Our MHF Scientific Committee comprises the following:
Professor Stephen Ackland also wears multiple hats in cancer care and research – from co-leading the HMRI Cancer Research Program to being Director of both the Hunter Cancer Research Alliance and the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Cancer, while also serving as Staff Specialist in Medical Oncology at the Calvary Mater Newcastle.
For almost 30 years, Professor Ackland has researched various anti-cancer drugs and how they work in the body. He has pioneered the safe and effective use of many chemotherapy drugs both in isolation and in combination with each other, specific to the type of cancer undergoing treatment.
He has also been the lead on a number of clinical trials and interventions seeking to improve the treatment of a number of different types of cancer and has optimised the use of anti-cancer drugs already in therapeutic use.
Professor Ackland is a world authority on cancer pharmacology and chemotherapy pharmacokinetics. He will chair the scientific committee from 2016.
Dr John Christie brings 27 years of surgical experience to the committee, having worked as a neurosurgeon at Royal Newcastle Hospital and John Hunter Hospital since 1988. He has been Director of Neurosurgery since 2002 and is also a conjoint Senior Lecturer with the University of Newcastle’s Faculty of Health.
Dr Christie’s interest in brain tumour surgery led him to join the Hunter New England Neurological Cancer Multidisciplinary Team, which is a group of health professionals from different disciplines (specialists, doctors, nurses and allied health professionals) who work together to manage a patient’s condition to the highest possible standard of care.
He runs a private practice in Newcastle East while also performing pro-bono work in Uganda, helping to do surgeries of children with brain tumours among other neurological conditions.
Dr Mike Fay is a dual-trained medical and radiation oncologist specialising in neuro-oncology and stereotactic radiosurgery.
He completed his undergraduate degree in Medicine and Surgery at University of Otago in 1993 and is currently undertaking his PhD on integrating advanced imagery into brain tumour treatment.
Dr Fay has a strong focus on brain tumours and the development of new imaging and treatment techniques, serving as the principal investigator in a number of international cancer trials and collaborations with Canada, the UK and Germany.
His research spans PET imagery, MRI imaging and developing multiplexed neuro-imaging techniques. As well as securing over $4.5 million in research funding over the past 10 years, he is a lead researcher in an international trial into brain tumour treatment in elderly patients. A current research project centres on developing a new PET tracer for use in brain tumours.
Dr Fay is a senior lecturer at the senior lecturer at the University of Newcastle and conjoint with the University of Queensland, maintaining strong research ties with colleagues in Brisbane.
Dr Craig Gedye is a dual trained cancer scientist and medical oncologist at the University of Newcastle and Calvary Mater Newcastle where he undertakes clinical, translational and basic cancer research.
His research focuses on understanding the complex characteristics of cancer in individual patients – what determines the unique differences, and can they be exploited to improve patient outcomes?
Dr Gedye’s ultimate goal is to develop a tailored approach to patient care, as he believes that identifying individuals who won’t benefit from particular therapies is just as important as identifying those who will.
New Zealand born, his research career began in 1990 when he undertook a summer studentship between the University of Canterbury and University of Otago.
After completing his medical degree he began a PhD in 2004, the last semester of his oncology training. He relocated to Canada in 2008, undertaking a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Toronto and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, then moved to Australia in February 2014.
Dr Gedye is a passionate advocate for the MHF-sponsored Hunter Brain Cancer Biobank and looking to expand his involvement in major clinical trials for brain cancer.
Associate Professor Viive Howell is the Research Director of Bill Walsh Translational Cancer Research Laboratory, Kolling Institute, University of Sydney at Royal North Shore Hospital where she also directs the pre-clinical research for the Sydney Neuro-Oncology Group.
She was awarded her PhD in Molecular Medicine (University of Sydney) in 2005, undertook post-doctoral training at the University of Michigan in the Department of Human Genetics and held three consecutive fellowships from the NHMRC and Cancer Institute of New South Wales prior to her current appointment. She has attracted over $4.5 million in research funding for number of cancers including glioblastoma.
Associate Professor Howell has extensive expertise in molecular genetics and in vivo disease modeling which she has applied to understanding the molecular mechanisms of cancer and identifying disease biomarkers. She works closely with clinical and surgical colleagues and her laboratory is focused on improving treatment and outcomes for brain cancer patients through the development and implementation of a cancer vaccine patented in her laboratory, overcoming chemoresistance and the identification of prognostic and predictive biomarkers.
After completing her medical degree at the University of Sydney, Dr Helen Wheeler became a fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physicians in 1989. Since 1990 she has been a staff specialist in the Department of Clinical Oncology at Royal North Shore Hospital, sub-specialising in neuro-oncology.
Dr Wheeler is a research pioneer in the field with extensive experience in initiating and running clinical trials in both general and neuro-oncology, including investigator-led studies and national and international collaborative trials. Her other interests include translational neuro-oncology and the supervision of PhD students.
She helped establish the Sydney Neuro Oncology Group in 2001 with the aim of conducting brain cancer research, starting with brain tumour banking and data collection to study molecular changes. SNOG also established a patient support group.