Supporting groundbreaking cancer research

Supporting groundbreaking cancer research

 Illuminate newsletter, December 2017
December 2017

Jeff and Shirly Cuff
Jeff and Shirley Cuff.

Jeff Cuff is a man on a mission. Since losing his beautiful wife Shirley to colon cancer four years ago, he has dedicated himself to learning more about cancer and supporting the research that could bring hope to others like Shirley and him.

As Christmas approaches, Jeff’s thoughts turn to Shirley.

Jeff said not only did he lose his best friend, he also lost a part of himself. 

“Shirl was in my DNA.... it’s still raw and hard every day.”

“Shirl was in my DNA,” Jeff said. “Every day there is something that brings her to my mind…it’s still raw and hard every day.”

Though Jeff has had his bad days since losing Shirley, he’s driven to beat diseases like cancer and is determined to support groundbreaking research.

The research is taking place at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, led by cancer researchers Professor Tony Burgess, Professor Peter Gibbs and Associate Professor Oliver Sieber.

Australian-first clinical trial for colon cancer

In an Australian-first clinical trial, set to commence early next year, the researchers will bombard grain-sized colon cancer tissue samples taken from patient biopsies with a range of existing treatments to measure their effectiveness in fighting the cancer.

Professor Tony Burgessm and Dr Chin Wee Tan
Professor Tony Burgess (left) and Dr Chin Wee Tan are
working on an Australian-first trial for colon cancer.

The clinical trial will allow scientists to quickly determine a patient’s drug sensitivity and resistance and help identify the most effective treatment or combination of treatments for that person.

Hope for patients

This approach could help to reduce a patient’s trauma from ineffective and gruelling treatments and improve their chances of remission and might even rid them of their cancer.

Making a difference

This is research that Jeff says could have made a difference for Shirley.

“I firmly believe that we’re going to make some big steps soon with the treatment of cancers…[and that’s] linked to keeping good research happening.”

Professor Burgess said the answers were there but more support was needed to help find them.

“With the help of our supporters we will continue our vital research into cancer to find new and better treatment approaches for patients,” he said.

Find out how you can help

Contact Sally Elford on 03 9345 2345 or

Super Content: 
Media in the lab

Find out about our latest research outcomes and scientific achievements.

Trustees with researcher in an office

The Dyson Bequest funds innovative research and early-career researchers. 

This funding has supported development of new treatments for Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and helped further research into epigenetics.