Garvan Breakthrough magazine - Feb 2018

A joint quest to stop pancreatic cancer

Dr Marina Pajic, Mrs Jane Hemstritch and Ms Mara-Jean Tilley (Director of Philanthropy, Campaigns and Bequests) at a World Pancreatic Cancer Day event.

Jane Hemstritch and Garvan’s Dr Marina Pajic have formed a powerful bond over their shared mission to defeat pancreatic cancer

potential of a breakthrough breast cancer drug to treat a common subtype of pancreatic cancer (see opposite). With a five-year survival rate of less than seven per cent, pancreatic cancer desperately requires further research and Jane has unquestionably made an incredible impact.

After tragically losing her husband, Philip, to pancreatic cancer in 2010, Mrs Jane Hemstritch threw her energies into raising awareness and making a difference in the deadly disease’s outcomes. Jane rallied the troops and formed ‘Team Phil’ in the Melbourne Marathon from 2011 to 2013. The team raised $328,000 for Garvan’s pancreatic cancer research.

“I’m proud to be honouring my husband’s legacy as well as supporting an incredibly talented young researcher,” says Jane. Dr Pajic says, “The Fellowship has been crucial for me to develop my ideas into sound projects with solid data, and recruit the best individuals to my team. There are significant funding challenges in medical research; we rely on philanthropy, sometimes exclusively, to get innovative ideas off the ground. “But for me it goes far beyond the financial support. I’ve been incredibly lucky that Jane has taken the time to work closely with me as a mentor. She’s an eminent businesswoman and her knowledge and insights have supported my growth as a researcher,” says Dr Pajic. For Jane too, there is an immense sense of satisfaction in supporting Dr Pajic’s work. “I can’t think of a better way to support medical research than to help a brilliant young mind make her ideas a reality, and make a difference in this dreadful disease.”

Recognising the importance of ongoing funding security in medical research, Jane developed the Philip Hemstritch Fellowship in Pancreatic Cancer in 2013. That’s how Jane met Marina. Dr Marina Pajic leads the Personalised Cancer Therapeutics group at Garvan. Her research focuses on developing In 2017 alone, Dr Pajic was named the Outstanding Cancer Research Fellow from Cancer Institute NSW and led or co‑led two significant research studies that explore innovative approaches to treating pancreatic cancer using existing drugs. In the first she showed (with Associate Professor Paul Timpson) how softening tissue around a pancreatic tumour can make chemotherapy more effective. In the second she demonstrated the new and different personalised therapies for pancreatic cancer.

Jane Hemstritch and her ‘Team Phil’ raised more than $300,000 through participating in the Melbourne Marathon.

February 2018 | 5

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