New Deakin University cancer care research, with a focus on rural Victorians and those diagnosed with blood cancer, has received a funding boost in the 2023 Victorian Cancer Agency grant round.

More than 35, 656 Victorians were diagnosed with cancer in 2022.

The two new projects from Deakin’s Institute for Health Transformation (IHT) – led by Associate Professors Lan Gao and Anna Ugalde – received more than $1.3 million to improve cancer care for Victorians as part of the Victorian Cancer Agency’s Mid-Career Research Fellowships (non-biomedical).

Deakin received two of just thirteen successful fellowships across the Early and Mid-Career categories.

Enhancing care for blood cancer patients

Associate Professor Gao, from IHT’s Deakin Health Economics research domain, will lead a team to provide crucial evidence to inform the implementation of the National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer and assist with policy decision-making and resource allocation for blood cancer.

The team will examine workforce requirements, the burden of disease and care pathway, to ultimately help blood cancer patients.

‘Blood cancer is a major cause of cancer-related deaths in Australia, with projected lifetime costs of $10.9 billion for new cases by 2035,’ Associate Professor Gao says.

‘The outcomes from this research will include readily interpretable evidence to guide the implementation of the National Strategic Plan in Victoria and nationwide, enhancing outcomes for people affected by blood cancer.’

The research program will be supported by $699,714 in Victorian Cancer Agency funding.

Associate Professor Gao’s Victorian Cancer Agency-backed research aims to transform outcomes for people affected by blood cancer.

Understanding barriers to optimal care in rural Victoria

Associate Professor Ugalde’s, from IHT’s Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research (QPS) domain, newly funded project addresses the gap in rural cancer care.

‘There are few studies that have focused on understanding the reality and challenges of rural cancer care,’ she says.

‘We plan to conduct a large statewide survey to identify the factors behind delays in cancer diagnosis. These factors will be explored by interviewing people with cancer and stakeholders and the project will generate solutions to improve rural cancer care across Victoria.’

This project received $700,000 in Victorian Cancer Agency funding.

Associate Professor Ugalde will identify the factors for delayed cancer diagnosis in rural Victoria.

The Victorian Cancer Agency is investing $8.8 million in total in funding to support new discoveries for cancers with low survival rates including ovarian and brain cancer.

Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas says the combined 13 fellowships awarded through the Victorian Cancer Agency provide essential workforce funding to cancer researchers.

‘We’re backing Victoria’s researchers because we know their work could lead to the next big breakthrough in cancer treatment and care.

‘Victoria is a world leader in cancer research and this funding supports new research into how we can best care and treat people who have cancer – with the important goal of increasing cancer survival rates.’

About Associate Professor Lan Gao

  • A medical doctor by training and an experienced health economist.
  • Responsible for the economic evaluation of a diverse range of health interventions targeted at chronic disease including cancer, CVD, dementia, which were informative for policy decision-making at various levels.
  • Conducts research related to the health economics and workforce impact of chronic disease  prevention and treatment, in collaboration with clinicians from key tertiary hospitals.

Visit Associate Professor Gao’s Deakin profile.

About Associate Professor Anna Ugalde

  • Leads an original program of health services research to promote best practice for cancer patients and their family caregivers, informing oncology clinical practice and government policy.
  • Honoured with a Victorian 2020 Young Tall Poppy Science Award.
  • Conducts research in partnership with community groups, health service organisations, clinicians, policymakers and people affected by cancer.

Visit Associate Professor Ugalde’s Deakin profile.

Connect with Associate Professor Ugalde on LinkedIn.

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