January 25, 2023  Print

Congratulations to WIMR’s Professor Anna DeFazio who has today been recognised as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours List.

Professor DeFazio is the Director of WIMR’s Centre for Cancer Research, and the Order of Australia has been awarded for her “significant service to medicine, particularly cancer research.”

Professor DeFazio leads an ovarian cancer precision medicine research program called INOVATe (Individualised Ovarian Cancer Treatment Through Integration of Genomic Pathology into Multidisciplinary Care).  This is a large collaborative molecular profiling study that matches patients with new clinical trials, providing the opportunity to see laboratory research translated into real-time benefits for ovarian cancer patients.

Outcomes for women with ovarian cancer are slowly improving but the 5-year survival-rate is still only under 50%.

One barrier to improving outcomes is that ovarian cancer is currently treated as a single disease.  We now understand that ovarian cancer is a complex, diverse disease comprising multiple distinct subtypes that vary considerably in their biological behaviour and response to standard treatments.

INOVATe is a research study that has been established to develop strategies to better define ovarian cancer patient subsets, based on tumour genomic profiling, in conjunction with conventional histological subtyping.   The aim is to optimise the selection of patients for new molecularly-targeted clinical trials and ultimately to individualise treatment.

Professor DeFazio also has a lead role in other multicentre, collaborative cancer research programs, in particular through the Australian and New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group, and is committed to fostering the next generation of cancer researchers through her leadership of Sydney Cancer Partners.

Of being awarded an Order of Australia, Professor DeFazio said, “I feel quite overwhelmed and incredibly grateful to my colleagues, family and friends who have all contributed so much to the achievements that have led to this award.  I am also very pleased that Australian medical research has been honoured in this way.

“We are so fortunate to be living in a time when research can lead so rapidly to improvements in clinical care. Having said that, we still have a long way to go to improve outcomes for every patient.”

WIMR’s Executive Director, Professor Philip O’Connell said, “Professor DeFazio is a dedicated, respected and pioneering cancer researcher, and an outstanding leader and mentor.  This award is well-deserved recognition of her tireless work to improve treatments and outcomes for cancer patients in Australia and around the globe.

“I extend my sincere congratulations to Professor DeFazio, and my gratitude for her ongoing commitment and leadership at WIMR.”