Clinical Research Fellowship supports thyroid cancer study

Mar 1 2016

Dr Christopher Rowe will use his fellowship to tackle thyroid cancer

Dr Christopher Rowe has been awarded one of the first Hunter New England Health Clinical Research Fellowships for his innovative study into thyroid cancer treatment.

The inaugural 2016 Clinical Research Fellowship Scheme (CRFS) was introduced by Hunter New England Health to help translate research findings into improved health outcomes for the community.

Dr Rowe, an Endocrinology Registrar at John Hunter Hospital, said the Fellowship is enabling him to undertake a full time research project as part of his PhD through the University of Newcastle (UON) and Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI).

“Thyroid cancer is the most common Endocrine cancer, and while the majority of patients have an excellent prognosis, some cancers don’t respond to our current treatments,” Dr Rowe said.

“Our research explores whether we can target therapies to these cancer cells that are resistant to current treatments. We are studying markers on the surface of thyroid cancer cells, and whether they can be targeted with nanoparticles, which are tiny packets that can be used to carry drugs to target tissues.”

“Potential benefits for patients include better treatment outcomes, while reducing the overall drug dosage and minimising the side effects to non-targeted tissue.”

“While these treatment strategies are currently being investigated in the laboratory, they may provide doctors with a new way of treating thyroid cancer in the future.”

Jane Gray, Executive Director of Research, Innovation and Partnerships, said the CRFS assists with translating clinical research projects into health care policy to improve patient outcomes.

“Through the Clinical Research Fellowships, we are supporting research that can swiftly translate into better patient outcomes, better health service delivery, and better population health and wellbeing,” Ms Gray said.

“We provide Fellows with salary support for up to three years and some infrastructure funding. Importantly, we also provide mentoring from more experienced senior researchers and health service leaders so that our Clinical Fellows are well supported.”

“These Fellowships are just one opportunity Hunter New England Health provides for innovative clinicians and teams. We also offer Innovation Scholarships and support teams to apply for other grants, such as the HMRI Grants and other external funding.”

“The 2016 Innovation Scholarships have also recently been awarded. The Innovation Scholarships support clinical teams to implement innovative ideas that help improve the health of the population, improve the experience of care and reduce the per capita cost of care.”

“The Scholarships have been in place since 2010 and have provided over 30 teams from the district with funding and mentoring support to build skills in change implementation and project management.”

Dr Rowe is also the recipient of a 2016 University of Newcastle PhD scholarship and Avant Doctor in Training scholarship.

Other 2016 Clinical Research Fellows to be announced are Meghan Finch (nutrition), Carmel Smart (diabetes), Chris Willams (muscoskelatal pain) and Nicholas Zdenkowski (breast cancer).

The CRFS is provided by HNE Health, in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute and the University of Newcastle.

Read more about HNE Health support for Innovation and Research at