include hereditary cancer susceptibility. He also heads a research lab that focuses on understanding and dissecting the function of noncoding regions of the genome that are associated with human disease and development.

Research interests:  Marcel's key research interest is to better understand how the genome stores information and how this information controls development and, when perturbed, leads to disease. The overall objective of his laboratory is to unlock the clinical value in the noncoding regions of the genome. With the decreasing costs of genomics, Marcel and his team are also particularly passionate about translating the potential of genomic medicine to the clinic. He sees genomics as an opportunity to bring medical research and the clinic much closer together.
 
Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Marcel joined Sydney Catalyst in 2012. In addition to colleagues at the Garvan Institute, Marcel works closely with clinical collaborators at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and St Vincents Hospital. Together they are developing a next generation sequencing panel to improve diagnosis of cancers of the head, neck, pituitary and skull base, as well as other rare and under-served cancers.
 
"If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?" At the top of Whistler Mountain planning my descent.

 

June 2014


This month we meet Ms Jolyn Hersch BLibStud(Hons) MApplSc(HealthPsych)

 

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Ms Jolyn Hersch BLibStud(Hons) MApplSc(HealthPsych)

Background:
Jolyn's undergraduate studies included majors in psychology, linguistics, and German, with one semester spent on exchange in Germany. In 2006 she completed her honours year in psychology, and followed this with a postgraduate degree in health psychology in 2007. Over the next few years, Jolyn built up her academic experience working as a research assistant in psychology and public health. In 2011 she commenced her PhD at the Sydney School of Public Health, where her supervisors include Kirsten McCaffery, Jesse Jansen, Les Irwig, and Alex Barratt. As well as Sydney Catalyst, Jolyn is affiliated with the Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-based Decision-making, the Screening and Test Evaluation Program, and the Cancer Research Network at The University of Sydney. Jolyn is currently a student representative on her School Research Committee.

Research Interests:
Jolyn's PhD project relates to communication and decision making about breast cancer screening. For women to be able to make informed decisions about their participation in screening, they need access to evidence-based benefit and harm information that is provided in a clear and balanced way. In particular, Jolyn is exploring how best to convey conceptual and quantitative information about overdetection, an important possible outcome of screening which leads to diagnosis and treatment of breast cancers that would not otherwise present clinically or cause problems in the woman's life. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, Jolyn is studying women's responses to information about overdetection in terms of how women understand and interpret the information and how it affects their screening attitudes, decisions, and experiences. Currently, Jolyn is coordinating a randomised trial funded by the NHMRC to evaluate the effects of informing women about overdetection in mammography screening. She is also involved in a number of other studies relating to health communication and decision making.

Involvement In Sydney Catalyst:
Jolyn was fortunate enough to receive a Sydney Catalyst Travel and Education Award in the inaugural 2012 award round, which enabled her to travel to the US to present her research at the 34th Annual Meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making. In 2013 she gave a 3 minute Pet Project Presentation at the Sydney Catalyst International Translational Cancer Research Symposium. Late last year she also benefited from taking part in the Sydney Catalyst Communications Workshop.

"What is your favourite book of all time and why?"
This is by far the most difficult question! It's much too hard to pick an all-time favourite book. However, one recommendation that springs to mind is Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (1999). It's a novel about code making and code breaking, which leaps back and forth between World War II and the World Wide Web of the 1990s, looking at the way the flow of information shapes history. Given that such topics are only becoming more relevant as time goes on, it would probably bear revisiting every decade or two!

 

 

May 2014


This month we meet Dr Anthony Linton MBBSBSc(Med) FRACP

 

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Dr Anthony Linton MBBSBSc(Med) FRACP

Background:
Anthony studied medicine at the University of New South Wales, graduating in 2003. Completing his training in medical oncology in 2011, he is currently a staff specialist at Concord Repatriation General Hospital, and a visiting medical officer at Dubbo Base Hospital. His clinical work focuses primarily on lung and pleural malignancies. In 2011, Anthony commenced a PhD investigating malignant pleural mesothelioma at the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) with Professors Nico van Zandwijk, Janette Vardy and Stephen Clarke.

Research interests:
Anthony is in the final year of his PhD investigating prognostic markers and novel therapeutic targets in malignant mesothelioma. He is a principal investigator in the MesomiR-1 phase 0/I study investigating the use of microRNAs in this malignancy. Anthony is a member of the Australasian Lung cancer Trials Group (ALTG) and is involved in a number of studies investigating lung cancer and quality of life.

Involvement in Sydney Catalyst:
Anthony has been a member of Sydney Catalyst since 2011 through his involvement and research with the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, and had participated in a number of clinical trials and research projects at the Concord Cancer Centre.

"If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?"
Sitting by a warm fire on a snowy night with my wife and kids in a log cabin in the Canadian wilderness.

 

 

April 2014


This month we meet Dr Peter Grimison  BSc(Med) MBBS(Hons) MPH PhD FRACP

 

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Background:
Peter Grimison is currently Staff Specialist in Medical Oncology at Chris O'Brien Lifehouse in Sydney; Visiting Medical Officer at Royal Prince Alfred and Dubbo Base Hospitals; and Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney. His clinical work focuses on testicular cancer, other genito-urinary cancers, and upper gastro-intestinal cancers. He is committed to teaching through the University of Sydney Medical Program, Basic Physician Training, and Advanced Training in Medical Oncology; and is an accredited RACP Clinical Examiner.

Research Interests:  
Research interests incorporate clinical research about genito-urinary and upper gastro-intestinal cancers, oncology health services research with a focus on rural oncology and utility analyses, and quality of life assessment in clinical trials (PhD completed). He is involved as germ cell subcommittee chair, member of the scientific advisory committee, and trial management committee member in several trials for the Australian and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate Cancer Trials Group (ANZUP), whose coordinating centre is based at the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre of the University of Sydney. He is also actively involved in clinical trials for the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group and industry sponsors.

Involvement in Sydney Catalyst:
Peter Grimison is chair of the Sydney Catalyst Scholarship Working Group. He is a chief investigator on a pilot studies funded by Sydney Catalyst and led by PoCoG: (i) testing an online intervention to address psychological distress in survivors of testicular cancer (in collaboration with ANZUP); and ii) implementing clinical pathways to relive psychological distress for cancer patients.  He was involved in the 2013 Sydney Catalyst International Translational Symposium as a faculty member for the Critical Appraisal Workshop, and chair of a session about bridging T1/T2 and T2/T3 in trials research.

