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12 Jun 2018

Pancreatic cancer leader honoured in Queen’s Birthday list

Garvan congratulates Professor Anthony Gill AM FRCPA, who has this week been named a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Professor Gill was awarded an AM ‘for significant service to medical research in the field of surgical pathology as an academic, author, adviser and mentor’.

A leading pathologist and pancreatic cancer researcher, Prof Gill holds research positions at Garvan, where he chairs the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative, and at University of Sydney, where he is Professor of Surgical Pathology. In addition, he is a Senior Staff Specialist at Royal North Shore Hospital.

Prof Gill says, “It is personally thrilling to receive this award, but it is really recognition of several different research and clinical teams, of which I am only a small part.”

Prof David Thomas (Head, Cancer Division; Head, The Kinghorn Cancer Centre) says that Prof Gill’s AM is timely recognition for his achievements.

“Anthony is one of Garvan’s longstanding collaborators, and he is pivotal to the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative. The achievements of the APGI over the past 5 years have transformed how we see pancreatic cancer, one of Australia’s leading cancer deaths.

“We congratulate Anthony warmly on this honour.”

Prof Gill’s research has a strong clinical focus. As a practising pathologist, he works to translate new advances in the understanding of cancer at the basic research level into diagnostic tests, which can be used to make sense of patient biopsy specimens and inform treatment in the routine clinical setting. 

Prof Gill is a leading expert on cancers that arise from cells that cannot process oxygen effectively, many of which run in families. He has identified two new forms of these cancers, now known as ‘succinate dehydrogenase deficient GIST’ and ‘succinate dehydrogenase deficient renal cell carcinoma’ and developed an approach to recognise patients with these tumours based on how the tumours look under the microscope with a simple, cheap and widely available screening test (immunohistochemistry).

Based on his work, these tumours are now recognised by pathologists around the world. And because the tumours are strongly hereditary, recognising one patient often means whole families at risk can be identified before they develop more serious complications.

As a mentor, Prof Gill takes great pride in having supervised PhD and medical students at Garvan and University of Sydney – and he emphasises that his students’ enthusiasm and passion always informs and sustains his own passion for research.