Sydney’s First Major Cancer Research & Treatment Centre to Open Today

Prime Minister Julia Gillard will today open The Kinghorn Cancer Centre on the St Vincent’s Campus. The Centre is a joint venture between Garvan Institute of Medical Research and St Vincent’s Hospital and will bring together cutting-edge research at the Garvan and the clinical expertise at St Vincent’s.

The Kinghorn Cancer Centre will see cancer specialists and researchers work together to find personalised solutions to each person’s cancer, by fundamentally understanding each individual’s needs at the molecular level. Research knowledge – principally based on individual ‘biomarkers’ – will enable doctors to sub-stratify patients in a more effective way, with the potential to identify targeted therapeutics to match their individual genetic profile to better determine how each individual’s cancer will progress and specify which treatments will work most effectively.

“The Centre’s approach to personalised medicine places the patient at the centre of all decisions, maximising the rapid translation of research findings to new approaches to cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention. This will spare individuals from side-effects of treatment from which they won’t actually benefit, and more expeditiously get them the therapies that will be specifically effective for them and in the process save the health system money,” said Professor Rob Sutherland, Director of The Kinghorn Cancer Centre.

For one former St Vincent’s cancer patient, today’s opening will have particular significance; Delta Goodrem is in Sydney today to perform on this very special occasion. As Patron of The Kinghorn Cancer Centre, she has long been a champion of the importance of personalised medicine, “What is striking about the Centre is that everything about the building is designed around the patient, around the individuality of each patient, be it addressing their unique DNA or their individual psycho-social care needs,” said Delta.

Bringing together 250 researchers and clinicians from across the St Vincent’s campus onto a single site, the Centre will allow clinical challenges to directly drive laboratory research and enable research findings to be rapidly translated into clinical application for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients.

The $128 million Kinghorn Cancer Centre has been funded through a $70 million Federal Government grant from the Health and Hospital Fund as well as major philanthropic support. The Centre incorporates several sophisticated technological and design-firsts that will transform both care delivery as well as the research undertaken. A central feature is the gigantic atrium that links all the floors so that the patients and clinicians have a physical connection with the researchers in the upper floors and visa versa.

The Kinghorn Cancer Centre research endeavours will focus on breakthroughs into novel diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment options for several key National Health Priority cancers including: breast, prostate, GI (pancreas and colorectal cancers) and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The Centre will not necessarily be aimed at high throughput treatments but rather will build on its unique strengths to deliver targeted, cost effective, personalised therapies suitable for integration into larger nationwide cancer treatment services.

In terms of its clinical endeavours, The Kinghorn Cancer Centre will focus on providing a holistic approach to cancer care throughout the entire patient journey, from diagnosis to full recovery (where cure is possible) and will incorporate world-class educational and training programs to develop researchers and clinicians to optimise translational outcomes. Key patient services including multidisciplinary clinics, outpatient chemotherapy services and the Wellness Centre – which will provide complementary therapies such as acupuncture as part of the cancer treatment.

“Cancer is going to strike 1 in 2 men, and 1 in 3 women, and the survival and quality of life for patients with cancer can be optimised. With the growth in our knowledge of the genetic information around cancer coupled with the increasing prevalence of cancer – The Kinghorn Cancer Centre will seamlessly link molecular information and treatment responses to better inform treatment decisions to make major inroads in cancer treatment for patients from local, regional and rural areas,” said Professor Allan Spigelman, Director of Cancer Services at St Vincent’s.

The Centre will provide treatment to patients from metropolitan Sydney as well as rural and regional patients. A major focal point will involve harnessing tele-health technology to provide remote outreach and diagnostic links with patients in rural or remote areas.

“We’ll be able to build on the already well-developed St Vincent’s outreach clinics operating across NSW, and enable health professionals in remote areas to take part in multidisciplinary team meetings, research discussions and clinical presentations. The ability to provide such access will go some way to addressing the inequalities in patient services between regional and metropolitan centres and reduce the need for duplication of some facilities in areas where the cost of developing substantial infrastructure and providing specialist cancer services may be prohibitive,” said Professor Spigelman.

The Kinghorn Cancer Centre will be a flagship development of the St Vincent’s Research Precinct, which also comprises the St Vincent’s Centre for Applied Medical Research, the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, the Kirby Institute and other leading research bodies. As the largest medical research precinct in NSW, it will house over 1000 researchers. The Centre will act as a hub for researchers, clinicians, and patients who are simultaneously engaging in journeys of discovery.

About Garvan: The Garvan Institute of Medical Research was founded in 1963. Initially a research department of St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, it is now one of Australia’s largest medical research institutions with over 600 scientists, students and support staff. Garvan’s main research programs are: Cancer, Diabetes & Obesity, Immunology and Inflammation, Osteoporosis and Bone Biology and Neuroscience. Garvan’s mission is to make significant contributions to medical science that will change the directions of science and medicine and have major impacts on human health. The outcome of Garvan’s discoveries is the development of better methods of diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately, prevention of disease.

About St Vincent’s: St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney is Australia’s second oldest hospital and forms the centre of one of the country’s largest research and biotechnology precincts on which several prominent research institutes are located. A major public teaching hospital, St Vincent’s has a long-standing reputation for both its research focus and treating high acuity and complex patients, attracting referrals on a state-wide and national basis.