As Australia Day looms, we reflect on the achievements of our founders and research leaders who, in past years, were awarded Australian honours.

Jack Kasses OAM and John Lough OAM

Without the vision of our two founders, Jack Kasses and John Lough, Children’s Cancer Institute wouldn’t be what it is today. Jack was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2005, for service to the community, for fundraising for cancer research and support for families of children with cancer. John received his Medal of the Order of Australia in 2016, for service to children through cancer support organisations.

In 1975, these two men each had a child diagnosed with leukaemia. At that time the survival rates for children with cancer were less than 50%. Jack and John decided that Australia needed dedicated research to find improved treatments for all children with cancer. Their tireless fundraising efforts with Apex generated over $1.3M in the first year and, by 1984, they’d raised enough to build and open our research laboratories. We were honoured to have both men attend the Institute’s 40th anniversary celebration last year. Survival rates for children with cancer are now 80%, thanks largely to medical research funded by the tireless effort of people like Jack and John.

cheque presentation
Jack Kasses and John Lough with the $1M Apex cheque that started the Children's Leukaemia and Cancer Foundation, forerunner of Children's Cancer Institute

Professor Michelle Haber AM

Professor Haber was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2007 for services to science in the field of research into childhood cancer, to scientific education and to the community. She joined the Institute as a scientist when our labs first opened in 1984 and has been Executive Director since 2003.

Professor Haber is known for her world-class research into the treatment of neuroblastoma and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children. In 2014 she was awarded the Cancer Institute NSW Premier’s Award for Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year, and in 2015 was made a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

Professor Glenn Marshall AM

Professor Marshall was awarded an Order of Australia in 2014 for significant service to medicine in paediatric oncology. A prominent clinician-researcher, he is the Head of Translational Research here, a paediatric haematologist and oncologist at Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, and Clinical Director of the Zero Childhood Cancer personalised medicine program.

Prof Marshall’s research interests include investigating how normal embryonal cells become cancerous, and improving the safety and effectiveness of child cancer therapies. He was instrumental, with Professors Haber and Norris, in setting up our current national study using Minimal Residual Disease testing to individualise therapy in children with the most common childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). He initiated the Education Pathways Project for children with cancer with colleagues at the Children’s Hospital Westmead, John Hunter Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald Learning Program. This project focuses on schooling and related issues for students with cancer, providing parents’ and teachers’ resources.

Professor Murray Norris AM

Professor Norris was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015. One of the first three scientists employed by the Institute in 1984, he was made Deputy Director in 2000 and also heads up the UNSW Centre for Childhood Cancer Research.

Prof Norris uses molecular genetic technologies to improve the diagnosis, risk classification and treatment of childhood cancer. He was responsible for developing and implementing the unique technology used in our Minimal Residual Disease testing national study. Professor Norris has an international reputation in childhood neuroblastoma research and is currently President of the Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Association, a global network of scientists and clinicians studying this childhood cancer responsible for 15% of all child cancer deaths.

The fight against childhood cancer is in good hands, with these and other inspirational Australians working together to find a cure. Read our story.

Top image: Among past recipients of Australia Day honours are (L to R) Prof Michelle Haber, Prof Glenn Marshall and Prof Murray Norris.



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