New Centenary Cancer Chair appointed

18 November 2014

The University and the ACT Government have announced the appointment of distinguished medical researcher Professor Ross Hannan as the inaugural Centenary Chair in Cancer Research.

The Centenary Chair is a new position, focused on researching new treatments for cancer patients and fostering collaboration between Canberra medical specialists and scientists at The John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR) and across ANU.

The Centenary Chair is a joint project of ANU and the ACT Government. The Government has provided $1.5 million to help fund the position.

“The appointment as Centenary Chair in Cancer Research is incredibly exciting for me as it is an opportunity to build upon the reputation of the JCSMR as one of Australia’s pre-eminent centres of medical research,” Professor Hannan said.

“I plan to establish a new internationally-competitive department focused on understanding the fundamental mechanisms of cancer biology and translating this into new treatments for cancer sufferers.”

Professor Hannan, currently based at Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, will take up the new position in 2015.

Cancer is Australia’s biggest killer, with 115,000 new cases every year and 44,000 deaths. One in three Australians will contract the disease before they reach the age of 75 and 19 per cent of the health system’s budget is spent on cancer patients.

Watch a video interview with Professor Hannan here.

Professor Hannan’s appointment was announced by ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher at a special ceremony at ANU. The ceremony also marked the start of a new ACT health partnership, Synergy in Canberra for Health (SynCH).

The SynCH partnership is a formal collaboration between ANU, University of Canberra, ACT Health, and Medicare Local to help improve the health of people in the Canberra region.

SynCH spans the ACT and includes primary care, acute care and preventative population health. It will help educate a broad range of health professionals at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and provide continuing professional development.

ANU Dean of Medicine and Health Sciences Professor Nicholas Glasgow said the SynCH partnership emerged from recent projects across Canberra which have brought together clinicians, educators and researchers.

“The success of these have given impetus to formalising a whole-of-health-system approach to improving health outcomes in the region through best practice clinical care, excellent research led-education and active research and innovation,” Professor Glasgow said.

“SynCH is the result – a platform for collaborations aimed at improving health outcomes for those in our community.”

ACT Medicare Local Chair Dr Rashmi Sharma said SynCH will connect research findings with policy and practice, in the unique setting of the Canberra region. It will also provide additional ways for clinicians to inform research priorities.

“This partnership is rare as it covers an entire health system. Reforms in healthcare require researchers to look beyond the here and now to develop and apply new ideas that will influence the future, from molecular advances to clinical solutions, throughout the human life span with considerations of equity for all population groups.

“SynCH is also a platform for taking forward health system research in our region and an expanding array of high quality research and education initiatives that will have a positive bearing on practice and policy,” Dr Sharma said.

Dean of the ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, Professor Kiaran Kirk, said Professor Hannan was another high-profile appointment at ANU, and followed the recent appointment of Professor Simon Foote as Director of the JCSMR.

“Both appointments are exciting developments that will underpin the repositioning of Health and Medical Research at ANU, with increased research activity within The John Curtin School and increased collaboration and engagement of ANU with other Canberra institutions involved in medical research and health provision, as reflected in the SynCH partnership.”