The University of Sydney
Abstract submissions closing for CRN Postgraduate Symposium

The CRN Postgraduate Symposium aims to provide the University of Sydney postgraduate research students from all disciplines, the opportunity to present their research, share and discuss work within the student community, to hear about postdoctoral experiences, to network with colleagues, and to inspire postgraduates in various phases of their career.

Abstract submissions close 4th October 2011. We encourage you to support your students to submit an abstract. If you are a postgraduate student it is highly recommended that you participate in this forum and/or inform your postgraduate friends to also submit.

Go online to submit or to simply register to attend. Any queries please contact CRN on 9114 1943.

Event details:
Tuesday, November 29 | 9am - 5pm
Sydney Law School Building

NHMRC and ANPHA Preventative Health Research Grants

The Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) in collaboration with the NHMRC and the ANPHA Research Committee is currently finalising a new Preventive Health Research Grants Program to fund translational research projects focusing on the prevention of tobacco smoking, alcohol misuse and obesity.

ANPHA expects to call for applications for research funding under this new program in early September 2011, or email to be notified of the opening date.

IARC Fellowships and Senior Visiting Scientist Award

The Fellowship Programme offers postdoctoral fellowships to junior scientists from any country who intend to pursue a career in cancer research and wish to complete their training at the IARC in Lyon, France working in a research Group.

A Senior Visiting Scientist Award is also offered for a qualified and experienced senior investigator who wishes to spend from six to twelve months at the IARC working on a collaborative project in a research area related to the Agency’s programmes.


Regenerative funds

Regenerative medicine explores innovative medical therapies that enable the body to repair, replace, restore and regenerate damaged or diseased cells, tissues and organs. NHMRC has partnered with the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to give Australian researchers access to funding in this breakthrough area.   Details

Northern Translational Cancer Research Unit (NTCRU) Laboratory and Clinical Research Fellowships

Two fellowships, each up to $100,000 for salary support only, are being offered for 12 months to conduct translational cancer research as part of the Northern Translational Cancer Research Unit, funded by a grant from the Cancer Institute NSW.

One fellowship will support a laboratory researcher and the other a clinical researcher. If sufficient funds are available, more than two fellowships may be awarded in any year.

Submission and Closing Date

Applications must be submitted by email in pdf form to the Royal North Shore Hospital Research Office ( The manager of the Research Office, Ms Amanda Jackson, can be contacted on 9926 8106 to assist with any queries.

Applications received after Friday September 30, 2011 will not be accepted.



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Improving early detection of breast cancer

The University of Sydney in partnership with BreastScreen NSW has developed a pioneering web-based national programme to monitor the performance of radiologists in detecting and diagnosing abnormalities in breast x-rays. The BreastScreen Reader Assessment Strategy (BREAST) has the potential to improve the standards of early detection through screening and in turn reduce breast cancer mortality and morbidity.

About 1.6 million women have mammograms each year in Australia, however, reading mammograms is one of the most challenging tasks in radiology according to Programme Co-Director, Professor Patrick Brennan from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

‘Generally around 20 – 30 per-cent of lesions are missed due to factors such as the case exposure of the radiologist, breast denseness and the transition to digital mammography,’ says Professor Brennan. ‘The project aims to improve on this through increasing the opportunity for radiologists to monitor their performance and receive feedback following examination of series of test cases.’

The BreastScreen Reader Assessment Strategy (BREAST) is a novel web-based program of digital screen reading test sets designed to assess the performance of the user in correctly identifying abnormalities on mammograms and in interpreting whether or not the lesions identified pose a risk of breast cancer.

 ‘The strength of the project is the comprehensive collection of breast x-rays which form the test sets,’ says Prof Brennan. ‘They have been developed in partnership with BreastScreen Australia and thoroughly validated through subsequent scans and biopsy.’

The BREAST Project will be implemented across BreastScreen Australia’s more than 500 locations Australia wide. The Q-Perform software and web-system by Vizovo allow for the provision of instant feedback to participating radiologists and will also enable the development of national performance standards based on confidential data collection.

‘This will allow us to determine the level of variation across BreastScreen Australia, set reference levels for good performance and encourage targeted quality improvement programs to manage under performance,’ says Warwick Lee, State Radiologist for BreastScreen NSW, Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Sydney and Co-Director of BREAST.

