Sydney Catalyst Monthly Newsletter
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Blink and it's Autumn which means the year is well underway! We have been busy planning lots of fantastic member opportunities for the year ahead, including the Post Graduate and Early Career Researcher Symposium coming up in  May. For the first time ever we have launched Virtual Poster Presentations as part of the symposium. These are available for all Sydney Catalyst members to view. 

Have an event you would like featured? We would love to hear about it. 


Sydney Catalyst's inaugural Post Graduate and Early Career Researcher Virtual Symposium is online now

We are thrilled to announce the 2018 Post Graduate Early Career Researcher Symposium will feature 'Virtual Poster Presentations' for the first time ever. We encourage all symposium attendees to submit a poster of their research to be published on our website and shared with other attendees and the broader Sydney Catalyst member community.
Virtual Posters are published on the website as they are received; you can submit a virtual poster at any time, the sooner you submit it the more exposure it will receive. You are welcome to submit a previously presented poster.
This is a fantastic opportunity to network and connect with your colleagues prior to the Symposium in May and we strongly encourage you to get involved.
View the virtual poster presentations

Register now and submit your own poster presentation

Sydney Catalyst Central Office Team changes

At the end of March the EnRICH team will farewell our Project Coordinator, Jaclyn Verghis, as she heads off on maternity leave. We wish Jaclyn all the best on this new adventure and look forward to meeting her new baby girl soon for some office cuddles.
Jaclyn will be replaced by Kimberley Mander who joins us from Adelaide. Kim is one of our new recruits enticed to the big city from little old Adelaide. Kim completed a Bachelor of Psychological Science but was soon drawn to the biology of disease and undertook a Bachelor of Health Science (Hons). She then went on to pursue an interest in neuropathology, allowing her to bring together her psychology and science backgrounds. She has recently completed her PhD which allowed her to investigate  new treatment avenues for brain cancer, although is now looking forward to being out of the lab in her new position as Project Officer. Kim loves being outdoors and is looking forward to exploring the beautiful coast walks and beaches Sydney has to offer.


Spoorthi Gowda also joins the EnRICH team as the Senior Research Officer. Spoorthi has Master’s degree in Information Technology majoring in Database Management Systems. She is responsible for providing technical knowledge and project management support to the EnRICH Leads and Program Manager. She has more than six years of experience in the research field including four years working with Mesothelioma cancer research. Spoorthi is keen to broaden her research experience in the area of public health and is always willing to learn more about current research trends. She also has a passion for designing jewellery. 

Welcome aboard Kim and Spoorthi, we are very happy to have you join the team!


Congratulations to Ashleigh and Marina

Ashleigh Parkin took home the research poster prize at the Lorne Cancer Conference in February. She's a PhD student in the Personalised Cancer Therapeutics lab at the Garvan Institute and she's carrying out Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation-funded research into new treatment approaches for pancreatic cancer.

Ash's research has recently attracted additional funding from Cancer Australia.

Marina Pajic, Ashleigh's supervisor,  also received a prestigious prize at Lorne - the Millennium Science Young Investigator Award at the Lorne Genome Conference. Congratulations to you both!

Prestigious Award in pathology for Professor Scolyer

Congratulations to Sydney Catalyst member Professor Richard Scolyer who was awarded the William O. Russell/Joanne Vandenberge Hill Award of Excellence in Pathology from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in the USA on Saturday 3rd February 2018 for his contribution in the field of pathology.

Click here for full details

Changing how Ovarian Cancer is Treated in NSW

A new study is aiming to change the way ovarian cancer is treated in NSW, offering better outcomes for women with the disease. The INOVATe program is open at nine study sites across Sydney, giving women in NSW with ovarian cancer an opportunity for more personalised care.

Click here for full details

DreamLab - Help Fight Cancer with your smart phone

The more we learn about cancer at the genetic level, the more we understand that each person’s disease is unique. In fact, this genetic complexity is one of the most challenging aspects of understanding cancer and developing therapies.

Developed by Vodafone Foundation in partnership with the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, DreamLab is a multi-awarding winning app that harnesses the processing power of smartphones to crunch cancer problems to help complete research faster. 

Click here for full details


EnRich Update

The Sydney Catalyst flagship program “Embedding Research (and Evidence) in Cancer Healthcare - EnRICH” has continued recruitment across hospitals within the Sydney Local Health District, including Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, with more than 100 patients now consented. We are pleased to announce the opening of St Vincent’s Public and Private Hospitals in early March and look forward to recruitment of the first patients from these sites.

The EnRICH cohort will include diagnostic tumour tissue and serial blood samples (pre-treatment, and 6 and 12-months post-diagnosis) with matched demographic, clinical, and outcome data (including quality of care and patient-reported outcomes). Pre-treatment bloods have been collected from the majority of patients (more than 2000 cryovials to date) and as the cohort matures we will be able to provide samples for a range of T1/T2 research such as DNA sequencing, studies of circulating tumour DNA and proteomics. This will be coupled with T2/T3 intervention/implementation research driven by clinical and patient reported outcome data. 

