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Cancer expert to lead national medical research body

26 February, 2015

As a researcher working on new treatments for pancreatic cancer and the wife of a cancer survivor, Dr Phoebe Phillips knows better than most the vital importance of medical research.

Explaining this to politicians and funding bodies to secure greater investment in the sector will be a key focus for Phillips in her influential new position as President of the Australian Society for Medical Research, the country's peak professional medical research body.

"My role will be to present the evidence which highlights how investing in medical research can reduce our nation's healthcare costs, build our economy and improve health outcomes for Australians," she says.

One of Phillips' first priorities will be to ensure the federal government follows through on its commitment to establish the Medical Research Future Fund.

"The health sector is currently in crisis and we have an ageing population that we won't be able to support into the future without a different approach."

Phillips is a Senior Research Fellow in the Adult Cancer Program at the UNSW Lowy Cancer Research Centre. As head of the Pancreatic Cancer Translational Research Group, she is developing new ways of accessing and destroying tumour cells in the pancreas. Currently, the best chemotherapy can offer is 16 weeks improved survival.

"Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease with a dismal prognosis. The five-year survival rate is less than 5% and most patients die within a few months of diagnosis."

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