"Can you tell us what lead you to this career choice?"  
I have been very fortunate to land my dream job of a career in medical oncology combining treating patients with cancer at the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse, clinical research to improve my patients' outcomes, and teaching the new generation of doctors and oncologists. Every day is incredibly rewarding with the privilege to interact with and learn from incredibly motivated and inspiring patients, carers, fellow health professionals, researchers and students. My most esteemed mentors are Prof Michael Friedlander from Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, who inspired me to do medical oncology and a PhD at the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre (CTC); and Prof Martin Stockler from Chris O'Brien Lifehouse and the CTC, who inspired me to combine clinical work in medical oncology with clinical research and teaching.

 

March 2014


This month we meet Dr Haryana Dhillon BSc, MA, PhD

 

 MIFHaryana


Background:
My education background is in science with majors in psychology and history and philosophy of science. After a long work history at the NHMRC Clinical Trial Centre in the Oncology Group where I was heavily involved with a number of the Australia New Zealand Cooperative Trials Groups, I completed a PhD in 2010 at the Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-based Decision-making, University of Sydney. During that time I contributed to ongoing collaborative relationships between ANZ Cooperative Trials groups in my role as Program Coordinator for the COSA & Trial Groups Enabling Grant. In 2007, I teamed up with A/Prof Janette Vardy to establish a cancer survivorship research group, which we continue to co-lead today with a growing number of students, staff, and projects. In addition, I've developed strong collaborations with colleagues in the school of public health addressing information and health literacy needs of various populations.
 
My other activities include substantial involvement the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia of which I am a Board and Council Member. I am the current President of the Australian Psycho-Oncology Society (OZPOS) and I founded the COSA Survivorship Group with colleagues during 2012. During 2013 I joined theSydney Cancer Network Breast Cancer Special Interest Group Steering Committee as an Early Career Researcher representative.  

Research Interests:  
My research interests primarily in the area of cancer and include quality of life, psycho-social and supportive care interventions, communication, health literacy and clinical trials. The research we undertake through the Survivorship Research Group comprises studies addressing cognitive function in people with cancer, physical activity, sleep disturbance and a psychosocial and supportive care aspect of lung cancer and mesothelioma. I enjoy working with an excellent team on a range of projects addressing health literacy, including one state-wide project aiming at improving literacy in very low literacy populations using Health through TAFE NSW and another project exploring health literacy in the context of radiotherapy in cancer populations.

Involvement in Sydney Catalyst:
Through Sydney Catalyst I've been involved in the selection of scholarship and travel grant recipients. I was also been involved in the Sydney Catalyst Post-graduate Symposium in 2013 and am committed as co-convenor for 2014. I'm perennially hopeful that funding from Sydney Catalyst and other sources will be mine one day.

"How do you achieve work/life balance while pursuing such an all-consuming career?"
Badly! In all seriousness, it is a privilege to work with colleagues who are interesting and in spiring in an area that I feel passionately about on projects that may make a real difference to people's lives. Consequently, it is a challenge to not become completely absorbed in work that is also a hobby. The things that keep me most grounded are my family, nothing like 2 high school aged boys to help you keep life real, and growing things. I regularly get my hands in the earth nurturing plants and demonstrating to others how what we love to eat can be grown in small spaces. I try to live by the adage that 'it is possible to have everything, just not all at the same time" and make deliberate choices about what I invest my energy in.

February 2014


This month we meet Ruth Jones RN, B App Sc, Grad Dip Nursing, Master of Nursing, PhD student.

 

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Background:
Ruth is the Director Cancer Services and Innovation, Western NSW Local Health District. She manages and coordinates cancer and palliative care services in a range of regional and rural locations. In the 12 years since making a 'tree change' she has developed a deep knowledge of the complexity and diversity of rural and regional health care issues. Ruth's clinical practice included the nursing care and treatment of people with cancer across the care continuum - Medical Oncology, Haematology and Palliative Care.

Research Interests:  
Ruth is currently a PhD student at Charles Sturt University focusing on developing an understanding of the experiences of people with cancer in the Central West of NSW. Cancer mortality in regional and rural communities remains significantly higher than in metropolitan populations. This has been attributed to two categories:  upstream factors including socioeconomic disadvantage and higher proportions of Indigenous people; and downstream factors such as higher cancer risk factors including smoking and obesity rates, lower levels of cancer screening activities and delays in seeking medical advice or delays in diagnosis. This last factor is the focus of the proposed research. Using a phenomenological framework, the study aims to explore, describe and understand the meaning of the lived experience of people in relation to the process of receiving a diagnosis of cancer. 

Involvement in Sydney Catalyst:
Ruth joined Sydney Catalyst in 2013 and has participated in lung cancer activities undertaken in Orange, NSW.

"What is the most rewarding part of your job?"
I find I can balance things in life by travelling and discovering new places and their history, and really enjoy photography and reading a great novel.

 

December 2013


This month we meet Dr. Thomas Tu, PhD. BSc. (Hons).

 

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Background: Dr. Thomas Tu is a first year post-doctoral research officer in Dr. Nick Shackel's Liver Cell Biology laboratory at the Centenary Institute. He supervises student projects and presents at multiple national and international conferences. He obtained his PhD in 2013 after researching the evolution of the liver cell population in the lead-up to cancer in the context of chronic hepatitis B virus infection, the major cause of liver cancer worldwide. He is consistently engaged in science communication: he is a serial blogger, founding Disease of the Week and contributing to the Centenary Institute blog Research for Life; he travels to urban and rural high schools to lecture about the virtues of science; he has written several articles for The Advertiser; and he has recently been the subject of a featured article in The Australian, 31 May 2013.  

 

Research Interests:  Dr. Thomas Tu is aiming to see how the liver changes in the decades between the initial carcinogenic stimuli and the initiation of liver cancer. He is particularly interested in the evolutionary dynamics of liver cells, the selection pressures they are under and the resultant changes in genotype and phenotype. By understanding how liver cancer develops, we can start to use common characteristics, such as clonal expansion, to determine cancer risk rather than particular protein or DNA markers, which are highly variable in the broad range of cancers.

 

Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Thomas has been a member of Sydney Catalyst for a short period of time, but has made appearances at the International Translational Cancer Research Symposium, ECR Symposium and Educational Dinner Series events organised by Sydney Catalyst. He is keen to use connections made at Sydney Catalyst events to promote medical research and to drive academic results into the clinic.

 

"What is the most rewarding part of your job?" The most rewarding part of being a scientist is always being challenged and learning the entire way. Being at the ever-expanding edge of knowledge can make you feel like you're drowning (it's estimated that you'd need to read 160 hours a week just to keep up with all the medical research literature being published, not to mention everything that has been published in the past!), so I'm never bored and never at a loss for things to do. Because all this knowledge ends up saving lives and relieving suffering, medical research can be one of the most rewarding ventures - it lets me make a difference.

