Dialog Box


Research programs

Our research strategy is designed to get new treatments to patients faster by funding across the entire research pathway and ensuring every person diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia has access to a quality clinical trial. 

Over the last five years, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has invested more than $13 million in research. More than 90 per cent was invested in Australia. The other 10 per cent is helping to ensure that Australians have early access to world-class treatments as soon as they are available anywhere in the world.

All research projects are reviewed by our internationally renowned Scientific Advisory Committee.

Click on the below links to learn more about each program. 

Cure Brain Cancer's research programs 

Clinical trials stimulus program

Cure Brain Cancer’s vision is that every person diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia can access new treatments through world-class clinical trials. To date, there have been few therapeutic trials available in Australia for brain cancer patients. The Clinical Trials Stimulus Program is designed to change this and make the most promising Australian-initiated trials - as well as international trials - available to Australian patients at the same time as they are available globally. 

Bringing clinical trials to Australia provides a multitude of benefits. All patients involved with clinical trials report better health outcomes, including those on the standard treatment arm of the study and even those screened for the trials that are ineligible. Bringing promising trials to Australian sites allows patients to stay closer to home and their support networks, and reduces the financial burden associated with travelling overseas for treatment.

“We scour the world for the best clinical trials and work with our international partners to bring them to Australia, so that novel treatments are available at the same time for Australian brain cancer patients as they are globally." 

- Michelle Stewart, Chief Executive Officer

Projects we fund and amount invested in this program include:

Zero Childhood Cancer: a personalised medicine program - $1,315,000

Lead: Prof Michelle Haber, Children's Cancer Institute Australia, NSW (2015 - Present)

Zero Childhood Cancer is a personalised medicine and clinical trial program for children, where researchers and clinicians will conduct detailed laboratory analysis of each child’s unique cancer cells, to help identify the drugs most likely to kill their cancer.



GBM AGILE: Adaptive Global Innovative Learning Environment - $1,176,182

Lead: Dr Anna Barker, Arizona State University, USA (2015)

GBM AGILE is a revolutionary new clinical trial which presents a brand new way of testing and developing brain cancer treatments; a world-first global adaptive clinical trial brought about by the biggest collaboration in the history of brain cancer research.



VERTU - A phase 2 clinical trial for people with newly diagnosed, unmethylated MGMT glioblastoma - $498,775

Mustafa Khasraw

Lead: A/Pro Mustafa Khasraw, NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney, NSW (2014 - Present)

A phase 2 clinical trial investigating the effectiveness of adding a new drug to radiotherapy and chemotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed, unmethylated MGMT glioblastoma.



A phase 1 and biodistribution study of an anti-EphA3 antibody in patients with glioblastoma - $500,000

Hui Gan

Dr Hui Gan, La Trobe University, VIC (2014 - Present)

A phase 1 clinical trial of a new antibody that targets EphA3, which is a cancer protein that makes GBM aggressive and treatment resistant.



Discovery funds 

Discovery Funds supports basic research, which is the foundation of all medical research.

“Basic research is the foundation on which therapeutic discovery can occur. It is vital to continue funding this scientific work, as this is where the more effective treatments of the future start from.”

- Michelle Stewart, Chief Executive Officer 

Projects we fund in this program include:

Targeting the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor in High-Grade Glioma - $200,000

Lead: Prof Terry Johns, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, VIC (2014 - 2016)

EGFR is a protein which is mutated in the majority of high-grade gliomas. The team are investigating resistance to EGFR-targetted therapeutics and ways to overcome this.



Understanding how epigentic abnormalities lead to brain cancer - $200,000 

Dr Lee Wong

Lead: Dr Lee Wong, Monash University, VIC (2014 - 2016)

A project investigating how the epigenetic changes which result from ATRX/histone H3.3 mutations will aid the development of targeted therapies for brain tumours.



Biomarker discovery program 

The Cure Brain Cancer Biomarker Discovery Program brings together biomarker research that is being conducted across the country. Biomarkers are increasingly demonstrating value in cancer detection, diagnosis, prognosis, selection of therapy and prediction of treatment response, dosage, identification of disease relapse and recurrence, surrogate endpoints for clinical trials and the development of drug targets. The Biomarker Discovery Program covers the entire pipeline, from basic research to translational, and integration and use of biomarkers in clinical trials. 

