Last week we hosted a delegation of eight doctors from two leading Chinese children’s hospitals, opening up exciting possibilities for research and clinical collaborations

A group of eight doctors from Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the Children’s Hospital of Soochow University has spent three busy days meeting with our researchers and touring our laboratories and the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.

The collective experience and expertise of the delegation, which included a Chief Surgeon, Chief Paediatric Physician, Director of the Department of Radiation Oncology, Director of the Department of Pathology, a paediatric surgeon and a paediatric Haematologist, was enormous. Like our own clinician-scientists, these practising doctors also lead research teams.

They were here to investigate possible research and clinical collaborations. Fostering such international partnerships will expand the scope and impact of our research, and is a vital part of our Strategic Plan 2018–2022.

The visit was organised and co-ordinated by Dr Belamy Cheung, Program Manager in our Molecular Carcinogenesis Program.

The doctors stand in a group with Dr Cheung and Kiri Collins, Head of Core Services
The visiting doctors with Dr Belamy Cheung (fourth from left) and Kiri Collins, Head of Core Services (fifth from left)

This is how we do it

The visitors were introduced to Children’s Cancer Institute by our Deputy Director, Professor Murray Norris. After explaining how and why our work first began, he outlined our current research programs and capabilities.

Prof. Murray Norris tells the visitors about our mission, and how we’re working to achieve it
Prof. Murray Norris tells the visitors about our mission, and how we’re working to achieve it

Professor Xiao-Jun Yuan, Chief Physician and Professor of Paediatrics at Xinhua Hospital, then explained to her hosts the background and operation of Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai.

Prof. Xiao-Jun Yuan explains how childhood cancer is treated in Xinhua Hospital
Prof. Xiao-Jun Yuan explains how childhood cancer is treated in Xinhua Hospital

Several research projects were discussed, and areas of possible collaboration highlighted. These possibilities were further explored in subsequent smaller meetings with individual research teams.

This is where we do it

As well as being told what we do, our visitors were shown where and how we do it. This included a tour of our laboratories.

Dr Belamy Cheung (right) shows the visitors around our labs
Dr Belamy Cheung (right) shows the visitors around our labs

Clinical partnerships

We aim to take our research from the lab to the clinic as quickly as possible, and we’re ideally positioned to do so, thanks to a close partnership with treating clinicians at the Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick. The visitors met with clinicians there including Professor Glenn Marshall, Paediatric Oncologist at the Kids Cancer Centre and Head of Translational Research at Children’s Cancer Institute, and discussed childhood cancer treatment.

“the visiting doctors were extremely impressed by the high quality of our basic and clinical translational research”

They also witnessed first-hand the Zero Childhood Cancer personalised medicine program in action, when they attended a meeting of its Multidisciplinary Tumour Board. This group of specialist doctors and researchers meets monthly to discuss the test results of children enrolled on the clinical trial and to make recommendations regarding the most suitable treatment options.

The next step

Visitors and hosts learned a lot from each other, and were excited by the possibilities for collaboration.

“At the end of the 3-day visit, the visiting doctors were extremely impressed by the high quality of our basic and clinical translational research,” said Dr Belamy Cheung.

“We explored and discussed the possibility of setting up partnerships on a number of areas of our research, such as single cell analysis, liquid biopsy, deriving iPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells) from the blood samples of cancer patients, as well as personalised medicine.”

Before they left, the doctors sat down with our Head of Research Development and Partnerships, Dr Peter Wejbora, to discuss practicalities. Many people will now be working hard to turn the collaborative opportunities identified during the visit into realities. Watch this space.

Dr Peter Wejbora and the visitors discuss strategies for establishing collaborations
Dr Peter Wejbora and the visitors discuss strategies for establishing collaborations

Find out how else we’re opening doors to a world of scientific exchange.

Top image: the visitors are shown the ACRF Drug Discovery Centre



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