Lift off… Meet the editorial board!

12 minute read

To give you more insight into the themes and ideas we’re hoping to explore with this title, we’d like to introduce you to our editorial board.

Everyone in the cancer community has exactly the same objectives – to fight cancer and to win. But the community isn’t always as connected as it could be. 

Oncology Republic wants to get different groups talking to each other. And not just about the promising developments. We want to dive into the controversial topics – the uncomfortable realities that all patients and oncologists experience but are rarely talked about. 

Our editorial vision has been crafted through conversations with oncologists with a range of special interests, as well as researchers, funders, patients and cancer clinics and advocacy bodies. 

Things are changing in cancer. Change is hard, and we’d like to help. Sometimes that help is by poking and prodding in places people would prefer we didn’t. But that’s how things change sometimes.

To give you more insight into the themes and ideas we’re hoping to explore with this title, we’d like to introduce you to our editorial board.


Professor John Zalcberg OAM

Medical oncologist

Professor John Zalcberg is the head of cancer research and the NHMRC (MRFF) practitioner fellow within the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University and Tony Charlton chair of oncology at Alfred Health. He is also the current chair of the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance. Previously, he was the director of the Cancer Medicine Division as well as the chief medical officer at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. 

After earning a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Melbourne and a PhD in cancer immunology, he served as director of medical oncology at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and as director of cancer services at the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre.

A co-founder of the Lorne Cancer Conference and the Australasian Gastrointestinal Trials Group (AGITG), his past roles included chair of the board of AGITG, board member of Cancer Trials Australia, co-chair of the Cancer Drugs Alliance, board member of the NSW Cancer Institute, Board Member of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, president of the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia, as well as a past member of the Consultative Council of the Victorian Cancer Agency.   

Affiliations: Alfred Health and Monash University

Areas of interest: clinically, gastrointestinal cancer and gastrointestinal stromal tumour; research areas of interest include use of real-world data to measure and improve quality of care, health policy particularly with respect to clinical research, ethical issues pertaining to drug access, new drugs in GI cancer & GIST.

Most interesting recent development in your field: Undoubtedly, immunotherapy and biomarker-driven clinical development.

Themes and issues you would like to read more about:

  • How we can develop health policy to improve cancer medicine
  • The importance of clinical research in improving healthcare
  • The issues around implementation of research in clinical practice, including the collection and use of real-world data 
  • The role oncology clinical trial networks and the importance of doing this as a group rather than acting alone. There’s a lot more power in doing things as a group than individually. 

Editorial board member

Professor Stephen Clarke OAM

Medical oncologist

Professor Stephen Clarke is a medical oncologist at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney and a professor of medicine at the University of Sydney and chief medical officer, Medical Oncology, at Genesis Care.   

After completing his medical oncology training at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, Professor Clarke undertook a PhD at the Institute of Cancer Research/Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital, before returning to Australia in 1994. He was Professor of Medicine at Concord Hospital from 2004-2010.

He has clinical and research interests in thoracic and GI cancers, including mesothelioma.  

His research has achieved over $26 million in competitive grant funding that has led to over 340 publications, which have been cited 20000 times.  

Professor Clarke is an oncology advisor to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and is a Member of the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Review Committee.  

His work has been recognised by an OAM in 2011, the MOGA Cancer Achievement Award in 2016 and the Eric Susman Prize (2013), the College Medal (2019) and John Sands Medal (2020) from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

Affiliations: Royal North Shore Hospital, Genesis Care and The University of Sydney

Areas of interest: GI and thoracic malignancy, novel therapeutics

Most interesting recent development in your field: Immunotherapy

Themes and issues you would like to read more about: What are the implications for interpretation of clinical trials data and site selection for clinical trials (as well as use of overseas experts promulgating theories in Australia) when Europe, UK and the US have demonstrated that their health systems are flawed?

Editorial board member

Professor Christobel Saunders AO

Surgical oncologist

Professor Christobel Saunders AO is internationally recognised as one of Australia’s most prominent research-orientated cancer surgeons. She has substantially contributed to breast cancer research including clinical trials of new treatments, psychosocial, translational and health services research and is active in several areas of surgical oncology cancer research, with a particular emphasis on breast cancer. 

In recognition of her sustained career excellence and innovation, Professor Saunders has been publicly acknowledged through numerous awards and honours the most recent being the AO (Order of Australia) (2018), Uccio Querci della Rovere Award (2018), International Women’s Day WA Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee (2018) and WA Scientist of the Year (2017). She has performed research for >30 years evaluating the efficacy and utility of therapy for early breast cancer. 

In the past five years, Professor Saunders has published over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles (two in The Lancet), six letters to the editor/editorials, two research reports, two book chapters and one book. She sits on the boards of a number of cancer organisations including the ANZ Breast Cancer Trials Group. Professor Saunders is closely involved in strategic planning and management of cancer services in Western Australia as author of the WA Health Cancer Services Framework and as first A/Director, WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network, past President of the Cancer Council WA, past president of the Breast Surgical Society of ANZ, and nationally as past advisory council member of organisations such as Cancer Australia. She is the inaugural chair of the state Health Service Provider, PathWest Laboratory Medicine.

Affiliations: The University of Western Australia Medical School, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research

Areas of interest: Breast cancer and cancer outcomes research and pathology

Most interesting recent development in your field: Lots of interesting developments from translational to new diagnostics and treatments (all modalities including surgery radiotherapy and systemic) and supportive care as well as prevention and new ways of delivering services. 

Themes and issues you would like to read more about: De-escalating treatments and value based healthcare seem.

