October 11, 2005

ACRF research funds critical to keeping international edge

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation fills a "significant niche" in cancer research with its large infrastructure grants allowing Australian research groups to retain a competitive edge internationally, according to University of Queensland's Professor Ian Frazer.

Frazer, whose team grabbed worldwide headlines this week by developing a cervical cancer vaccine, previously received an ACRF grant that allowed it to leverage $2m from the Queensland Government and the University of Queensland for much-needed laboratory space on the Princess Alexandra Hospital campus.

He said that Australia was at a critical time in the area of cancer research.

"Internationally, advances in cancer biology and cancer therapy are more than ever dependent on 'big science' requiring access to expensive technology, and on networking between basic science groups, clinician scientists, and practicing clinicians in an environment where clinical research is not only permitted but positively encouraged.

"For Australia to build on its past successes and retain a place on the world stage will require ongoing commitment to funding of dedicated research facilities and to provision of staff with the appropriate training, skills, and opportunities to conduct world class research," Frazer said.

As for the future of cancer research in Australia, Frazer said that the focus was translational research underpinned by good basic research.

"Breakthroughs rarely come when they're expected, and major advances in the management of cancer don't come only from clinicians doing cancer research.

"If you can inspire bright people to tackle important issues, the improved understanding will lead eventually to practical benefits for patients," he said.

"The critical and rate-limiting step is always funding - funding to provide competitive infrastructure and adequate salaries, sufficient to attract and retain the brightest minds in research, funding so that basic science is well done even if there isn't an immediately practical application, and funding so that all patients who wish to get the opportunity to take part in well designed and well supported clinical trials," he added.

On the World Wide Web:

Research Australia