‘The data collection also presents immense opportunities for further research into the types of lesions that are creating difficulties for readers, either through underdiagnosis or overdiagnosis,  and has huge potential for improving standards in the future,’ comments Prof Brennan.

The Department of Health and Ageing has funded the development and nationwide implement of the BREAST Project, building on the pilot funding provided by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR). Radiologists volunteer to take part in the Project which is recognised by RANZCR as continuing professional development contributing to reaccreditation.

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CRN sponsors Our Fight Against Cancer public forum

The Cancer Research Network is sponsoring a forum about the latest advances in cancer research at the Kolling Institute and Royal North Shore Hospital. This free forum will cover:

Cancer research for beginners
The importance of clinical trials
Melanoma, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer research
Cancer in northern Sydney.

You can also tour a cancer research laboratory within the Kolling Institute (separate tour booking required).

Event details
When: 10am to 12.15pm, Tuesday 11 October
Where: Auditorium, Level 5, Kolling Building, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards
RSVP: or 9926 4500
Light refreshments will be provided.

For more information, visit the Kolling Institute of Medical Research website.

Did you miss the last three CRN events?

The CRN recently held three very well attended events.

The Health Data Linkage Special Interest Group held a seminar on the 12th September with presentations by Bruce Armstrong and Jason Bentley. There were 55 registrations for this event. Do you use or intend to use health data linkage? Join this special interest group by emailing

The CRN also co-hosted a postgraduate and early career researcher symposium on the 13th September with over 150 registrations. This was an informative and inspirational day with researchers from industry and academia providing insights into their own research career journey. The main message was to write and publish your papers, be resilient because there will be many rejections along the way, be flexible because opportunities may take you in a different direction to what you had planned, and plan ahead in terms of postdocs and grants applications.

Thirdly, the Postgraduate Student Working Group held Food, alcohol and cancer: An entrée into current thinking and research. This attracted over 40 postgraduate students who came to hear Kathy Chapman, Director of Health Strategies at Cancer Council NSW and a PhD student at the University of Sydney present her findings. The group also raised money for a donation to the Cancer Council NSW.

We would like to see you at the next CRN event.

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Book review by Elizabeth Dylke: 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner for non-fiction, “The Emperor of All Maladies” by Oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee

Looking through the vast breadths of the CRN’s members and projects, it can be difficult to understand how we all relate. The considerable differences in the areas of study can sometimes seem disparate and unrelated.  But for all of us working in the area of cancer, the 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner for non-fiction,   “The Emperor of All Maladies” by Oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee should be required reading.  This vast and ambitious “biography of cancer” is an important reminder of our history as cancer researchers and clinicians and should remind us of the importance to sharing our knowledge and working together.

Cancer can found throughout history with the earliest mention of cancer found in ancient Egyptian papyrus scrolls which probably describes a breast cancer (with the ominous note under treatment- “None”).  For a long time, cancer (named after the crab shaped cells that early Greek doctors saw) was blamed on an imbalance of humours, treatable by all sorts of archaic treatments.  When the humours couldn’t be found, more modern ideas of medicine came into place. 

Early modern treatment was surgically focused with doctors like Halstead and his followers bringing in ever more radical in their treatment of breast cancer in particular.  The early to mid 20th century brought the discoveries of early radiotherapy and chemotherapy techniques.  As an oncologist, Dr Mukherjee focuses more on the early days of the chemotherapy, done in the back rooms of lonely oncology wards.  The stories of the first generations of oncologists and treatments, particularly one of the earliest supporters of chemotherapy Sidney Faber, are at turns horrifying and encouraging as they try to treat an enemy whose basic composition was still greatly unknown.

While research methods had to be developed to help answer the questions being raised, other colourful characters such as Mary Lasker and her Laskerites were helping to bring the fight to the public, seeking out government and private funding to help end the war of cancer.  Confidently, they decreed the end of this dreaded disease was near.  Quietly in the background though, in often small, solitary labs, basic scientists were just starting to discover how complex this foe actually was.  From discoveries of cancer causing viruses, to the structure and function of DNA and understanding of genetic mutations, the full picture remained elusive.  Cancer, it seemed, did not have a single origin. Programs of prevention and screening changed the cancer picture again, with cancers being detected at an earlier and more treatable stage but the importance of these programs were sometimes surprisingly slow to be accepted.

