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04 Sep 2023

Immunotherapy, pain and ovarian cancer researchers recognised in 2023 Picchi Awards

  • VCCC Alliance
  • Picchi Brothers Foundation

Research into immunotherapy, pain treatments and preventing ovarian cancer has earned three PhD students from across the VCCC Alliance a Picchi Award for Excellence in Cancer Research.

The winners, who receive $10,000 each, will receive their awards and present their research at an official ceremony at the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre on 25 September 2023.

The awards, funded by The Picchi Brothers Foundation, aim to inspire and encourage the next generation of cancer research leaders by providing recipients with the opportunity to travel internationally for conferences or collaborative works to support their development towards research independence.

Supervisors, mentors, colleagues, collaborators, friends and family are encouraged to attend the awards event and be inspired by the next generation of cancer research leaders.

Congratulations to our 2023 winners

Clinical Science

Bio Aaron WongDr Aaron Wong
St Vincent’s Hospital, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Thesis: Accelerating Pharmacogenomic Guided Opiod Prescribing into Clinical Practice in Cancer Patients, Department of Medicine, The University of Melbourne

Dr Aaron Wong is a trained palliative care physician and medical oncologist. He is Palliative Care Clinical Trials Lead at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and The Royal Melbourne Hospital, and is completing his PhD on the role of pharmacogenomics on opioid use for the treatment of pain due to advanced cancer. 

Basic Science

Amanda ChenAmanda Chen
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Thesis: CRISPR/Cas9 Engineering of Next Generation Armoured CAR T Cells, The Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology, The University of Melbourne

Amanda Chen is a fourth year PhD student in the Beavis and Darcy laboratories at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. In her PhD, she has developed a novel CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing approach to enhance CAR T cell therapy, a form of immunotherapy that involves the adoptive transfer of engineered T cells into cancer patients. Specifically, this CRISPR/Cas9 editing strategy enables the “armouring” of CAR T cells to express potent immunomodulatory factors to tumours, demonstrating enhanced therapeutic efficacy in preclinical models, while maintaining a favourable safety profile. Amanda’s work has the potential to improve CAR T cell therapy for the treatment of solid tumours which currently respond poorly to conventional adoptive T cell therapies.

Population Health

Rachel DelahuntyRachel Delahunty
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Thesis: Reducing the morbidity and mortality of ovarian cancer through prevention, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne

Rachel Delahunty is a medical oncologist at The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, The Mercy Hospital for Women and Geelong University Hospital. She has a special interest in gynaecological oncology and translational research and recently completed her PhD through the University of Melbourne and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

About the Picchi Awards

The Picchi brothers, Vittorio, Antonio and Pietro were Italian migrants who, despite building a thriving business manufacturing mannequins at the height of Melbourne's emerging fashion and retail business, were left without descendants due to the ravages of asthma and cancer. The Picchi Brothers Foundation was founded in 1993 and has since provided more than 1.5 million dollars in grants to support projects and researchers.

The Picchi Awards ceremony will be held 25 September 2023, 5.00–7.00pm.

Register here

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