Four Peter Mac researchers have been named as Victorian Cancer Agency (VCA) Fellowship grant recipients.

Peter Mac researchers scooped four out of the five Victorian Cancer Agency grants  announced by Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy on Thursday.  

“What a spectacular coup by the wonderful Peter Mac, really scooping the pool of the VCA cancer grants this year,” Ms Hennessy said.

“All five of the grants are also going to women and I think that is a fantastic story about the powerhouse of female clinicians, scientists and medical researchers that are really breaking through barriers and finding new frontiers.

“I want to particularly acknowledge Peter Mac and their leadership team for genuinely and sincerely taking medical research seriously and embedding that in the practice of clinical care.”

Peter Mac’s recipients are Dr Marliese Alexander, Dr Elizabeth Pearson, Dr Gabrielle Haeusler and Dr Lisa Grech.

The successful researchers will look into the prevention of cancer-associated blood clots, reducing medication errors, developing guidelines for treating cancer-related fatigue and reducing complications from childhood cancer treatment.

The Victorian Cancer Agency has invested over $190 million into translational cancer research since its establishment in 2006.  

Cancer Health Services Research grant recipients: 

Dr Marliese Alexander, Peter Mac/University of Melbourne - Towards precision medicine for the prevention of cancer-associated thromboembolism. 

This fellowship is focused on significantly improving supportive cancer care and patient outcomes, with the development and widespread implementation of real-time, personalized, risk-directed tool, which will prevent unacceptable cancer associated thromboembolism (CAT) among patients receiving anticancer therapies. In a multi-centre Victorian study, we will validate a newly derived, potent, CAT risk-stratification tool and decision-making algorithm, which will assess targeted preventative therapy for safety, efficacy and cost-effectiveness. Evidence from this research will inform world-wide clinical guidelines, with the potential to significantly reduce CAT incidence and the impact of associated adverse events, with substantial health and economic benefits.

Dr Lisa Grech, Peter Mac/Swinburne University – Improving oral medication adherence and reducing medication errors in cancer treatment.

Research has shown 50% of patients do not take their medication as prescribed. Medication-related hospital admissions cost Australian taxpayers $1.2 billion annually. Our research team recently developed and tested a nurse-supported mobile health intervention to assist patients to take oral cancer medication and manage side-effects, assessed in ten patients and two administering nurses. This research will assess the intervention for implementation across cancer types and centres. It will include online training and administration tools to maximise program availability, and test the intervention in people with different blood cancers to establish acceptability and usefulness across patient groups, nurses and hospitals.


Dr Elizabeth Pearson, Peter Mac/University of Melbourne - Accelerating translation of research into clinical outcomes: implementing guidelines for cancer-related fatigue.

This research aims to improve treatment of cancer-related fatigue (CRF) by applying evidence-based guidelines. In the absence of national guidelines, a Canadian guideline will be adapted and tested for use in Australia. Health professionals, consumers, guideline developers and policy makers will contribute to design ways to apply the guideline and evaluate outcomes. The CRF guideline will be pilot tested at a comprehensive cancer centre. As feasibility is demonstrated, education materials to help health professionals and consumers use the guideline in different settings will be produced, with the potential to transform the lives of many people diagnosed with cancer in Australia.

Dr Gabrielle Haeusler Peter Mac/University of Melbourne – Infective complications of childhood cancer treatment: enhancing surveillance, standardising treatment and reducing risk Infections and fever are the most common side effects of cancer treatment in children.

In Victoria we do not have a standardised system to monitor or report these side effects or identify areas for improvement. We also lack guidelines for common infection complications which can result in unnecessary variation in care and impact the cancer treatment course. This project will ensure that all children in Victoria with cancer and infection or fever receive best practice treatment. It will also ensure that hospitals can monitor their performance and share resources so that the safest care is delivered to all children.

Dr Anna Ugalde, Western Alliance/ Deakin University - Improving health outcomes for people with cancer in rural and regional areas: Embedding evidence based smoking strategies into usual care.

Smoking after a diagnosis of cancer is a powerful clinical risk indicator, with known poorer health outcomes and extensive health care costs. In Australia, smoking rates are higher in rural and regional areas. There are established and effective interventions to promote smoking cessation after a diagnosis of cancer yet these are not in practice. Across three regional sites, and with partners Quit Victoria and Western Alliance, we aim to embed evidence based smoking cessation strategies for people with cancer who are current smokers into routine care, resulting in in system wide improvements, an implemented program and model for further dissemination.