Doctor Lorraine Chantrill, our first female Chair

On this International Women’s Day, we are supporting women everywhere who #ChooseToChallenge gender inequality and work to create a more inclusive world.

“Women deserve to be heard in all forums, and their voice is particularly important when decisions are being made,” says our Chair, Doctor Lorraine Chantrill. “It is a great privilege to be the first female chair of AGITG and the GI Cancer Institute – the first of many.  I hope I can show other women that it is possible and that our systems can accommodate us in a fair and reasonable way.”

We are proud to have our first female Chair leading the organisation

Doctor Lorraine Chantrill is a Senior Staff Specialist Medical Oncologist and Head of Service for Medical Oncology across the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD), and Area Clinical Director of Clinical Trials.

Lorraine treats patients with any cancers of the digestive tract as well as gynaecological cancers and lung cancers. She is a key opinion leader and expert in the field of pancreas cancer.  Lorraine completed a PhD by research in the Pancreas Cancer Group at The Kinghorn Cancer Centre in pancreas cancer genomics. She continues to be an active clinician researcher trying to bridge the gap between the bench and the bedside.

Lorraine has extensive experience managing Oncology Clinical Trials and is the Principal Investigator on several clinical trials in gastrointestinal cancers. She is keen to increase the number of clinical trials conducted in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven Local Health District.  She believes clinical trials are not only vital for research but offer hope to participants. Lorraine is keen to build the region’s clinical trial portfolio to give patients access to some new and emerging therapies.

In the late 1980s Lorraine went to the Oxford University Institute of Molecular Medicine in the early days of genome sequencing. She worked alongside scientists who were extracting DNA out of skeletons in the British Museum using the polymerase chain reaction technique to amplify the DNA and then sequence it.

Lorraine has also worked as a member of one of the first research teams to look at a link between cervical cancer and the human papillomavirus. This research pre-dated the work of Australia’s Professor Ian Frazer and team and the University of Queensland to develop the Gardasil vaccine now used in the national school vaccination program.

Lorraine not only supports and develops research, but with her team has raised more than $1 million for clinical trials across Australia in the last three years. In 2017, Dr Chantrill took on a Gutsy Challenge Adventure to trek the 80km Larapinta Trail in the Northern Territory. Two years later, she signed up again, trekking over 100km on Western Australia’s Cape to Cape track. Her motivation for setting herself these challenges was personal.

cape to cape
Lorraine and the team on the Cape to Cape trek

“As part of my medical practice, every day, I see families affected by pancreatic cancer,” says Dr Chantrill. “I have been participating in clinical trials to find a better way to treat my patients and I am walking this trek to honour a promise I have made to those I have treated to do whatever I can to improve the life expectancy.”

Dr Chantrill’s dedication to improving outcomes for patients is to be admired, as is her commitment to further GI cancer research. We are honoured to have Lorraine as our Chair and look forward to her leadership over the coming years.