 

November 2013


This month we meet Tracy King, RN, MN.

 

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Background: Tracy King is a registered nurse with over 20 years' experience in the field of malignant haematology and blood and marrow transplantation. Trained in the UK, Tracy undertook specialist training in advanced haematology nursing. As a member of the board of directors of the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) UK, she further specialised in the care and support of those affected by multiple myeloma, going on to set up a myeloma awareness and education program for nurses within the UK. After moving to Australia in 2004, Tracy continued to follow her interest in the care of those with myeloma by taking up positions of support services manager of the Myeloma Foundation of Australia and Myeloma Nurse Consultant RPAH Sydney, a position she set up and organised funding for herself. Tracy was invited to become a Clinical Associate at University of Sydney (NSW), working closely with Prof Kate White and her team at Cancer Nursing Research Unit, Sydney Cancer Centre/Sydney Nursing School. During this time Tracy began to turn her clinical questions into research questions.

 

Research Interests: Tracy successfully completed a Clinical Training Fellowship from the Cancer Institute NSW on the information needs of those affected by myeloma with particular focus on the experience of those undergoing high dose steroids as part of their anti-myeloma therapy regimens. Tracy's presentation on her research was awarded Best Abstract at the European Group for Blood & Marrow Transplantation Annual Scientific Meeting 2012. Tracy continues to lead a program of research in supportive care as a Clinical Research Fellow with the CNRU, in conjunction with her role as a Myeloma CNC. Most recently Tracy has enrolled on her MPhil at Sydney University with a plan to transition into her PhD early 2014. Her area of research will be in the experience of those affected by myeloma taking high dose steroids. Her passion remains working with and improving the care of those affected by myeloma, especially through educational initiatives.

 

Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Tracy is an active Sydney Catalyst member, attending numerous events and working as a fellow alongside Prof Kate White and her research unit CNRU.

 

"As a clinical researcher focused on improving QOL through addressing supportive care needs, what do you do to address the QOL aspects in your life?": I embrace outdoor living - spending time in the open air, hiking up mountains, camping and kayaking in the rivers around NSW. Recently joining those pursuits together I spent the weekend kayaking up the Shoalhaven Gorge in Kangaroo Valley, camping on the river bank overnight and enjoying a bottle of Margaret River finest Shiraz whilst keeping the possums and wombats away from the camp supper! Debating the choice to spend a weekend in NSW bush given the recent fires, we decided that being ON the water was probably the safest option.

 

October 2013


This month we meet Associate Professor Andrew Katsifis, PhD.

 

450MIFAndrewKatsifis

 

Background:  After graduating from Sydney University, Andrew Katsifis spent 23 years at ANSTO leading research and development in the radiopharmaceutical sciences with a focus in imaging cancer and other diseases using Positron Emission Tomography. Throughout this time, he established extensive collaborations in Radiopharmaceutical Science and PET imaging with research centres in Germany (Julich), Orsay (France) and the US. During the last 7 years he was also involved in the CRC for Biomedical Imaging Development where he led the research and development of new PET radiotracers and was responsible for translating several novel radiopharmaceuticals for imaging brain and melanoma tumours into the clinic at the Peter McCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne. In 2012, Assoc. Professor Andrew Katsifis joined Department of Molecular Imaging at RPA to advance translational clinical research in cancer imaging.

  

Research Interests:  Andrew's research interests focus on the discovery and development of novel radiopharmaceuticals for cancer imaging. In addition to developing new probes for specific cancers such as prostate, breast, brain and pancreatic, his interests also include the development of probes for imaging important tumour properties such as tumour cell growth and proliferation, angiogenesis and tumour metastasis using non-invasive PET imaging. To achieve these important goals, his research includes novel radiotracer and drug development involving the translocator protein (TSPO), cannabinoid (CB2) and sigma receptors as well as radiolabelled amino acids.

   

Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: As a member of Sydney Catalyst and the Sydney Cancer Research Network, Andrew has been involved in promoting a greater cooperation and collaboration between basic research and the clinical sciences. With a major interest in cancer imaging, he has been involved in developing new research partnerships between RPA and the various research institutes at the University of Sydney and New South Wales to exploit novel biomarker development for translation into effective radiotracers for prostate, breast and brain tumour imaging.  Multi-institutional collaboration and research support in cancer imaging has been boosted by the recent funding support from the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, the Cancer Institute NSW and Sydney Catalyst.

 

'If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?': I would love to be at one of my favourite travel destinations hiking the Canadian Rockies and being inspired by the incredible beauty of the mountain ranges, the vastness of the forests and magnificent colours of the alpine lakes. Climbing mountains constantly reminds me of the enormous challenges that I face in my daily challenges in cancer research.

 

September 2013


This month we meet Dr. Lorraine Chantrill

 

Dr Lorraine Chantrill  B.Sc. (Hons); M.B.B.S. (Hons); FRACP

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Background:  Lorraine started her professional life as a scientist working in molecular biology at The Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford, just as that field started to take off.  She was working at the University of Sydney on human papilloma virus in cervical cancer when she enrolled as an undergraduate in medicine in 1992.  She completed her training in Medical Oncology in 2007 and currently enjoys working as a Staff Specialist in Medical Oncology at the Macarthur Cancer Therapy Centre and as a conjoint Senior Lecturer at The University of Western Sydney.  In 2011, she commenced a PhD by research on pancreas cancer with Professor Andrew Biankin and Drs Rooman and Scarlett at the Kinghorn Cancer Centre, Garvan Institute of Medical Research. 

  

Involvement in Sydney Catalyst:  Lorraine is in the final year of her PhD in Andrew Biankin's laboratory at The Kinghorn Cancer Centre and is a practising medical oncologist at the Macarthur Cancer Therapy Centre in Sydney's South West. She is the Principal Investigator of the IMPaCT study of biologically targeted treatment for metastatic pancreas cancer which is a truly collaborative, translational clinical trial within the Sydney Catalyst  portfolio.  She is an active member of the Upper GI working party of the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group.   

 

Research interests: Lorraine's PhD is on the translation of molecular signals in pancreas cancer to better treatment outcomes for patients.  She is also highly engaged in clinical research with a portfolio of trials in gastrointestinal cancers for which she is principal investigator at the Macarthur Cancer Therapy Centre. Lorraine's current challenge is to encourage more collaboration between clinicians and scientists in the field of pancreas cancer in Australia.  Our culture of friendliness can be put to great use in bringing researchers together to fight this important disease.

 

 

August 2013


This month we meet one of our newest members, Dr Emily Stone, who is working to improving outcomes in lung cancer.

