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QIMR leads oesophageal cancer research centre

The Queensland Institute of Medical Research has been awarded $2.4 million to study the cause of deadly cancer of the oesophagus.

The Federal Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, announced the funding at QIMR, in Brisbane, this morning.

“The Queensland researchers, world leaders in their field, are looking at possible causes of the disease, as they search for a treatment that can effectively target the cancer.” Ms Plibersek said.

About 1,000 Australians are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer each year and seven in 10 will die within five years.

Professor David Whiteman, the head of QIMR’s Cancer Control Group, will bring together the major research teams in Australia, in a Centre of Research Excellence.

They’ll investigate why and how the common reflux condition Barrett’s oesophagus can lead to cancer.

“The incidence of oesophageal cancer is rising faster than any other cancer in Australia. Our research has shown that the main risk factors are acid reflux and obesity,” Professor Whiteman said.

“Our future research is aiming to identify the people at high risk of this cancer in the hope that we can offer therapies and strategies to prevent the cancer.”

QIMR director Professor Frank Gannon said the funding was recognition of the institute’s world-leading research.

“This funding brings together the seven major research teams in Australia with expertise in oesophageal cancer, to form a multi-state, multi-disciplinary Centre of Research Excellence,” Professor Gannon said.

“This funding formalises their collaboration, and matches QIMR’s vision for all its research, which is to translate science in the laboratory into clinical practise.”

The Health Minister announced a total of $42.3 million in medical research funding, to be shared among 17 recipients.

Ms Plibersek also announced new appointees to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) including the new chair Justice Annabelle Bennett AO.