1 December 2023

Illawarra Cancer Carers donate more than a million dollars to support local research

| Zoe Cartwright
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cancer carers presenting cash gift to UoW researchers

Illawarra Cancer Carers presented a $47,500 cash gift to University of Wollongong cancer researchers on Wednesday. Photo: University of Wollongong.

Illawarra Cancer Carers deserve to be celebrated every day of the year, but this week they hit a special milestone.

The trained volunteer group, who support and care for people with cancer across the region, have raised $1.2 million for cancer research at the University of Wollongong over the past 18 years.

The latest philanthropic addition was a $47,500 cash gift by ICC to UOW on Wednesday.

The money will pay for a cancer research assistant for Senior Professor Marie Ranson and Associate Professor Kara Vine-Perrow’s research lab.

Professor Ranson, from the School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience, is an expert in molecular biomarkers of cancer and has led or contributed to several successful drug development projects.

Professor Ranson first received a $75,000 cash gift from ICC towards her research in 2009.

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“The partnership has strengthened the level of community recognition of our research as the ICC have been our long-term advocates and supporters,” Professor Ranson said.

“This has also helped develop strong links with cancer clinicians in the local health district.”

Professor Ranson said ICC’s support has been vital in bridging the gap between government grants and has enabled UOW to expand its cancer research programs.

Since 2021, the ICC support has enabled Professor Ranson and Associate Professor Vine-Perrow to retain Chelsea Penney as a research assistant.

“Chelsea has provided invaluable assistance. She has worked across several projects, including finding new treatment options for metastatic gastric cancer using patient-derived circulating tumour cells, testing the effectiveness of a new drug, deflexifol, in treating brain tumours, and proving the safety and effectiveness of an implantable device for the improved localised delivery of chemotherapy or immunotherapy,” Professor Ranson said.

The 2023 gift to researchers was presented by the new ICC president Narelle Langridge on Wednesday.

Geoffrey Failes, vice president of the ICC, said the group are proud the money they raise stays in the Illawarra.

“We continue to support the cancer researchers at UOW, we really believe that excellent and vital work is being undertaken into cancer research, cancer treatment and to hopefully one day find a cure,” he said.

“The important thing is that all the money we raise from the Illawarra Cancer Carers stays in this Illawarra area, either directly to the University or towards speciality equipment for the Illawarra Cancer Care Centre or the palliative care unit at Bulli Hospital.”

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Over the years, the ICC has also supported cancer research projects by Emeritus Professor John Bremner and Clinical Professor Philip Clingan OAM, Professor Danielle Skroptea and honorary Professor Mori Aghmesheh; PhD programs including top-up scholarships for students working on cancer drug development projects; helped retain local talent at the university via funding for cancer research fellows and cancer research assistants, and made substantial contributions toward state-of-the-art laboratory equipment.

The long-term benefits of the partnership have enabled the research team to gain international recognition in the research area, publish several scientific papers, present at conferences, and secure a successful Australian government NHMRC grant in 2020.

After Wednesday’s event, attendees had the opportunity to tour the world-class facilities in the Molecular Horizons Laboratories.

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