 

 Dr Emily Stone

 450EmilyStone

Background:  Dr Stone is a senior clinician in the Department of Thoracic Medicine at St Vincent's Hospital and a conjoint academic at UNSW. She founded the St Vincent's MDT in 2006 and chairs weekly meetings, oversees the prospective, electronic database and participates in clinical trials at PI and CI level and runs a specialist Lung Cancer Clinic at the Kinghorn Cancer Centre. She supervises undergraduate student and post-graduate student projects and presents regularly at national and international lung cancer meetings. She reviews for Journal of Thoracic Oncology, is a member of the Local Organising Committee for the World Conference in Lung Cancer and is a member of the Cancer Council Australia Working Party for revision of national lung cancer guidelines.

Involvement in Sydney Catalyst:  Despite being a fairly new member, Dr Stone is already actively involved in Sydney Catalyst as a co-investigator on the T2/T3 flagship project looking at evidence-practice gaps in lung cancer, and as the clinical leader for the project's priority setting focus groups at St Vincent's. Click here to read more about these upcoming focus groups.

  Research interests: 

  • Driver mutations in non-small cell lung cancer
  • Identifying evidence-practice gaps in lung cancer care
  • The influence of multidisciplinary teams on lung cancer management including curative surgical rates
  • Barriers to early diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer

 

 

July 2013


This month we meet radiation oncologist Dr Angela Hong, who is exploring relationships between human papillomavirus and cellular proteins on outcomes in oropharyngeal cancer.

 

 Dr Angela Hong MBBS, MMed, PhD, FRANZCR

450AngelaHong

Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Angela is a radiation oncologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital with a strong track record in clinical and basic science research. Her laboratory is based at the University of Sydney. Angela uses a combined clinical and laboratory approach to explore relationships between human papillomavirus and cellular proteins on outcomes in oropharyngeal cancer. The ultimate goal of her group is to provide a rational basis for the development of new treatment strategies to improve outcomes for oropharyngeal cancer, based on a detailed understanding of the response of HPV positiveand HPV negative oropharyngeal cancer to radiation therapy. Her group collaborates with clinicians, pathologists, basic scientists and biostatisticians who are all member of Sydney Catalyst.

 
Background: Angela graduated from the University of Sydney and completed her internship in Sydney before travelling abroad. She first gained experience in radiobiology research at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, New York and at the University of California, Davis before returning to Australia to start her specialist training in radiation oncology. She acquired fundamental molecular biology and cell culture knowledge during her Master and PhD candidatures at the University of Sydney. She continues to apply this knowledge to advancing the field of clinical radiation oncology. Her recent publications on HPV are:

 

Hong AM, Martin A, Chatfield M et al. Human papillomavirus, smoking status and outcomes in tonsillar squamous cell carcinoma. Int J Cancer 2012; 132: 2748-2754.

Hong AM, Martin A, Armstrong BK et al. Human papillomavirus modifies the prognostic significance of T stage and possibly N stage in tonsillar cancer. Ann Oncol 2012; 24: 215-219.

Hong AM, Jones D, Chatfield M et al. HPV Status of Oropharyngeal Cancer by Combination HPV DNA/p16 Testing: Biological Relevance of Discordant Results. Ann Surg Oncol 2012.

 

Research interests: The role of human papillomavirus in oropharyngeal cancer and radiosensitivity, head and neck cancer, prognostic marker in oropharyngeal cancer, interaction between smoking and human papillomavirus.

 

 

 

June 2013


Associate Professor Lyndal Trevena strives to improve primary health care services for marginalised communities by translating research into practice.

 

Associate Professor Lyndal Trevena MBBS(Hons) MPhilPH PhD

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Lyndal is involved mainly in the T2/T3 work of Sydney Catalyst. She holds a Sydney Catalyst Pilot and Seed Funding award for the development of a decision aid for low dose aspirin. This project aims to help translate new evidence for aspirin in cancer prevention for GPs and patients.

Background: Lyndal worked exclusively in clinical general practice for the first sixteen years of her career, having studied medicine at the University of Sydney. During her clinical years, she completed her general practice training as well as advanced terms in family planning, obstetrics and gynaecology and her Diploma of Child Health. She moved into academia fifteen years ago and completed her MPhilPH and PhD in the School of Public Health. She has been involved in curriculum development and teaching in the Sydney Medical Program and now teaches primary health care in the Masters of International Public Health.

Research interests Lyndal is fascinated by the intersection between the 'Art and Science' of medicine.  Her research has increasingly focussed on the development and evaluation of a range of tools that assist clinicians and their patients make health decisions which tailor the evidence to the individual patient's clinical context and preferences - 'translating research into clinical practice'. These have covered a range of primary-care relevant applications in cancer screening, general preventative health, immunisation, women's health and mental health. More recently her research has also considered how health decisions can also be enhanced for marginalised and disadvantaged communities, particularly for practitioners and patients in remote and low-resource settings, across different cultures and with low levels of literacy. This program of work in knowledge translation for low-resource communities returns in part to her initial work integrating these into primary health care service models for marginalised communities. She is also working with the Workforce Education and Development Group (WEDG) at Sydney University on a project to facilitate cancer referral decisions in general practice, through translation of evidence about multidisciplinary cancer care outcomes.

 

 

May 2013


Associate Professor Graham Robertson is a member on a mission to create collaborations across Sydney Catalyst institutions and groups.

 

Associate Professor Graham Robertson BSc (Hons), PhD.

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Graham recently moved from the ANZAC Research Institute to Garvan Institute to set up a group looking at the cluster of paraneoplastic syndromes associated with advanced cancer including cachexia, dyspnoea, blood clotting, infections, metastasis and toxicity. He is very keen to establish collaborations with clinicians to pursue aspects of quality of life and survival in advanced cancer care and is also hoping to establish synergies with dieticians and palliative care professionals because of the important role of altered metabolism in cachexia.

Background: Graham completed his undergraduate and PhD studies at Macquarie University in molecular virology before moving to Oxford for post-doctoral studies in the regulation of gene expression. His second Post-Doc was in Biochemistry Dept at the University of Sydney where he focused on the epigenetics of transgene expression. In 1995 he moved to the Westmead Millennium Institute to work on liver disease and the pharmacology of drug clearance. In 2005 he set up the Cancer Pharmacology Unit at Concord Hospital as part of the ANZAC Research Institute studying the causes of excessive toxicity in chemotherapy. Working together with the team of oncologists, surgeons and pathologists at Concord Hospital, together with the Australian Proteome Analysis Facility at Macquarie University, he was a chief investigator on a five-year Cancer Institute NSW translational program grant for the discovery of proteomic biomarkers in colorectal cancer. In 2013 he moved to the Garvan Institute to explore the links between tumour-derived cytokines, systemic inflammation and cachexia as well as the other paraneoplastic conditions that have such a devastating impact on patient quality of life and survival.

