Endowed Chairs Program

We have launched the Endowed Chairs Program, significant 10 year research grants for the bright stars in Australian breast cancer research.

Funded by money raised entirely by the Australian public, the Endowed Chairs Program comprises two long-term 10 year research grants for a total value of $5 million each, which includes a co-contribution from the recipients’ host institutions.

A new and unique concept for breast cancer research in Australia, Endowed Chairs are designed to keep mid-career researchers in Australia and focused on research that will lead to the next major breakthrough.

The longer term duration of Endowed Chairs will not only give greater stability to emerging leaders in breast cancer research, but it will also allow researchers to advance ground breaking projects, and bring the benefits of research to affected women and men much faster.

Endowed Chairs is a new research funding category that falls under the umbrella of the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Research Academy. The Research Academy provides a range of leadership, mentorship and collaboration opportunities for Australian breast cancer researchers that will be introduced over 2017.

Who are the Endowed Chairs?

Associate Professor Elgene Lim, MD, PhD of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research is one of the NBCF Endowed Chairs.Associate Professor Elgene Lim, MD, PhD

Connie Johnson Breast Cancer Research Laboratory, The Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Kinghorn Cancer Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital

Associate Professor Elgene Lim is a medical oncologist and researcher with a focus on breast cancer research and treatment.

A major focus of his lab is overcoming resistance to the hormone treatments used on the largest subtype of breast cancer – estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. Over the next 10 years, his research program will look at new ways to overcome hormone resistance and to sensitise breast cancer to hormone therapies.

Associate Professor Lim’s research is fundamentally patient focused. He believes that no one individual or a specific technology has the answer; collaboration between scientists, doctors and patients is the key to success in establishing a pipeline from discovery right through to clinical trials.

Already an established leader in his field, Professor Lim’s research program over the next 10 years will enable a better understanding of the biology of treatment resistant breast cancer and facilitate the rapid translation of new therapeutic strategies from the laboratory into clinical trials – realising the philosophy of bench to bedside – and making sure the benefits are felt by those directly impacted by breast cancer.

“We need a network of like-minded scientists, clinicians and patients, a platform for collaboration, and a pipeline to rapidly bring discoveries into clinical trials.”

Associate Professor Sherene Loi, MD, PhD of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is one of the NBCF Endowed Chairs.Associate Professor Sherene Loi, MD, PhD

Translational Breast Cancer Genomics and Therapeutics Laboratory, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Associate Professor Sherene Loi is a breast cancer researcher and also a medical oncologist specialising in the treatment of breast cancer.

Associate Professor Loi leads a lab that focuses on the genomic and immune interface in breast cancer patients. Her main interest is the development of novel therapeutics and her current focus is the development of combination targeted and immune therapies for breast cancer patients.

Over the next 10 years, she aims to develop new therapies for breast cancer, particularly for the metastatic stage of the disease, such as effective immunotherapies which could improve survival as well as quality of life.

Immunotherapy is a whole new treatment approach for breast cancer patients (and cancer patients in general) by targeting the immune system rather than the tumour. These treatments may be less toxic, providing the chance for better quality of life as it delays the need for chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer and potentially a higher chance of longer-lasting remission.

Also as part of her program, Associate Professor Loi will also investigate if promising new drugs are working in breast cancer through an active clinical trial program at the Peter MacCallum and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centres which will allow Australian women access to promising new therapies.

“I believe that understanding the immune and genetic makeup of a person’s breast cancer will help advance our understanding of its clinical implications as well as speed up clinical trials progress.”