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Cancer Council funded researcher rewarded

Wednesday 22 August, 2007

In April of this year, fifty years after he began his career at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Professor Don Emeritus Metcalf became the first non-American to receive a lifetime achievement award from the American Association of Cancer Research.

He has long been regarded as one of the most important medical scientists of his time with his pioneering research and discovery of the Colony Stimulating Factors (CSF's); hormones that control white blood cell formation which are responsible for one's resistance to infection.

Patients receiving treatment need CSF's to raise their white cell counts and protect them from dangerous infections that can occur after radiation therapy, high dose cancer chemotherapy, or a bone marrow transplant.

Professor Metcalf's research, funded by the Cancer Council Victoria, has seen millions of cancer patient's worldwide benefit from his discovery of Colony Stimulating Factors. Professor Metcalf says that often the nightmare of research is getting together grant applications for salary and support.

His research was made possible through the Cancer Council's Carden Fellowship, a position Professor Metcalf has held for over 50 years during which millions of cancer patients have benefited from his discoveries.

"Major discoveries need major and sustained support and The Cancer Council Victoria is again exhibiting wisdom in seeking to increase the number of long-term fellowships following the Carden model.

"The Cancer Council Victoria is at the forefront of research and needs the community to fund research which may take many years to come to fruition. I was fortunate that I was able to have continuous support," says Professor Metcalf.

Today The Cancer Council Victoria is currently looking to fund established researchers and their teams to undertake projects that push the conventional boundaries. Called the Venture Grants scheme, it is aiming to provide the financial backing so that cutting edge research projects can be undertaken.

The Cancer Council Victoria has provided initial funding for the first milestones of the five successful projects (totaling $758,250) and is seeking a further $5.3 million from philanthropic individuals who understand The Cancer Council's vision for innovative, adventurous, potentially high gain research. 

In 2006, The Cancer Council spent $21 million on funding for 180 research projects in Victoria. All the research supported is under one of the following specialties; clinical, epidemiology, behavioral science and tobacco control research.    

"The only way to advance cancer treatment and prevention is to increase the scope and scale of quality research. We need to include venturesome approaches in an effort to hasten the rate of discovery," comments Professor David Hill said Director of the Cancer Council Victoria.

"The application of research leads to better treatment, earlier diagnosis and prevention benefiting cancer patients now and generations to come," Professor Hill said.