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Fungi-powered cancer research gets grant boost

Twelve research projects to benefit from Sydney Cancer Institute Seed Grant Scheme.

Three researchers pose for a photo in their lab, all holding test tubes with various coloured solutions.
SydneyConnect Image: Sydney Cancer Institute Seed Grant Scheme provides funding boost to twelve research projects

Fungi are at the heart of innovative cancer research that’s received a funding boost, thanks to a new grant scheme run by Sydney Local Health District in partnership with Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and the University of Sydney.

Dr Ann Kwan’s research project is one of 12 that have received $25,000 in funding from the inaugural Sydney Cancer Institute Seed Grant Scheme.

Her study focuses on how a fungal protein can be used as an anti-microbial coating for bone implants. She and her team are hoping that this protein will reduce infections and promote bone integration and wound healing for cancer patients needing bone replacement.

Reducing infections could also help avoid the need for antibiotics, Dr Kwan said.

“The problem of antibiotic resistance is one of the 10 biggest problems facing the world. To be a part of solving this problem is what I want,” she said.

The Grant Scheme aims to support early-to-mid career researchers investigating within the areas of cancer diagnosis, prevention, treatment and care.

The District’s Chief Executive Dr Teresa Anderson said research plays a crucial role in working towards improving outcomes for patients with cancer.

“When the innovations developed under the scheme are successful, it will allow the District to provide our patients new care and treatment options.”

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Chief Clinical Officer Professor Michael Boyer said continued learning about cancer is important.

“This disease has a huge impact on patients’ lives. At Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, we’re continuously striving to learn and understand more about cancer. The recipients of these grants will help us to do just that.”

For Robyn Ward, Executive Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, the Grant Scheme represents the University’s “bench-to-bedside” approach to research.

“Each of the scheme’s beneficiaries does incredible work in translating academia into real-world applications. The scheme is hugely valuable in helping to make innovation a reality.”

The Executive Director of Sydney Research Vicki Taylor added, “These grants are just the beginning of what we know will be some wonderful success stories.

“The research that is being enabled is some of the most exciting in the field of cancer research worldwide and will certainly lead to new approaches in diagnosis and treatment.”

Click here to see the full list of Sydney Cancer Institute Seed Grant Scheme recipients.