We are excited to announce an EnRICH/Lung Foundation Australia co-funded PhD Scholarship to commence in 2018, stay tuned for more details! 

If you have a proposal for an EnRICH related research project at your institution or are a clinician who would like to undertake a PhD please get in touch at

Meet Dr Alison Zhang

Alison Zhang is a previous Sydney Catalyst scholarship recipient and has recently joined the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre as a Clinical Research Fellow. We had a little chat to her about how beneficial the funding has been in her research career and asked for some words of advice. 

Tell us about your research...
My research is in localised prostate cancer. Localised prostate cancer is a clinically heterogeneous disease and at present, we don’t have a precise system of determining which patients have aggressive, clinically-important prostate cancer versus those with indolent disease, who may not require further intervention. One of the aims of my research is to identify more sensitive biomarkers that can be incorporated with traditional markers to better stratify patients into these subgroups.  I have a particular interest in lipid biomarkers and thus I am also exploring in my research how certain lipid species, such as fatty acids, affect prostate cancer development and growth.
What was the most significant thing the Sydney Catalyst scholarship funding helped you achieve? 
My Sydney Catalyst Top-Up Scholarship allowed me to buy a number of laboratory kits to test important questions in my pre-clinical research. The travel allowance has allowed me to present my work at a number of conferences.
What words of advice do you have for new applicants? 
Research can be very deflating and exasperating when you end up with a negative result. However even a negative result is an achievement - to re-direct a hypothesis and/or to define a better question. At least, that’s how I usually comfort myself…
Tell us something that no one really knows about you...
I grew up in Adelaide and am a proud Radelaide girl! Although Sydney is now home, I still make an annual pilgrimage back to Adelaide to stock up some of my favourite Barossa Valley shiraz.



Pilot and Seed Funding Applications Now Open

An essential component of the Sydney Catalyst program is funding to support the development of new concepts and projects. Sydney Catalyst is committed to providing research initiative funding in support of new concept and project development. In previous years, we have channeled at least $150,000 per year towards member research initiatives. This year, we've increased funding to support new research projects to almost $300,000  to assist 'bottom-up' research initiatives. See the Sydney Catalyst website for details on how to apply

Top up Scholarship for Qualitative Cancer Survivorship Research

An increasing number of people are surviving a cancer diagnosis, but little is known about their long term outcomes. This NHMRC funded project will recruit people who are participating in a NSW Population based study called 45 & up. The qualitative work will explore in depth experiences of cancer survivors with different cancer types and stages to better understand the predictors of disparity and how outcomes can be improved.

The recipient will be awarded $10,000 per year for 3 years. 

For more information, eligibility and how to apply please visit our website


Post Graduate and Early Career Symposium

Wednesday 2nd May
The Chris O'Brien Lifehouse Education Centre

The 7th annual Sydney Catalyst Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher Symposium.
Click here to find out more

Body Composition Analysis by Computed Tomography Education Workshop

Wednesday 27th - Friday 29th June
The Chris O'Brien Lifehouse, Level 6 Boardroom

In Partnership with the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Expressions of interest now open
PC4 Symposium

Friday 25th May
Novotel Darling Harbour, Sydney

The symposium is a multidisciplinary meeting that not only showcases PC4 supported research but also the best primary care and cancer research from around Australia.
Registrations now open
The Australian Translational Breast and Prostate Cancer Research Symposium 2018

Thursday 5th to Friday 6th April
Garvan Institute of Medical Research Auditorium

A one of a kind event in the Australian research meeting calendar with the objective to bring together the large breast and prostate cancer research community, spanning basic researchers and clinicians.
Click here fore more information and to register

Other Opportunities

As always, we love to share our partners' events and opportunities. Check out the highlights below and please get in touch if you have an event your would like featured in next month's news or on our website.


Welcome New Members

We would like to officially welcome the following new members to the Sydney Catalyst community. We are thrilled to have you join us and look forward to your involvement in all the exciting opportunities we have planned for the year ahead.
  • Juliet Smith - Cancer Researchers, University of Sydney main campus
  • Dan Luo - Cancer Researchers, University of Sydney main campus
  • Adelina Romano - ANZAC Research Institute
  • Yu-Feng Wang - Cancer Researchers, University of Sydney main campus
  • Nicci Bartley - Cancer Researchers, University of Sydney main campus
  • Gaya Punnia - MoorthyCentenary Institute of Cancer Medicine
  • Christina Limantoro - Cancer Researchers, University of Sydney main campus

Membership Support Services

Did you know as part of your membership with Sydney Catalyst we provide the following research support services? Make the most of your membership and find out more on our website.

Biostats support
Up to 3 hours of face to face assistance from our in-house biostatistician

Peer review grant support
Applying for a grant with an external organisation? We are happy to provide a peer review or Sydney Catalyst endorsement

Ability to nominate as a partner
Name us as a collaborating partner on your funding applications, resume or research paper

Connect with a collaborator
Let us find you the perfect collaborator. Sydney Catalyst is an exclusive group and we pride ourselves on our membership knowledge. 


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