PA Research Foundation

Professor Burmeister supporting the duckSupport the Duck Stop Cancer is the PA Research Foundation's signature FUNdraising campaign for Cancer Research. The Foundation funds world class research into deadly and debilitating disease at the home of the world's first cancer vaccine.

The PA Campus is one of the most energetic research precincts in the nation. With up to 1300 researchers calling the PA Hospital home, together these researchers will investigate disease prevention, early detection, treatments and cures.

Cancer affects 1 in every 3 Australian women and 1 in every 2 Australian men.

Unfortunately cancer touches the lives of all of us either directly or through the ones we know and love. But the good news is, cancer is no longer a death sentence.


Thanks to medical research over the past decades, many cancers are now treatable, and diagnostic tools available to prevent otherwise deadly cancers, so many patients can now live long and healthy lives.


There is still a long way to go on our mission to stop cancer - but, together with your support we can continue to raise funds for our dedicated medical research teams.

  • Research Teams with a track record of excellence in medical outcomes

  • Research Teams who bought us the world's first cancer vaccine

  • Research Teams who have saved millions of lives around the world

  • Research teams that with your support will deliver to the world the next great cancer breakthrough.



The fight against skin cancer has been taken to another level by The University of Queensland’s Professor Soyer with the installation of Australia’s first three-dimensional (3-D) Avatar system – a revolutionary skin cancer-detecting system, at the Translational Research Institute’s Clinical Research Facility.

The VECTRA WB360 produces a detailed 3-D image of a patient which replicates the skin surface in complete detail. It’s of particular use in high-risk patients, as the machine is so detailed that it can pick up changes in a patient’s skin between check-ups.



In a world first, a team of researchers based at the PA Hospital have discovered, that a drug already on the market, could change the way breast cancer is treated, in particular the most aggressive and hard to treat breast cancer – Triple Negative.

Supported by the PA Research Foundation, the team led by Dr Fiona Simpson, are looking at how to make current treatment resistant cancer cells, like Triple Negative Breast Cancer, respond to targeted therapy by combining a drug that has been in clinical use for over 30 years.

Dr Simpson says Triple Negative breast cancer tends to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer and studies have shown that it is more likely to spread beyond the breast and more likely to come back after treatment.

"We were looking at why some forms of Head and Neck cancer do not respond to targeted therapy. The cancer cells are not visible to the drugs. They can't target them and destroy them," says Dr Simpson.

"We then discovered this is also a problem in some forms of breast cancer – Triple Negative and HER2 Positive breast cancers. The main chemo drug used is Herceptin, but Triple Negative and HER2 Positive breast cancers do not 'show up'. The chemo can't find them and kill them off.

"We introduced other drugs – not usually used in cancer treatment – and found that they made the cancer cells visible to the chemo drugs. The chemo then works.

"What's interesting is these drugs have been in use for 30 years. They're tried and tested. What we need to discover is the best way to use them in cancer treatment.

"So we now need to investigate how to use these drugs to make Triple Negative and HER2 Positive breast cancer cells 'visible' to Herceptin (a targeted therapy drug (antibody), so that they can be destroyed.

"We are already running a trial with Head and Neck cancer patients. Now we need to run one with breast cancer patients."

Read more about Fiona's work here


Professor Nelson’s expertise is in translational prostate cancer research, specifically in identification of potential therapeutic targets, there in vitro and in vivo validation, clinical validation through molecular pathology approaches, and their translation into potential clinical application.

These outcomes are derived from her expertise in high throughput applications in microarray gene expression, gene regulation, animal models, prostate cancer, steroid hormones, molecular endocrinology, and targeted therapeutics.

Prof Nelson has long studied androgen action and the effects of androgen deprivation and progression to castrate resistant prostate cancer.  Her laboratory made the seminal discovery that castrate resistant prostate tumours can synthesize their own androgens de novo from cholesterol.

Recently, these findings have been extended to investigate the inter-relationships of androgen synthesis, prostate cancer progression, and metabolic syndrome.

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