Southern Cancer Care (SCC) and St George & Sutherland Medical Research Foundation (SSMRF) are proud to announce a three-year partnership to fund cancer research.
Almost 3,000 people are newly diagnosed with cancer annually in the St George and Sutherland Shire areas, with Prostate, Breast, Colorectal and Melanoma (Sutherland residents predominately) the top four cancers impacting our community. Researchers from the St George and Sutherland Hospitals desperately want to see these numbers reduced, and their research will directly benefit the residents of the St George and Sutherland Shire region.
There is a proud history of community support for initiatives to improve the lives of cancer patients. Twenty-five years ago, after a community-based committee successfully raised the funds for the construction of Bezzina House (the accommodation lodge at St George Hospital), the committee members realised they had a passion for supporting people who live with cancer. In 2002 we decided to continue our fundraising work under the banner of The Prostate Cancer Institute (PCI). From 2002–2019, our fundraising efforts achieved phenomenal results and provided significant improvements to buildings and amenities for prostate cancer patients at St George Cancer Care Centre.
Once the final project was completed, the committee looked to a new chapter and saw the need to support cancer patients more generally. From this vision Southern Cancer Care (SCC) was born as a not-for-profit organisation advocating and fundraising for the projects inspired by the cancer care centres within the St George and Sutherland Shire community. As well as maintaining its longstanding focus on building patient-centred facilities, we also seek to support the development of new models of cancer care and to fund vital cancer research.
It was a therefore natural step to partner with the SSMRF to fulfill the mandate to fund research to advance cancer treatment methods. The SSMRF is an important part of the local medical community, raising funds to support vital medical research across St George and Sutherland Hospitals. Since 2007 the SSMRF has awarded more than $8.76 million to over 70 research projects investigating a wide range of medical conditions. Importantly, it has an established assessment, allocation and acquittal process for grants that is rigorous, transparent and overseen by experts who intimately understand the nature of medical research. This infrastructure makes it an ideal organisation to disseminate the research-specific funds raised by SCC. In turn, this partnership means the SSMRF now has a dedicated cancer-related funding stream, providing greater access to essential funding for researchers who work at the cutting edge of medical science. It’s a win-win situation.
Each year for three years, we will provide SSMRF with $50,000 in funding, which will be disseminated through a competitive selection process. The first major grant awarded as part of this collaboration was given to Professor Yong Li. In 2021 he was provided with $50,000 to conduct research which will help improve the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. This grant will provide the initial seed funding for Professor Li’s preliminary research, which will pave the way for him to secure additional funding for the expanded study.
The SCC grant particularly targets early career researchers whose research trajectory will be boosted by early funding. By supporting our brightest minds and helping them to establish a viable research agenda with room to grow, we are maximising the impact of our fundraising efforts. What’s more, through supporting researchers connected to the St George and Sutherland Shire, we are ensuring, with the SSMRF, that the local community benefits from their ground-breaking work, as well as contributing to the global efforts to improve outcomes for cancer patients.
It’s the potential impact of the work we are funding that inspires our passionate and committed team to continue our tireless fundraising efforts.