Flinders Medical Centre Foundation
Flinders Medical Centre Foundation


Funding boost to improve outcomes for gastrointestinal cancer

Monday, 03 November 2014 09:00

A $1.5 million funding boost will see the establishment of the Flinders Centre for Gastrointestinal Cancer Prevention, providing a greater focus on the early detection and prevention of gastrointestinal (GI) cancers such as oesophageal and colorectal cancer.

The new centre, which is based at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer (FCIC), will establish a new research workforce led by Professor David Watson – Head of the Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) Oesophagogastric Surgery Unit and Flinders University Department of Surgery – including nine clinicians and researchers from FMC and Flinders University.


The initial $750,000 for the centre was awarded from Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project, with a further $750,000 matched from the donors of the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation.


Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project is a strategic cancer research partnership funded by the donors of Cancer Council SA and the South Australian Government through the Department of Health and managed by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.


Professor Watson said GI cancers were a major problem in Australia, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer type. Cancer Registry data shows there is a 16 per cent chance of survival five years after diagnosis of oesophageal cancer.


“A focus of the new GI Centre will be to identify those at higher risk of developing GI cancer and then finding the cancer at its earliest stage and limited to the inner lining of the gut,” Professor Watson said.


“For oesophageal cancer, the chances of survival when diagnosed with very early stage cancer rise to approximately 90 per cent at five years, confirming that diagnosing more individuals at the earliest stage should greatly improve outcomes.”


Professor Watson said both GI cancers could be identified at the pre-cancerous stage. In the case of colorectal cancer, by removing polyps, the risk of colorectal cancer developing reduces dramatically.


“The majority of current research focuses on advanced disease, but the gains from this have had little impact on population outcomes.


“As there is a big difference in outcome for early versus late stage GI cancer, strategies to identify GI cancer early, when cure is more likely, are more likely to improve population outcomes.


“One issue is how we encourage people to participate in surveillance or screening. That might mean working with general practitioners to identify high risk individuals and then encourage these individuals to be screened.


“The advantages of having a health economist involved in this centre is that we can work out how we can do things better. By having a behavioural scientist there is an opportunity to assess how we can get people to change their behaviours when it comes to screening.”


“We are committed to finding a sensible cost-effective way to improve outcomes and make an impact on the community.”


Over the three and a half years of funding for the centre, funding and activity will be leveraged to recruit PhD students and offer clinical research training fellowships. The centre will provide opportunities to recruit and train a new research workforce focused on improving outcomes for GI cancer.


“We’re excited that this grant will allow us to employ people with specific expertise to work across a range of complementary disciplines, with the aim of improving outcomes for people with GI cancers by preventing or finding these cancers earlier,” Professor Watson said.


“Thanks to the matched funding by all organisations involved we have a golden opportunity to address questions around how to best approach early detection and prevention for GI cancer.”


Centre for Neuroscience Honour Scholarships

Wednesday, 15 October 2014 00:00

The Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) Foundation recently funded two clinical medical research projects from Flinders University as part of the Centre for Neuroscience (CNS) Honour Scholarships.

The first project by Flinders University student Madiha Saiedi will investigate why high blood glucose in people with Type II diabetes has a toxic and destructive effect on the important insulin secreting cells (beta cells) of the pancreas. Understanding glucose toxicity of these insulin secreting cells may help with better management and control of diabetes and therefore reduce the impact of diabetic complications that may occur in the eyes, heart, blood vessels and nerves.


Lydia Goh’s project will look at the role of time-dependent restoration of blood flow to the brain in preventing the origin and development of dementia. They study will further investigate the cognitive decline in brains subjected to different durations of cardiac arrest induced brain ischemia – a condition in which there is insufficient blood flow to the brain to meet metabolic demand. Lydia will look at how this condition contributes to cognitive decline and an increased risk for developing neuro-degenerative symptoms in healthy individuals with no pre-existing neurological deficits.


The FMC Foundation allows for a significant allocation of its funds to support clinical medical research at Flinders University and Flinders Medical Centre.


In the 2013/2014 the FMC Foundation allocated approximately $350,000 to peer reviewed small project grants. These funds support infrastructure, medical and scientific equipment, research consumables, part-salaries and young researchers entering into their chosen field of research.


