Margaret and Irene Stewardson Fund provides generous support to cancer PhDs

Thanks to generous donations from Margaret and Irene Stewardson, two PhD students with the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research (UMCCR) have each received a scholarship to support them through their studies.

Recipients of the Margaret and Irene Stewardson Fund

Pictured: A/Prof Dan Buchanan, Prof Jennifer McIntosh, Peter Nguyen, Romy Walker, Geoffrey Stewardson, John Henry

Margaret and Irene Stewardson were born in London in 1901 and 1904 respectively. Their family had a successful family brass metal business in Australia which allowed the sisters to establish the Margaret and Irene Stewardson Fund to support cancer research, driven by a familial history of the disease.

The Margaret and Irene Stewardson Fund at the University of Melbourne was established for the purpose of supporting PhD scholarships in cancer undertaken at the University, specifically based within the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

Geoffrey Stewardson, nephew of Margaret and Irene, and John Henry, the Executor for the Stewardson Trusts, visited UMCCR recently to meet the two recipients and leaders from their research groups.

Margaret and Irene Stewardson Fund scholarship recipients

Pictured: Romy Walker, Peter Nguyen, Jennifer McIntosh

Romy Walker, of Associate Professor Dan Buchanan's Colorectal Oncogenomics Group, said that the scholarship will provide her the confidence, both academically and financially, to undertake her research to the best of her ability.

"I am very excited about the potential of my projects, including the ability to appropriately risk-stratify Suspected Lynch syndrome patients into high or low risk of colorectal cancer for a more optimised clinical management for them and their and their family members.

"The Margaret and Irene Stewardson Fund Scholarship will support me in achieving these outcomes from my PhD which I hope will translate to saving lives through early cancer detection and prevention. I am grateful to be an ambassador for the Margaret and Irene Stewardson Fund and hopefully providing some inspiration to aspiring female scientists."

Peter Nguyen, of Professor Jon Emery's Cancer in Primary Care group, said that he was honoured to receive the support of the scholarship at the start of his PhD journey.

"With the support from this scholarship, my PhD aims to improve the early diagnosis of cancer in primary care, particularly the failure to follow up abnormal test results that are associated with increased cancer risk in general practice. This research will involve local and international collaborative efforts between academics in cancer research, general practitioners, experts in data linkage, health informatics, decision support and patient safety.

"I am excited to immerse myself into the unique opportunities that my PhD will present, but also the challenges and roadblocks along this new journey.”

Romy and Peter Margaret and Irene certificate

Pictured: Peter Nguyen and Romy Walker with their scholarship certificates