Collaborative Cancer Grant Scheme for early to mid-career investigators (CCGS)

Tthe purpose of the Collaborative Cancer Grant Scheme is to support early- to mid-career cancer researchers in WA and in particular to encourage collaboration among early- to mid-career cancer researchers. The scheme aims to improve research quality and increase the competitiveness of WA early to mid- career cancer researchers by helping researchers obtain preliminary data and build collaborative networks. Grants of up to $50,000 were awarded to the following early- to mid-career researchers to fund projects that involve collaboration across at least three institutions in WA. 

This scheme, established by Cancer Council WA in conjunction with the Western Australian Health Translation Network (WAHTN), is being administered by Cancer Council WA.

Recipient report templates

2017 Successful Recipients

Funded in partnership with: Government of Western Australia: Curtin University; Edicth Cowan University; Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research; The University of Western Australia and the Telethon Kids Institute.

A handheld micro-elastography probe: a new surgical tool to reduce the number of re-excision surgeries in breast cancer treatment

Chief investigators: Dr Lixin Chin (UWA), Dr Qi Fang (HPI), Dr Sally McLaren (DoH)

It is reported that 20-30% of patients undergoing breast conserving surgery for treatment of breast cancer require a second surgery because small amounts of cancer were missed during the initial surgery. Existing techniques are unable to assess the boundary of the surgical cavity. The judgement as to whether a second surgery is required is based solely on analysis of the excised tissue, which is available only some time (often days) after the surgery. This team are researching the development of small, flexible, high resolution imaging probes in order to enable surgeons to assess the tumour cavity during the initial surgery, with the ultimate goal of reducing the need for second surgeries.

Funding: $48,600 

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Understanding how cancer cells communicate with other cancer cells and with the immune system to improve cancer treatments

Chief investigators: Dr Elin Gray (ECU), Katie Meehan (UWA), Dr Jason Waithman (TKI), Tarek Meniawy (SCGH)

The cells in our bodies, including cancer cells, produce tiny vesicles called exosomes that are thought to serve as little garbage cans for the cells to dispose of unwanted components. However, it has become apparent that they constitute important messengers that mediate communication between cells, such as cancer cells and immune cells. This study will examine the role of these tiny vesicles in melanoma, a very aggressive skin cancer. The aim is to understand how these vesicles aid the spreading of drug resistance and affect the work of the immune system. In addition, the team will explore the utility of exosomes as a marker for therapy selection and monitoring patients. All of which would improve treatment outcome for melanoma patients.

Funding: $43,230 
The CCWA component is supported In the name of
: Knitters for a Cure Relay For Life team

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What aspects of cancer care are most important to patients and the general public?

Chief investigators: Dr Richard Norman (Curtin) Dr Arman Hasani (SCGH), Dr Matthew Anstey (SCGH), Dr Ian Li (UWA)

This research is exploring the value people place on different aspects of cancer care. This will help decision-makers to personalise care to reflect patient preferences. For instance, patients may prefer home treatment, and be willing to have less physician contact as a result.

We are using a survey tool called a discrete choice experiment (DCE), which asks respondents to consider two care options, and select which they prefer. Through this, we can estimate the trade-offs between different aspects of care that the individual makes. We will run a DCE in samples with and without cancer, to show the impact of experience on the value someone places on aspects of care. This will provide evidence to help policy makers to implement patient centred care pathways that reflect what patients themselves believe to be important.

Funding:  $37,752

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Targeting four-stranded DNA conformations to modulate gene expression in breast cancer

Chief Investigators: Dr Nicole Smith (University of Western Australia, Dr Dave Tang (TKI), Dr Anabel Sorella (HPI)

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in women and the fourth most common cause of death from cancer in Australia. Not all patients respond well to treatments. This has created an urgent need to identify new drugs and ways of treating cancer. This research is focused on targeting an unusual DNA structure that is over-represented in cancer-related genes, where formation of this structure can control whether a gene is switched on or off. The team will engineer and utilize a precision-targeted technology that will better control formation of this unusual DNA structure in specific cancer-related genes with minimum off-target effects. The technology is intended to switch off the cancer gene, stop the growth and destroy the breast cancer cells that have already developed.

Funding: $45,669 

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Asbestos Removalists' Health Study

Chief investigators: Dr Nita Sodhi-Berry (UWA), Dr Fraser Brims (SCGH), Dr Renee Carey (Curtin), Dr Ewan Macfarlane (Monash) Asbestos Removalist's Health study

This project will develop strategic collaborations within WA and nationally to establish an Australia-wide cohort (group) of current and prior licensed asbestos removalists. This study is significant as this is the only group of people currently at risk of asbestos exposure through their occupation. Future studies on this group will help to improve our understanding of: modern-day low dose asbestos exposures and its health consequences; the factors influencing exposure levels during its removal; opportunities for interventions for reducing health risks; the adequacy of current regulatory practices; and may potentially identify a ‘safe' level of asbestos exposure which would also be relevant for do-it-yourself home renovators and the community at large.

Funding: $49,872 
The CCWA component is supported In the name of
the Estate of Les Matheson

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Identifying genetic causes of poor survival outcomes in patients with thin melanoma

Chief investigators: Dr Sarah Ward (UWA) Dr Danielle Dye (Curtin), Dr Carlos Aya-Bonilla (ECU), Dr Li Luo (University of New Mexico)

Melanoma is the fastest growing form of skin cancer and can spread quickly to other body sites, making it difficult to treat successfully.
Melanoma survival is strongly related to the thickness of the tumour and most people with a thin melanoma (less than 1 mm) have a very good prognosis. However, in a small group of these patients, the cancer cells spread to other body sites and are lethal. This project will try to identify genetic changes that are associated with thin melanomas that spread. The team will examine genetic differences between patients with thin melanoma who do not have metastases, and those who either have metastases or have died from melanoma. The results will allow the researchers to identify which patients with thin melanoma are at higher risk of their melanoma spreading. These patients can then be followed more closely for any sign that the cancer has spread and given additional tests that thin melanoma patients would not normally receive as standard care, significantly enhancing survival.

Funding:  $49,877 
The CCWA component is fully supported In the name of:
the Estate of Les Matheson

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