His recent publications include:

Tsoli M and Robertson G (2103) Cancer cachexia: Malignant inflammation, tumorkines and metabolic mayhem. Trends Endo & Metabolism. 24:174.

Tsoli M et al (2012) Activation of the thermogenesis in BAT and dysregulated lipid metabolism associated with cancer cachexia in mice. Cancer Research.72:4372.

Chellappa K,et al(2012)Src tyrosine kinase phosphorylation of nuclear receptor HNF4α correlates with isoform-specific loss of HNF4α in human colon cancer.Proc Natl Acad Sci.109:2302.

Research interests: Cross-talk between tumour-derived cytokines (ie tumorkines) and catabolic imbalance of cancer cachexia; signalling pathways; circadian studies into metabolic dysregulation; thrombosis and cancer; impaired cardiac, lung and immune systems in cancer; excessive toxicity to chemotherapy due to repression of drug clearance pathways; metastatic processes involved in how tumour cells lodge in other organs of the body such as the liver; biomarkers for cachexia and poor outcome. 

 

April 2013


This month we meet Jane Phillips a key member of the Sydney Catalyst T2 Working Group and the inaugural Professor of Palliative Nursing at the University of Notre Dame.

 

Professor Jane Phillips BSc (Nur) RN PhD

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Jane is a Sydney Catalyst T2/T3 Working Group member involved in the development of the T2/T3 Flagship program

Background: Jane is the inaugural Professor of Palliative Nursing at the University of Notre Dame, Australia and attached to The Cunningham Centre for Palliative Care, based at Sacred Heart Hospice, St Vincent's, Sydney and co-leads the Palliative Care Clinical Trials Unit at Sacred Heart.  Jane has an in-depth understanding of cancer and palliative care, experience in delivering best evidenced based nursing care across diverse settings, including rural and regional Australia, and considerable experience in leading and evaluating complex health service reforms.

She has worked extensively as a registered nurse in rural and urban palliative care settings across Australia, including 10 years as a Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Consultant in Regional NSW. From 2004-2006 she coordinated the Mid North Coast Division of General Practice Palliative Care Project a Commonwealth initiative focused on strengthening partnerships to improve palliative care outcomes for patients and their families in rural Australia. In 2005 she completed the "Program in Palliative Care Education and Practice" at Harvard Medical School. From 2007-mid 2009, Jane was the Program Manager, Education and Service Development Section with Cancer Australia.

Her doctoral study was completed in 2008 and focused on 'Navigating a palliative approach in residential aged care using a population based approach'. This action research project has subsequently informed the delivery of end-of-life care in the Australian residential aged care sector.

A link to her publications is here

Research interests: Jane's academic and research interests include: translational research, implementation and dissemination research, chronic disease management, aged palliative care and population based palliative care delivery. She is currently undertaking studies to: evaluate non-pharmacological interventions to improve breathlessness; improve care outcomes for older people with cancer; improve end-of-life symptom management for older people in residential aged care; and translational research in the areas of pain and other symptoms, models of care, and bereavement care.

 

March 2013


Associate Professor Eva Segelov is working at the cutting edge of important translational developments in matching robust clinical data with molecular information.

 

Associate Professor Eva Segelov MBBS (Hons1) FRACP PhD

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Eva is an active member of the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group (AGITG) which is one of Sydney Catalyst's collaborating partner groups. As part of her involvement in the AGITG she is the Principal Investigator on the international ICECREAM (Irinotecan Cetuximab Evaluation and the Cetuximab Response Evaluation Among Patients with G13D Mutation) Trial which has a strong translational focus. In particular the study of patients with KRAS G13D mutations and their response to EGFR inhibitors in an international collaboration will enable matching of robust clinical data with molecular data.  Eva was the Australian PI for the international academic QUASAR2 adjuvant colon cancer study and is the co-PI for the SCOT study, currently underway. She is CIA on a 2013 NHMRC application for a large adjuvant colorectal cancer study.

Background: Eva was awarded MBBS (Hons 1) from University of Sydney and undertook Junior Medical Officer training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, before specialising in Medical Oncology. Her PhD was completed at Westmead Hospital looking at cellular mechanisms of resistance to the drug Cisplatin. From 1999 to 2003 she was appointed Senior Lecturer in Medicine at South Western Sydney Clinical School, UNSW then took on the role of Director of Medical Student Education. In 2004 she moved to St Vincent's Clinical School and in 2007 she became Associate Professor of Medicine at UNSW and Director of Conjoint Liaison for the Faculty of Medicine, as well as Senior Specialist in Medical Oncology at the St Vincent's campus.

Eva is well known as an invited speaker at conferences and is an invited member, NCI/EORTC International Rare Cancers Initiative, metastatic anal cancer advisory group; Chair of Gastrointestinal Cancer of the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia (COSA) and Council member 2010-  amongst many others.

Research interests: Eva has a broad range of research interests including breast and  gastrointestinal cancers and epidemiological and lifestyle factors. The latter field she feels has been "ignored for too long" as a factor in both the prevention of cancer incidence and prevention of recurrence. Eva is passionate about investigator initiated studies and maintaining academic trials in an environment where funding is scarce and many clinicians are interested only in commercial studies.  She is also passionate about the increasing need for the education of clinical oncologists in understanding the molecular oncology of tumours, whether to direct patient treatment or to direct patients into a clinical trial. 

 

February 2013


Associate Professor Tim Shaw has just taken on the role of T2/T3 Working Group Chair to complement his important work in Sydney Catalyst's education activities.

 

Associate Professor Tim Shaw BSc (Hons) PhD

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Tim is a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of Sydney Catalyst and chairs the T2/T3 Working Group. Working with the Sydney Catalyst T2/T3 Translational Fellow and the Sydney Catalyst Education Fellow Tim is taking a leading role in developing Sydney Catalyst's implementation research and education activities.

Background: Tim is Director of the Workforce Education and Development Group in the Faculty of Medicine at The University of Sydney. He has managed a number of substantial Health workforce educational research and development projects in Australia including: the development of the Australian National Patient Safety Education Framework; Basic Surgical training online for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons; the development of the Cancer Learning Knowledge portal for the Commonwealth Government; the development of the ISQUA Knowledge Portal for the International Society for Quality in Healthcare; and the use of new technologies to improve event reporting amongst junior doctors at Brigham and Mass General Hospitals in Boston. He was a contributor to the WHO Patient Safety Curriculum Framework for Medical Schools and the Patient Safety Education Project (PSEP) in the United States.

