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Professor Hacker AM explains research grants

Professor Neville HackerThe AGCF provides fellowship grants to medical researchers in their first 5 years post PhD. Only 20% of medical researchers have a full-time paid position. 50% of medical researchers expect to have to leave the field within 5 years, through lack of financial support.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) only funds 10% of grants submitted. The Federal Government gives infrastructure grants to major research institutions, such as the Garvan or Peter MacCallam, but this does not generally help fund young researchers.

Most of their money comes from charities, and most of the charity money goes to breast and prostate cancer research. The AGCF was set up to increase funding for Gynaecological Cancer research, and therefore, to attract more researchers to this field. 

There has never been a better time for investing in medical research, because of the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. The Project took 13 years to complete and cost US$2.7 billion. It identified every gene in the human body (about 30,000). It's now possible to get this information, in about one week, at a cost of about $1500.

The AGCF's first fellowship grant was made possible by the generosity of the Way in Network. The medical researcher who was awarded this Fellowship Grant, Dr Dane Cheasley, is investigating low grade serous ovarian cancers.

These cancers are uncommon, but occur in younger women and don’t respond well to chemotherapy.

Dr Cheasley has collected a very large series of these cancers from biobanks around the world, and is analysing their genetic profile. 

When this has been completed, and he understands which genes are abnormal (mutated) in these cancers, he will be trying to develop gene (targeted) therapy to try to cure them. To read more on Dr Cheasley's research...