Associate Professor and Chair of the FMC Foundation Research Committee Dr John Oliver said the funds were vital and necessary to keep research in basic and clinical sciences at an international level, as well as serving our community’s health needs.


“The funding climate is intensely competitive and many grants deemed worthy of funding remain unfunded and this is where the FMC Foundation plays its vital role,” Professor Oliver said.


“The FMC Foundation spends every dollar collected for research, on research.”



Friday, 26 September 2014 09:35

A type of starch found in bananas, potatoes and beans could help offset the cancer-associated consequences of a high red meat diet, new research from Flinders University shows.


The study, which has just been published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, shows that red meat and resistant starch have opposite effects on colorectal cancer-promoting molecules.


“This finding supports the consumption of resistant starch as a means of reducing the risks associated with a high red meat diet,” lead author Dr Karen Humphreys, a Research Associate at the Flinders Center for Innovation in Cancer at Flinders University, said.


“Unlike most starches, resistant starch escapes digestion in the stomach and small intestine, and passes through to the colon (large bowel) where it has similar properties to fiber,” she said.


“Resistant starch is readily fermented by gut microbes to produce beneficial molecules called short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, which have opposite effects on cancer-promoting molecules.”


As part of the study, 23 healthy volunteers between the ages of 50 and 75 were divided into two groups and consumed either a red meat diet or a red meat plus resistant starch diet for four weeks, and after a four-week break switched to the other diet for another four weeks.


After eating 300 grams of lean red meat every day for four weeks, study participants had a 30 per cent increase in the levels of certain cancer-promoting genetic molecules called miR-17-92 in their rectal tissue, as well as an associated increase in cell spread.


But when they consumed 40 grams of butyrated resistant starch every day along with red meat for four weeks, miR-17-92 levels decreased to baseline levels.


With global meat consumption on the rise, Dr Humphreys said the findings highlight the importance of resistance starch in the human diet.


“Total meat consumption in Australia, the US, Europe and the developed world has continued to increase from the 1960s – in some cases it has nearly doubled,” Dr Humphreys said.


“In light of this research, daily red meat-eaters should be making a conscious effort to get more resistant starch into their diets.


“Good examples of natural sources of resistant starch include bananas that are still slightly green, cooked and cooled potatoes such as potato salad, whole grains, beans, chickpeas and lentils.


“Scientists have also been working to modify grains such as maize so they contain higher levels of resistant starch.”


The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the CSIRO and the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation.


Investigator Spring/Summer 2014 edition live!

Friday, 05 September 2014 14:20

Investigator Spring/Summer 2014


Daryl Braithwaite to headline 25th Anniversary of pinkyellowblueball

Tuesday, 05 August 2014 16:26

Australian rock icon Daryl Braithwaite is set to headline the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation's 2014pinkyellowblueball on Saturday 8 November at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the pinkyellowblueball cancer fundraiser which will see the gala event turn silver for the occasion. The legendary Braithwaite will perform a collection of his number one hits that exactly 25 years ago made him a star of the Australian Top 40.


For the past 25 years, the Flinders Medical Foundation’s pinkyellowblueball has raised money for vital cancer research, equipment and care at Flinders Medical Centre.


Since 1989, the pinkyellowblueball has managed to fundraise $2.3 million and since 2005 it has developed a particular focus on raising funds for the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer and all areas of cancer research.


It is currently one of Adelaide’s premier and most-talked about gala evenings in the year’s social calendar.

Jamie Lowden from Aussie Glenelg is returning as principal partner of the event for the fifth year, bringing his contribution to date to more than $100,000 for cancer research.

There is also a sporty Toyota Corolla Ascent to be won, kindly donated by ongoing supporters Toyota, as well as plenty of other prizes, main and silent auction items.


This year we welcome silver sponsors Baker Young Stockbrokers and Coopers Brewery along with our returning heart and diamond sponsors.

Don’t miss out on this inspiring evening – celebrating what Flinders Medical Centre researchers have achieved for medical innovation and the patients from southern Adelaide and beyond.


For bookings or more information call the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation on 8204 5216 or purchase your tickets online at www.teamflinders.com.au/2014pinkyellowblueball


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