2022 Cancer Council WA Suzanne Cavanagh Early Career Investigator Grants

Early Career Investigator Grants are designed to help talented early career cancer researchers develop the skills and necessary track record to advance their career. These one year awards give many researchers their first step in their career as an independent cancer researcher.

See below for the 2022 grant receipients.



Project title: Vastly improving the detection of breast cancer using a novel digital camera imaging technology
Lead researcher: Dr Qi Fang
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Project description:

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Australian women with ~20,000 new cases each year. The main treatment for early-stage breast cancer is surgery, but up to 1 in 4 surgery cases need second operations because not all cancer has been removed in the first surgery. This creates delays and costs for both the patient and the health system.
To remove the cancer during surgery, surgeons mainly rely on their sense of touch and visual inspection, as cancer often presents as a stiff lump. However, these approaches are inherently subjective, resulting in small residual cancer often being missed during surgery.
In this project we will develop a novel digital camera imaging technique that can help the surgeon accurately and rapidly assess cancer. Our technique has the potential to dramatically reduce the need for a second surgery, and greatly improve the patient experience and outcomes by increasing the proportion of surgeries that can fully excise cancer in a one-stop surgical procedure.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $34,670


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Project title: Using a gel to release drugs locally after surgery and prevent cancer recurrence
Lead researcher: Dr Ben Wylie
Institution: The University of Western Australia
Project description:

Treatment for solid tumours, such as sarcoma, involves surgery followed by chemo- or radiotherapy. However, many cancers do not respond, and patients often suffer from recurrence of their cancer. Immunotherapy involves activating the body's immune system against the cancer and is a promising alternative. We are developing a gel-based drug delivery platform that takes advantage of the ‘window of opportunity' created during surgery by placing the immunotherapy nearby to any remaining cancer cells. This research project aims to incorporate several drug candidates, known for their immune-activating properties, into a slow-release gel that is placed into the surgical site in order to prevent tumour recurrence. We will test these compounds in an animal model of cancer surgery to determine their anti-cancer properties and investigate how they produce this effect. This project may benefit a broad range of patients undergoing surgical resection of their cancer by reducing relapse post-surgery.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $34,818
Supported: In the name of the Peter and Iris Cook Grant for Metastases Research