Boost for bowel cancer research

Researching a cure for Australia’s second biggest cancer killer is to receive a major boost with $8.9 million to establish a professorial chair in bowel cancer research at the University of Sydney.

The majority of funding comes from national charity Bowel Cancer Australia which has committed $5.9 million to establish the position and will be supported by additional funds of $3 million available to the University to advance research into bowel cancer.

Funded largely by the charity’s community fundraisers, Bowel Cancer Australia chief executive Mr Julien Wiggins said the size of the funding commitment will enable the chair and ancillary support to continue in perpetuity.

“It’s good news in tough times. Our funding will expand Australia’s research capacity and we hope the chair will be a game changer for bowel cancer research in this country,” he added.

Bowel cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Australia.

“Changing that fact requires significant, long-term funding for dedicated bowel cancer research and that’s what we’ve provided.”

“Screening can help with early detection but it won’t eliminate bowel cancer.  Research is the only way to discover a cure,” said Mr Wiggins.

The chair, to be named the Lawrence Penn Chair in Bowel Cancer Research after one of Australia’s oldest bowel cancer survivors, will be based at the University of Sydney’s Northern Clinical School Campus.

“We are extraordinarily grateful to Bowel Cancer Australia for their support,” said the Dean of Sydney Medical School, Professor Bruce Robinson.

“In times when national research funding is increasingly difficult to secure, we rely more than ever on funds from community groups and individuals to undertake the research which is essential if we are to better prevent and treat bowel cancer.”

“The University of Sydney has many world class cancer researchers and clinicians. This philanthropic support for bowel cancer means we can build on our existing programs and make a greater contribution to improving cancer outcomes,” said Professor Robinson.

Mr Wiggins said that establishing the chair will start with an international search in the first half of this year to attract a world-class research leader.

Bowel Cancer Australia chairman Brian McFadyen said that the charity’s agreement with the University of Sydney was the culmination of many years of effort by the Bowel Cancer Australia board.