This book has been exhaustively researched and Dr Mukherjee helps keep the reader involved by weaving stories of his patients throughout all sections of the book.  The only criticism that could be made would be that although this book was published in 2010, many of the new advances made in all areas of cancer knowledge during the previous 5 years are not included in this book.  Also, although this book is extremely well written, the final 100 pages of this large book lag slightly compared with earlier chapters.

I truly enjoyed reading “The Emperor of Maladies”.  Over and over throughout this narrative, it was apparent that increased co-operation between the different clinical and research fields may have lead to the puzzle pieces falling into place sooner.  As the CRN has been created to high quality research capacity between clinicians and researchers across the University of Sydney network, this is a message that we should support and strive to achieve.

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Do you have a database of cell lines?

Prof. Peter Lay and Dr. Aviva Levina are working on the development of new metal-based anticancer drugs. They are wondering if you have a database of cell lines that people are working with in Sydney. In particular, they would like to compare the action of our drugs in related malignant and non-malignant human cell lines. For example, RWPE-1, which is a line of virus-immortalized prostate epithelial cells, and a related family of malignant cells (RWPE-2 and WPE1), which were derived from it using chemical carcinogens. Another example is BEAS-2B, an immortal non-malignant bronchial cell line, which can be converted into a malignant phenotype by chemical carcinogens. These cell lines require special maintenance conditions, and they are therefore looking for people who have experience of growing these cells, and perhaps can share some. Would you be able to help?

Please contact Dr Aviva Levina 9351 7600

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Grant and Fellowship opportunities
Early Detection
CRN Events
Postgraduate News
Can you help?
Featured CRN Member
Featured Postgraduate Student
NHMRC Science to Art prize
Help us to keep the CRN informed
Upcoming Events
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Patrick Brennan PhD (Anatomy), Queens University of Belfast - Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences

Professor Brennan's research involves exploring novel technologies and techniques that enhance the detection of clinical indicators of disease, whilst minimising risk to the patient. He is working on finding solutions to problems that confront medical specialists who deal with images and is behind the recent launch of BREAST. Read more.

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Elizabeth Dylke Breast Cancer Research Group | Faculty of Health Sciences   

Elizabeth is currently in her 2nd year of her PhD which focuses on secondary lymphoedema which is a possible consequence of the treatment for breast cancer, with approximately 25% of those treated for breast cancer developing lymphoedema at some point after their treatment. She is using novel imaging techniques to improve our understanding of what happens in a limb with lymphoedema which will enable earlier diagnosis and treatment. Elizabeth hopes to continue with research and teaching after completing her PhD.

Elizabeth first degree was in Exercise Science from the University of British Columbia, Canada.  She moved to the University of Sydney to complete her Master’s of Physiotherapy which is how she got involved with the Breast Cancer Research Group.

Elizabeth is supported by NHMRC Dora Lush Biomedical Scholarship.

REFERENCE NO. 1640/0911
Range of opportunities for early career and more experienced researchers

Ideal for staff seeking work in the breadth of activities involved in academic research
Fixed Term 12 months, full-time or part-time roles available, attractive remuneration packages

CLOSING DATE:  5 October 2011 (11.30pm Sydney time)

All applications must be submitted via the University of Sydney careers website.  Visit and search by the reference number for more information and to apply.

The University is an Equal Opportunity employer committed to equity, diversity and social inclusion. Applications from equity target groups and women are encouraged.

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The NHMRC Science to Art prize recognises outstanding examples of the art that can arise from the research funded by NHMRC. Prize details. Entries close 30th September 2011.


Send us information about your research successes, upcoming events, grant opportunities, fellowships, postdocs, positions available etc so that we can share this with the Network.

Do you have any ideas for events that you would like to see the Network hold? Would you like to start up a Special Interest Group? Do you need to find people to collaborate with?


30 September 2011
Melbourne Health Statistics Workshop: Common Statistical Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them at St Vincents Hospital
October 11th
Kolling - Public Forum on Our Fights Against Cancer
19th November
Australasian Biospecimen Network meeting - Perth
Monday 21st November
Dr Christopher P. Wild, Director International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Lyon, France
1st December 2011 - submissions for new concepts close 30th September 2011
PoCoG Concept Development Workshop
2nd December 2011 - new proposal submissions close 30th September
PoCoG Open SAC Meeting
January 19-21, 2012
Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium - San Francisco USA
11-15 November 2012
IPOS 14th World Congress in Brisbane, Australia!
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