Australian Brain Cancer Mission

Page last updated: 24 August 2017

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Australian Brain Cancer Mission

The Government will establish a $100 million fund for an Australian Brain Cancer Mission to double the survival rates and improve the quality of life of patients with brain cancer over the next 10 years, with the longer term aim of defeating brain cancer .
The Australian Government will contribute $50 million under the Medical Research Future Fund and seek matching contributions from philanthropy, other governments, industry and the private sector.
In an initial demonstration of the benefits of collaboration, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has committed $20 million and the Minderoo Foundation’s Eliminate Cancer Initiative has committed $10 million, towards this bold and important Mission.
Together we can make brain cancer history.

Investment Strategy

  • Promote the benefits of surgery or treatment at centres of clinical excellence, and the merits of immediate referral.
  • Audit and build national care standards, support decision-making, and articulate clinical pathways for patients.
  • Define patient navigator roles and work with governments to improve transport and other support schemes.
  • Invest in survivorship research to better understand the lifelong impact of a brain cancer diagnosis.
  • Define and overcome barriers to participation to ensure every patient has access to a clinical trial.
  • Enhance capacity of Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology Oncology Group (ANZCHOG) sponsored trials and adequately support top trial centres.
  • Expand the capacity of the Cooperative Group for Neuro-oncology (COGNO) trials for adults.
  • Invest in and expand the capacity of known innovative clinical trials of great potential – with an immediate focus on GBM AGILE and ZERO Childhood Cancer.
  • Ensure research (domestic and international) is integrated with existing platforms and data collections.
  • Open a grant program for innovative clinical trials capable of supporting international collaborations.
  • Build a national bio-banking, laboratory, registry data management capacity for the entire patient cohort.
  • Upscale existing pre-clinical technologies and platforms, including animal and in-vitro modelling capacity, immunotherapy, proteomics and genomics.
  • Explore opportunities to encourage the biopharmaceutical industry to collaborate on drug discovery and trial new drugs in children.
  • Identify drugs of potential, and ensure access to new drugs by adults and children.
  • Establish a new centre for basic and clinical research excellence in paediatric and adult brain cancer.
  • Support protected research time for clinicians through targeted PhD scholarships, postdoctoral and senior researcher and practitioner fellowships.
  • Build domestic research talent through a contestable grant program for innovative research capable of supporting international research collaborations.
  • Support and expand the Brain Cancer Discovery Collaborative to include all centres of brain tumour research excellence and entice new talent.


  • Australia celebrates the fact that survival for many high incidence cancers has improved over the last 30 years, but the same has not occurred for brain cancers.
  • While patient care and support has improved, the five year relative survival rate for brain cancer remains low, at around 22 per cent.
  • Brain cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer burden (2011).
  • There are more than 100 types of brain and other central nervous system cancers, and they carry high rates of morbidity and mortality.
  • The young are disproportionately affected by brain cancer, being the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for those under 25 years of age.
  • Australia is a substantial contributor to brain cancer research and a recognised global leader.
  • Rare cancers necessitate international collaboration to combine study groups and maximise discovery impact.
  • In August 2017, the Minister for Health convened a Brain Cancer Research Roundtable of experts and patients, which worked to develop a research roadmap that articulates the investment strategies that underpin this Mission.


Cancer Australia will manage the implementation of the Mission, supported by a Strategic Advisory Group.
Immediate and early implementation work will include:
  • Enabling Australian participation in GBM (glioblastoma) AGILE, together with a move to establish an Australian program extension for earlier phase trials.
  • Consolidating the ZERO Childhood Cancer initiative as a national clinical trial open to all Australian children diagnosed with high risk brain cancer.
  • Enhancing the capacity of ANZCHOG and COGNO trial centres.
  • Establishing a contestable grants program to support new and expanded clinical trials and international collaborations.
  • Auditing national care standards, decision support and clinical pathways for patients.
  • Analysis of Australian brain cancer platforms and technologies.
  • Initiation of a research program to improve understanding of survivorship.

Medical Research Future Fund

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) demonstrates the Government’s strong commitment to research and innovation. The MRFF provides a long term sustainable source of funding for endeavours that aim to improve health outcomes, quality of life and health system sustainability. The MRFF is a dedicated vehicle for priority investment in health and medical research.

Key Principles

(reference for investment decisions)
  • Research is essential for the improvement of healthcare.
  • Patients and carers are partners in healthcare and research.
  • Equity of care and research access regardless of social, economic or geographic circumstance is vital.
  • Consistent adherence to best practice by health professionals is critical to reducing variability in health outcomes.
  • Encourage and facilitate domestic and international collaboration to consolidate expertise and dedicate effort.
  • Multidisciplinary collaboration (for example oncology, neurology, neurosurgery, radiology, radiation-oncology, biology, bioinformatics, neuroscience) is paramount.
  • Attracting talent to the field of study will lift Australia’s capacity to make an impact.
  • National clinical trial operating capacity, data and infrastructure support will enhance collaboration, translation and impact.
  • Disease heterogeneity and differences between the paediatric and adult brain cancer experience makes it unlikely there will be a single cure, therefore persistence and resilience must be maintained.
  • Investment must focus on the best ideas and talent, and opportunities for impact.

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