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Leukaemia Foundation and HSANZ PhD scholarships to improve outcomes for people with AML and MPN

Thursday October 15, 2020

The Leukaemia Foundation and the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ) have today proudly announced the latest round of PhD Scholarships, supporting research to improve outcomes for people living with blood cancer.

Basit Salik, Dr Jamie Kuzich and Dr Julian Grabek have been named the successful recipients of the 2021 round of PhD Scholarships to support their work on projects to improve understanding and treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) and Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPN).

AML is an aggressive blood cancer with an average 5-year survival rate of 28% and low rates of long-term survival. Whilst most patients appear to achieve a remission with current treatment, the majority eventually relapse.

Currently 1,122 people are diagnosed with AML each year in Australia and sadly, 1,111 Australians lose their life to the disease annually. Alarmingly, these figures are projected to grow to reach 3,722 people diagnosed per year and 2,847 dying from the disease each year by 2035.

MPNs occur when bone marrow stem cells grow and reproduce abnormally. In patients with MPN, abnormal stem cells produce excess numbers of one or more types of blood cells (red cells, white cells and/or platelets). These abnormal cells cannot function properly and can cause serious health problems unless properly treated and controlled.

People with MPN have an increased risk of the disease transforming to an acute leukaemia depending on the subtype – essential thrombocythaemia (4%) Polycythaemia vera (9%) and myelofibrosis (21%).

Leukaemia Foundation Acting CEO Alex Struthers said accelerating research and providing access to best practice treatments are important foci for the Leukaemia Foundation and were identified as key priority areas in the organisation’s State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia report and the recently-released National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer.

“Research is a crucial tool to improve blood cancer survival rates and ensure Australians can live well with their diagnosis, and while these reports show us that significant gains have been made in this area, they also show is that there is more work to be done to reduce mortality and associated economic costs,” she said.

“With more than 5,600 Australians losing their life to a blood cancer each year and more than 186,000 people expected to die from blood cancers by 2035, ensuring increased and sustained investment in research is more important than ever to drive down these figures and save lives.

“Over the past two decades, the Leukaemia Foundation has proudly invested more than $54.5 million into research, including supporting over 370 researchers across 290 research projects, through PhD scholarships and research grants, at over 50 hospitals, research institutes and universities.

“On behalf of the Leukaemia Foundation, I sincerely congratulate Basit Salik, Dr Jamie Kuzich and Dr Julian Grabek and we look forward to seeing their research translate into improved results for people in our community living with AML and MPN.

“The more we all know about blood cancer and best treatment options, the better our chances of curing and conquering this complex set of diseases, and the closer we are to realising our united vision to see zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035.”

The Leukaemia Foundation has been supporting Australian blood cancer research and the careers of promising scientists and clinicians for over 20 years. These PhD Scholarships, valued at $130,000 each, are part of the Leukaemia Foundation’s National Research Program which has invested more than $54.5 million into research since 2000.

The Leukaemia Foundation is proud to partner with HSANZ – an organisation which promotes excellence, advocates for improvements in the care of patients with blood cancer and supports blood cancer research. Together the Leukaemia Foundation and HSANZ aim to help more medical and science graduates pursue a research career in blood cancer through co-funded PhD scholarships.

The Leukaemia Foundation thanks Brydens Lawyers and the Bourne Foundation for their generous contribution and support to the PhD Scholarship program.

The Leukaemia Foundation is committed to funding research the drives rapid advancements in treatments, diagnostics and novel therapies and gives Australians access to the latest treatments through clinical trials. More on the Leukaemia Foundation’s National Research Program here.

The Leukaemia Foundation receives no ongoing government funding, and the National Research Program relies on the continued support of generous donation. To find out how to support the Leukaemia Foundation’s National Research Program call 1800 620 420.

“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,” Ms Struthers said.

Learn more about the successful research projects here.

Find out more about AML here, more about MPN here, or subscribe to the Leukaemia Foundation’s disease-specific newsletters here.


About The Leukaemia Foundation:

The Leukaemia Foundation stands with Australia to help cure and conquer blood cancer – with care. Together we are attacking every blood cancer, from every direction, in every way we can. We stand beside every Australian to be their voice and their someone-to-turn-to, fighting to get them access to the best care. We also accelerate research that’s delivering rapid advancements in blood cancer diagnosis and treatments. Plus, we provide services and support that empower people living with any blood cancer to live well after diagnosis. You can learn more about the Leukaemia Foundation and blood cancer at

About HSANZ:

The Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand aims to promote, foster and develop the discipline of haematology in all its aspects and particularly provides support and advocacy for research in haematology. More about HSANZ here.