Researchers and clinicians in the HMRI Cancer Program are helping to reduce the incidence and risk of cancer as well as improving patient outcomes by developing detection methods and effective therapies based on individual molecular profiles of this complex disease.
In 2012 the Hunter Cancer Research Alliance (HCRA) was established as an umbrella organisation of the four Cancer Research programs in the Hunter:

  • HMRI Cancer Program
  • Hunter Translational Cancer Research Unit
  • Clinical Cancer Research Network
  • Priority Research Centre for Cancer

The Alliance also incorporates two national clinical trials groups based in the Hunter:

The Clinical Cancer Research Network facilitates efficient conduct of clinical trials, and optimises collaboration between 13 cancer clinical trials units throughout Hunter New England Health to increase participation, and ensure equity of opportunity exists to participate in research trials for all patients in rural, regional, metropolitan and private practices.

During 2014, the Hunter Cancer Research Alliance (HCRA) was recognised as a Translational Cancer Research Centre (TCRC) and awarded $6.5 million over 5 years from the Cancer Institute NSW (the only Cancer Research Centre outside of the Sydney metropolitan area to have this status). Our translational cancer research strategy includes the stimulation of relevant laboratory research based on priority questions generated from the cancer clinics and facilitation of research discoveries into health service implementation. This strategy is supported via translational cancer research teams working in biomarkers and targeted therapy, and implementation of evidence into practice.

A key example of this bi-directional strategy is the HCRA’s commitment to enabling relevant breast cancer research by making breast cancer tissue available for biomedical study via the Hunter Cancer Biobank. This ongoing collection of tissue has led to the establishment of a number of formal international collaborations with key cancer research institutions, including Cancer Research UK and the International Breast Cancer Intervention Group.

In addition, researchers have facilitated the delivery of faster and more extensive breast cancer risk testing to patients within the Hunter region, as Next Generation (Next-Gen) DNA sequencing technologies which enable such improvements are now in use by the Hunter Area Pathology Service (A Division of Pathology North). This is the first laboratory in Australia to gain approval for the use of Next-Gen sequencing in diagnostic services.

The vision of the HCRA is to establish the Hunter and New England regions as a competitive global hub of excellence in collaborative translational cancer research. The Alliance provides capacity building, funding and strategic support to cancer research across the full research practice continuum.

Many of the Hunter’s cancer researchers are affiliated with the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Cancer; the Priority Research Centre for Bioinformatics, Biomarker Discovery & Information-Based Medicine; and the Priority Research Centre for Health Behaviour.


Program LeaderProfessor Stephen Ackland, Calvary Mater Newcastle.

For more information about the HMRI Cancer Program, you can also visit the Hunter Cancer Research Alliance website.

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