Esteemed cancer researcher and charity advocate Dr Matthew Dun has been recognised for his dedication to improving cancer survival outcomes with a 'Young Tall Poppy' science award.
The prestigious awards honour the achievements of Australia's outstanding young scientific researchers and communicators.
The University of Newcastle and The Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) researcher was selected for the 2020 award for his contribution to cancer research.
Dr Dun's research focuses on cancers with extremely poor outcomes. His laboratory is one of only a handful in the world that conducts 'quantitative phosphoproteomics' in tumours - a technique that aims to identify novel treatment targets and drug combinations to improve survival.
Dr Dun said the work involved looking at the "convoluted wiring" of cancerous cells and how to better treat them. The specialised approach enables detailed profiling of specific types of tumours and the individual way they manifest in different people.
IN THE NEWS:
- Emergency crews at scene of serious car crash in Newcastle's west
- NSW Premier foreshadows stricter measures, as state records 18 new cases
- Investigation finds evidence of 'corrupt conduct' at Hunter TAFE campus
- Newcastle's Landmark Roofing fined $400,000 for safety breach that led to death of first-year apprentice Brayden Asser
"Cancers are not all the same, so the more precisely a drug can target tumour cells the more effective the therapy is and the fewer side effects patients will suffer," he said.
Translating his work from discovery to identification of new therapeutic strategies for cancer patients is helping to improve the outlook for children with the brain cancer 'diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma' (DIPG) and will soon move into clinical trials for leukaemia patients.
Dr Dun's quest is also a very personal pursuit, having lost daughter Josephine to DIPG last year. The family formed the charity 'RUN DIPG', which advocates for the rare cancer and raises much-needed funds for research into its treatment.
"My family and I continue to relive Josephine's journey through the journey of other kids," he said. "It steels our resolve to try and make a difference."
Dr Dun said he was humbled to receive the award, but said it wasn't for him, rather the entire team. He said it would also help highlight these cancers that aren't well-known and are poorly funded.
"I am honoured to receive this award, particularly given the calibre of those who have gone before me," he said. "As a recipient, I'll be even better placed to advocate for the importance of this research and continue to improve treatments for kids with cancer.
University of Newcastle Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Excellence), Professor Jennifer Milam said the award was well deserved.
"Dr Dun and his team have shown incredible dedication to improving the lives of people with cancer, particularly children," Professor Milam said.