The Steven Walter Children’s Cancer Foundation is pleased to be providing funding for a three year period to support Associate Professor Paul Ekert to drive a cutting edge research effort into genomics.
As well as being a paediatrician with many years of clinical experience, Paul is Head of Molecular Diagnostics at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Children’s Cancer Centre at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. He is an established, highly regarded researcher specialising in the area of Molecular Biology and more recently Genetic Pathology, a scientific discipline that focuses on the molecular and genetic disruptions that occur in an individual and cause human disease. He has a strong record of research achievement, including over 50 peer-reviewed publications and several successful NHMRC grant applications.
Molecular diagnostics are becoming increasingly important in the care of children with cancer, as it is now understood that cancer is a disease driven by genetic mutations. Just as every individual child is unique, paediatric cancers are unique in their own way too, even if they are the same type. Responses to treatment vary between patients and we know that a generalised approach to treating cancers is not optimal with many children not responding to standard treatment.
Recent advances in genomic techniques see us positioned at the cusp of a revolution. It is now possible to catalogue the genetic changes associated with specific cancer subtypes, which is driving the development of treatment programs that target this biological basis, an approach now often referred to as “personalised medicine”.
In the future, treatment plans will be customised to the individual based on the characteristics of their personal cancer (or the molecular and genetic disruptions that have occurred in their bodies). To reach this point we need to understand the characteristics of an individual cancer and define how these respond to different forms of treatment.
With his expertise in Molecular Diagnostics and wide collaborative networks, Paul’s role is to build and lead a clinical research program within Murdoch Children’s Research Institute linked to the clinical care within the Children’s Cancer Centre, with genomics at its core.
Good luck Paul, SWCCF, our friends and supporters will follow your research endeavours with keen interest.