2015 Premier’s Awards Success

10 August 2015

Two teams from the Children’s Cancer Research Unit at Kids Research Institute received awards at the 2015 Premier's Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research.

Dan Catchpoole and colleagues from UTS and UWS were awarded the Big Data, Big Impact award ($60,000), and Geoff McCowage, Belinda Kramer and Ian Alexander were awarded the Excellence in Translational Cancer Research Award ($20,000)

The data mining project aims to find better treatment for children with cancer, treatment that is personalised based on data from previous patients.  The gene therapy research is for the treatment of brain cancer and chemotherapy side effects in children.

Through analysis of ‘big data’ clinicians will be able to make treatment decisions by comparing their patient with other patients so treatment can be tailored for the individual. Clinicians will be able to determine the most suitable treatment for each patient.

For the past 12 years, Daniel Catchpoole from The Kids Research Institute has been working with Paul Kennedy from UTS Centre for Quantum Computation and Intelligent Systems to process vast amounts of data on childhood cancer.  Bio-Informatics uses computers to process biological data.

“We aim to make complex information accessible to clinicians so that they can make decisions on treatment”, explains A/Prof Catchpoole, Head of the Tumour Bank.  “Complex genomic data that is collected from tissue has all the information about the patient’s disease. We aim to remove irrelevant information, leaving the relevant information to help the clinician.” 

The project needs significant funding to continue to employ staff with specialist skills for this human computer interaction.

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View Channel 7's news story on the data arena at UTS, where Hollywood visual effects meets science.  

A brain cancer diagnosis during childhood is particularly devastating given the lethality of this disease, the limited therapy options available, and the toxicity of current treatments. This is despite the best efforts of clinicians and researchers to improve outcomes for these children.


Gene Therapy provides hope as a viable and innovative approach to the treatment of paediatric brain tumours and alleviation of treatment side effects.

The Children’s Cancer Gene Therapy team started a Phase I study in June 2012 for the treatment of paediatric brain tumours using a combined gene therapy/pharmacological approach. The approach involves gene modification of haematopoietic stem cells, so that the cells produce a DNA repair protein and become resistant to the harmful effects of methylating chemotherapy. This trial is a world-first study demonstrating the safety and feasibility of infusing gene-modified haematopoietic stem cells in children.

Success is due to the combined efforts and expertise of clinician researchers at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, cancer and genomics researchers from the Children’s Cancer Research Unit and Gene Therapy Unit of the Kids Research Institute, members of Sydney Cell and Gene Therapy, RadPharm Scientific, as well as ongoing support and funding from The Kids Cancer Project.





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