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A 2020 New Year message on behalf of the Sydney Catalyst Governing Council

Article Type
News Articles
13 January 2020


2019 was another busy year for Sydney Catalyst and our membership. As we look forward to our 9th year working in collaboration to improve the lives of people affected by cancer, we would like to acknowledge some recent achievements and highlight our exciting plans for 2020.


The success of Sydney Catalyst is a testament to the dedication of and contribution from our members, who are leading cancer researchers and clinicians in their own rights, but who are also working in collaboration with us and each other to achieve great things collectively.


We're passionate about our vision, which is to develop and support a sustainable, comprehensive and successful translational research program, which as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Thank you to all our members who are helping us achieve this. 


I am very proud of the progress we made in 2019 across our three flagship research programs:


Flagship 1 -  EnRICH

In late 2019, the Sydney Catalyst "Embedding Research (and Evidence) in Cancer Healthcare" EnRICH program reached a major milestone enrolling our 1000th patient. Enrolment will continue in 2020 as we continue to expand the cohort to provide a platform for T1-T3 translational research in lung cancer.

Earlier this year EnRICH was awarded a Cancer Institute NSW Innovations in Cancer Control Grant for the project 'Investigating and addressing clinical variation in lung cancer using the EnRICH dataset', which will prioritise areas for rapid quality improvement (QI) interventions where unwarranted variation in patient care is identified. We will be recruiting a Research Fellow to work on the project in the New Year.


Thanks to research infrastructure funding provided by CINSW we were thrilled to support two new EnRICH sub-studies that will commence in January 2020.

Details of data available to researchers, and the application process for linked sub-studies, can be found on the EnRICH website. If you are interested in improving care and outcomes for patients with lung cancer, your research ideas are welcome at any time.

Flagship 2 -  Pilot and Seed Funding

Last year we awarded a record $357,500 Pilot and Seed Funding to support seven new projects across the translational research pipeline. This program has enabled our members to achieve a range of significant research outputs , including almost 30 publications and 13 leveraged grants, totalling approx. $7.205M in additional funding. The outcome of the 2020 Pilot and Seed Grant round will be announced in the coming months so stay tuned!


Flagship 3 -  Scholarships and Awards

Since 2011, Sydney Catalyst has awarded 43 Scholarships and 26 Travel and Education Awards to support our members in their postgraduate research and professional development endeavours. Many of our original PhD scholarship recipients completed their post-graduate studies and have progressed their research careers via post-doctoral positions and fellowships. In 2019, seven Sydney Catalyst members received a Travel and Education Award to support their research.  



Our Research Fellows have made significant progress strengthening Sydney Catalyst's translational research interests. Dr Alison Young (T2/3) has facilitated two new T2T3 research projects focussing on smoking cessation and genetic mainstreaming, with collaborations across major clinical sites. Dr Emma Ramsay (T1/2) is investigating procoagulant platelets as a diagnostic predictor of thrombosis in lung cancer patients.


As 2019 drew to a close, I was delighted to learn that the NHMRC had awarded twenty two Sydney Catalyst members over $22 million in funding to support their cancer research projects. A huge achievement in this tough funding environment.


Education Program 

The biennial Sydney Catalyst International Translational Cancer Research Symposium was held at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research last September. We had a fantastic turnout with very positive feedback about the range of engaging presentations on offer. We also hosted our annual Postgraduate & ECR Symposium, a number of education dinner events, our first education breakfast, and launched a new Mentoring Program. It's been fantastic to interact with our active Twitter community and share our successes. Don't forget to follow our podcast series - Catalysis - to learn about important issues in the cancer space and listen to recently recorded member events.


In 2019 our program of events will continue, with a focus on providing unique professional development and education opportunities for our 750 members while also facilitating communication and collaboration across our 30 research groups. The Central Office team, led by Research Manager Merilyn Heuschkel, is always happy to receive suggestions and proposals from members for activities that may be of interest across the Sydney Catalyst network, so don't hesitate to get in touch if you have an idea for something or are planning an event that you wish to promote within Sydney Catalyst.
Finally, in 2019 we undertook an External Review, with expert advice and input from Professors Derek Raghavan, Margaret Tempero, Galina Velikova and Ian Harris. Feedback from both Cancer Institute NSW and the External Review Panel highlight that we continue to be well placed to achieve our goal of working in collaboration to improve outcomes for people affected by cancer.



Professor Michael Boyer

Director Sydney Catalyst



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