The Geok Hua Wong Charitable Trust supports cancer research

Originally from Singapore, Dr Geok Hua Wong emigrated to Australia in the 1950s to study medicine at the University of Melbourne. After graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 1957, he had a long and successful career as both a medical practitioner and, later, in psychiatry, which he practiced into his late sixties.

A generous philanthropist

Dr Wong was a generous philanthropist during his lifetime, supporting a range of charities focused on the relief of poverty and the advancement of health, education, religion, culture, and social and public welfare. Following his death in 2015 at the age of 84, The Geok Hua Wong Charitable Trust was established to continue Dr Wong’s philanthropy in perpetuity.

One of the avenues through which the Geok Hua Wong Charitable Trust provides support is by providing grants to fund equipment critical to advancing medical research. Since 2019, the Trust has generously provided WEHI with essential funding for medical research equipment. More recently, the Trust has supported WEHI’s Personalised Oncology Division with equipment crucial for research into pancreatic, lung and brain cancers.

Advancing cancer treatment

Advances in the treatment of these cancers have been dismal over the last 10 years and sadly, these cancers remain incurable. To address this challenge, researchers in the Personalised Oncology Division use tumour samples and clinical data to better understand the characteristics and genetics of each individual patient’s cancer. They aim to use these insights to progress personalised strategies for cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment.

But a major limitation in delivering personalised medicine for cancer patients, is the lack of pre-clinical models that resemble individual tumours and can be maintained in the lab to allow testing of different treatment options.

Funding vital equipment

Working with clinicians and scientists, WEHI researchers have developed infrastructure to access cancer samples directly from various partner hospitals, which are then rapidly processed in the laboratory to test their response to therapy.

It’s an approach that requires specialised equipment for the storage and analysis of human biological samples. Thanks to the Trust’s support, the Personalised Oncology Division was able to acquire a specialised biospecimen platform, including a biosafety cabinet, two specialised incubators, a water-bath and a centrifuge. These resources have significantly expedited the pace of research, enabling the team to prepare and analyse more samples and delve deeper into the unique genetic make-up of each patient’s cancer.

Most importantly, this has enabled researchers to identify potential new therapies that will enable more personalised treatment strategies, moving scientists one step closer to improving survival rates for patients diagnosed with these devastating cancers.

With our sincerest thanks

Through the Geok Hua Wong Charitable Trust, Dr Wong’s generosity continues to support and inspire researchers at WEHI. His legacy is a testament to the power of philanthropy in advancing medical research and saving lives.

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