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Australia and US join forces to advance cancer and paediatric healthcare

Today, it was announced that medical researchers and healthcare professionals in Victoria, Australia, will partner with world-leading experts in cancer and paediatric health in Boston, USA, to improve access to the latest medical breakthroughs for Victorian patients.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy advanced two historic partnership agreements with Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Boston Children’s Hospital.

“Victoria is at the forefront of the world’s very best cancer and paediatric care. Strengthening our partnerships with Boston will ensure we remain a world leader,” said Minister for Health Jill Hennessy.

“Closer ties with Boston’s best and brightest medical minds will help us share the latest treatments and cures, and improve patient care in both countries,” she added.

This builds on the existing agreement between the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Victoria’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre – both world leaders in cancer research, prevention, treatment and care.

Researcher from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Dr Elaine Sanij will visit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in May to work with the world’s leaders in DNA repair therapies in ovarian cancer. This will also help Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre’s own trial of CX-5461 and advance Australian research in the area.

This month Dr Sanij received a High Commendation in Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre’s Lea Award, which recognises emerging female researchers in their early to mid-career and provides support to take part in career advancement opportunities. Dr Sanij received A$10,000 to support her travel to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

According to Minister Hennessy, cancer survival rates in Victoria are among the best in the world. Victoria’s partnership with Dana Farber Cancer Institute will help save even more lives by working together on future medical breakthroughs.

In addition, a number of concrete actions under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Boston Children’s Hospital and the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne were agreed.

According to the MOU, the world’s best practice and expertise in paediatric health, collaboration on research, exchange programs and innovations will now be shared with Victorian researchers.

This includes working with the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement on a core set of global standards for paediatrics, improving safety and quality of care for the youngest patients around the world.

An international working group of patients, parents and leading clinicians and academics will establish key areas of research that matter most to families.

These projects were finalised as part of a delegation to the USA to strengthen international ties between Victoria and some of the world’s most prestigious health and medical research institutions.

Engagements with prominent biotech and pharmaceutical companies will also help create jobs and drive investment at home.

This is in line with Australia’s vision to grow Victoria as a global exporter of health services and research, as outlined in the International Health Strategy 2016-2020: Partnering for a healthy and prosperous future. The healthcare sector contributes to more than A$30 billion to the Victorian economy a year and employs more than 130,000 Victorians.

Some of the key areas of the International Health Strategy 2016-2020 include:

(1) international engagement to promote the Victorian health system to international markets, strengthen ties with established partners and build new links,

(2) industry development to develop new sources of revenue for health services through raising awareness of international opportunities and building Victoria's capability to respond, and

(3) knowledge transfer and innovation to encourage service delivery and research partnerships.

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