He was a visiting Professor at Harvard Medical School for 12 months in 2008/9 during which time he developed new methodologies for the dissemination of evidence based medicine through online learning. He has also acted as an advisor and consultant to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Open School Project, Partners Harvard Medical International and the Joint Commission in the United States.

Research interests: Tim's research focuses on knowledge dissemination and transfer and flexible learning.

 

December 2012


This month we travel to Dubbo to meet a woman working to overcome the barriers of distance for cancer patients and health professionals.

 

Margaret Collins, CNS, RM, Grad Cert Breast Cancer Nursing (La Trobe), Grad Cert CAFH

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Member and recent recipient of a Sydney Catalyst Travel and Education award to attend the Sydney International Breast Cancer Congress 2012.

Background: Margaret Collins is the Rural Primary Health Services Breast Care Nurse Specialist for the Western NSW Local Health District situated in Dubbo, NSW. She works across an area the size of Britain, with Western New South Wales Local Health District (NSW LHD) bringing healthcare to 260,000 people in regional cities, rural towns and remote locations.

Over the past 10 years Margaret has developed the Breast Care Nurse program and provided face to face and telephone support and education to women affected by breast cancer and their families in 30 towns in rural and remote NSW.

"Women living in rural areas often experience huge challenges when faced with a breast cancer diagnosis. These can include having to travel long distances, limited contact with specialist health care workers and difficulty accessing the full range of treatment and support services available" she said.

Margaret has been a guest speaker at the Westmead Breast Cancer Institute Public Forum, Sydney International Breast Cancer Congress - Breast Care Nurse Education program and is presenting at the National Breast Care Nurse Conference in Melbourne next year, focusing her presentations on the unique challenges faced by women in rural and remote NSW.

Research interests: Margaret is a staunch advocate for rural women with breast cancer and the special issues they face through isolation, distances to access services and lack of services in rural areas. She works collaboratively with government and non government agencies to provide mechanisms for genuine community participation and involvement in rural and remote towns through support groups, education and survivorship programs for both indigenous and non indigenous people. She acknowledges that success occurs in partnership with other services and the local community.

Margaret is also focused on addressing the challenge of rural distances for the Breast Care Nurses working in isolation and has organised professional development days within the Western NSW LHD to provide networking and educational opportunities. Margaret maintains a high level of evidenced based practice and continues to implement new initiatives that are aligned with local and state guidelines.

 

November 2012


This month we meet a talented early-career researcher and member of Sydney Catalyst working at the cutting edge of eHealth for psycho-social interventions.

 

Allan 'Ben' Smith BSc (Hons)

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Ben has been a member of Sydney Catalyst since it was established in July 2011 and recently received a Travel and Education Award to attend the joint meeting of the International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS) and Clinical Oncological Society of Australia (COSA) where he will be giving a presentation titled "Losing your marble(s): A cross-sectional study of psychosocial outcomes in Australian testicular cancer survivors", which outlines the final results of his PhD study. He will also be attending a workshop on eHealth Development and Implementation of Internet Interventions in Psycho-Oncology.

He says:  "I hope this will help me to further develop a project piloting an internet intervention to reduce anxiety and depression in testicular cancer survivors, which I intend to submit for funding next year."

Background: Ben received a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) with honours from the University of Sydney in 2006. His honours project investigated the impact of patient stories on medical decision-making and began an interest in the psychological aspects of disease and its' treatment. After completing honours he spent two years conducting psycho-oncology research at the Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-based Decision-making (CeMPED) and the Psycho-Oncology Co-operative Research Group (PoCoG). His primary role during this time was coordinating the IBIS-II Prevention Decision Aid (DA) study, a large Randomised Control Trial of a Decision Aid for women at high risk of breast cancer considering participation in the IBIS-II clinical trial. He also played a key role in developing a new coding system for evaluating communication in doctor-patient consultations, and assessing the relative impact of cognitive and emotional aspects of shared decision-making on patient outcomes.

Ben has undertaken a PhD evaluating the prevalence and correlates of psychological distress and impaired quality of life in Australian testicular cancer survivors using both quantitative and qualitative methods. He is supervised by Professor Madeleine King, Professor Phyllis Butow and Professor Ian Olver at PoCoG/CeMPED and is supported by an Australian Rotary Health Ian Scott Mental Health Scholarship.

Research interests: Ben is interested in the psychosocial issues faced by men with cancer, particularly during the survivorship phase. He believes mixed methods research, which utilises both quantitative and qualitative approaches to collect and analyse data, integrate findings and draw inferences represents a versatile and effective approach to developing a comprehensive understanding of these complex issues.

He is also interested in the need to develop and evaluate interventions to address the psychosocial sequelae associated with cancer. His particular interest is in internet interventions (as above) which overcome many of the traditional barriers to providing care, including: inadequate treatment access, limited trained clinicians, poor geographical distribution of knowledgeable professionals, and expense.

 

October 2012


This month we meet the senior research scientist at the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute and a key member of Sydney Catalyst.

 

Dr Glen Reid PhD

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: T1/T2 Working Group member (read more); ADRI Translational Cancer Research Program Grant (read more).

Background: Glen graduated with a PhD in renal drug transport from the University of Goettingen, Germany. From there he spent three years in the group of Piet Borst at The Netherlands Cancer Institute, investigating the role of ABC transporters in the drug resistance of cancer cells. Most recently he was Senior Staff Scientist at the biotech company Genesis Research & Development, where he worked on the development of RNAi as a therapeutic for cancer.

Research interests: Glen is Senior Research Scientist at the ADRI, where his work focuses on translational studies of the asbestos-related cancer malignant pleural mesothelioma. The group's twin aims are to identify new biomarkers and novel molecular targets for therapy. They have identified a number of microRNAs that are candidate tumour and blood biomarkers for mesothelioma, while also having the potential to serve as targets for therapeutic intervention. Their search for novel molecular targets further utilises RNAi screening and access to pipeline drugs from a number of pharmaceutical companies.

 

September 2012


This month we meet one of Australia's leading nurse clinicians and researchers who is helping to drive Sydney Catalyst's work on translation of evidence and knowledge translation in supportive care.

 

Professor Kate White RN, PhD, MN, CertOnc CertPall, FRCNA FCN (NSW)

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Professor Kate White is a member of Sydney Catalyst, a T2/T3 Working Group member and member of the Scholarships Working Group. Kate's focus within Sydney Catalyst is on knowledge translation in supportive care.

Background: Kate has over 20 years of experience in clinical practice, education and research in cancer care. As the inaugural Chair of Cancer Nursing and Director of the Cancer Nursing Research Unit (CNRU), located at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, she mentors cancer nurse clinicians in clinical research, translation of evidence into practice, and develops and evaluates models of health care delivery with a focus on nurse-led roles.