Projects we fund in this area include:

Uncovering novel drug targets to treat primary brain cancer - $200,000

Leonie Quinn

Lead: Dr Leonie Quinn, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, ACT - $200,000 (2017)

This project aims to identify new prognostic markers and investigate drug therapies for specific Oligodendroglioma tumour types based on their molecular signature.



Circulating MicroRNA as a biomarker in brain cancer - $199,724

Andrew Morokoff

Lead: Dr Andrew Morokoff, University of Melbourne, VIC (2014 - 2016)

Developing microRNA detection in blood as a simple, rapid, cheap and accurate biomarker for brain cancer diagnosis and prediction.



Genomics research for medulloblastoma and glioblastoma -$150,000

Brandon Wainwright

Lead: Prof Brandon Wainwright, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, QLD (2014 - present)

Professor Brandon Wainwright's laboratory is currently pursuing studies of primary brain tumours in children and is embarking on the use of “genomic technology” to understand brain tumours that occur in adults such as glioblastoma.


Developing novel, EphA2 targeted PET molecular imaging technology for glioma - $199,738

Simon Puttick

Lead: Dr Simon Puttick, The University of Queensland, QLD (2014 - 2016)

The team aims to deliver a novel diagnostic strategy for glioma that, in addition to providing a unique solution to treatment planning, will inform the rational design of targeted therapies.



Exceptional response to a targeted antibody drug will lead to the identification of pre-selection biomarkers for use in patients with glioblastoma - $126,500

A/Prof Kerrie McDonald

Lead: A/Prof Kerrie McDonald, University of New South Wales, NSW (2014 - 2016)

This project is part of the Cure Brain Cancer Neuro-oncology Group and will study exceptional responders to a targeted antibody, to identify biomarkers to predict which patients will respond to the drug.



Understanding cellular pathways to identify and develop new strategies for treating High Grade Glioma - $1,588,333

Prof Terry Johns

Lead: Prof Terry Johns, Monash University, VIC (2013 - 2016)

Understanding the various cellular pathways that allow tumours to survive and grow will allow us to develop effective strategies for treating patients with brain cancer. This is part of the work of the Brain Cancer Discovery Collaborative.



Developing innovative molecular imaging technologies - $425,000 

Stephen RoseLead: A/Prof Stephen Rose, The University of Queensland, QLD (2013 - 2016)

Developing new quantitative biomarkers of early treatment response in high grade glioma, based on an imaging technology called positron emission tomography (PET) using the tracer FDOPA. We will use this technology to better understand and define tumour metabolism. This is part of the work of the Brain Cancer Discovery Collaborative.



The process of cell invasion - $350,000

Geraldine O Neill

Lead: A/Prof Geraldine O'Neill, Kids Research Institute at Westmead, NSW (2013 - 2016)

Understanding invasion by glioblastoma, the most common malignant primary brain cancer in adults, is the first step towards new specific treatments with fewer side effects. This is part of the work of the Brain Cancer Discovery Collaborative.



Cure Brain Cancer Neuro-oncology Group: Head of Biomarker and Translational Research - $4,053,712

A/Prof Kerrie McDonald and team

Lead: A/Prof Kerrie McDonald, University of New South Wales, NSW (2009 - present)

The Cure Brain Cancer Neuro-oncology Group is based at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre at UNSW and focuses on precision medicine. It is also part of the Brain Cancer Discovery Collaborative. 


Immunotherapy in action

Immunotherapy harnesses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. It is a growing field in cancer research and has shown some promising results, including in other cancers such a melanoma. Cure Brain Cancer’s Immunotherapy in Action program seeks to grow and support the immunotherapy field in brain cancer from basic research, translational research through to clinical trials.

Projects we fund in this program include:

Powering and arming the immune system to combat Glioblastoma - $200,000

Roberta Mazzieri

Lead: Dr Roberta Mazzieri University of Queensland, QLD (2017)

Dr Mazzieri's proposed research investigates strategies to harness the power of immunotherapy to improve glioblastoma treatment.



Immunotherapy centre of excellence NSW - $250,000 

Lead: Dr Viive Howell, Royal North Shore Hospital, University of Sydney (2015)

Based at the Kolling Institute at the Royal North Shore Hospital, this emerging brain cancer immunotherapy clinical trials expertise will give people living with brain cancer access to potential new treatments. Beginning with a 6 month pilot phase. 



