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3 May 2024

Funding support for Indigenous-led blood cancer research

ALIGN researcher Dr Justine Clark has secured $883, 926 in funding through the highly competitive MRFF Early to -Mid Career Researchers Grant Opportunity 2023.

Dr Justine Clark is an Aboriginal Postdoctoral Researcher specialising in Indigenous genomics and precision cancer research within the Indigenous Genomics Team at Telethon Kids Institute and Australian National University. Her project is a collaboration between early- and mid- career researchers (EMCRs) at Telethon Kids Institute, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, and the Alfred Hospital. The funding will support their initiative entitled: Molecular determinants and clinical outcomes of Australian Indigenous blood cancer: The first comprehensive survey.

Indigenous Australians are disproportionately impacted by cancer, being 40% more likely to die of cancer in comparison to non-Indigenous Australians. Although much research has been conducted to identify and understand this unacceptable disparity in cancer outcomes, there is still limited knowledge of how blood cancers affect Indigenous Australians, their families and their communities. Dr Clark, whose PhD focused on cell biology of the blood cancer multiple myeloma, will work with her EMCR team to address this critical gap in knowledge.

Dr Clark explains “Our project aims to develop data on the survival and prevalence of blood cancer types affecting Indigenous Australians. We will utilise retrospective data sources to deepen this knowledge through analysis of treatment-specific outcomes and the genomic features of blood cancers among Indigenous Australians, which inform treatment decisions in the clinic. Importantly, we will engage with Aboriginal community members locally to inform the priorities for this research and future research. This project will enable future research, clinical care, policy and advocacy to be driven by community needs and interests as well as crucial data.”

Dr Clark and the project team are proud to receive this highly competitive MRFF funding: “This funding empowers us early in our careers to work collaboratively across disciplines to contribute to better cancer health outcomes for Indigenous Australians.”

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