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A PhD research scholarship will help identify more effective treatments for those diagnosed with sarcoma

Jan 23, 2013

University of Western Australia (UWA) post-graduate student Rachel Jones has been announced as the recipient of the inaugural Abbie Basson Sarcoma Research Scholarship which will see much needed research into sarcoma.

The three year PhD research scholarship is a collaborative approach from Hollywood Private Hospital Research Foundation, West Australian Institute of Medical Research (WAIMR) and UWA which will see Ms Jones researching the molecular biology and genetic characteristics of sarcoma.

Dr Terry Bayliss, Director of Hollywood Private Hospital Research Foundation said that very little is known about the disease compared with other forms of cancer and that a concerted research effort is important to improve the prospects of those diagnosed with the disease.

“The research will involve identifying characteristics of different streams of sarcoma so that targeted and individualised treatments can be developed, resulting in improved outcomes for the patient,” said Dr Bayliss.

Sarcoma, a relatively uncommon form of cancer, tends to strike teenagers and young adults and is often fatal.

Mandy and Steve Basson know too well the impact of sarcoma having lost their 20 year old daughter Abbie Basson to the disease in 2011.

The inaugural Abbie Basson Sarcoma Research Scholarship has come about from a $75,000 donation the Basson family made to the Hollywood Private Hospital Research Foundation last year,  and a similar amount raised via WAIMR.

Mandy Basson said the family is charged with following Abbie’s dream to make a difference to those suffering from sarcoma.

“Throughout Abbie’s battle, she was focused on setting up a research scholarship so that more can be known about the disease. Abbie would be really excited with the appointment of Rachel. We are extremely fortunate to have someone of her calibre as our first PhD student,” said Ms Basson.

For Rachel, it wasn’t just an interest in genetics and a desire to pursue a health research career that led her to apply.

“My cousin was diagnosed with sarcoma in 2006. This is when I first heard of the disease. My interest in sarcoma research is not just from a scientific perspective but also a strong personal motivation to improve the lives and outcomes of people diagnosed. I will do my best to contribute to Abbie’s legacy,” said Ms Jones.

Rachel, who studied health science and commerce at UWA, completed an honours project in genetics in 2012.

She will commence the PhD scholarship in August 2013.

Mandy and Steve Basson have now set up ‘Sock it to Sarcoma!’, the name Abbie had given to her vision, as the fundraising arm for sarcoma research through the Hollywood Private Hospital Research Foundation.

In the last nine months Sock it to Sarcoma! has raised over $179,000.

To donate to Sock to Sarcoma contact admin@sockittosarcoma.org.au or visit www.sockittosarcoma.org.au for more information.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Rachel Jones

Rachel graduated from Penrhos College in 2006. She first became interested in genetics in year 10 and continued to study human biology and chemistry for TEE. Rachel went onto study health science and commerce with majors in population health, genetics and management at UWA.

In 2011, Rachel completed a work placement at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research with Assoc Professor Andrew Whitehouse and the Autism and Related Disorders Research Team. This is where Rachel got her real first taste of population-level health research and began to seriously consider this as a career path. In 2012 Rachel completed an honours project with Assoc Professor Whitehouse’s team looking at the genetics of autistic-like traits in the general population. This project was jointly co-supervised by Assoc Professor Whitehouse, Winthrop Professor Eric Moses at the Centre for Genetic Origins of Health and Disease at UWA, and Jane Heyworth from the School of Population Health.

Abbie Basson

Abbie Basson was diagnosed at age 17 with Ewings Sarcoma, an uncommon and aggressive form of bone cancer. Abbie received treatment at Hollywood Private Hospital during her brave two year battle with the disease. Despite facing the life-threatening disease at such a young age Abbie was determined to make a difference to those affected by sarcoma. Abbie saw there was a real need for a WA-based sarcoma charity to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into more effective treatments.

Sadly, Abbie passed away in August 2011, a few weeks after her 20th birthday.

Her family are determined to follow Abbie’s dream. The PhD research scholarship has been named in her honour.

For more information please visit www.sockittosarcoma.org.au/about-us/abbies-story

Sock it to Sarcoma!

Mandy and Steve Basson have set up ‘Sock it to Sarcoma!’, the name Abbie had given to her vision, as the fundraising arm for sarcoma research through the Hollywood Private Hospital Research Foundation.

Sock it to Sarcoma! is dedicated to improving community awareness about this group of uncommon but devastating tumours. Sock it to Sarcoma! host a variety of fundraising events and in the last nine months has raised over $179,000.

For more information go to www.sockittosarcoma.org.au

Hollywood Private Hospital Research Foundation

The Hollywood Private Hospital Research Foundation Inc. was founded in 1999. Its principal objectives are to improve and advance medical care and the health of the community and to foster research at the hospital.

Hollywood Private Hospital covers all the running costs of the research foundation so contributions can be used for their intended purpose – supporting research. The foundation raises funds from hospital social events, staff contributions and community donations.

Hollywood Private Hospital is a modern, 659 bed state-of-the-art acute care hospital in Nedlands. The hospital is a part of Ramsay Health Care Group – Australia’s largest private hospital operator.

A PhD research scholarship will help identify more effective treatments for those diagnosed with sarcoma

Rachel Jones and Mandy Basson