Research Funding Round 2016

In 2016, PCFA's Research program funded competitive projects in all areas of the cancer journey, from prevention to diagnosis and treatment.

Movember Revolutionary Team Awards

A robust expert review of the initial 3 year programs under this category revealed major progress by multidisciplinary collaborative research teams at the Garvan Institute for Medical Research under the leadership of Prof Peter Croucher and the Translational Research institute under the leadership of Prof Colleen Nelson. As a result, to be able to deliver outcomes, both programs have been extended to a 5 year duration.


Prof Peter Croucher, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Prostate Cancer Metastasis (ProMis): New Opportunities for Therapeutic Development

Prof Croucher and his team have found that cancer cells hide away in particular sites within bone and have discovered a number of genes that are important in controlling the behaviour of these dormant cells when they arrive in the bone. Many of these genes are able to control the way our immune system responds to these cancer cells. Importantly, this team also found that cells that normally break bone down may also inadvertently release prostate cancer cells from a dormant state and cause them to form actively growing cancers in the skeleton. They will now test two new types of treatment to stop prostate cancer cells growing in the skeleton. The first will be to switch on the immune system in order to use body’s own natural defence system to target tumour cells and restrict their growth in the skeleton. The second, will be to use treatments that stop bone cells from releasing the prostate cancer cells from a dormant state in the skeleton. Importantly, these types of treatments are already available to treat other diseases so the Croucher team will also test the ability of these drugs to stop the growth of prostate cancer cells in a series of clinical trials.


Prof Colleen Nelson, Queensland University of Technology

Adaptive Response to Targeting the Androgen Axis: A Strategic Offensive on Resistance

Prof Nelson and her team have identified and characterised the biological and hormonal pathways activated by the most common form of treatment for prostate cancer patients with metastatic disease. They have strategically prioritised the activated pathways that drive progression of the cancer which also have validated therapeutic agents to target them. Through this rational and integrated approach, this team will have determined new therapeutics to be used in conjunction with ADT to halt the progression of prostate cancer, and improve clinical outcomes and quality of life in men with advanced prostate cancer.

New Concept Grants


Prof Melissa Southey, University of Melbourne

Heritable Epigenetic Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

For the majority of prostate cancer-prone families, the gene or DNA change that increases the risk is unknown. We have recently discovered new inherited risk factors for breast cancer that are modifications of DNA (epigenetics). This project aims to identify similar DNA modifications that are risk factors for prostate cancer. Understanding the genetic and epigenetic causes of inherited prostate cancer will lead to new opportunities for early detection and treatment.


A/Prof Jose Polo, Monash University

A Predictive Computational Framework for Targeted Reprogramming of Castrate Resistant Prostate Cancer

Our research group specialises in a process called cellular reprogramming, which changes the identity of cells. This process is limited by finding the right genes to switch on or off, which is time-consuming. We have recently developed a powerful software that can predict the best genes to change. Prostate tumours reprogram themselves, switching off many "prostate genes" and activating "tumour" genes. We will use our software to predict which genes need to be switched on or off to reprogram the cancer cells back into normal prostate cells.


A/Prof Lisa Butler, The University of Adelaide

Next-generation prostate cancer therapies based on precision nanomedicines

An important step towards a 'magic bullet' has been the development of nanomedicines. These nanomedicines allow efficient trafficking of drugs to improve treatment and reduce side effects. We will investigate a new prostate cancer treatment that delivers multiple drugs directly to prostate tumour cells.


Prof Nicolas Voelcker, University of South Australia

Molecular mass spectrometry imaging of prostate cancer - new biomarkers and new understandings

New biomarkers are needed to determine which prostate cancers are at risk of progression. Previous studies have shown that the growth and spread of a cancer is the result of interactions between cancer cells and stroma tissue. This project will look for biomarkers in the stroma using a new mass spectrometry technique.


Prof Derek Hart, ANZAC Research Institute

Therapeutic Vaccination for Prostate Cancer Using mRNA Loaded Blood Dendritic Cells

We can train the immune system to fight cancer by vaccinating patients using specialised white blood cells, called dendritic cells. We have developed new methods to isolate these cells from patients and present prostate cancer targets to the patient’s own immune system so that it will attack their cancer. We will optimise our vaccine and select a new immune releasing "checkpoint inhibitor" to combine with our dendritic cell vaccine in a future clinical trial.


A/Prof Rohan Davis, Griffith University

High-content screening of small molecule inhibitors from nature that target prostate cancer metabolism

This project proposes to screen and evaluate a library of 472 novel compounds that were isolated from Australian plants, fungi and marine organisms. Compounds that inhibit metabolic pathways critical for prostate cancer growth and survival will be chosen. This project will identify new inhibitors from nature, providing knowledge for future large-scale screens and heling develop new anticancer agents.


Prof Roger Daly, Monash University

A new approach for characterising stromal interactions in prostate cancer and identifying therapeutic targets

Interactions between tumours and cells called cancer-associated fibroblasts drive the progression of advanced prostate cancer. This project will use a new method to analyse the chemical signals that occur during this interaction. We aim to learn which signals instruct the tumours cells to grow and spread. Drugs can then be developed to inhibit these signals.


A/Prof Derek Richard, Translational Research Institute

Targeting Genomic Stability in Prostate Cancer

Early detection provides the best chance of survival from prostate cancer, however once the disease has moved to other parts of the body it is incurable. This project tests a new drug that specifically targets the genome of prostate cancer cells potentially providing a new tool for the treatment of this disease.

John Mills Young Investigator Awards


Dr Ian Johnson, University of South Australia

Altered endosome trafficking in prostate cancer

There is new evidence that the process by which nutrients are moved and recycled inside a cells changes during cancer. This project will investigate how nutrients are trafficked around and recycled inside prostate cancer cells. By determining the crucial trafficking changes in prostate cancer cells, new biomarkers and drug targets can be discovered.


Dr Marianna Volpert, Queensland University of Technology

Targeting Neuropilin-1 to inhibit the adaptive response to androgen deprivation

This project will study the function of the Neuropilin-1 protein in prostate cancer, which is associated with metastasis and cancer recurrence after androgen-deprivation therapy and chemotherapy in patients. The results may lead to an improved ability to control the growth of metastatic prostate cancer and sensitise them to chemotherapy.