Equity Trustees – a new Philanthropic Partnership supports MPCCC researchers

A new opportunity to support MPCCC’s research community was presented through the Monash Partners’s innovative new partnership with Equity Trustees.

Equity Trustees has directed the combined resources of 24 philanthropic trusts to a new Partnership Program which will inject more than $3m over three years to Monash Partners, the Mater Foundation, and the National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation.

“We were looking for partners who could help us link researchers with healthcare professionals in meaningful two-way collaborations to generate and rapidly translate patient-focused research; leverage our funds; engage with us and our clients to deepen our knowledge and understanding; and were focused on empowering change across the sector” said Jodi Kennedy, General Manager of Charitable Trusts and Philanthropy at Equity Trustees.

Following a competitively reviewed submission, Equity Trustees announced support for three MPCCC members:

sarah-toDr Sarah To, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, $90,000 Early Career Fellowship

In Australia, routine genetic testing is only available for certain cancers, and current tests are limited to analysing one or a handful of genes at a time, and only for the most common mutations. This project will develop and implement a comprehensive, sensitive and rapid gene sequencing diagnostic test to allow physicians to quickly find out whether a patient’s cancer carries clinically important mutations. A comprehensive targeted sequencing approach in routine molecular diagnostics of Australia will be pivotal in guiding treatment decisions and in identifying patients who are candidates for clinical trials.






A/Prof Andrew Wei, The Alfred $105,000  “Establishing a Monash Partners national reference centre for molecular monitoring of residual disease in acute myeloid leukaemia

Fewer than 30% of patients diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia will live for more than five years. More research into the condition is essential to improve current treatments and patient survival.  While chemotherapy can be very effective, between 30 – 80% of patients will relapse within two years, and this is the main cause of death. We now know that up to 60% of patients show signs of minimal residual disease after intensive chemotherapy and this is the most important predictor of survival. This project will establish Australia’s first national reference centre to study and treat minimal residual disease in acute myeloid leukaemia.





Prof Andrew Spencer, The Alfred, $136,800  “Exploratory analysis of circulating-free RNA as a non-invasive biomarker in multiple myeloma (MM) utilising the Myeloma and Related Diseases Registry (MRDR) and the Australasian Myeloma Research consortium (AMARC)

Multiple Myeloma is a fatal cancer affecting white blood cells found in the bone marrow. We have now for the first time demonstrated that genetic material released by the cancerous plasma cell can be extracted from patient blood samples and analysed in the laboratory – a so called ‘liquid biopsy’. This means that invasive and painful bone marrow biopsies may be avoided in future. This project will validate the use of patient blood samples as a non-invasive diagnostic technique for multiple myeloma.



“Equity Trustees warmly congratulates the inaugural recipients of our Medical Research and Health Partner Program. We are excited about the possibilities of what this stable three years of funding might mean in terms of advancements in research and treatment programs,” said Ms Kennedy.