Peter Mac News

Peter Mac gets $3 million boost for research preventing surgery complications

03 July 2024

AI surgery

Peter Mac researchers will investigate the use of AI to predict and reduce complications after surgery using a Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant worth nearly $3 million. 

The funding is one of two MRFF grants received by Peter Mac worth a total of nearly $6 million.

Approximately 40 per cent of Australians are expected to develop cancer by age 85, with 60 per cent needing surgery. Complications can lead to longer hospital stays and slower recovery, and preventing these complications is crucial for better outcomes.

Led by Associate Professor Hilmy Ismail, from the Department of Anaesthetics and Perioperative Medicine, and by the Digital and Healthcare Innovations team, the PRECAST4 study is a four-phase project designed to address this need by creating a cancer surgery Risk Calculator using AI and integrating it with a Clinical Decision Support System.

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“This will give clinicians personalised guidance to identify and help high-risk patients throughout their surgical journey, and will be tested in a randomised trial,” Associate Professor Ismail said.

“We aim to demonstrate the utilisation of digital technology and artificial intelligence can improve patient outcomes in this significant domain.

“Drawing upon our digital technology expertise in conjunction with our industry partner Propel Health AI and our own distinguished expertise in perioperative medicine - specifically our acclaimed presurgical cancer prehabilitation program Fit4Surgery that has been running successfully for a decade in Australia - our objective is to also establish a robust and reliable digital infrastructure for the seamless, scalable execution of this project.

“This project dovetails in well with our other MRFF funded research projects that support the Fit4Surgery aim of identifying patients with modifiable risk factors that can be reduced on to improve surgical outcomes," he said.

Other Peter Mac researchers working on this project include Professor Bernhard Riedel (CI A), Associate Professor Kate Burbury, Dr Helen Mohan, Professor Linda Denehy, Dr Emma Tyson, Professor Alexander Heriot, Associate Professor Stephanie Best, Dr Lisa Guccione, Dr Jason Li, Erminia Schiavone, Matthew Ha, Huw Thomas, Dr Thomas Poulton, Dr. Noel Faux, Associate Professor Tim Spelman, Dr Gareth Jones, Dr Julia Dubovitch and Sharmaine McGlin.

“In another MRFF funded research collaboration with the Royal Prince Alfred, University of Sydney, and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre researchers, we will explore the impact of teleprehabilitation through a virtual hub at each centre to optimise surgical patients before surgery," Associate Professor Ismail said.

Professor Sarah-Jane Dawson also received a MRFF grant is leading a project that will harness the next generation of liquid biopsy assays for clinical translation in breast cancer.

The Australian Government’s MRFF fund is an ongoing research fund supporting Australian health and medical research.