Director and General Manager of CB4BC, Sam McGuane, said when he and Carrie Bickmore met with WEHI Director Professor Doug Hilton, the aim was to centralise investment into an idea that could create a radically different research strategy.
The idea came to fruition. In October 2021, The Brain Cancer Centre was founded by CB4BC and established in partnership with WEHI with support from the Victorian Government. The Centre is multidisciplinary and comprehensive in its approach, spanning discovery research, clinical trials, data and tissue banking, and quality-of-life research.
“The Centre’s number one aim is to end brain cancer as a terminal illness by both attracting and retaining talent, so we can invest with a long-term commitment in transformative brain cancer research,” said Sam, who became the Centre’s inaugural General Manager.
“This is an environment that is focused on progress, impactful ideas and discoveries that can translate into outcomes for patients.”
Prior to establishing The Brain Cancer Centre, CB4BC had already been funding brain cancer research in Associate Professor Misty Jenkins’ lab at WEHI, helping to advance studies in immunotherapy.
The need for an innovative approach is pressing. While advances in other cancers have been celebrated over the years, brain cancer survival rates have barely changed in three decades. Sadly, 80 percent of patients diagnosed with brain cancer will die within five years.
Planning the Centre took two years, during which time other partners including Monash University, The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, The Royal Children’s Hospital, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Queensland and VCCC Alliance joined the Centre.
“We’re organising our investment into four key research themes: Pathways to new medicines, blood-brain barrier research, new cancer models, and new approaches to immunotherapy,” said Sam.
Twelve research projects will take place within the four themes, each spanning three to five years.
A dedicated, multidisciplinary brain cancer lab is being created at WEHI as part of the Centre to generate fundamental research discoveries, and to give newly diagnosed patients access to a precision medicine platform, tailored to their type of brain cancer, in real time.
“We want to see a day when no family has to lose someone, they love to brain cancer. We want to make sure that every Australian diagnosed with brain cancer will have access to the best treatments and be given real hope for a positive outcome. I truly believe that together, we can achieve this.”