Cancer researchers are coming together in a new collaboration awarded a $2 million grant by the Cancer Society in a bid to better tackle a leading cause of death in New Zealand.
Cancer research groups within the University of Otago have joined together with Massey University and Victoria University of Wellington to become the Cancer Society Research Collaboration (CSRC). They are the Cancer & Chronic Conditions (C3) Research Group, the Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit, smokefree research group ASPIRE 2025 and the Social and Behavioural Research Unit.
The collaboration will be led by senior Otago staff: Professors Janet Hoek, Diana Sarfati and Louise Signal, Associate Professor Sue Crengle and Drs Richard Egan and Rachael McLean.
Dr McLean says the research collaboration is an exciting development in the fight against cancer in New Zealand.
“The University of Otago is delighted to be working with the Cancer Society in this ambitious new programme of work. It’s establishment is very timely as the Minister of Health is poised to release a new Cancer Plan for New Zealand.”
Cancer Society Chief Executive Mike Kernaghan says there has been a significant change in how the organisation funds the five-year research programme grant, for the first time opening up the opportunity to the wider research community.
“This is an exciting partnership for the Cancer Society. The new cancer research group includes many of New Zealand’s leading researchers and we look forward to working closely with them.
“We expect to see important new knowledge come from this in the prevention, supportive care and psychosocial areas of cancer.”
Cancer is the leading cause of death globally and in New Zealand accounted for a third of all this country’s deaths in 2015. New Zealand has some of the highest incidence rates of breast, bowel, prostate and melanoma skin cancer in the world.
Associate Professor Crengle says New Zealand has well documented inequities in cancer, the most significant between Māori and non-Māori. The collaboration has a particular focus on finding ways to eliminate these unfair differences.
“The collaborative aims to reduce both the incidence and impact of cancer in New Zealand and to reduce inequities.”
Specific research themes include: progressing a Smokefree Aotearoa, skin cancer prevention, improving nutrition, reducing obesity and alcohol-related harm, promoting physical activity, preventing infection-related cancers and improving cancer care and support.
The team includes experts in public health, Māori health, social science, Pacific health and clinical medicine.
“The team draws together leading cancer researchers in a comprehensive programme of research on cancer prevention, care and support,” Associate Professor Crengle says.
Photo caption: Otago researchers leading the new Cancer Society Research Collaboration are (from left); Associate Professor Sue Crengle, Dr Rachael McLean, Professor Diana Sarfati, Dr Richard Egan, Professors Louise Signal and Janet Hoek.