Kate has been invited to participate in the development and evaluation of a number of national evidence-based guidelines, including the NHMRC-endorsed Psychosocial Clinical Practice Guidelines. She has served as a guideline reviewer for the NHMRC (Acute pain management: scientific evidence), member of the Management of menopausal symptoms & fertility issues in younger women with breast cancer Working Group and is a member of the Cancer Counil NSW Research Committee. She has led education developments in the area of palliative care, cancer and haematology nursing, and clinical trials practice.

Research interests: Kate's research interests are in improving supportive care for patients with cancer, particularly through nurse-led interventions, and enhancing the skills and practice of cancer and palliative care clinicians through the development and evaluation of formal and continuing education programs. She is currently leading a major program of research into evidence based supportive care in cancer. In 2011, Kate was awarded the prestigious Churchill Fellowship to visit the Royal Marsden Hospital in London to examine approaches to addressing sexual dysfunction in cancer patients. She is currently working on adapting this model for the Australian context.

 

August 2012


This month we take a look at a determined clinical researcher in NSW making sure her regional patient population of Coffs Harbour is included in important clinical trials.

 

Dr Karen Briscoe MBBS, BSc, FRACP

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Karen is Sydney Catalyst's rural link to Coffs Harbour. She is an active clinical trial investigator assisting in the further development of clinical trials and assessment of new interventions in a rural setting, as well as coordinating clinical and research training in Coffs Harbour and surrounds. With other Sydney Catalyst researchers Karen will be working on a biomarker trial led by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Being considered as a site for clinical trials is one of the disadvantages faced by rural research units and Karen hopes involvement in Sydney Catalyst will help overcome that barrier.

Background: Karen obtained her qualifications from UNSW and trained in the Illawarra and St George region and later worked at the Prince of Wales Hospital. She has been at Coffs Harbour Base Hospital since 2004 as (initially) the sole Principal Investigator spearheading the hospitals involvement in clinical trials - beginning in 2005. Through her work Coffs Harbour has been able to participate in most of the cooperative groups cancer trials including Breast, Prostate, Lung and GI. She was co-author on the paper 'Adjuvant chemotherapy for early colon cancer: what survival benefits make it worthwhile?' published in the European Journal of Cancerin 2010 (link)

Research interests: Clinical, phase 2 and 3 trials and quality of life trials.

 

July 2012


This month we profile the head of Sydney Catalyst's newest member group. Dr Sallie Pearson head of of the University of Sydney's
Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmaceutical Policy Research Group

 

Associate Professor Sallie-Anne Pearson BSc (Hons) PhD  

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: T2/T3 Working Group member

Background: Sallie is a health service researcher and behavioural scientist with more than 15 years experience in quality use of medicines research.  She is the head of the Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmaceutical Policy Research Group, Faculty of Pharmacy, The University of Sydney and has had a specific interest in cancer care since she established her research program in 2006. Sallie is currently a Cancer Institute Career Development Fellow and chief investigator on grants awarded from the NHMRC, Cancer Australia and the Cancer Institute NSW. Sallie sits on a number of national and state committees including the Drug Utilisation Sub-Committee of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and is the Chair of the NSW Population and Health Service Research Ethics Committee.

A list of her recent publications is available here

Research interests: Sallie's research interests include prescriber behaviour change, post-market surveillance of medicines and evaluating the impact of pharmaceutical policy interventions. She leads a large program of work evaluating the use and impact of cancer medicines in routine clinical care using linked secondary health data. In addition she has undertaken a range of studies including systematic reviews, quantitative and qualitative research to better understand the way in which oncology clinicians use web-based guidelines to support prescribing decisions at the point of care.

 

June 2012


This month we profile Sydney Catalyst's new Research Fellow: Knowledge Translation in Cancer Dr Tracy Robinson.

 

Dr Tracy Robinson BA (Hons) PhD (Psychology) Registered Nurse

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: As Research Fellow: Knowledge Translation in Cancer, Tracy is at the forefront of driving Sydney Catalyst educational activities. She is also a member of the T2/T3 Working Group with her knowledge directed towards implementation strategies. Her fellowship is supported through a partnership of two TCRCs; Sydney Catalyst and the Sydney West Translational Cancer Research Centre.

Background: A registered nurse Tracy has worked primarily in mental health services across the spectrum of practice from promotion and prevention, early intervention, treatment and in recovery based settings. She was awarded a PhD in 2011 in the School of Psychology at Charles Sturt University. Her doctorate, entitled Partnerships for Wellbeing: The Impact of the Resourceful Adolescent Program on Rural Youth involved adapting an emotional resiliency program in collaboration with three Aboriginal communities and implementing the modified program with adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 in rural schools.

For the past six years Tracy was responsible for leading the education stream at the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (University of Newcastle). This involved working with clinicians across the state and with organisations such as the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AHMRC) and the NSW Transcultural Mental Health Centre to develop and trial education initiatives in mental health. Tracy also has extensive teaching experience in nursing schools at James Cook and Charles Sturt University. More recently, she has worked as an Official Visitor for the Ministry of Mental Health (NSW Health) that involved advocating for and responding to problems experienced by service users and their families.

Tracy is keen to continue her work in health education research and in 2011 completed a one semester program for educators in the health professions at Harvard University.

Research interests: Tracy's research expertise encompasses emotional resiliency programs for children and adolescents and health education research. In addition, she has extensive experience at conducting cross cultural research in collaboration with Indigenous and Transcultural stakeholders.

Her other passion is literature and poetry; her BA (Hons) in English research focussed on the construction of mental illness in literature pre and post Freud.

 

May 2012


This month we profile Sydney Catalyst PhD and research scholar award recipients.

 

Dr Adnan Nagrial FRACP

Adnan smallInvolvement in Sydney Catalyst: Adnan is the first Sydney Catalyst recipient of a full three-year PhD Scholarship. He is also involved in the Individualised Molecular Pancreatic Cancer Therapy (IMPACT), randomised, open label, phase II trial. This trial compares standard treatment with gemcitabine with targeted treatments using genomic sequencing and protein expression to direct first-line treatment selection for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer.
The study, led by Professor Andrew Biankin, is a collaboration between Sydney Catalyst and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group (AGITG), and the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre (CTC).

Background: Adnan completed his medical oncology training in the Sydney South West Area Health Service in 2011. He was appointed Conjoint Associate Lecturer at the University of NSW and he was co-author on a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in the field of Melanoma.  In addition to being a Visiting Medical Officer at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and a member of the Royal Australian College of Physicians Training Accreditation Committee, he is a PhD student at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

Research interests: Adnan is a translational researcher in Professor Andrew Biankins' Pancreatic Cancer Research Group, looking into the Epithelial Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) phenotype in pancreatic cancer. As mentioned above, he is also involved in the design and implementation of the IMPACT clinical trial. Adnan describes his research for Sydney Catalyst in a short video available here.

