Through his new position Professor Roberts will champion fundamental and translational leukaemia research in Melbourne and lead a team across all three institutions to make major contributions to improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of leukaemia and related cancers of the blood.
The appointment is part of The University of Melbourne’s ‘Leaders in Cancer’ strategy, which aims to create new academic leadership for the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC), and celebrates a longstanding collaboration in leukaemia research between the university, the institute and the hospital.
Executive Director of the VCCC Professor Jim Bishop AO said Professor Roberts’ appointment would build on Melbourne’s decades-long strength in haematology research.
“The appointment of such a high-calibre person in this role will pave the way for the sort of innovation that is at the heart of the VCCC’s mission – to more rapidly translate basic research into clinical practice,” Professor Bishop said.
The Metcalf Chair is named in honour of cancer researcher Professor Don Metcalf, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, whose discovery of CSFs (colony stimulating factors), cell signalling hormones that drive the production of infection-fighting white blood cells, was made in collaboration with Professor Ray Bradley in the Department of Physiology at the University of Melbourne and Professor Richard Fox at The Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Professor Andrew Roberts is currently a cancer researcher and head of clinical translation at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and a clinical haematologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Professor Roberts said he was honoured to be the inaugural Metcalf Chair. “Leukaemia is a devastating disease, and we desperately need to find new approaches to its treatment,” he said.
“This investment by VCCC partner organisations will accelerate the research that is essential to finding curative solutions for patients with blood cancers. Professor Metcalf’s work has inspired my career, showing us all just how big a difference research can make to the lives of a great many people.”
Professor Roberts has had a distinguished career in cancer research and is currently leading world-first clinical trials of new anti-cancer agents to treat acute myeloid leukaemia, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and lymphoma.
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