Since its formation in May 2014 the Mark Hughes Foundation has funded the following initiatives:

  • MHF awards innovation in brain cancer

    Innovation Awards

    Five highly innovative brain cancer research projects have received more than $725,000 in funding from the Mark Hughes Foundation (MHF) following a nationwide call-out and scientific review by experts in the field.

    The recipients were revealed at Sydney’s Kolling Institute today, with guests including NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg, the Callander family and representatives of Channel Nine and Fox Sports to recognise rugby league’s support for the 2018 MHF Beanie Round.

    MHF co-founder Mark Hughes says the inaugural Brain Cancer Innovation Project Grant Rounds will be conducted over one to two years, with the ultimate aim of solving the riddle of brain cancer.

    “We wanted to award funding to big thinkers who could knuckle down and tackle this insidious disease,” Mark Hughes said.

    “We would like to acknowledge the NRL for embracing the Beanie for Brain Cancer campaign and the support of all involved that has made this happen. $5 million has been raised over the last two years during the NRL Round which is a huge factor in these grants being awarded today” said Mark.

    NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg said announcements like this make the immense support for Beanie Round all the worthwhile.

    “These innovation grants to help find a cure for brain cancer would not have been possible without the generous support of the rugby league family over the past few years,” Mr Greenberg said.

    “I look forward to the game getting behind Beanie for Brain Cancer once again in Round 19 this season, as much as we look forward to hopefully finding a cure for this hideous disease in the very near future.”

    The five recipients of the Innovation grants, presented by Anne Callander, the wife of the late executive producer of Channel Nine Matt Callander, are as follows:

    Professor Hubert Hondermarck, from HMRI and the University of Newcastle, will receive almost $150,000 to explore a novel form of cancer research known as cancer neurobiology. He and his team will build on their work exploring the role of neurons in prostate, breast and thyroid cancers and transfer their knowledge to glioblastoma – a unique brain cancer.

    Patient survival rates for glioblastoma have been stagnant, highlighting the need for new thinking.

    Dr Julius Woongki Kim from the Children’s Medical Research Institute in Sydney who is working on a novel treatment approach to high grade glioma (HGG) – the most aggressive form of brain tumour. The team will bioengineer Dendritic Cells, which are part of the normal immune system and work to ‘patrol the body and identify abnormally-acting cells’.

     Dr Fatemeh Vafaee, from the University of New South Wales, and her team will harness the power of artificial intelligence and cutting-edge computational modelling to identify patterns of change in gene activities in patients with glioblastoma. The aim is to identify any signifiers pointing to tumour recurrence to optimise quality of life and survival.

    Dr Jonathan Goodwin from Calvary Mater Newcastle and his team are exploring glucose metabolism in head and neck cancer patients using a novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) based approach. This project aims to accurately and non invasively measure glucose measurement in brain cancer to allow greater insight into the treatment process and to have a significant impact on cancer staging.

    HMRI cancer researcher Dr Michael Fay, a MHF Mid-Career Fellow, and team are aiming to identify new targets and treatments for recurrent glioblastoma to prolong survival of patients. A specific protein found in prostate cancer cells, PSMA, is also found in glioblastoma cells and the team are exploring drugs to target PSMA as a new treatment option.

    The focus for each project is innovation and collaboration, particularly with research teams at HMRI and the Brain Cancer Group.


    The 2019 NRL Beanie for Brain Cancer Round is 25 – 28 July this year, with the new MHF beanies launching 1 June.


    For further details or comment please contact Kris Buderus at 0428 147 000 or

  • Mission's fight against Brain Cancer strengthens

    Australian brain cancer mission announcement

    Researchers: Government Grants

    Mission’s fight against Brain Cancer strengthens 

    The Liberal National Government is providing $5 million from the Australian Brain Cancer Mission to two leading oncology groups to improve outcomes for children and adults with brain cancer through high-quality clinical trials. 

    The Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology Oncology Group (ANZCHOG) and Cooperative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology (COGNO), will each receive $2.5 million to improve access, and raise participation in, local and international trials. 

    This funding will enable ANZCHOG to open five high quality, international brain cancer clinical trials, with a target of 90 per cent of eligible children with brain cancer enrolling in these trials. 

    COGNO will begin the start-up of international trials in Australia and increase recruitment by up to 25 per cent in these trials for adults with brain cancer. 

    The grant was a key measure under the Mission, and an important step in progressing national efforts to combat a cancer that is the sixth leading cause of cancer burden in Australia. 

    We want to give Australians with brain cancer access to new treatments, whether they are discovered here or abroad, and this funding will be primarily dedicated to that goal. 

