agitg innovation fund

The Innovation Fund: Where your donations go

The GI Cancer Institute funds clinical trials for gastro-intestinal cancers. GI cancer affects the digestive tract and include oesophageal, stomach, pancreas, liver, gall bladder and biliary tract, and colorectal cancers, as well as some rare cancer types including GIST and NETs.

Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new treatment improves outcomes for patients and is safe. Clinical trials can also look at other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses.

“The AGITG Innovation Fund provides researchers with the opportunity to conduct ground-breaking research in areas that have not been studied before. It is an important early step in the process to develop new clinical trials,” commented Professor Tim Price, Chair of the GI Cancer Institute. “The Fund awards initiatives that will build on our research programs and enable our members to accumulate the data and evidence required to then approach funding bodies to progress to larger scale clinical trials.”

The Innovation Fund is supported largely through the GI Cancer Institute’s Gutsy Challenge Program, along with the Spencer Gibson Foundation and His Hon. Alan Bishop Fund.

Our Innovation Fund grant has been awarded annually since 2015, and has grown from initially funding 2 projects, which each received $50,000, to a $200,000 grant awarded in both 2017 & 2018. With community support, our hope is to continue to build this fund so we can award 2 x $200,000 grants annually, within the next few years.


Grant Recipients and Results

2019: ‘An organoid sensitivity testing driven umbrella study for patients with refractory metastatic colorectal cancer.’

Professor Gibbs’ study will enrol 30 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who have exhausted all other treatment options. A variety of well-established and new therapies will be tested on the organoids, in order to find any effective treatments that can be offered.

“I am thrilled that we have received the Innovation Fund grant to conduct such an important study,” says Professor Gibbs. “This grant will enable us to test a new development in personalised bowel cancer treatment that could give hope to people who have no other options.”

– Prof. Peter Gibbs Principal Investigator

2018: OXTOX

“Neuropathy is a side effect from Oxaliplatin, a chemotherapy used to treat advanced colorectal cancer. Patients experience pins and needles and pain in their hands and feet. This study will investigate if the tablet ibudilast could prevent and treat neurotoxicity, meaning that patients will not suffer from as much neuropathy. As well as improving their quality of life, it could enable them to have more chemotherapy and improve their survival. We are very grateful to the donors who have supported our study.”

– Prof. Janette Vardy, OXTOX Study Principal Investigator


Click here for more information on OXTOX.


2017: RENO

“Awarding the AGITG Innovation Fund to RENO (REctal cancer No Operation) supports a trial that has the opportunity to translate into real changes in practice for patients with rectal cancer, RENO is multidisciplinary study that addresses a clinical dilemma that comes up in our multi-disciplinary team meetings on a weekly basis and we are thrilled to provide funding that will hopefully determine the answers to these questions.”

– Professor Chris Karapetis, RENO Study Principal Investigator

Click here for more information on RENO.


“This trial seeks to determine what the best initial treatment is for an elderly patient population – commonly diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer in Australia – that is known to have difficulty withstanding the expected side effects of the commonly used combination chemotherapy regimens. I now plan to lead a national study which I hope will improve the treatment options and outcome for elderly patients with advanced colorectal cancer.”

– Dr Matthew Burge, MONARCC Study Principal Investigator

Click here for more information on MONARCC.

2015: DOCTOR Genomics Study

“The Innovation Fund Grant provided necessary funds to begin the pre-planned and very exciting genomic sub study. The grant funded DNA copy number analyses that was performed on tumour tissues from participants providing important insights in oesophageal tumour biology and serving as important first steps for subsequent next generation sequencing studies.”

– Prof. Andrew Barbour, DOCTOR Genomics Study Principal Investigator

Click here for more information on the DOCTOR Genomics Study.

2015: Gastric Cancer Study

“Receiving this support from the Innovation Fund has allowed us to generate some evidence to suggest that FGFR-driven gastric cancers may respond better to regorafenib, but we need to confirm this in more patients. It is important to continue to improve the outcomes for people with stomach cancer and we can only do this by continually gathering more information about treatment alternatives.”

Click here for more information on the 2015 Innovation Fund grants.

Featured image: Dr Christina Teng accepts the 2018 Innovation Fund grant from AGITG Chair Tim Price on behalf of Prof Janette Vardy.