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Generous family legacy helps fund blood cancer researchers of tomorrow

Tuesday 10 December 2019

The memory of a mother lost to blood cancer and the strength and generosity of a family left behind has led to a lasting legacy to help support the brightest young minds in blood cancer research.

The Frederiks Foundation was the legacy of Brisbane accountant Cor Frederiks who lost his wife of 15 years to leukaemia. When Mr Frederiks passed away in 2017 his six children came together to honour his lifelong ethos to give generously.

The Foundation donated an incredible $530,000 to support PhD scholarships for scientists and clinicians in the field of blood cancer. The funds will be directed to the Leukaemia Foundation Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ) New Investigator PhD Scholarship fund.

Julian Lindsay from the National Centre for Infections in Cancer at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne has been awarded the inaugural Frederiks Foundation scholarship valued at $120,000 over the next three years. He will visit the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Washington, USA, to undertake part of his PhD research which will look at addressing critical knowledge gaps to help prevent infections in patients with blood cancers, and those undergoing bone marrow transplants.

His work will look at infections such as cytomegalovirus, eptstein-barr virus and invasive fungal infection which affect blood cancer patients with highly suppressed immune systems due to chemotherapy and transplantation.

“Although we’ve made leaps and bounds in the last 10 years in managing transplant related infections, up to 10 per cent of patients still die after allogenic transplant,” Mr Lindsay said.

“I’d like to see that reduced to zero.

“My PhD is looking at ways to fine tune how we transplant, using drugs more effectively to reduce side effects and to improve survival and quality of life. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity,” he said.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said the funding showed how generous endowments from families like the Frederiks Foundation can have a lasting impact and help advance improved outcomes for Australians living with blood cancers.

“Donations like the one received from the Frederiks Foundation allow us to continue to invest in Australian blood cancer research and to support the next generation of researchers, driving innovative research for better treatments, better care and ultimately a cure for blood cancer,” Mr 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.

The Leukaemia Foundation partners with HSANZ – the peak body for haematology researchers and medical professionals – each year, awarding three, three-year PhD scholarships to the brightest young minds.

Over the past 17 years the National Research Program has supported 355 researchers and co-investigators to undertake 260 research projects through PhD scholarships, clinical and post-doctoral fellowships and research grants.

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.

“Investment in researchers to accelerate advances in treatment and next generation therapies are key to Australians both surviving these diseases, and leading the best possible quality of life,” Mr Petch said.

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

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