Representatives of the Illawarra Cancer Carers with UOW Molecular Horizons research assistant Chelsea Penney and Associate Professor Katrina Green. Photo: Michael Gray
Illawarra Cancer Carers representatives (Geoff Failes, Narelle Langridge, Audrey Walsh, David Berry) with research assistant Chelsea Penney and Associate Professor Katrina Green

Illawarra Cancer Carers gift over $1.2m to UOW

Illawarra Cancer Carers gift over $1.2m to UOW

Presentation celebrates ongoing support of groundbreaking cancer research

The generous support of the Illawarra’s Cancer Carers (ICC) to the University of Wollongong (UOW) was celebrated during a presentation on Wednesday 29 November.

Throughout the 18-year partnership, ICC have gifted more than $1.2 million to UOW to support cancer researchers to continue their groundbreaking cancer research.

The ICC has supported cancer research projects, PhD programs, help 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 ICC is a group made up of trained volunteers who support and care for people with cancer in the Illawarra. The gifts provided by the ICC to UOW are raised purely through fundraising events such as stalls, raffles, and an annual banquet.

Over the years, ICC has supported cancer research conducted by Emeritus Professor John Bremner and Clinical Professor Philip Clingan OAM, Professor Danielle Skroptea, honorary Professor Mori Aghmesheh, and funded the ICC PhD Top-Up Scholarships for students working on Cancer Drug Development projects.

The latest philanthropic addition was a $47,500 cash gift by ICC to UOW 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 invasion and metastasis and has successfully led, and contributed intellectual property (IP) to several drug development projects.

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

“The partnership has strengthened the level of community recognition of our research as the ICC have been long-term advocates and supporters for cancer research conducted by my team and collaborators in the Illawarra region,” 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 enabled UOW to expand cancer research programmes.

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.

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.

Collage of photos. Representatives from the Illawarra Cancer Carers tour of the world-class facilities in the Molecular Horizons Laboratories. Photos: Michael Gray

The research is being conducted at the Molecular Horizons Research Institute, a global leader in visualising biological processes on an unprecedented scale to advance understanding of disease mechanisms and translate this knowledge into diagnostics, therapies and cures.

The 2023 gift to researchers was presented by the new Illawarra Cancer Carers’ President Narelle Langridge during today’s formal cheque presentation.

Geoffrey Failes, Vice President of Illawarra Cancer Carers said, “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.”

“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.”

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