Cancer Council Victoria researchers receive prestigious funding to aid cancer fight

Wednesday 12 December, 2018

More than $1.6 million in funding has been awarded today to Cancer Council Victoria researchers from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The project grants, awarded to Dr Helen Dixon, Dr Harindra Jayasekara and Dr Pierre-Antoine Dugue, will fund projects looking at:

  • countering the unhealthy influence of alcohol sport sponsorship
  • diet, alcohol and body fatness as risk factors for stomach cancer
  • integrating genetic and epigenetic data to increase precision in epidemiological exposure assessment.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said the organisation was delighted the researchers had been awarded the highly competitive grants.

“Cancer Council has world-class researchers working on a range of different cancer control issues and projects, and the announcement of these prestigious grants are an endorsement of this high quality.”

Research Fellow in Cancer Epidemiology and Intelligence at Cancer Council Victoria, Dr Harindra Jayasekara, will study the risk factors for stomach cancer, thanks to his grant worth more than $1,000,000.

“A million people develop stomach cancer annually worldwide, and sadly the majority die soon after diagnosis. Through this research project we hope to uncover whether drinking alcohol, sugary soft drinks, coffee and tea, consuming certain foods such as meat, fish, fruit, vegetable and cereal, using aspirin and anti-inflammatory medication, and obesity are related to stomach cancer using a large international database,” Dr Jayasekara said.

“Findings from this project could have huge benefits, with the capacity to help prevent up to two-thirds of stomach cancers in Australia.”

Dr Helen Dixon, a Senior Research Fellow in Behavioural Science at Cancer Council Victoria, has been awarded more than $400,000 to develop and test health messages to counter the influence of alcohol marking through sport sponsorship.

“Alcohol consumption accounts for a substantial burden of death, disease and injury in Australia, including increasing the risk of cancer. Widespread promotion of alcohol through sport contradicts public health efforts to reduce alcohol harms in our community.” Dr Dixon said.

“Through this project we aim to test whether health communications about alcohol harms can bolster sports spectators’ resistance to the influence of alcohol sport sponsorship.”

Dr Pierre-Antoine Dugué, a Research Fellow in Cancer Council Victoria’s Cancer Epidemiology and Intelligence Division, will receive almost $200,000 to study how genetic data may predict a predisposition to cancer in people with an unhealthy lifestyle.

“I will develop enhanced lifestyle measures that integrate genetic and epigenetic data and test them for their association with cancer.

“Ultimately, our goal is to utilise both genetic and epigenetic data to better estimate future cancer risk at the individual level and provide risk stratification and personalised advice to those at high risk.”

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