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2015 Otago Spotlight Series: Cancer Research

We were delighted with the attendance at our cancer research showcase in Wellington at the Nordmeyer Lecture Theatre, Tuesday 20 October.

More than a dozen University of Otago researchers presented their research by providing bite-sized, lay-friendly outlines of their work at the cancer coalface in New Zealand.

We showcased both our internationally recognised and distinguished scientists alongside award-winning emerging researchers whose fingers are on the pulse of reducing the incidence and impact of cancer.
Our programme covered:

  • Unlocking the vulnerabilities of cancer cells
  • Diagnosis and treatment advances
  • Minimizing side effects of cancer therapy
  • Screening, and health spending
  • Social and behavioural factors
  • Personal dimensions of cancer journeys

Finalists of the student poster competition presented their research at the event too. Congratulations to our winner Connie Gilfillan, and our highly commended young researchers.
Student Poster Competition 2015 winners

Attendees were able to meet with researchers, and to contribute their views on the cancer priorities for New Zealand via the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge.
Email healthier.lives@otago.ac.nz if you would like to share your views.

Research presentations

To view videos and slides of our presentations visit our Cancer Research at Otago website:
Cancer research showcase—wait there's more!

Overview

Professor Parry Guilford
Director, Centre for Translational Cancer Research, Department of Biochemistry, Otago School of Medical Sciences, An interim deputy director of Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, and Chief Scientific Officer of Pacific Edge.

What does the public know about preventing cancer?

Dr Rose Richards Hessell
Co-Director, Cancer Society Social and Behavioural Unit, Department of Preventive & Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine.
Topic: Public knowledge and understanding of what they can do to prevent cancer.

Vaccinating against cancer

Associate Professor Sarah Young
Head of Department, Department of Pathology, Dunedin School of Medicine.
Topic: Vaccines against cancer.

Genetic health for personalised cancer care and prevention

Dr Logan Walker
Rutherford Discovery Fellow, HRC Hercus Health Research Fellowship holder and Senior Research Fellow, The Mackenzie Cancer Research Group, Department of Pathology, University of Otago, Christchurch.
Topic: Improving familial risk assessment by providing new knowledge and new tools for genetic screening, particularly for breast and ovarian cancer.

The gene that stops cancer

Professor Antony Braithwaite
James Cook Research Fellow, Research Professor, Department of Pathology, Dunedin School of Medicine.
Topic: The gene that stops cancer.

Molecularly-informed treatment strategies in breast and ovarian cancer

Dr Heather Cunliffe
Senior Lecturer, Department of Pathology, Dunedin School of Medicine.
Topic: Discovery and validation of biomarkers to empower evidence-based treatment selection for patients with aggressive subtypes of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Transforming existing drugs; one more step in the fight against cancer

Dr Khaled Greish
Senior Lecturer, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Otago School of Medical Sciences

Finding cancer's vulnerabilities, and The Healthier Lives National Science Challenge

Professor Parry Guilford
Director, Centre for Translational Cancer Research, Department of Biochemistry, Otago School of Medical Sciences.
Topic 1: Our research programme that aims to identify drugs for the chemoprevention and treatment of specific subtypes of breast and gastric cancer.
Topic 2: The rapid response to cancer progression.

Health gain and cost-effectiveness in cancer prevention and management

Professor Tony Blakely
Research Professor and Director of Health Inequalities Research Programme (HIRP), and The Burden of Disease Epidemiology, Equity and Cost-Effectiveness Programme (BODE3), with Dr Nisha Nair Senior Research Fellow.
Topic: We will present modelling results for health gain and cost-effectiveness for preventing cancer by enhancing tobacco control (particularly tobacco tax). Similarly, for providing HPV vaccination for girls and boys. The cost-effectiveness of various cancer treatment and management interventions will also be described – including for cancer care coordinators. We will also detail recent work on the cost of cancer in New Zealand.

Improving patient outcomes in colorectal cancer care

Dr Chris Jackson
Senior Lecturer, Department of Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, and oncologist for Southern District Health Board.
Topic: Our research examines the delivery and implementation of colorectal cancer care to identify how we can improve health services in order to deliver the best outcomes for patients across the country.

Cancer, comorbidity and care

Associate Professor Di Sarfati
Co-Head of Department, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, and Director of Cancer Control and Screening Research Group.
Topic: Our research investigates the interactions between comorbidity and cancer, with a particular focus on how both care and outcomes can be improved for cancer patients in New Zealand.

Inequalities in testicular cancer

Dr Jason Gurney
Otago Early Career award winner and Senior Research Fellow, Cancer Control and Screening Research Group, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.
Topic: Ethnic inequities in testicular cancer incidence and mortality: a mystery to be solved.

Presentations by students

Poster competition finalists (PhD and masters' students) give a two-minute presentation of their research to sway the judges in their favour!

Reducing skin damage in radiation therapy

Associate Professor Patries Herst
Department of Radiation Therapy, University of Otago, Wellington.
Topic: Development and use of silicon dressings to reduce skin damage for those undergoing radiation therapy.

Psycho-social-spiritual dimensions of care

Dr Richard Egan
Senior Lecturer, Cancer Society Social and Behavioural Research Unit, Department of Preventive & Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine.
Topic: A cancer diagnosis impacts the whole person and family/whanau: physically, psychologically, socially and spirituality. Our work focuses on the psycho-social-spiritual dimensions