GMRI’s Ranui Baillie wins top award!

ranuiGMRI research student Ranui Baillie has won the top award at the Tri-Society Head and Neck Oncology Meeting recently held in Darwin.

GMRI Executive Director, Dr Swee Tan, who was a two-term President of the Australian Head and Neck Cancer Society, was at the prestigious international meeting and heard Ranui’s presentation of her work on cancer stem cells in tongue cancer.

“I was so proud to hear her presentation and to see her win the top award – the ANZHNCS Research Foundation Award, which also came with a $1,000 prize.

“Ranui has made excellent progress in characterising a subpopulation of cancer stem cells in tongue cancer, based on the GMRI’s radical concept that cancer stem cells are central to the understanding and future treatment of cancer.”

Researchers at Oxford University and Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet have also recently found the first “conclusive evidence” of the existence of cancer stem cells in blood cancer in humans, in a discovery which could put an end to years of scientific controversy and pave the way for more effective cancer treatments which could attack the disease “at the root”.

They have said that their findings were “a vitally important step” in our understanding of how cancers developed and how best to treat them.

The Tri-Society Head and Neck Oncology Meeting was attended by head and neck cancer experts and researchers from around the world, including the United States, Europe and Asia.

Ranui was one of the five students working at the GMRI last summer. Ranui would have gone on to be a 5th year medical student this year but chose to stay at the GMRI, with a scholarship grant from Pub Charity and a scholarship from the University of Otago.

She is undertaking a year of research, working towards a BMedSc (Hons) degree at the University of Otago.

“I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to participate in research with such high calibre scientists at this early stage of my training,” says Ranui.

Patent registration of the intellectual property arising from Ranui’s work has been filed in the US.