 

Andrew Farrell BSc (Hons1)

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Andrew has been awarded a 2 year top-up research scholar award (non-clinician). He says he is very excited to become involved in Sydney Catalyst as he believes his project will build further understanding into the molecular events of non-melanoma skin cancer and offers the opportunity to collaborate with other Sydney Catalyst members.

Background: Andrew completed his Bachelor of Biological Sciences (Hons I) at The University of Wollongong in 2008. He then took a position at The University of Sydney in the Dermatology Department focusing on how eukaryotic cells compact their DNA (commonly known as chromatin remodelling) and how UV radiation affects this response, which is important for the prevention of skin cancer.  He began his PhD in early 2011 after being awarded a NHMRC Dora Lush Postgraduate Research Scholarship.  Andrew presented at the Molecular and Experimental Pathology Society of Australasia (MEPSA) Conference: Brisbane (November 2011).

Research interests: Andrew's project for Sydney Catalyst focuses on a novel tumour suppressor in non-melanoma skin cancer and a mutation recently found, assessing the functionality of this mutation in both in vitro and in vivo models. Andrew has a particular interest in the prevention of skin cancers via chromatin remodelling events by both histone modifications and chromatin-remodelling complexes such as SWI/SNF. Andrew also has an interest in immunology (in particular cancer immunology), which he frequently tutors and demonstrates for at the University of Sydney. Andrew has published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences  and in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta You can see a short video of him describing his research here.

 

Caroline Watts RN, B.A (Hons), MPH

Caroline smallInvolvement in Sydney Catalyst: Caroline was awarded a 2 year top-up research scholar award (non clinician) for her research titled: "The cost effectiveness of managing individuals at high risk of melanoma in a 'high risk' clinic compared with standard care". She believes her PhD project represents translational research, as the evaluation of the high-risk clinic model from both a patient outcome and an economic perspective has direct implications for policy and health outcomes for individuals at high risk of melanoma in NSW. 

Background: Caroline commenced her career in public health as a nurse and midwife. Following completion of a Bachelor of Arts she was involved in the establishment of what was then called the Esso Familial Polyposis Register in Victoria.  Her interest in health economics developed during her Masters of Public Health.  For the thesis component, she carried out an economic evaluation of the willingness to pay for Hepatitis A vaccine for travelers in Hong Kong.  While coordinating the influenza surveillance program for Victoria she conducted a study demonstrating the fragmentation of influenza surveillance within Australia and raised awareness of the importance a sentinel surveillance program for effective influenza monitoring. Caroline has been working in melanoma research projects for seven years, working as both a research assistant and project manager, coordinating the Familial Melanoma Research database.  Caroline is enrolled in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, and was awarded a Postgraduate scholarship in Cancer Epidemiology, funded through a fellowship to supervisor Dr Anne Cust from the Cancer Institute NSW.

Research interests: Caroline's interest in surveillance and achieving patient outcomes that are beneficial with regard to health outcomes and cost effectiveness, coincide with her PhD project. The study is a modeled economic evaluation utilizing data of health care costs and outcomes associated with a diagnosis of melanoma, managed in either a high risk clinic or in the community.  The objective is to determine if it is cost effective to manage individuals considered at high risk of melanoma in a specialized setting (i.e. a high risk clinic) compared with standard care, from a societal and Australian health system perspective. A short video of her work is available here

 

Dr Deme Karikios BSc MBBS

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Involvement in Sydney Catalyst: Deme received a 2 year top-up research scholar award (clinician) for his work titled: 'The costs and effectiveness of anti-cancer treatments'. He says his involvement in Sydney Catalyst provides him with an excellent opportunity to participate in a research program aimed at improving cancer health outcomes for people affected by cancer. One of the ways this will be achieved is by gaining a better understanding of the relationship of costs and cancer care outcomes by analysing existing clinical trials data and collaborating with clinical trials groups and other Sydney Catalyst researchers.

Background: Deme is in his third and final year of medical oncology training and graduated from the University of Sydney in 2005. He is currently the national medical oncology trainee representative. His publications include: D. J. Karikios and M.J. Boyer. Irreversible EGFR inhibitors in advanced non-small-cell lung carcinoma: Rationale and clinical evidence (Solicited review for Clinical Investigation - in print).

Research interests: Deme has a particular interest in thoracic and gastrointestinal malignancies, quality improvement and the delivery of cost-effective cancer care. He says the broad aim of his PhD is to assess the cost-effectiveness of new anticancer drugs and identify their determinants. Specific objectives include: to systematically review recent evidence about the costs and cost-effectiveness of anticancer drugs; and to survey medical oncologists to determine their views on how treatment costs affect decision making, and how problems associated with the increasing costs of treatment may be resolved. Another key objective is to perform cost-effectiveness analyses of expensive anticancer treatments, based on individual patient data from randomised trials conducted by the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre. This includes the MAX trial of bevacizumab plus capecitabine in advanced colorectal cancer, and the ANZ0001 trial of capecitabine versus CMF in advanced breast cancer. Deme describes his research in a short video available here.

 

Kate Mahon

Kate smallInvolvement in Sydney Catalyst: Kate's research crosses two Sydney Catalyst research centre member institutions; the Sydney Cancer Centre and the Garvan Institute for Medical Research. The project also involves collaborative links with multiple hospitals (Royal North Shore, Westmead, Mater, Sydney Adventist, Concord) and the Australian Proteome Analysis Facility. Kate has received a 1 year top-up research scholar award (clinician) for her work titled: 'The role of the acute phase response in Docetaxel resistance in hormone refractory prostate cancer'.

Background: Kate completed her clinical training as a medical oncologist in December 2009. As a clinician working in tertiary referral centres, both in Australia and the United Kingdom, she has been heavily involved in recruiting and managing patients on phase I, II and III clinical trials.

Research interests: Since commencing her PhD in 2009 Kate has focused on biomarker research in castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Her primary aim has been to identify markers of chemotherapy resistance in this patient group as only half will respond to first line chemotherapy at the cost of significant toxicity. She recently presented her initial results at the ASCO Annual Meeting 2011. As a co-author, Kate also presented data at the ASCO Annual Meeting 2011 on another prognostic plasma marker, methylated glutathione-S-transferase (GSTPi), in advanced CRPC patients receiving chemotherapy. Kate describes her research for Sydney Catalyst in a short video available here.