    The Australian Brain Cancer Mission – coordinated by Cancer Australia – aims to double survival rates and improve the quality of life of people living with brain cancer over the next 10 years, with the longer term aim of defeating brain cancer. 

    The Mission is a true partnership between the Australian Government, philanthropists, researchers and clinicians, patients and their families 

    I am also pleased to announce that the Kids’ Cancer Project and the Mark Hughes Foundation have boosted our Government’s Australian Brain Cancer Mission by a combined $3.15 million. 

    The Kids’ Cancer Project, a national charity supporting childhood cancer research today announced a $2.65 million investment over eight years. Through this investment the Kids’ Cancer Project aims to increase the number of patients participating in clinical trials. Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Somerville, Victoria. 

    The Mark Hughes Foundation increased their original investment of $2.5 million by a further $500,000. This increase was due to the overwhelming success of the NRL Beanie for Brain Cancer fundraising efforts. 

    Today’s announcement from The Kids’ Cancer Project, and the Mark Hughes Foundation brings the total investment in the Mission to $107.65 million. 

    This includes $55 million from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund and significant donations from Cure Brain Cancer Foundation ($20m), the Children’s Hospital Foundation Queensland ($10m), Minderoo Foundation’s Eliminate Cancer Initiative ($10m), Carrie's Beanies 4 Brain Cancer ($5m), and the State of Victoria ($2m). 

    The Liberal National Government is driving a coordinated effort, bringing together philanthropy, industry, governments and the private sector, to work towards the long-term goal of defeating this terrible disease

  • Goal to Solve Brain Cancer Riddles Gets a $1.6m Innovation Boost

    Eight new innovation grants

    The Mark Hughes Foundation (MHF) has added to the extensive list of world-class brain cancer research projects that it’s currently supporting, awarding eight new innovation grants totalling $1.6 million to researchers throughout Australia.

    Using funding secured in this year’s hugely successful NRL Beanie for Brain Cancer Round, MHF co-founder Mark Hughes says the goal is to encourage nationwide collaboration and help brain cancer scientists and clinicians to develop novel ideas in a relatively short timeframe.

    “We’re incredibly proud to have some of Australia’s brightest and most passionate researchers thinking outside the square to solve the riddles of brain cancer,” he said. “My life is riding on it, as are so are many others.

    “We can’t thank the Callander family, the NRL, Channel Nine and Fox Sports plus other media outlets, Lowes Australia and IGA Stores along with the wider community enough for the incredible support of our national beanie campaign.”

    “To be able to turn our supporters simply buying a beanie into this level of research is something that I and the MHF team are very proud of.”

    Three University of Newcastle researchers were successful at Wednesday night’s presentation event, including Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin who was later named the Hunter Medical Research Institute’s 2019 Researcher of the Year.

    A leading mental health researcher, Professor Kay-Lambkin will lead a new project aimed at supporting families who have a loved-one diagnosed with brain cancer.

    Associate Professor Paul Tooney will explore whether DNA repair inhibitors can lengthen the survival time for patients, focusing on new drugs that they hope can improve the current treatments.

    Dr Mike Fay received funding for the development and translation of a blood-based diagnostic test for brain cancer that could help clinicians determine the most appropriate treatment regime.

    “This is an exciting project being run in collaboration with the University of Queensland. We have some amazing, molecularly targeted radiation techniques available to us but, as clinicians, the problem is how to choose between all these treatments,” Dr Fay explained.

    Dr Kimberly Kaufman, head of brain cancer research at Chris O'Brien Lifehouse and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sydney, is also working on a new blood test to monitor glioblastoma patients and detect tumour progression.

    “Our proposal addresses an area of urgent clinical need for patients diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer in adults,” Dr Kaufman said.

    “There are no reliable methods for monitoring patients with this cancer, so clinicians can’t accurately tell whether a tumour is growing or responding to treatment. This means patients may be switched to a wait-and-see approach.

    “This funding will go towards assessing blood samples that we’ve collected from patients at multiple times during their journey with glioblastoma, and hopefully we can eventually provide timely and accurate information about an individual’s tumour status.”

    Dr Haibo Jiang from the University of Western Australia gained backing for a novel P.E.T tracer for glioblastoma imaging.

    University of Sydney researcher Dr Eric Hau is studying DIPG, an incurable and inoperable cancer that arises in the brainstem of children, and compatriot Dr Kelly McKelvey received funding for project titled “Limos – killing brain cancer from within”. Dr McKelvey is also the Matt Callander Beanie for Brain Cancer HMRI Fellow, funded by the Mark Hughes Foundation.

    Dr Dannielle Upton from the University of New South Wales received her first ever project grant to advance her investigations into new treatments for childhood brain cancer.