2021 Grants

The GI Cancer Institute/ AGITG offers a number of awards and grants every year for research concepts that have the potential to improve survival rates, quality of life and ultimately find a cure for patients with gastro-intestinal cancer.  These grants are awarded to initiatives that will build on our research programs and enable our members to gather the data and evidence required to approach funding bodies to progress to larger scale clinical trails.

Our grants are largely supported through the Gutsy Challenge and community fundraising. Thanks to the incredible dedication of our community over $1.8 million in grants have been awarded to new research since 2015.  And in 2021, we awarded four grants to:


Gastric Cancer (including Linitis Plastica) Research Grant – Developing and applying artificial intelligence (AI) based image analysis for scoring PD-L1 immunohistochemistry, Gastric Cancer

Led by Professor Niall Tebbutt, this study focuses on  developing and applying artificial intelligence (AI) based image analysis for scoring PD-L1 immunohistochemistry in gastro-intestinal cancer.

The initial phase of Professor Tebbutt’s research will train an AI model on a training dataset, and then compare standard pathologist-based testing of the expression of the protein PD-L1 against the predicted output from the trained AI model. If the AI based method is effective, it could enable a more systematic, higher-throughput and cheaper method to identify populations of gastric cancer patients suitable for immunotherapy based on PD-L1 expression.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that over the course of my career we’ve seen improvements in treatments for patients. Given the constant evolution of technology and the enacting change in the world of medicine, I’m very hopeful that this trial will ensure the application of artificial intelligence becomes best practice when deciding optimal treatment for GI cancers,”

– Professor Niall Tebbutt, Principal Investigator


Innovation Grant – ActDNA, Colorectal Cancer 

Led by Professor Eva Segelov, this substudy is investigating if circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) can be used as a marker to indicate a patient’s prognosis or predict the risk of disease recurrence post-resective (tumour removal) surgery.

“This new research is something that we didn’t initially anticipate, but what it will be looking at is whether there are little bits of DNA in the blood sample that can predict whether or not the cancer will come back. The whole area of ctDNA is something that has been a great interest for many years, but we never had the tools to be able to do it until now.”

– Professor Eva Segelov, Principal Investigator


Innovation Grant – BIOMARKER-2, Colorectal Cancer

Led by Doctor Shehara Mendis, this study focuses on the use of a simple and routine pathology test (known as immunohistochemistry) as a biomarker that can tell who might benefit most from a targeted cancer therapy called Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor inhibitors (EGFRi), which is commonly used in advanced colorectal cancer.

“Rather than using the side of the colon in which their cancer originated, we will measure markers we think will indicate which patient will respond. We will essentially be sparing patients who won’t benefit from certain drugs the toxicity of it and undergoing the process of using ineffective therapies.”

– Doctor Shehara Mendis, Principal Investigator


GI Cancer Institute-Pancare Foundation Idea Generation Workshop Cholangiocarcinoma Grant – ACME ABC, Biliary Tract Cancer 

Led by Doctor Daniel Croagh, this trial will go towards potentially providing evidence to support the benefits of routine comprehensive genetic and molecular testing of biliary cancer patients to identify specific targets that may respond to current, emerging, and future therapies.

“Cholangiocarcinoma is a difficult area to enrol people in trials because it can be hard to get adequate tissue for us to identify potential groups of patients who might benefit from specific therapies. So, the focus of our research is to see whether or not using minimally invasive biopsies, we can obtain enough tissue for comprehensive molecular profiling, which will in turn improve the diagnosis and treatment for people with GI cancer.”

– Doctor Daniel Croagh, Principal Investigator