2020: The year in review

This year presented many challenges with the outbreak of COVID-19. However, AGITG members and supporters continued to push for better treatments and improved outcomes for patients with GI cancer.

A message from AGITG Chair Doctor Lorraine Chantrill


A few of our 2020 highlights include:

New research and clinical trials

  • The MODULATE clinical trial for patients with advanced colorectal cancer, led by Professor Niall Tebbutt, completed patient enrolment and is now in follow-up, with the last patient expected to complete treatment in mid-December. This trial is investigating a new approach to immunotherapy for this patient population.
  • The FORECAST-1 trial, led by Professor Peter Gibbs and funded through the AGITG Innovation Fund, opened in September to patients with advanced colorectal cancer at 3 sites in Victoria. It has already reached a third of its total enrolment.
  • In the next few days, the OXTOX trial is set to open at Concord Hospital after a challenging period sourcing drug supply. OXTOX is studying a treatment that could prevent or reduce painful side effects of chemotherapy treatment for advanced colorectal cancer.
  • The RANDOMS study received funding from the community and moved into development. Sites participating in the MASTERPLAN study are invited to join this innovative substudy.
  • Best New Concept awarded to RESOLUTE, led by Associate Professor Jeanne Tie. This promising study is looking at integrating local ablative therapy with first-line systemic treatment for unresectable oligometastatic colorectal cancer. The study is now funded by Cancer Council Victoria and community-based fundraising. We look forward to another opportunity for collaboration with WEHI.
  • Thanks to outstanding community support this year, three Innovation Fund grants have been awarded for 2021.
  • AGITG researchers published 7 journal articles and there were 6 presentations at Australian and international conferences.

Virtual events

  • The Annual Scientific Meeting was held online with over 450 delegates attending on the day or accessing the meeting recordings. This one-day intensive meeting included presentations from Professor Kohei Shitara (Hospital Cancer Center East, Japan) and Doctor Naureen Starling (Royal Marsden Hospital, United Kingdom). The Awards presentation honoured outstanding achievements from the following members:
    • Professor Niall Tebbutt received the John Zalcberg OAM Award.
    • Associate Professor Jeanne Tie received the Best New Concept Award.
    • Doctor Oliver Piercey received the Best Poster Award.
    • Doctor Fiona Paxton-Hall received the Merck-AGITG Clinical Research Fellowship.
    • Monash Health received the Outstanding Site Award.
  • A Mini-Preceptorship in Gastric Cancer was held on 29 August, convened by Professor Sharon Pattison (University of Otago). More than 50 trainees attended this preceptorship, the first of its kind held by AGITG.
  • Six new ideas for early stage oesophageal cancer were presented at the Idea Generation Workshop, held on 6 November. Four are now being progressed.

AGITG welcomed our new Chair, Director and Consumer Advisory Panel members

  • We thanked outgoing Chair Professor Tim Price for his dedicated service to the AGITG, and welcomed Doctor Lorraine Chantrill as the new Chair in May.
  • We welcomed Doctor Anne O’Donnell to the AGITG Board of Directors.
  • Oesophageal cancer survivor Geoff Parnell, and Milton Kirkwood who cared for his wife who passed away from pancreatic cancer, were welcome additions to the Consumer Advisory Panel.

GI Cancer Institute achievements

  • The GI Cancer Institute continued to raise awareness and funds in 2021, with support from our dedicated GI cancer community enabling the opening of FORECAST-1 and OXTOX, the development of RANDOMs, and the awarding of three Innovation Fund grants.
  • The Living Room event series went online as we launched our webinar series and successfully held three webinars to raise awareness and improve education about clinical trials, rare cancers and the role of nutrition in GI cancer treatment and prevention.
  • Our November awareness campaign for Pancreatic and Stomach cancer received excellent media coverage with over 20 pieces of coverage including on Channel 10 News, 2GB and Sky News.

We are so grateful for the support of AGITG members, our community supporters and the patients who have taken part in our trials this year. We are eager to find out what 2021, the AGITG’s 3oth anniversary, has in store.