University of Melbourne academic recognised with Victorian Cancer Agency Mid-Career Research Fellowship

A University of Melbourne academic has been awarded a Victorian Cancer Agency Mid-Career Research Fellowship.

Dr Richard Tothill of the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research and Department of Clinical Pathology is set to receive just under $600,000 over four years to support translational cancer research.

Dr Tothill’s research focuses on Cancer of Unknown Primary (CUP), a devastating disease with a very poor prognosis. CUP is a cancer that has spread to distant sites in the body while providing few clues to its tissue of origin. The Fellowship will look to better the diagnosis and treatment of CUP to improve survival outcomes.

Professor Sean Grimmond, Bertalli Chair in Cancer Medicine and Director of the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research, congratulated Dr Tothill on his success.

“This is a well-deserved achievement for Dr Tothill and his team, in recognition of his important and impactful work in translational cancer research. We are extremely proud of the world-class research being undertaken by academics in our Centre, to improve outcomes for cancer patients through genome discovery, translation and personalised medicine.”

New precision medicine approaches for CUP will be tested including complete genome DNA sequencing to help review the cancer’s identity and potential therapeutic vulnerabilities. Precision medicine approaches will also assist in the development of patient-derived cell lines that have the potential to allow testing of drugs against cancer cells in the laboratory before their use in treating patients.

Dr Tothill’s Fellowship will be supported by a national network and study called SUPER – Solving Unknown Primary Cancer. SUPER is led by Medical Oncologist Dr Linda Mileshkin at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and involves recruitment of CUP patients from multiple other Victorian and interstate hospitals.

Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy said: “Victoria has some of the best cancer survival rates in the world – and it’s testament to our proud track record of investing in world-class cancer prevention, treatment and research.”

“The fight against cancer is far from won, which is why we’re supporting the next generation of cancer researchers and fast-tracking new breakthroughs in cancer treatment and care.”

The Fellowship follows announcement of Dr Tothill as a chief investigator on a $AU1.8 million from the Medical Research Future Fund clinical trial grant also led by Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre investigators involving a novel treatment combination for a rare neuroendocrine cancer. Both studies and funding outcomes reflect the collaborative potential between the University of Melbourne and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre as part of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

2018 Victorian Cancer Agency Collaborative Research Grant Recipients

In addition to Dr Tothill's Fellowship, two research leads at the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research have been name as investigators on two projects that will receive Victorian Cancer Agency Collaborative Research Grants.

Professor Jon Emery will be working with Professor Margaret Kelaher from the University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health on a project working to improve the benefits of the renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program for Victorian Aboriginal women, in collaboration with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Victorian Cytology Service, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, and BioGrid Australia.

Professor Jennifer Philip will be working with Professor John Zalcberg of Monash University on a novel approach to improving quality of care for patients with upper gastrointestinal cancer through real-time patient-reported outcomes in clinical practice, in collaboration with University of Sydney, Monash Health, Alfred Health, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Victorian Cancer Registry, and Southern Melbourne Integrated Cancer Services.

See the full list of recipients.