ASPIRE award to support blood cancer research

Monash University’s Associate Professor Ross Dickins has been awarded a USD $232,000 (approximately $325,000 AUD) ASPIRE Award to support his research into preventing relapse following acute myeloid leukemia (AML) therapy from US-based philanthropic organisation The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research.

Since 2017, The Mark Foundation has awarded more than USD $125 million in grants to enable innovative basic, translational, and clinical cancer research including drug discovery, primarily to researchers in the US and Europe.

This is the first time Australian projects have attracted The Mark Foundation funding.

A/Prof Dickins’ research focuses on AML, a type of cancer that affects immature progenitor cells (which haven't yet differentiated into a specialised white blood cell type) in the bone marrow.

A/Prof Dickins and his lab recently published research in Nature Communications showing that AML cells in mice can mature into multiple mature myeloid lineages, and depending on what type they become, will influence disease outcomes.

“I am delighted to receive funding from The Mark Foundation,” said A/Prof Dickins. “This support will help our lab investigate new strategies to prevent leukemia relapse following differentiation therapy.

“The Mark Foundation ranks among the world’s major philanthropic supporters of cancer research, and it is terrific to see their reach now extending to Australia.”

Also, in this ASPIRE funding round, Peter Mac’s Dr Shom Goel, a Consultant Oncologist at Peter Mac and group Leader in the Cancer Research Division, received USD $243,000 to support his research into cellular senescence and how this could support a new class of cancer therapeutics.

The Mark Foundation’s ASPIRE (Accelerating Scientific Platforms and Innovative Research) program supports high-risk, high-reward projects that answer key feasibility and proof-of-concept questions in a short timeframe, typically one year, and success can lead to more Mark Foundation funding.

Ryan Schoenfeld, PhD, Mark Foundation Chief Scientific Officer and interim CEO, said, “As The Mark Foundation increases our financial commitment to tackling the greatest challenges in cancer, we are excited to expand our global outreach in pursuing outstanding scientific research projects. We welcome these distinguished Australian researchers and institutions into our growing global family of funded investigators.”

For more information contact the Monash University Communications team on +61 3 9903 4840.

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The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research actively partners with scientists to accelerate research that will transform the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. The Mark Foundation fulfills its mission by supporting groundbreaking science carried out by individual investigators, multi-disciplinary teams, and inter-institutional collaborations in the United States, Europe, and across the globe. Recognizing the obstacles that prevent scientific advances from improving patient outcomes, The Mark Foundation maintains a nimble, high-impact approach to funding cancer research that bridges the gap between bench and bedside through grants and early-stage venture investments.

Since 2017, The Mark Foundation has awarded more than $125 million in grants to enable innovative basic, translational, and clinical cancer research, including drug discovery. The Mark Foundation also has a robust and growing portfolio of investments in oncology companies developing novel therapeutics and diagnostics. Through its research and venture arms, The Mark Foundation supports projects throughout their life cycle to ensure their highest chance of success in impacting the lives of patients with breakthroughs in cancer care.

To learn more please visit