Childhood cancer researcher Dr Orazio Vittorio has been recognised for his contributions to developing effective treatments for aggressive childhood cancers such as neuroblastoma and brain cancer at this year’s Cure Cancer 2021 Researcher of the Year awards.
Dr Orazio from the Children’s Cancer Institute and UNSW Medicine & Health was named runner-up for his exceptional contribution to childhood cancer research.
The Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), announced the awards at a reception held at Admiralty House in Sydney on Friday 8th April.
Dr Vittorio leads a research group investigating the role that metals such as copper play in the growth of cancers, with the aim of developing new and improved therapies.
His discovery that high levels of copper help cancer cells evade the body’s immune system, as well as resist the effects of anticancer drugs, is a world-first achievement. He has also developed a new imaging technique based on detecting copper levels, which may lead to a new way of monitoring tumour growth and treatment response in cancer patients.
Dr Vittorio said he was honoured to have his research and his team’s work acknowledged at the Cure Cancer’s 2021 Researcher of the Year awards.
“I am deeply honoured to receive this award from Cure Cancer, a charity that has done a lot to support cutting-edge research to improve the lives of millions of patients with cancer.
“Awards go to individuals, but it is thanks to my amazing team, collaborators, and the support of my family that I have achieved these great results. A special thanks goes to the Cure Cancer team and donors who believed in what was a new and risky idea from a young researcher! Together we are taking this research from bench side to bedside to improve survival rates of children with cancer,” Dr Vittorio said.
Dr Vittorio received his first Cure Cancer grant in 2018 for his research into the study and development of drugs that target neuroblastoma and glioblastoma cells. He has received grants from Cure Cancer each subsequent year.
The Cure Cancer Researcher of the Year Award recognises the outstanding achievements of early-career researchers and highlights the importance of seed funding within research.