The Aftershock Grant – Research Project Update March 2019

In November 2018, The Aftershock awarded $120,000 to Dr James Lee, Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Surgery, and specialist in Endocrine Surgery (of the thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands) for research in the field of molecular biomarkers in needle biopsy samples, to help improve the diagnostic process of thyroid cancer. This 3-year project is the first of its kind in Victoria, and it is anticipated that it will form the
foundation for more translational projects in the future.

In preparation for the award, over the course of 2018, James teamed up with several collaborators – the Monash Endocrine Surgery Unit, the Epworth Molecular Oncology and Cancer Immunology team, and the Australian and New Zealand Thyroid Cancer Registry, who all play essential roles in this research project. Since the award of The Aftershock grant in November, research ethics has been approved for the project Accuracy and Clinical Utility of Genomic Profiling using Next Generation Sequencing. In addition, further funding has been secured via the Epworth Medical Foundation, thus leveraging the seed funding from The Aftershock. Patient recruitment commenced at Monash Health in early 2019, with an aim to recruit approximately 200 volunteers who are undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer and who meet the eligibility criteria. Recruitment will be expanded to The Alfred and Epworth Health in the latter half of 2019.

In 2018, James was the senior author in the following publications on thyroid surgery: “Thyroidectomy Then and Now: A 50-Year Australian Perspective”, published in the World Journal of Surgery, and “Body Weight Change is Unpredictable after Total Thyroidectomy”, published in the ANZ Journal of Surgery. James also published an
invited commentary in the World Journal of Surgery on a study on Medullary Thyroid Cancer, “Static Prognostic Factors and Appropriate Surgical Designs of Patients with MTC: The 2nd Report of a Single-Institution Study in Japan”.

James wishes to express his gratitude to all The Aftershock supporters and donors.

Philanthropy at Monash Universities are engines at the heart of national and international prosperity. Yet they are inherently costly to run, let alone expand. With reduced levels of public funding and increased competition both at home and from overseas, universities must work harder than ever to find the resources to support world-leading research and
teaching. In this context, philanthropic support plays an increasing part in the University landscape.

Philanthropy within a University context is, of course, not new. In fact, many great educational institutions were founded on the philanthropy of church leaders, royalty and farsighted patrons. In recent history, although many governments have provided significant funding to educational institutions around the world, the income from
private philanthropic sources (individuals, trusts or foundations, corporations, etc.) is an increasingly significant – and needed – component of the funding mix. Philanthropic support provides flexible income to support the projects and activities that shrinking core funding cannot finance; it enables universities to build upon their strengths, enhance their student experience, extend their research programmes and create the best possible
environments within which people can excel; and it builds networks of friends and supporters who contribute to the long-term well-being of the university in many ways beyond their financial contribution, e.g., acting as ambassadors, providing links with industry and mentoring current students.

In 2018, Monash University launched its largest public fundraising campaign in our history: Change It. For Good. It sets out to achieve three goals: raise $500 million from a community of 50,000 donors, and to double the number of bequests made to Monash. The Change It. For Good. Campaign offers a clear path for our alumni and donor community to help us do more. It challenges us to push the boundaries, change more lives and transform our world for the better. We make a call for collective action, by saying “If you don’t like it, change it.”, and our community of supporters are changing it with life-saving discoveries, accessible education, breakthrough research and vibrant communities.

Thank you to The Aftershock and your donors for being part of this exciting endeavour to Change It. For Good.