Congratulations to MIA’s Assoc Professor Alex Menzies and Rebecca Simpson, both very worthy recipients of 2023 NSW Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research.

The 2023 NSW Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research honour the achievements of individuals and teams working across the cancer research sector.

The awards, hosted by Cancer Institute NSW, celebrate excellence and innovation in cancer research and recognise outstanding work from academic research to improving cancer clinical outcomes across NSW.

This year new awards were announced that celebrate progress and achievement aligned with the goals and principles of the NSW Cancer Plan.

Winner of the Outstanding Mid-Career Researcher Award – Assoc Professor Alex Menzies

The Outstanding Mid-Career Researcher Award honours an individual who has demonstrated exceptional research progress and accomplishment, and a commitment to building the cancer research capacity of the state through leadership, mentorship and training.

Alex Menzies is a Medical Oncologist and Associate Professor of Melanoma Medical Oncology at Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA), The University of Sydney, and Royal North Shore and Mater Hospitals.

He is an internationally recognised opinion leader in melanoma, immunotherapy and neoadjuvant therapy in oncology and in the last five years has authored over 170 publications with more than 15,000 citations in journals such as Nature, Lancet, Lancet Oncology, Nature Medicine, and Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Associate Professor Menzies supervises several PhD students, conducts several investigator-led and sponsored clinical trials in melanoma and breast cancer, leads the MIA Research Data Governance Group, serves as a faculty member and a member of the Research Committee at MIA, and serves as the Chair of the Department of Cancer Medicine at Mater Hospital.

He is involved with faculty and steering committees in several major national and international cancer research organisations and co-established an international clinical research collaboration network between several major Australian, USA and European melanoma centres. The centres provide opportunities for junior research staff to disseminate their work through high impact original research publications.

“Thank you Cancer Institute NSW for this tremendous research award, which I gladly share with colleagues at Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney, Royal North Shore Hospital and The Mater – including mentors and friends Prof Georgina Long and Prof Richard Scolyer. Our goal is zero deaths from melanoma and all cancer.”   – Assoc Prof Alex Menzies

Winner of the Rising Star PhD Candidate Award – Rebecca Simpson

The Rising Star PhD Candidate Award honours an exceptional PhD Candidate who is making significant progress in their research and is showing the potential to make an impact in any field of cancer research.

Rebecca Simpson is a PhD candidate with the Melanoma Institute Australia at The University of Sydney. Her research focuses on the role of the gut microbiome during immune checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy. Specifically, how the gut microbiota interacts with the immune system to influence the efficacy of treatment and/or the development of toxicities. Her PhD research analyses the microbiome of the first Australia cohort and one of the largest most clinically homogenous prospective microbiome patient cohorts worldwide.

Since commencing her PhD in 2020, she has published four papers in high impact journals including first author publications in Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology, Cancer Cell, and Nature Medicine.  She has given 13 oral presentations at local, national, and international conferences.

We are proud that our team culture, led by Professor Georgina Long AO and Prof Richard Scolyer AO, continues to generate up-and-coming outstanding researchers.