CCWA Postdoctoral Research Fellowships 

Full list of grants and recipients 2018

Project Prognostic significance of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in people with advanced non-small cell lung cancer
Recipient  Vinicius Cavalheri De Oliveira
Institution Curtin University
Research description  

Globally, lung cancer has the highest number of deaths per year compared to all other cancers. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the main type, making up about 85% of all lung cancer. At diagnosis, almost 70% of patients have an advanced form of the disease and unfortunately, only 1-8% of patients are alive five years post-diagnosis.

Due to symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath, people with advanced NSCLC report adopting a sedentary lifestyle (prolonged time spent sitting or lying). In people with breast cancer, diabetes, heart or lung disease, time spent physically active during the day is linked with longer survival, whereas prolonged time spent sedentary during the day is linked with shorter survival. Although prolonging survival is the main goal of treatments for people with advanced NSCLC, studies in these people have not yet investigated the link between time spent either physically active or sedentary during the day and survival. So, the aim of this study is to investigate if time spent in physically active or sedentary during the day predicts survival in people with advanced NSCLC.

The intention is to recruit people diagnosed with advanced NSCLC and ask them to wear a physical activity monitor 24 hours per day for 7 days in a row. This monitor will show the amount of time people spent physically active and the amount of time they spent sedentary during those 7 days. After these assessments, the team will keep track of them for one year. Of note, exercise training will not be offered as part of this proposed study.

The number of deaths during that one year will be recorded, and the team will investigate any links between the times spent in being physically active or sedentary during the day with survival. 

Funding from CCWA $75,000 in 2018 ($225,000 total for 2017-2019)
Supported In the name of West Coast Eagles Football Club & the Estate of Paulus Hoogendyk

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Project Exercise medicine for advanced cancer patients: Can exercise slow tumour growth, delay disease progression and extend survival?
Recipient  Dr Nicolas Hart
Institution Edith Cowan University
Research description  

Advanced cancer patients face many challenges due to their growing disease and the treatments provided to manage their symptoms. Unfortunately, patients with advanced cancers have few effective treatments available, and once it has spread to bone, the disease becomes incurable. While exercise has been shown to provide symptom control for cancer patients; exercise may also slow cancer growth and extend life.

Dr Nicolas Hart’s research program will investigate whether exercise can: slow tumour growth in advanced patients with bone metastases (when their cancer has spread to bone), by interfering with tumour formation; increase the effectiveness of therapies delivered through the blood stream, such as chemotherapy, thereby allowing larger amounts of chemotherapy to reach the tumour; and increase survival – the ultimate aim of cancer treatments: exercise has been linked to increased lifespan, but this needs to be directly proven.

Funding from CCWA $75,000 in 2018 (total $225,000 for 2018-2020)
Fully supported In the name of the Mavis Sands Bequest

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Project To develop blood tests that can predict the risk of primary liver cancer
Recipient  Dr Yi Huang
Institution The University of Western Australia
Research description  

Chronic hepatitis C infection, chronic hepatitis B infection, alcoholic liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are the major types of chronic liver disease in Australia. The risk of developing primary liver cancer in individuals with chronic liver disease increases significantly.

Early detection of primary liver cancer is critical for its successful management. It is important that doctors identify patients who have a higher risk of developing primary liver cancer. Patients in this high risk group then commence a screening ultrasound programme to detect early primary liver cancer. In a preliminary study, a simple blood test that can accurately predict this high risk group of chronic hepatitis C patients was developed. In this proposed study, the aim is to validate this blood test in a larger population of chronic hepatitis C patients. A second aim is to develop blood tests to predict liver cancer development in other types of chronic liver disease. The intention is to follow up about 8,000 patients with chronic liver disease for 10 years and identify those patients who develop primary liver cancer. Age, gender, type of chronic liver disease and 19 candidate serum markers for each patient will be recorded at the start of follow up. Then the intention is to perform statistical analysis to validate the new blood test in chronic hepatitis C patients and also to develop tests that have the ability to predict the development of primary liver cancer for other types of chronic liver disease.

The blood tests are safe, simple, low cost and use widely available methods to predict the risk of primary liver cancer development. The tests will determine the most appropriate time to start screening for primary liver cancer. Moreover, repeated tests over time will help monitor future risk.

Funding from CCWA $52,500 for 2018 ($150,000 in total for 2016-2018)
Supported In the name of Friends of Cancer Council WA and through an Anonymous Estate


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Project Improving fluid removal methods to optimise benefits in patients with cancer-related fluid collection in the chest
Recipient  Dr Rajesh Thomas
Institution Institute for Respiratory Health
Research description  

Cancer-related effusion (malignant pleural effusion, MPE) is an abnormal collection of fluid inside the chest, and affects 8000 Australians every year. It is frequently seen with lung cancer and mesothelioma, and usually indicates incurable cancer. Breathlessness is the most common symptom and can often be severe. Most patients require removal of cancer fluid to relieve symptoms. Indwelling pleural catheter (IPC) is a novel treatment that involves placement of a permanent catheter inside the chest, and permits easy fluid removal without hospital admission. Key questions remain about its role in MPE management. 

Funding from CCWA $7,500 ($69735 in total for 2016 - 2018)
Supported In the name of the Mavis Sands Bequest


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