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

Article Type
News Articles
DATE
05 February 2018

As Sydney Catalyst broaches it 7th year of working in collaboration with our members to improve outcomes for people affected by cancer, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some of our most recent key achievements from the central office as well as share with you some of the things we're most looking forward to in 2018.

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. Our vision is to develop and support a sustainable, comprehensive multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional translational research program, which as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And our members are helping us achieve this. 

In 2017 Sydney Catalyst continued work across our three flagship research programs;

Flagship 1 - EnRICH; this ambitious program seeks to assemble a prospective clinical cohort of 1000-2000 lung cancer patients across 8 clinical sites, with the aim of describing the natural history of and patterns of care for lung cancer; identifying current gaps in evidence and practice for clinical quality improvement; creating a platform for researchers across the T1-T3 translational research spectrum to develop and initiate clinical research and intervention studies to address gaps. A pilot commenced at Chris O'Brien Lifehouse and RPAH in 2017, enabling patient identification, recruitment, data and sample collection methods to be trialled, before expanding the program to other participating sites (Concord was the first to be activated for the main study in late 2017). During 2017 the EnRICH steering committee was also formed, including representatives from across the Sydney Catalyst membership and translational research spectrum, and has been given responsibility for overseeing the program, with eventual responsibility for review of proposed sub-studies. Further information about how Sydney catalyst members can access the EnRICH cohort will be provided in due course, but we envisage the program will become an invaluable resource to our members working across the translational cancer research spectrum and we're excited by the possibility that it offers.
 
Flagship 2 - Pilot and Seed Funding; since Sydney Catalyst was first established in mid 2011, we have provided $1.35M of P&S funding for 29 member led projects, including five new projects that received funding in 2017. This program has enabled our members to achieve a range of significant research outputs , including at least 20 publications and 11 leveraged grants, totalling approx. $6.5M in additional funding. Moving forward, the 2018 round of P&S will open in mid February for funding to commence in July 2018.
 
Flagship 3 - Scholarships and Awards; since mid 2011, Sydney Catalyst has awarded 36 scholarships and 15 travel and education awards to support our members in their post-graduate research and professional development endeavours. During the last few years many of our original PhD scholarship and top-up scholar award recipients completed their post-graduate studies and have progressed their research careers via post-doctoral positions and fellowships. In 2017 specifically, we confirmed 4 new student award recipients, a number of whom we are hoping will participate in the 2018 Post-Graduate Student and Early Career Researcher Symposium scheduled for 2nd May 2018.  

A range of other Sydney Catalyst supported projects and programs also achieved significant progress and outputs in 2017. These include the cancer molecular screening and therapeutics (MoST) program, led by Professor David Thomas, the ACRF Centenary Cancer Research Centre, led by Professor Philip Hogg the ADAPT Anxiety and Depression Pathway program, led by Professor Phyllis Butow and of course the work of the late Professor Derek Hart and the Dendritic Cell Research group. These are just a few examples of major initiatives that Sydney Catalyst is providing modest support for.

In 2017 we also hosted a number of important Sydney Catalyst events, including our 6th annual PGECR Symposium, our 3rd Biennial International Translational Cancer Research Symposium and a number of education dinner series events, seminars and workshops. In 2018 our program of events will continue, with a focus on providing unique professional development and education opportunities for our members while also facilitating communication and collaboration across our membership, which currently includes approx. 550 individuals from 30 groups. The Central Office team, led by Research Manager Danielle Miller, 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 2017 we also undertook our 3rd External Review, with expert advice and input received from Professors Derek Raghavan, Janet Hiller and Grant McArthur, a summary of which has recently been made available to our members for their input and comment. In 2018, we will review our strategic plan against the advice received, to ensure that the Sydney Catalyst program is well planned and placed to achieve our goal of working in collaboration with our members to improve outcomes for people affected by cancer.

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