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This International Women’s Day, Cancer Council SA is calling on the next State Government to fund the Cancer Council Beat Cancer Project every year for the next three years to support leading, female South Australian researchers.  

The Cancer Council Beat Cancer Project, a collaboration between Cancer Council SA, the State Government, SAHMRI and the South Australian Universities, funds the state’s best and brightest cancer researchers.

Since 2013, the Beat Cancer Project has funded more than 60 female researchers through early-career, mid-career, and principal research fellowships, along with infrastructure and project grants, totalling more than $8 million.

In 2020, the Beat Cancer Project also awarded more than $200,000 to South Australia’s leading female researchers through the inaugural Women in Leadership Awards.

Ahead of the State Election, Cancer Council SA is calling on the next State Government to invest $2 million into the Beat Cancer Project every year for the next three years.

Cancer Council SA Chief Executive Kerry Rowlands said that the funding will ensure that female South Australian researchers have the support they need to lead groundbreaking, local research projects.

“Right now, women make up less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide. Through the Beat Cancer Project, we are proud to be able to support talented, South Australian women to work towards the next cancer breakthrough. We need government funding to continue to provide that vital support.”

Dr Madele van Dyk is an Early Career Research Fellow from the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute. She is currently leading an Australian-first project aimed at perfecting personalised treatments for cancer patients.

Her research, focused on therapeutic drug monitoring, aims to understand why people react differently to different cancer medicines.

She says that funding from the Cancer Council Beat Cancer Project enabled her to lead a national project that is having a global impact.

“We’re now working with other states and territories to help them set up their own therapeutic drug monitoring program, with South Australia being used as a national example of how the program can work successfully.”

“That’s also led to international collaborations with the Netherlands and Germany with really exciting potential, and that’s only possible because of the support we’ve received from Cancer Council SA,” she said.

Professor Deb White is the Director of the Cancer Program and Deputy Precision Medicine Theme Leader at SAHMRI. She is currently the recipient of a Cancer Council Beat Cancer Project Principal Research Fellowship.

“Research funding is incredibly tight and incredibly competitive. There is quite simply not enough to support our best researchers and research projects. It is a very, very tough environment for young researchers with great talent and ideas.”

“We need to support and build the next generation of researchers, otherwise the pipeline becomes very leaky, as does the future of Australian research.”

With the State Election only weeks away, Cancer Council SA is calling on the next State Government to invest in three key policies to achieve a cancer free future for all South Australians.

In addition to funding the Cancer Council Beat Cancer Project, Cancer Council SA is advocating for: 

  • A contribution of $400,000 over four years to fund a Tackling Tobacco Pilot Program in South Australia to help reduce the smoking rate in at-risk communities; and
  • An increase the Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (PATS) rebate for regional and remote South Australians from $40 to $100 per night for an individual and from $80 to $115 per night for a couple.

Ms Rowlands said that all three asks are targeted, backed by evidence and cost-effective.

“Cancer is one of the leading causes of death and disease in South Australia, with more than 11,400 people losing their life every year.”

“It’s a sobering statistic, but one that highlights why it’s vital for the next State Government to invest in programs and services that reduce the burden of cancer for all South Australians today, and for generations to come,” she said.

To read more about Cancer Council SA’s Election Priorities download our 2022 Election Document here.

More information on Dr van Dyk’s research can be found online here. More information on Professor White’s research can be found online here.

Interviews can be arranged on request by contacting Natasha Baugh on 0400 855 244 or emailing