Children’s Cancer Institute’s Deputy Director appointed a Member of the Order of Australia
June 8, 2015
Children’s Cancer Institute is thrilled to announce that our Deputy Director, Professor Murray Norris, has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia as part of the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for outstanding achievement and contribution in the field of childhood cancer research.
In the Australian honours system, the Order of Australia is the pre-eminent means of recognising outstanding achievement and contribution by Australians. The Order has four levels, with Member of the Order (AM) recognising service in a particular locality, field of activity or group.
Murray was appointed as one the first scientists in the new laboratories of Children’s Cancer Institute in 1984 and has dedicated his life’s work to putting an end to childhood cancer through medical research. He is an internationally regarded translational molecular biologist, Head of the Molecular Diagnostics Program at the Institute and Director of the newly established UNSW Centre for Childhood Cancer Research.
Murray is a pioneer in molecular diagnostics in paediatric cancer and led the team that developed the unique technology enabling the early prediction of relapse in children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (the commonest childhood cancer). Based on this technology, which is now conducted routinely by Children’s Cancer Institute for major paediatric oncology centres nationally, the cure rates for high-risk leukaemia have doubled from 35% to 70% over the past decade. This equates to at least 40 children alive today who otherwise would have died from their disease.
“I feel extremely privileged to have received such an esteemed award,” says Murray. “I have spent more than 30 years investigating childhood cancers and seen survival rates increase dramatically to more than 80% overall. This in itself is a huge achievement and testament to the impact of medical research – and to now have my contribution recognised by the Australian honours system is amazing.
“Cancer is still the largest killer of children from disease in Australia, so there is a lot more work to be done. However, working alongside such a wonderful and dedicated team of scientists, I’m confident research will continue to revolutionise how children with cancer are treated and one day cure every child.”
About Children’s Cancer Institute
Originally founded by two fathers of children with cancer in 1976, Children’s Cancer Institute is the only independent medical research institute in Australia wholly dedicated to research into the causes, prevention and cure of childhood cancer. Forty years on, our vision remains unchanged – to save the lives of all children with cancer and to eliminate their suffering. The Institute has grown to now employ more than 220 researchers, operational staff and students, and has established a national and international reputation for scientific excellence.
Our focus is on translational research, and we have an integrated team of laboratory researchers and clinician scientists who work together in partnership to discover new treatments which can be progressed from the lab bench to the beds of children on wards in our hospitals as quickly as possible. These new treatments are specifically targeting childhood cancers, so we can develop safer and more effective drugs and drug combinations that will minimise side-effects and ultimately give children with cancer the best chance of a cure with the highest possible quality of life.
We are currently leading the establishment of the Zero Childhood Cancer national child cancer personalised medicine program for children with the most aggressive cancers, in partnership with the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. This program will revolutionise the way treatment decisions are made, with the aim of improving survivorship for those children at highest risk of treatment failure from their disease.