Oncology award supports cancer training

11 February 2015

An oncology award by a local charity is supporting future cancer specialists to learn more about the genetic abnormalities that underlie cancer.

The Newmarket Rotary Charitable Foundation supports an oncology internship at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

The latest internship was recently awarded to Dr Nicole Kramer, an anatomic pathologist at Auckland Hospital.

“Dr Kramer’s research internship focusses on the genetic changes that underpin cancers arising from hormone secreting cells of the pancreas,” says Professor Cristin Print from Molecular Medicine.

This scheme allows cancer specialists in training to work in Professor Print’s research laboratory in the University for an intensive four to six weeks, where they participate first hand in research into the genetic abnormalities that underlie cancer.

“Involvement in research prepares future cancer specialists for the research-led environment in which they will practice and builds long term links between Auckland’s clinicians and medical scientists,” says Professor Print.

The oncology award began in 2006, when the President of the Rotary Club of Newmarket; Ron Seeto’s daughter, Ruby developed liver cancer. Ruby was treated by oncologists at Starship Hospital and made a remarkable recovery. She has also become a committed fundraiser for Starship, producing an annual tea towel.

Based on this experience, the Foundation instigated a Paediatric Oncology Award at the Starship hospital that was followed by an Oncology Fellowship to allow a trainee surgeon (Dr Deborah Wright) to undertake a PhD degree at the University of Auckland under Professor Print’s supervision.

In 2011, through collaboration between Professor Print, Professor Mike Finlay and Brian McMath from the Newmarket Rotary Charitable Foundation, this award developed into a more generic oncology internship scheme.

Five clinicians have now undertaken this internship - Drs Sheridan Wilson, Aneta Suder, Malcolm Anderson and Christine Khoo.

For the first time this year’s award will be named in honour of the late Ross Craig who passed away in 2014. Ross, a Newmarket Rotarian for 38 years and past District Rotary Governor, was a founding trustee of the Newmarket Rotary Charitable Foundation.

“Ross was an enthusiastic supporter of the award. He chaired three Charitable Trusts which were linked to our Rotary Club, and these trusts partnered with the Foundation in the funding of the award,” says Chairman of the Foundation Brian McMath. “It was appropriate that Ross’s outstanding Rotary service and commitment to the award is being honoured by naming the oncology award after him”.

“The Foundation has formed a wonderful relationship with the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences and we are delighted to be able to offer this award to young clinicians who want to cross over into research,” says Mr McMath. “The results of the Award so far have been outstanding with a number of discoveries that will help in the treatment of cancer so we are committed to a long term partnership with the Faculty”.

The award is granted under the umbrella of the Auckland Academic Health Alliance. The Alliance strengthens a 40-year relationship between the University of Auckland and the Auckland District Health Board to inform research, invigorate clinical teaching and ensure scientific breakthroughs and advances in medical care reach patients faster.

For media enquiries email s.phillips@auckland.ac.nz