Editorial board member

Dr Sanjeev Kumar

Medical oncologist and clinician scientist
MBBS BSc (Med) FRACP ATCL PhD (in progress)

Dr Sanjeev Kumar is a medical oncologist and clinician scientist who grew up in country NSW, before completing undergraduate medical studies at the University of New South Wales in 2006. He trained as a Medical Oncologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and in the United Kingdom.

Dr Kumar moved to Cambridge (UK) in 2015 to undertake a fellowship in the Addenbrooke’s Hospital Cancer Drug Development Unit. 

He was then awarded a University of Cambridge scholarship in 2016 to complete a cancer molecular biology PhD at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, with a focus on oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Simultaneously, he ran a UK-wide clinical trial for patients with ER-positive breast cancer.

Dr Kumar has returned to Australia to continue his clinical and academic focus on breast cancer with positions at Lifehouse, The Kinghorn Cancer Centre and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. 

He has a keen interest in the education of trainees, public engagement and clinical trials.

Affiliations: Chris O’Brien Lifehouse,  Kinghorn Cancer Centre and Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Areas of interest: Breast cancer in young women, neoadjuvant treatment of breast cancer, endocrine therapy resistance

Most interesting recent development in your field: How CDK4/6-inhibitors have completely transformed the landscape of managing ER+ breast cancer, and how new antibody-drug conjugates and novel HER-2 directed therapies are doing the same in HER2+ breast cancer. Also, the greater emphasis on incorporating biomarker analyses in clinical trial design- fundamentally important given the financial toxicity of novel anti-cancer therapies.

Themes and issues you would like to read more about: Ways that we can manage the fear of cancer recurrence in our patients. Time in our clinics is often disproportionately vacuumed up by the “worried well” instead of our patients suffering with incurable metastatic disease. Is there a better way of dealing with this? Also, I  really don’t think we discuss sexual function enough in our patients during their cancer journey. What is the best way to approach this?

Editorial board member

Dr Lucy Gately
MBBS BSc FRACP (oncology) PhD Clin Dip Pall Med

Medical oncologist and clinical research fellow

Dr Lucy Gately is a medical oncologist at Cabrini Health, a clinician researcher at WEHI and an honorary fellow at the University of Melbourne. Dr Gately obtained her oncology fellowship in 2016, and has since been awarded with a PhD in glioblastoma through the University of Melbourne and a Clinical Diploma of Palliative Medicine through the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. She has a keen interest in improving the lives of patients with brain cancer, as well as familial cancer syndromes. She is the curator of the BRAIN registry, capturing comprehensive clinical data on all patients diagnosed with a brain tumour, and has been involved in numerous publications.

Affiliations: Cabrini Health & Walter and Eliza Institute for Medical Research

Areas of interest: Brain cancer and familial cancer

Most interesting recent development in your field: There has been limited change in treatment over the last decade. However there has been increased funding made available for improving brain cancer outcomes. With this, we expect to see some exciting developments over the next few years.

Editorial board member

Associate Professor Liang Qiao


Dr Liang Qiao is currently a principal research fellow, associate professor and the head of the cancer biology at the Storr Liver Centre at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR), University of Sydney. 

Dr Qiao received a MD (1985) and a Masters degree (Gastroenterology/Hepatology, 1988, LZU), and a PhD degree (Cancer Medicine, 2000, USYD).

Dr Qiao has published a textbook on hepatocellular carcinoma (as the Editor-in-Chief).

He has published >180 peer-reviewed articles in the field of cancer, oncology, and gastroenterology and hepatology. 

Affiliations: Westmead Institute for Medical Research, The University of Sydney

Areas of interest: Liver disease, liver cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, experimental cancer therapy, cancer stem cells (CSCs), induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), stem cell based therapy.

Most interesting recent development in your field: Targeting cancer stem cells in experimental cancer therapy and aptamer-based drug delivery in cancer therapy.

What themes and issues would you like to read more about? Alternative medicine and adjuvant therapies are often do not get sufficient attention. New diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic approaches with translational potential should be paid more attention.

Editorial board member

Paul Mirabelle

Cancer research funder

Paul Mirabelle brings more than 20 years’ experience as a company director, and CEO in the healthcare space and direct involvement in cancer research fund raising to the Editorial Board. He has a proven track record in leading complex businesses, within both the medical and not for profit sectors, in Australia and internationally. 

Mr Mirabelle is currently the Chairman, Grants Committee for Tour de Cure, a charity committed to raising funds for much need cancer research. He holds a number of directorships including Chairman of Greencross, and Non-Executive Director of Healthshare, Vita Group and Revasum. 

Previously, Mr Mirabelle was Executive Chairman of the National Home Doctor Service, CEO of National Hearing Care and CEO of Medical Imaging Australasia (MIA Group). He was a partner with international consultancy The Boston Consulting Group, held executive roles at Telus Corporation in Canada and was an associate with Walsh Young in Calgary, Canada. Paul holds an LL. B and an MBA with distinction from the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

Affiliations: Tour de Cure

Areas of interest: Tour de Cure seeks to raise funds to support cancer research across Australia. They are “cancer-agnostic” and believe that all forms of cancer deserve to be beaten. 

Most interesting recent development in your field:  The effort required by cancer researchers just to fund the excellent work they want to do astounds me. I appreciate that this is par for the course in research but the fact that it is dollars, not talent or desire, that stands in the way of step changes in cancer assessment, diagnostics and treatment is almost surreal. As a country we should be better at this.

What themes and issues would you like to read more about? We should not take cancer research for granted – at the end of the day, progress relies on being able to deploy very talented scientists – this takes funding. In the absence of funding whole research cohorts could be lost.


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