Statistics show that almost everyone in New Zealand at some point will be affected by cancer in their lifetime, but with research identifying improvements and more effective treatment, many people are living longer with cancer and many cancers can now be cured.
Research is the best hope against cancer, according to the Cancer Research Trust New Zealand, which supports innovative research projects designed to detect, treat and prevent cancer. The trust is inviting applications to help get cancer on the run.
“Big things can happen from small beginnings,” Executive Director, Dr Douglas Ormrod says. “We give bold ideas about cancer a chance to grow.
“We fund research and professional development across the cancer spectrum from prevention, through detection, diagnosis and treatment to end of life palliative or hospice care.”
One of the largest cancer research charitable trusts in New Zealand, Cancer Research Trust has funded more than $15 million in research and professional development projects since 2002, with every cent of every dollar donated applied to the work of the trust.
The grant rounds are generally heavily over-subscribed and have attracted some of the brightest minds in cancer research anywhere in the world, who have used the funding to get out of the starting blocks and on to bigger things.
Rutherford Discovery Fellow and Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Pathology at Otago University, Dr Aniruddha Chatterjee used the Cancer Research Trust grant to fund his work into understanding the biological changes that switch genes on or off to stop cancer cells from spreading and killing people.
“That grant was the springboard to greater knowledge, contributing to a global effort to unlock the secrets behind resistance to immunotherapy,” he says.
“The trust recognised early on how topical and fundamental our work was and the grant substantially helped us push on to gain traction in this new and leading-edge field of research which potentially has a global impact, not just on cancer patient treatments but also other illnesses.”
Another leading cancer immunologist, Dr Roslyn Kemp, also working at Otago University, says the funding from the trust was vital to furthering cancer research in New Zealand.
“I was embarking on a completely new programme and the trust recognised the benefit of sponsoring risky yet innovative research using a brand-new technology to study colorectal cancer tumours. Our research has immediate applicability to patients, as well as providing new ideas in the research field.” Dr Ormrod says the grants cover cancer-related public health or biomedical, clinical, epidemiological or psychosocial fields, as well as education and training for students and health professionals wanting to pursue careers related to cancer care and research.
To find out about the research project, fellowship and professional development grants, the deadlines for applications and how to apply go to cancerresearchtrustnz.org.nz/apply-for-a-grant.