$1m man targets tumours

15 Feb 2022
$1m man targets tumours

Courtesy of The Advertiser

By Claire Peddie

Adelaide’s cancer fighting “muscle” has been strengthened with the arrival of a leading children’s brain cancer specialist, thanks to the single largest donation from an individual in the history of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

Associate Professor Jordan Hansford will provide direct care to patients at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and provide access to the nation’s only proton therapy unit, due for completion late next year.

He has been appointed for five years and started work this week, having moved from Melbourne, where he worked at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and the University of Melbourne.

“(SAHMRI) needed some neuro-oncology muscle, if you will, here in the city for paediatrics,” he said. 

“Having worked here previously, I was interested.”

He had fond memories of training in Adelaide from 2010 to 2012 and “was very intrigued to come back, in the right situation, and the right situation came up”.

Commercial & General construction firm founder Jamie McClurg made the $1m donation for the McClurg Brain Cancer Fellowship to secure a top clinician/researcher.

Commercial & General is the state’s largest developer, responsible for $2.2bn in projects, including Eighty Eight O’Connell on the former Le Cornu site and the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research – previously known as SAHMRI 2.

Associate Professor Jordan Hansford discusses just how important partnerships are in delivering the best cancer care.

Dr Hansford has been vocal about the need to fund more than just the building and the machinery.

“There were many people who fed back to the Health Minister that if you’re putting it in SA, you must make sure you bolster the team,” he said.

“I just didn’t know at the time it would be me bolstering it.”

Proton therapy delivers more precise radiotherapy that destroys cancer cells while minimising the damage to surrounding healthy tissue, such as in the brain and brain stem.

Dr Hansford expects proton therapy will be used to treat about 100 children a year.

“Unfortunately, about two in three kids who have conventional photon therapy … are unable to carry on adult relationships, they’re reliant on their families, they’re unable to carry jobs on long-term and have major problems in adulthood,” he said.

“We’re hoping this machine will improve those numbers markedly.”

SAHMRI executive director Professor Steve Wesselingh said the appointment was a significant milestone.

“This is a magnificent appointment that has been made possible by the generosity of Jamie McClurg,” he said.

A/Prof Hansford will divide his time between SAHMRI and the Women's and Children's Hospital, where he's also been appointed as The Hospital Research Foundation Group paediatric oncology Fellow.

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