NSW Government funding for Garvan scientists to research new treatments for breast and pancreatic cancer

Three of Garvan’s researchers have been awarded three-year Fellowships from Cancer Institute NSW to explore new ways to target breast and pancreatic cancer.
17 February 2017

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research congratulates researchers Drs Angela Chou, David Gallego-Ortega and Marina Pajic, who all received Fellowships from Cancer Institute NSW to support their investigations into new therapeutic strategies for cancer.

In an announcement made by NSW Government Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research, The Hon. Brad Hazzard MP, on Wednesday 15 February, the researchers received three of only 18 Fellowships awarded across the state.

The Cancer Institute NSW Fellowships will enable the scientists from Garvan’s Cancer Division to expand upon their current research programs in breast and prostate cancer, and to perform preclinical testing on a number of new therapeutics.

  • Dr Angela Chou was awarded an Early Career Fellowship. She is researching a new targeted drug in pancreatic cancer which, in initial preclinical testing, showed promise in a subgroup of tumour cells with specific genetic traits. Dr Chou plans to test this drug in a newly established model of invasive pancreatic cancer, and to explore its combination with different chemotherapies currently in clinical use, with the future aim of improving response and survival in pancreatic cancer patients. 
  • Dr David Gallego-Ortega received a Career Development Fellowship to support his work, which focuses on making immunotherapies an effective treatment for breast cancer.  Immunotherapies work by ‘re-educating’ the immune system to recognise and combat cancer cells. In breast cancers, however, the immune system’s function is ‘dialled down’ and immunotherapies can’t work effectively.  Dr Gallego-Ortega’s work will use state-of-the-art technology at single-cell level to investigate how this happens, and how to reverse it, so that the immune system can effectively target breast cancer cells.
  • Dr Marina Pajic was awarded a Career Development Fellowship. Dr Pajic’s previous genomic analyses of pancreatic tumours identified a number of new genetic drivers of pancreatic cancer and this funding will support the preclinical assessment of several new drugs that individually target these drivers.  A key aim of Dr Pajic’s work is to develop a more efficient strategy for the testing of new therapeutics that will accelerate progress into clinical trials, and ultimately lead to personalised therapy for pancreatic cancer patients.

The Fellowships were awarded as part of $11.6 million in funding from the NSW Government to researchers across NSW to seek new treatments for cancer.

"We are delighted for our young cancer researchers here at Garvan, and we also congratulate our partners at Children’s Cancer Institute at UNSW, and the ACRF International Centre for the Proteome of Human Cancer," says Professor David Thomas, Head of Garvan’s Cancer Division and Director of The Kinghorn Cancer Centre.

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