The research, education and translation into practice of the Queensland Gynaecological Cancer Initiative (QGCI is centred on the outstanding care provided to patients by the gynaecological oncologists of the Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer. Since 1982 these specialists and their clinical colleagues have been working as a team to treat the women of Queensland, northern New South Wales and the Northern Territory, a catchment that covers 22% of Australian women.
The co-ordinator of the QGCI, Professor John Hooper from the Mater Research Institute at the University of Queensland, said that the efforts of the clinical units to continually improve patient care inspires the research teams in their efforts to discover new ways to better diagnose and treat gynaecological malignancies. He also noted that the QGCI’s strategy to accelerate these new diagnostic tests and treatments, is to embed, as much as possible, research activity within the clinical units that treat patients.
A key example of the success of this “hand-in-glove” model of research is the development, by Professor Ian Frazer’s team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and the University of Queensland, of the Gardasil vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer. This vaccine has already saved countless lives reducing the need for protracted and painful treatments involving surgery and chemotherapy.
Other examples are the ground-breaking feMMe trial for endometrial cancer being coordinated by the team of Professor Andreas Obermair, who is a gynaecological oncologist at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and the ECHO trial of Professor Sandi Hayes’ team, from Queensland University of Technology, that examines the impacts of exercise on women receiving chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.
Professor Alex Crandon, Director of the Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer, is buoyed by the capacity building opportunities provided by the BDHP’s Strategic Initiative Grant. He notes that these funds will be help bring up to date the Centre’s comprehensive database of gynaecological cancers stretching from 1982 through to the present day. The coordinators of the database will be able to examine the findings of the QGCI’s researchers to identify those that have the greatest chance of improving the lives of patients diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer. BDHP funding will also be used to develop new models of gynaecological cancer and to isolate biomolecules from patient samples – this will help identify aberrant molecular processes that may serve as drugs targets for treatment of these malignancies.
Professor Crandon said that “these projects will help support our ongoing studies that have the potential to improve the treatment of gynaecological cancer.” He added that “Due to the close connections between researchers and the hospitals, the results of the QGCI’s research will be able to be rapidly evaluated and implemented into clinical care.”