Shepherding high schoolers through the world of cancer and medical research

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30 September 2019
Phoebe Phillips presenting to the high school students

Recent symposium saw the UNSW 2025 strategic priority around social engagement in action

On Friday 13 September, the Australian Cancer & Health Sciences Competition (ACHSC) held their inaugural New South Wales High School Cancer Symposium. The initiative was organised by UNSW students, Ava del Tufo and Tiffany Williams with Evelyn Wilkins looking after logistics on the day. The Translational Cancer Research Network (TCRN) and the Children’s Cancer Institute (CCI) were the principal sponsors of the Symposium.

Designed to provide an exciting and immersive experience, around 120 high school students got some hands-on participation with cancer researchers and tours of the Lowy Cancer Research Centre labs. Associate Professor Phoebe Phillips (Lowy Cancer Research Centre) and Associate Professor Joshua McCarroll (Children’s Cancer Institute), are senior research fellows at UNSW Medicine, and were keynote speakers at the Symposium.

Ava del Tufo and Tiffany Williams


“I was extremely proud of the UNSW students (Ava and Tiffany) for volunteering to organise a high school outreach event at UNSW. And I was delighted to share my journey as a pancreatic cancer researcher and advocate for health and medical research,” says Associate Professor Phoebe Phillips, “The enthusiasm and engagement from the 120 high school students was motivating and this event is critical to inspire young adults to pursue science and expose them to the different career paths in cancer research. These types of events will shape the future workforce. UNSW, CCI and TCRN provided ‘meet the scientist’ sessions, laboratory tours, and the unique opportunity to engage with cancer survivors who are now community advisors contributing to research.”

Proud accomplishment

The Symposium is one of Australia’s premiere science events for high school students in NSW, facilitating their exposure to award-winning cancer research and developing their interests in the field with hands-on practical experiences. High school students, Lior Roffe (Baulkham Hills High School) and Natalie Le (James Ruse Agricultural High School) won a week-long research internship with leading cancer researchers at the CCI. Alexandra Manea (Menai High School) won a two-day research internship with the Kids Cancer Research Unit at Westmead Children's Hospital. She will be working alongside doctors for two days, such as Dr. Jennifer Byrne and her team, to develop treatment trials for children living with cancer. 

Student volunteers. Almost all of the volunteers, who donated their time on the day, are from UNSW

The Symposium was a significant opportunity for UNSW to engage with the wider community and add value through the work of UNSW senior research fellows. You can learn more about the Symposium here.

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