A generous vision for impactful medical research

After many years of careful planning, Stafford and Moyna Fox’s vision to set up a philanthropic foundation to support medical research became a reality in 2014.

The Stafford Fox Medical Research Foundation was established through the Will of Moyna Fox and named in memory of her late husband, James Stafford Fox.

Their story

Moyna was born in Albury, schooled in Balarat and was a radio announcer before she married Stafford. She was known for her swimming prowess and was a force to be reckoned with, if you swam in her pool without a bathing cap.

James Stafford Fox was a self-made man. As a Major in the Australian Army in the Second World War, he fought in the Defence of Darwin in 1942. He went on to lead a very successful business career, having risen through the ranks of BP Australia from a junior clerk to become the first Australian Chief Executive of BP Australia in 1971.

Both Moyna and Stafford Fox understood the power of philanthropy. The foundation’s parameters were kept deliberately broad, with the goal to support medical research in public hospitals or universities within Australia.

Their passion

The foundation manages up to 10 grants around Australia, supporting a variety of medical research projects. It is administered by Foundation Trustees, Paul Brotchie, long-time friend and lawyer of Stafford and Moyna, and Ken Wallace.

Both Trustees have a passion to foster the development of early career researchers and post-doctoral fellowships in medical science. They believe that, by providing certainty of funding, researchers can develop their careers without necessarily having to travel overseas.

This has two-fold benefits:

  • To support researchers who might be unable to travel overseas for personal reasons
  • To increase the skills and expertise of the medical research brains trust in Australia

Supporting medical research

Paul and Ken became aware of WEHI when Susan, Paul’s wife, heard lead rare cancers investigator, Professor Clare Scott AM, being interviewed about her research on the radio in 2014. They donated their first pledge instalment in September of that year.

The foundation now significantly supports four research areas:

  • Treatments for people with rare cancers have not advanced at the same pace as treatments for more common cancers, such as breast or prostate cancers. The Stafford Fox Rare Cancer Program ensures that Australian cancer patients benefit from new approaches to diagnosis and treatment. Professor Scott says:
“A major objective of this research is to recommend effective treatments for rare cancer patients using existing anti-cancer medications. Once a treatment for a rare cancer patient is devised, our researchers will monitor the success of the treatment and this information will guide future treatment recommendations.”
  • The Stafford Fox Centre for Cancer Stem Cell Disease Modelling enables WEHI scientists to use grain-sized cancer tissue, called organoids, to pre-test multiple treatment options for individual patients to determine the best possible treatment for each.
  • The Stafford Fox Asthma Research Program enables WEHI to implement a multidisciplinary approach targeting the cause of the disease, with the goal of developing new approaches to the treatment of asthma. In Australia, one in nine people have asthma – one of the highest rates in the world – with almost 400 Australians dying from the disease each year.
  • The aim of the Stafford Fox Ovarian Cancer Program is to help match ovarian cancer patients with the appropriate therapy for their cancer. Being able to offer targeted treatment is crucial for patient survival rates, which have seen little improvement over the past 30 years.

Supporting WEHI

Paul states that the value he gains from the partnership with WEHI stems from the extent to which researchers focus on personalising medical interventions.

He has observed that WEHI values the individual and doesn’t treat people as just another number. This is exemplified by WEHI’s research into rare cancers, which may not otherwise have been supported due to low patient numbers.

Paul is proud of what the Stafford Fox Foundation has achieved through its support of WEHI and believes it to be a fitting honour for Moyna and Stafford, two generous Australians who were ahead of their time.

Ways you can support WEHI

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Illuminate Autumn 2024
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