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Community & Business

15 August, 2023

Love Your Sister: Samuel Johnson OAM visits

Samuel Johnson OAM, co-founder of The Love Your Sister Foundation, will make three visits to the Dubbo region during the second half of this year to su port new cancer trials funded by his charity.

Last Friday, July 21, local business Christie and Hood hosted an event at the Meating Place, with Mr Johnson invited to talk with locals about the new project. Love Your Sister has granted Macquarie University $1.2 million to bring international standard clinical trials to regional, rural, and remote Australia. The project is titled ‘Oncology Trials for the Regional, Rural and Remote Patients Collaboration’ (ONTRAC).

Mr Johnson said he is “beyond excited” about the partnership. Macquarie University’s director of clinical trials and head of the cancer program, professor Howard Gurney will lead the new trials. 

“People in regional, rural and remote (RRR) Australia have considerably poorer outcomes with most common cancers than other Australians, and this is especially true for Aboriginal people,” said professor Gurney.

Mr Johnson said the first clinical trial will begin in Dubbo in coming months, with other areas to follow. 

“I am beyond excited about the opportunity to introduce myself, and to share our plans for Dubbo and surrounds with community and businesses leaders, supporters, sponsors and potential partners. Collectivity is the answer when equity is the aim, and I look forward to encouraging the Australian business sector to join me in becoming part of the solution,” he said.

Macquarie University is collaborating on the project with the oncology department at Dubbo Base Hospital, led by Dr Florian Honeyball, as well as the newly- formed Western NSW Clinical Trial Support Unit and NSW Health.

Mr Johnson has long been advocating for precision medicine as a standard of care for all Australian cancer patients. Access to clinical trials and the latest technologies is currently not available outside major population centres. Love Your Sister has initiated a multi-partner, multi-million-dollar expansion to correct the inequity.

“ONTRAC aims to not only bring cutting-edge options for cancer treatment to our most vulnerable pop- ulations, but also to establish fully equipped clinical trial units in regional healthcare centres and train local people in clinical trials delivery to staff them,” said Mr Johnson. 

“By doing this we hope to increase the number of regional, rural, remote, and Aboriginal patients, taking part in clinical trials, while also minimising the need for them to travel in order to participate.”

“Underpinning this grant is Love Your Sister’s promise to fund research that improves access to precision medicine for all cancer patients, whatever the can- cer, regardless of location, age, income, or status.” 

Love Your Sister has already funded half and is relying on businesses and community leaders from the region to help meet that commitment. The first clinical trial in Dubbo will pave the way with other areas to follow.

Mr Johnson said this pilot model will make a significant contribution to broader cancer research. 

“It will be designed, evaluated, and documented so that it can be used not only by any trial unit within Australia, but also extended to non-cancer indications.” 

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