Illawarra researchers take the stage in cancer CONCERT

Illawarra researchers take the stage in cancer CONCERT

Cancer research received a significant shot in the arm this week when the New South Wales Health Minister and Medical Research Minister, Jillian Skinner, announced $19.3 million in funding for three new cancer research hubs across NSW.

From the $19.3 million, $6.5 million will go towards the establishment of a new Centre for Oncology Education and Research Translation (CONCERT) involving the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI), the Ingham Institute, the University of Wollongong (UOW), University of NSW, University of Western Sydney, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) and South Western Sydney Local Health District.

The CONCERT partners will contribute a further $1.5 million to the project, representing a total funding pool of $8 million.

The Illawarra team, led by IHMRI researcher and Chief Investigator on the CONCERT application, Associate Professor Marie Ranson, will receive 10 per cent of the funds. The team will work in close collaboration with Dr Martin Carolan, Director of Radiation Oncology and Medical Physics at the Wollongong Hospital, who will jointly oversee the research activities undertaken by IHMRI and ISLHD. This includes overseeing the ISLHD-funded bio-banking of tumour tissue samples.

CONCERT will bring together more than 190 professional members spanning all aspects of cancer research, diagnosis, treatment and care with a focus on translating cancer research into patient care. Around 20 IHMRI and Illawarra-based researchers will contribute to the network with a focus on the development of new drugs and treatments.

“The fact that our region can compete in this arena reflects the great commitment that the ISLHD and UOW have made to the establishment of IHMRI over the past six years,” Professor Ranson said.

The Cancer Institute NSW grant includes joint funding with ISLHD for the appointment of a medical oncologist to undertake a clinical research fellowship at IHMRI.

“This will strengthen existing clinical/laboratory links between IHMRI and ISLHD and enhance clinical translational research capacity in the Illawarra,” added Professor Ranson.

Given that the geographical area of the member institutes covers over a quarter of NSW and serves more than 5,500 new patients with cancer every year, CONCERT will create new opportunities for researchers to capture data from a large pool of patients, maximising the quantity and quality of information available to improve patient care over time.

The funding is effective from July 2014 and will run over the next five years. 

Media contact: IHMRI Communications Coordinator, Robyn Gower, on +61 2 4252 8228 or