This month, the ovarian cancer research program at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, in a collaboration with Monash Health, was awarded $2.2 million from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). The announcement was made on World Ovarian Cancer Day, Friday 8th May 2020.

The MPCCC, in partnership with Monash University’s Precision Medicine Program, will establish a competitively awarded PhD scholarship to support this ovarian cancer research. The program will pursue much needed advances to improve the diagnosis, therapeutic opportunities and outcomes for women diagnosed with ovarian granulosa cell tumours (GCT).

“GCT is a rare but important ovarian malignancy, as it has proven difficult to treat when recurrences occur,” said Professor Tom Jobling, Head of Oncology at Monash Health.

“No standard chemotherapeutic options have been effective and we desperately need an effective systemic treatment to offer women of all ages, including teenagers, afflicted by this tumour,” Professor Jobling said.

“GCT has received considerably less attention than other ovarian cancers, resulting in significant gaps in knowledge around treatment and research,” observed Professor Peter Fuller, Associate Director of the Hudson Institute of Medical Research and Head of Endocrinology at Monash Health.

“The reality for these patients is that anecdotal reports often drive treatments in the absence of evidence to support the approach. From the perspective of the women afflicted with this disease, GCT is truly an under-served ovarian tumour with limited community awareness,” Professor Fuller added.

“The perspective provided by consumer groups on the lived experience of GCT has enabled our research team to focus on research questions that deliver important outcomes to patients and their families,” said Dr Simon Chu, Research Group Head at Hudson Institute of Medical Research and an expert in the study of GCT and molecular endocrinology.

“This information presents a clear and consistent picture of the key challenges relating to this disease, which are captured in our GCT research project,” Dr Chu commented.

In Australia and across the world, ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of all female cancers. On average, only 43 out of 100 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are still alive five years after their diagnosis. Cancer Australia estimates that more than 1500 new cases will be diagnosed and more than 1000 women will die from ovarian cancer in Australia in 2020.

“This project will change the trajectory of precision medicine improvements for the diagnosis and clinical management of granulosa cell tumours,” observed Professor Melissa Southey, Research Director of MPCCC and Chair of Precision Medicine at Monash University.

“We consider this to be an outstanding environment for higher degree student training as it will provide an immersive experience in the multidisciplinary environment required to advance precision medicine,” Professor Southey added.

“MPCCC’s commitment to a PhD scholarship helped to leverage this opportunity and we are most grateful for their support,” said Professor Fuller.