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Prestigious grants highlight quality of Cancer Council Victoria research

Wednesday 19 October, 2011

Research into breast cancer, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma and alcohol will be boosted by over $3 million in grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) made to Cancer Council Victoria staff and colleagues.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Todd Harper, said the announcement of the prestigious grants was a ringing endorsement of the quality of Cancer Council Victoria's research efforts.

"We pride ourselves on our research, and are delighted with the awarding of these highly competitive grants," Mr Harper stated.

The Director of Cancer Council Victoria's Cancer Epidemiology Centre, Professor Graham Giles, has been awarded $1.4 million to investigate the epidemiology of multiple myeloma in Australia.

"Over 1000 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma in Australia each year. Our proposal aims to identify possible environmental and genetic causes of this serious disease by taking detailed personal and family histories from people diagnosed with myeloma and their families," he said.
"We plan to investigate the role of sun exposure, body size and obesity, dietary factors and pesticides as well as a large range of genetic variants. The five-year study will be conducted in Victoria and New South Wales," Professor Giles said.

Methylation as a risk factor for prostate cancer is the focus of Professor Melissa Southey's research, which has received a grant of $964,000.

"DNA methylation is a process that plays a critical role throughout life by altering the expression of genes. We aim to investigate the potential use of methylation as a target for prevention strategies and for men with no clinical evidence of disease, as a marker of their risk for prostate cancer, particularly its aggressive form," Professor Southey observed.

Dr Laura Baglietto's research focuses on the risk of recurrence after diagnosis of invasive breast cancer by molecular subtype. This project has received $464,000 of funding.

"The study aims to estimate recurrence-free survival of breast cancer by molecular subtypes in a population-based sample of Australian women. The results will assist clinicians to guide their therapeutic decisions and will inform women about their anticipated outcome after diagnosis of breast cancer," she said.

Mr Harper said only 22.5% of 3495 project grants, including those to Professors Giles and Southey and Dr Baglietto were successful, underlining the strength of the applications.

In addition to the project grants, Associate Professor Vicki White has partnered with VicHealth and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, who are also contributing funds, on a successful partnership project grant to investigate the influence of alcohol outlet density, price and promotion on trends in adolescents' drinking behaviours.

"We will examine how changes in alcohol availability as indicated by density of alcohol outlets, alcohol taxation rates, alcohol advertising, media coverage about alcohol issues and alcohol control policies influenced trends in adolescents' alcohol use between 1993 and 2011," she says.

"The findings will provide evidence for the development of alcohol-related policies to curb alcohol misuse among adolescents at a time of increasing demand for governments to take action in this area."

Cancer Council Victoria also received $500,000 for infrastructure funding to support its research.