Shining a light on excellence in cancer research

Friday, 27 March 2015

Three Western Australian cancer researchers have been recognised for their significant achievements in Cancer Council Western Australia’s Research Excellence Awards, just the second time the accolades have been given to recognise the work of cancer researchers in WA.

The awards are being announced today at Cancer Council WA’s annual funding grants lunch sponsored by the Parmelia Hilton. 

The Research Excellence Awards attract a cash prize for each researcher to contribute to their work, and are the only ones to recognise the achievements of those working in the cancer research field in WA across three categories: Early Career Cancer Researcher of the Year; Cancer Researcher of the Year; and Cancer Research Career Achievement Award.

Professor Lin Fritschi, Research Grant Advisory Committee Chair, said while the three award winners are highly regarded within their individual fields of expertise, these awards allow them to be recognised by the broader community.

“Along with recognising outstanding work by these cancer researchers, the Research Excellence Awards allow us to shine a light on important work they are leading in a diverse range of fields which has the potential to benefit many West Australians in the future,” she said.

Professor Fritschi said cancer research is a tough competitive business where intelligence, persistence, determination and a high degree of optimism are indispensable.

“This is just one small way we recognise this and seek to encourage others to apply their talents to this important sphere of endeavour,” she said.

Dr Prue Cormie, who is a past Cancer Council Postdoctoral Research Fellow and an Accredited Exercise Physiologist from Edith Cowan University’s Health & Wellness Institute, has been awarded the Early Career Cancer Researcher of the Year Award for her work investigating the role of exercise in the management of cancer.

Dr Cormie has pioneered work in identifying exercise as an effective way of counteracting sexual dysfunction following prostate cancer treatment.

“This award is a fantastic recognition of the importance and the value of the work our team has been doing and how much it’s been influencing the lives of people affected by cancer,” she said.

“I hope my award will encourage more Western Australians to exercise and also promote greater awareness about how exercise can help improve the quality of life in cancer patients and survivors.”

Academic haematologist Professor Wendy Erber, who is Head of the University of Western Australia School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, has been awarded Cancer Researcher of the Year.

She said she is particularly proud of her achievements in translating scientific and research discoveries into diagnostic pathology practice to improve patient care and outcomes.

Several of her recent papers have led to significant innovations in clinical pathology practice, including more accurate diagnosis of leukaemia and lymphoma using new imaging and genetic techniques.

Professor Erber’s award also recognises her long-term commitment to teaching students and researchers, including the publication of two textbooks on haematological malignancies.

“This award will highlight the work my team does which we hope will ultimately lead to improved lives for patients with leukaemia and other cancers,” she said.

A deep commitment to assisting people affected by occupational diseases throughout his career has earned Professor Bill Musk the Cancer Research Career Achievement Award.

Professor Musk, who is a Clinical Professor in the Schools of Medicine and Population Health at the University of WA and a respiratory physician at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, has quietly championed the cause of people affected by asbestos-related diseases over his 35 year career.

He is internationally recognised as a leader in research into malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer, and was instrumental in establishing the Asbestos Review Program in WA and the Mesothelioma Register within the Department of Health WA.

The award also recognises his significant work as an active anti-smoking advocate, including his role as President of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health for more than 10years.

Professor Musk said he was both surprised and delighted that his efforts have been acknowledged through this award, and hopes this award will have a broader community benefit by driving further research into asbestos-related diseases.

“My work has been focused on looking after these people as best as I can, not only through my clinical practice, but also through my advocacy efforts and research into the causes of their diseases which is critical for prevention and in determining their eligibility for compensation,” he said.


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