Prof Tim Price, Chair AGITG Board, Dr David Lau, & Mr Drew Young

Dr David Lau receives Merck-AGITG Clinical Research Fellowship

Pictured Left to Right: Prof Tim Price, Chair AGITG Board, Dr David Lau, & Mr Drew Young, General Manager, Merck Australia.

The inaugural Merck-AGITG Clinical Research Fellowship in Gastro-Intestinal (GI) Cancer has been awarded to Dr David Lau in Cairns, at the 19th AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting – ‘Trials in Action’. Dr Lau is a clinician-scientist at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, Austin Hospital Melbourne.

Merck has provided a $150,000 grant to the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group (AGITG) to be awarded over two years to support two 12 month Fellowships. The initial 12 month Fellowship will provide Dr Lau an opportunity to learn from experts in GI cancer at The Royal Marsden Hospital in London in 2018.

Managing Director, Merck Biopharma, Australia and New Zealand, Mr Drew Young said, “We congratulate Dr Lau on this award. Merck is very pleased to support research in GI cancer and this Fellowship provides a way to advance knowledge in this important therapy area and build links that will ultimately help to deliver better outcomes for Australian patients. We have a longstanding commitment to helping patients with colorectal cancer as well as a significant R&D investment in a rapidly evolving pipeline of potential new cancer therapies.”

The Fellowship will contribute to efforts to develop further collaboration between the AGITG and leading research institutes in the United Kingdom.

“The overall objective of the Research Fellowship is to increase collaboration between the UK and Australia, commented Professor Tim Price, Chair AGITG. “Merck’s generous support will enable the Dr David Lau to not only be immersed in a UK cancer care unit but will also potentially allow for AGITG clinical trial research to be further developed in the UK. Furthermore the links that will develop by working within the UK system and Europe will also be of great value both for him and the AGITG in the future, enhancing future clinical research collaboration.”

Dr Lau’s primary focus for his research has been to discover new molecular targets in biliary tract cancer cell lines using next generation sequencing. In addition, he has been investigating potential biomarkers for regorafenib response in the INTEGRATE trial, which formed the  basis of a successful AGITG Innovation Grant in 2015 and National Health & Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) Project Grant in 2017.

“Being awarded the Merck-AGITG Clinical Research Fellowship at the Royal Marsden Hospital is an excellent opportunity to hone both my clinical and research methods amongst eminent experts in GI cancer such as Professor David Cunningham,” said Dr Lau. “On my return to Australia I would like to continue my research with newly formed international and AGITG collaborators to ultimately improve treatments and outcomes for patients with GI cancer.”

Merck has indicated it will continue to support the Fellowship initiative beyond 2018.