Peter Mac Radiation Oncologist, Associate Professor Shankar Siva, has been awarded the prestigious Colebatch Clinical Research Fellowship by Cancer Council Victoria.

Assoc Prof Siva will use the five-year, $1.5 million fellowship to investigate using SABR (stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy) to boost the effect of immunotherapy (PD and PD-L1 inhibitors).

He will also work to identify predictive blood and tissue-based biomarkers of response for patients receiving these combined therapies.

“Immunotherapy is a major advance in cancer therapy, with the potential to improve outcomes in a range of different cancers,” Assoc Prof Siva says.

“However, methods to improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy are urgently needed. This is where radiotherapy fits in.

“I hope my research will significantly benefit cancer patients by providing them with access to effective, precision SABR + immunotherapy treatment, as well as identifying patients who are most likely to respond to this treatment.”

This research will focus on lung, kidney, prostate and breast cancer.

The Colebatch Clinical Fellowship is awarded every five years. Previous Peter Mac recipients are Prof Sherene Loi (2014) and Prof Kelly-Anne Philips (2005).

The fellowship is named in memory of Dr John Colebatch (1909 – 2005) who pioneered the use of chemotherapy in Australia in the 1950s to treat and, ultimately, cure childhood leukaemia.

“Thanks to a generous bequest we are thrilled to help fund ground-breaking research like that of Associate Professor Siva,” says Todd Harper, CEO of Cancer Council Victoria.

“… and provide Victorian patients with the opportunity to access the latest in cutting-edge treatment to extend survival and, potentially, cure their cancer.”

Cancer Council Victoria supports more than 90 biomedical researchers with grants, fellowships and scholarships.

For more information, please visit the Cancer Council Victoria website.