Our story

Children's Cancer Institute is celebrating 30 years since we first opened our lab doors.

Hundreds of children were being diagnosed with cancer every year. We knew something had to be done!

Apex Centre

Children’s Cancer Institute was originally known as The Children’s Leukaemia and Cancer Foundation and was established in May 1976 by a dedicated group of parents and doctors of children with cancer. This is where our story started.

For the Kasses family from Childers Queensland, and the Lough family from Wollongong NSW, 1975 was a very difficult year. Jack and Annette Kasses’ daughter Helen, and John and Margaret Lough’s son Robbie, had been diagnosed with leukaemia and life had been thrown into chaos. Helen and Robbie were being treated at Sydney Children’s Hospital.

While it was clear the doctors were doing all they could to cure the children in their care, it seemed that very little was being done anywhere in Australia to conduct research into the phenomenon of childhood cancer. The need for such research was clear. Hundreds of children were being diagnosed with cancer every year and only half were being cured with the treatments available.

Following the loss of his son, John Lough approached his club, the Apex Club in Wollongong to raise money for research into childhood cancer. The campaign became a national Apex effort, the “Help a Kid Make It” campaign with a target of $1 million to facilitate research into childhood cancer.

Today, Children’s Cancer Institute remains the only independent medical research institute in the country devoted to research into the causes, prevention and cure of childhood cancer.  Throughout our existence, our vision has remained unchanged – to save the lives of all children with cancer and to eliminate their suffering.

First established as a foundation that funded the few small research projects then being undertaken, Children’s Cancer Institute opened its own research laboratories in 1984. Since that time, the Institute has grown to employ more than 150 staff and students, and has established a national and international reputation for scientific excellence.

Prior to the 1960s, childhood cancer was almost always fatal. Today, as a result of enormous advances in medical research, the survival rate has risen to 80 per cent. However, nearly three children are still dying from cancer every week. These are the children we are determined to save.