Biomedical scientist’s mission to conquer cancer recognised at NSW Premier's Awards

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Dr Matt Dun was named the Outstanding Cancer Research Fellow at this year's NSW's Premier Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research.

Dr Matt Dun at the awards, presented at Parliament House
Dr Matt Dun at the awards, presented at Parliament House

The University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute researcher was recognised for his dedication to providing innovative insights into the most common and devastating types of cancers, including acute myeloid leukaemia.

Acute myeloid leukaemia has a poor prognosis. Treatments fail because the DNA of the leukaemia cells has a high tendency to mutate, causing rapid resistance to therapies.

Dr Dun hopes to provide patients with a greater chance of achieving long term survival by determining the preclinical efficacy of novel anti-leukaemia drugs.

Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Health and Medicine, Laureate Professor John Aitken, commended Dr Dun on the achievement, saying he was thrilled to hear of his acknowledgement.

“I was heartened to learn that Dr Dun’s commitment to this vital field of research has been recognised at this level,” he said.

“His dedication to conquering this disease, made all the more poignant by his daughter’s devastating diagnosis, is a reflection of his immense strength as a father, and ability as a researcher.”

In February 2018 Dr Dun was investigating treatments for acute myeloid leukemia, when his daughter Josie was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), an inoperable cancer of the brain stem that almost exclusively affects children.

He has since added the focus of investigating the signalling networks of DIPG cells that could explain what caused the tumours to grow. He hopes to find potential treatments that could slow or even reverse their growth.

As part of the prestigious award, Dr Dun will be granted $10,000 to further his research endeavours. This is in addition to the recent National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding he was awarded in August, to support his team’s collaboration with major Children’s hospitals in NSW, and international hospitals in Switzerland and California. The teams will work to develop innovative, patient-focused approaches to treat high-risk paediatric cancers.

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