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Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project has awarded nearly $200,000 to South Australian leading female researchers. 

The Women in Leadership Awards, established this year, recognises women who are leading the way in South Australian cancer research.

The 2020 award recipients are Professor Deborah White from SAHMRI, Professor Bogda Koczwara from Flinders University, Dr Kerri Beckman from UniSA and Professor Lisa Butler from the University of Adelaide.

Cancer Council SA Chief Executive Lincoln Size said that each of the women are true leaders in their field and was proud to be able to recognise their efforts through the award.

“South Australia is home to some of the state’s leading women in cancer research, and this award is in recognition of their exceptional contribution to the field and leading role they play in improving cancer outcomes for all South Australians,” he said.

Professor White is a Cancer Council Beat Cancer Project Principal Research Fellow and Deputy Cancer Theme Leader at SAHMRI. The award will support her work into the effect of the gut microbiota and immune system in patients with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and enable her to employ one of her recent PhD students to support her work.

“This is a really important area of research which will help us understand the role of the gut and related immune system in therapeutic response, therapeutic toxicity and the lifelong health impact of this therapy. This is such a much needed area of research, that if successful will change the life course for our patients young and old.”

“It is so hard in COVID times for these bright, young and talented scientists to get work, and this is particularly so at Christmas time, so it’s a privilege to be able to give my student this opportunity, supported by Cancer Council SA.”

Professor Koczwara is a Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology at Flinders Medical Centre and will use the award to support her research into cardiovascular disease in cancer, which she says is a major cause of cancer mortality and morbidity in cancer survivors.

Dr Beckman is a cancer epidemiologist at UniSA and will use the award to work with cancer care specialists to design and pilot a system for identifying and measuring the long-term negative effects of some treatments, such as chemotherapy, on cancer patients.

Professor Butler is a Cancer Council Beat Cancer Project Principal Research Fellow and heads the Prostate Cancer Research Group at SAHMRI. The award will support fresh prostate cancer tissue collection and biobanking from consenting patients who are undergoing surgery for prostate cancer in Adelaide.

“This collection is essential for my research program, which is unique in its use of fresh and archival prostate specimens to maximise clinical translation of our laboratory research findings,” she said.

Mr Size congratulated each of the recipients on receiving the award.

“We are incredibly proud to be recognising each of these exceptional researchers through this award, which we know will enable them to further progress their work and make a real difference to cancer research in our state.”

Interviews with individual researchers can be arranged on request by contacting the relevant institutions media team. More information on Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project can be found here.