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VCA fellowship funding to extend ovarian cancer research

Dr Clare Scott from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, has been awarded a Victorian Cancer Agency (VCA) Clinical Fellowship to further research into an aggressive and highly lethal form of ovarian cancer.

Epithelial ovarian cancer, which is found in the cell lining (epithelium) of the ovary, accounts for 90 per cent of ovarian tumours. However, epithelial ovarian cancer is still poorly understood, and recent research has revealed that it may start in cells outside of the ovary.

Dr Scott is a laboratory head in the institute's Stem Cells and Cancer and Molecular Genetics of Cancer divisions and a medical oncologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital. She said the VCA fellowship, worth $400,000 over two years, would help her to search for the origins of ovarian cancer.

"In addition to working out where ovarian cancer starts, we need more precise ways of studying human ovarian cancers in the laboratory and, with the VCA funding, we will work on improving those laboratory models," Dr Scott said.

"Because ovarian cancer becomes resistant to current therapies so often, it is essential that we discover new treatments. Being able to accurately study human ovarian cancers in animal models provides great advantages in this regard."

Dr Scott said the VCA funding would help to further fundamental research in the area, including the development of a more useful pre-clinical model for ovarian cancer than is currently available for testing new drugs.

Each year, more than 1200 Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and around 800 will die from the disease. Ovarian cancer is the sixth major cause of cancer deaths in Australian women. Despite efforts to develop better screening tools, 80 per cent of epithelial ovarian cancers are diagnosed after they have spread beyond the ovary and 70 per cent are generally incurable.

Dr Scott is also the principal investigator in a program called, which receives funding from the Victorian Cancer Agency. is a web portal dedicated to coordinating patient information, research studies and clinical trials for rare cancers. Dr Scott will use this web portal to study rare ovarian cancers.

"The website provides a new way of linking patients into the system of research and clinical trials," Dr Scott said. "This increases the number of patients available for specialised research, with the ultimate goal of gathering enough entries over time to make clinical trials for different types of rare tumours a possibility."


Contact: Penny Fannin
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

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