Overcoming resistance to antibody-drug conjugates in glioblastoma patients - $199,233

Andrew Scott

Lead: Prof Andrew Scott, La Trobe University, VIC (2014 - 2016)

Investigating the mechanisms of resistance to antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), a group of drugs which have shown highly encouraging efficacy in glioblastoma (GBM). This research is particularly important since it focuses on an ADC that is undergoing accelerated testing for GBM patients.



Kynurenine Pathway project - $125,000

Dr Seray AdamsLead: Dr Seray Adams, Macquarie University, NSW (2014 - 2015)

One metabolic pathway which impairs the immune system in brain cancer patients is the kynurenine pathway. The team are investigating novel therapeutics that target this pathway to restore normal immune system function.



Paediatric research

Cure Brain Cancer’s Paediatric Research Program covers all stages of research from basic to translational research and clinical trials in all areas of research, including precision medicine. Paediatric research includes work on paediatric-specific tumour types and research that is applicable to paediatric forms of brain cancer more broadly. 

Projects we fund in this program include:

Mixing old treatments with new drugs to cure brain cancer - $200,000

Nick GottardoLead: A/Prof Nick Gottardo, Telethon Kids Institute, WA (2017)

Nick Gottardo's research aims to find approaches that enhance existing treatments, prove the new methods work using laboratory techniques, then translate them into clinical trials.



Novel targeted chemotherapeutic agents against diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) - $160,000

David Ziegler and Maria TsoliLead: Dr Maria Tsoli & Dr David Ziegler, Children's Cancer Institute Australia, NSW (2014 - 2017)

This research team have used a robotic technology to screen over 3,500 biologically active, clinically approved, pharmaceutical compounds to test their ability to inhibit DIPG cell growth.



Paediatric research from bench to bed - $483,333 

Dr Nick GottardoLead: Dr Nick Gottardo, Telethon Kids Research Institute, WA (2013 - 2016)

Dr Nick Gottardo's team is identifying new therapies to be tested in clinical trials by using high-throughput robotics to screen thousands of drugs. This is part of the work of the Brain Cancer Discovery Collaborative. Read more about paediatric research within the BCDC here.



Pharmacological inhibition of MCL-1 and BCL-xL to treat human medulloblastoma - $200,000

Andreas StrasserLead: Prof Andreas Strasser, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, VIC (2014)

The team aim to develop novel strategies to efficiently kill medulloblastoma cells without causing intolerable damage to healthy tissues, by utilising recently developed BH3-mimetic drugs that directly activate the cell death pathway.



Brilliant Minds

Brilliant Minds is Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s young researcher support and communications program. It is designed to encourage cross-disciplinary movement into brain cancer research and grow and support brilliant minds early in their careers. 

Brilliant Minds Career Fellowships 

Brilliant Minds

We are committed to encouraging Brilliant Minds into brain cancer research and want to attract the best and brightest to work in one of the most challenging areas of research. Australia has a truly collaborative network of brain cancer laboratories and is poised to create significant impact in the area. We will support excellent talent to be a part of this movement.



Projects we fund in this program include:

The therapeutic targeting of cell cycle regulators and mechanisms of resistance to cell cycle therapy in Medulloblastoma - $345,000

Laura GenovesiLead: Dr Laura Genovesi, University of Queensland, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, QLD (2017)

Medulloblastoma is a leading cause of cancer-related mortality and morbidity in children. Few effective therapies are available for patients with high-risk disease or tumours that recur following standard-of-care therapy and thus, these patients have a poor prognosis. Based on this, Dr Genovesi has focused on identifying novel Medulloblastoma targeted therapies for Medulloblastoma.



Designing immune killer cells for adults and children with brain cancer  - $345,000

Ryan CrossLead: Dr Ryan Cross, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, VIC (2017)

T cells are white blood cells which can recognise and kill tumour target cells. However, tumours often outsmart the T cells so they can't kill them anymore. Dr Cross aims to re-arm these T cells with new genetically engineered weapons to kill highly fatal brain cancers in both children and adults. 



Brilliant Minds communications program 

Brilliant Minds

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