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Global cancer collaboration part of significant new donation

A major philanthropic donation announced in Canberra today will include catalytic funding for a global collaboration to make cancer non-lethal for the next generation.

The $400 million donation by Andrew and Nicola Forrest was announced in the presence of the Prime Minister, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP and Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Bill Shorten MP, at Parliament House.

$75 million will be applied as seed capital to the Eliminate Cancer Initiative (ECI), an organisation that, through strategic funding, will encourage the global cancer research industries to coordinate and specialise their research and concentrate on their specific strengths. The goal is to make cancer non-lethal so that eventually it has minimal impact on life or life style for the next generation.

Mr Forrest commented: “I know this is a hugely ambitious initiative. I also know that we will never achieve anything that we didn’t aim for, so the ECI and all of its partners intend to help the global cancer industry coordinate and specialise to achieve our goal.”

Australian Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, said today: “Cancer is the leading cause of death in Australia and I welcome Andrew Forrest’s commitment to join the fight against these terrible diseases.”

Today’s event was attended by international cancer experts and ECI advisors Professor Peter Leedman, Director of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Professor Grant McArthur, Executive Director of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, and Dr Ron DePinho, former President of the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in the US.

The leadership of the ECI will ensure the organisation not only delivers the best of science but that is also has the best possible governance. Leading Australian special counsel and Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Mr Allan Myers AC QC, will serve as Chair of the ECI Governance Standards Administrative Board. Dr DePinho has agreed to be an executive director of the ECI Policy, Advancement and Clinical Science Council, reporting to the ECI Governance Standards Administrative Board. Collectively both ECI institutions will report to a governing board that is public facing and responsible to cancer sufferers and the people and institutions that support it. This will be chaired by Mr Andrew Forrest. Dr Bobby Robbins, former President and CEO of the Texas Medical Centre, will serve on the ECI leadership team.

Professor Leedman, a physician-scientist and Head of the Laboratory for Cancer Medicine at Harry Perkins, said it was exciting to envisage a genuinely collaborative global endeavor to expedite cancer research.

“We need to harness the collective wisdom of the worldwide cancer community in establishing how we can make the most impact on this dreadful disease,” Professor Leedman said.

More than 100 million lives will be lost to cancer over the next decade, with cancer accounting for one in six deaths worldwide. The incidence of cancer is expected to rise by 70 per cent over the next two decades.

Professor McArthur, an international leader in the medical oncology treatment of melanoma, said the Australian cancer community was looking forward to spearheading the global fight against cancer. “We have the talent, expertise and experience in our various Australian cancer centres to play a key role in this new initiative,” he said.

Dr DePinho, who pioneered the cancer moonshot effort that catalysed a US movement led by Vice President Biden, said: “This is an act of hope for cancer patients and their families.

“Such an all-encompassing collaborative approach across nations, industries and institutions of the world will dramatically accelerate progress in our fight against this dreaded disease.

It will be our greatest gift to the next generation.”

The Eliminate Cancer Initiative will catalyse a global movement of disciplined collaboration across diverse sectors, from patients and doctors, to governments, academia and industry. It will engage the world’s premier cancer centres and research institutions, care delivery organisations, governments, businesses and philanthropists to work together across the common goal of making cancer non-fatal, and non-impactful on life or life style, for the next generation.

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