A/Prof Nick Pavlakis leads the way for better treatments

Associate Professor Nick Pavlakis is used to working under pressure. As a medical oncologist specialising in Gastro-Intestinal (GI) cancers, he is part of some of the most intense and meaningful moments in people’s lives.

Taking on a seven day hike through a remote area of Australia isn’t the first thing he would be expected to do. For Nick, however, signing up to lead the Kakadu Gutsy Challenge was another way to help the people he treats every day.

Nick said that he was motivated to become an oncologist while working as a medical intern, after breaking the news to a 27-year old that their mother was dying of cancer.

“The feeling of hopelessness was something I found difficult,” he said. “I thought that there had to be something better.”

As well as treating patients day-to-day, Nick also conducts research and clinical trials, which he believes is the only way to improve the survival outcomes for people with GI cancers. He has developed a clinical trial called INTEGRATE II, offering a new treatment option for people with gastro-oesophageal cancer, which is relatively rare and has a devastating impact on patients. He believes that the new treatment could prolong survival for these patients.

“I started to get into clinical research out of the need to do better for the patient that’s in front of me,” he said.

However, he knows that conducting these kinds of trials is only possible with donations and support from the community. By taking on the Kakadu Gutsy Challenge Adventure in 2020, he is making a contribution to vital research in the future. For one week in August this year, he will trade his stethoscope for hiking boots and trek over 40km through Kakadu National Park, leading a team of 16 people through this stunning, remote landscape.

The incredible people who take part in these Gutsy Challenges power the Innovation Fund, providing grants to researchers who are finding new treatments where they are needed most – in rare, neglected and low-survival GI cancers.

There are limited places available on the Gutsy Challenge trek. Register your interest now or find out more here!

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