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Monash University’s Dr Khai Li Chai receives scholarship to further research into immunoglobulin therapy

Wednesday 27 November 2019

The Leukaemia Foundation and the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ) have collaborated to award Monash University PhD student Dr Khai Li Chai a three-year, $120,000 scholarship.

The funding will support Dr Chai’s research into hypogammaglobulinaemia in people living with a range of blood cancers: chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and multiple myeloma, and individuals who have undergone stem cell transplants.

Hypogammaglobulinaemia is a condition where the body does not produce enough antibodies and can be associated with serious and recurrent infections. It is a significant cause of mortality and morbidity in affected patients.

Dr Chai’s work will evaluate the efficacy, standard of practice and clinical outcomes of immunoglobulin therapy, which is frequently administered to patients with hypogammaglobulinaemia . Her work will investigate how detailed patient immune profiles can be used to guide and monitor optimal dosing and duration of immunoglobulin therapy to develop a more clearly defined and effective standard of care.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said the Leukaemia Foundation HSANZ New PhD Scholarships are part of the Leukaemia Foundation’s National Research Program which has seen more than $50 million invested into blood cancer research since 2002.

“Over the past 17 years the National Research Program has supported 506 researchers and co-investigators to undertake 278 research projects through PhD scholarships, clinical and post-doctoral fellowships and research grants,” Mr Petch said.

“The investment into research has contributed to the development of many new techniques and therapies which are now either undergoing clinical trials or are being used in clinics as part of everyday therapy. This includes treatments like Venetoclax, bortezomib, CAR T-cell therapy and liquid biopsies for blood cancers – a world first.”

Accelerating research and providing equal access to best practice treatments were also identified among the Leukaemia Foundation’s key priorities in the recently released State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia report . The report showed accelerating research has the potential to further reduce mortality rates and health and economic costs of blood cancers, which are projected to claim more than 186,000 lives between now and 2035 – equal to more than 1.4 million years of potential life lost.

The Leukaemia Foundation receives no ongoing government funding, and the National Research Program relies on the continued support of generous donation.

“Donations allow us to continue to invest in Australian blood cancer research and to support the next generation of researchers, driving this type of innovative research for better treatments, better care and ultimately a cure for blood cancer,” Mr Petch said.

To find out how to support the Leukaemia Foundation’s National Research Program call 1800 620 420.

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