21 April 2013

Meet one of the prostate cancer researchers working hard in Movember’s Global Action Plan. 

5 Minutes With...
Where The Money Goes
Meet Queensland based researcher, Professor Pamela Russell. She talked to MoHQ recently about her work, motivations and what it feels like to have1.12 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas supporting her prostate cancer research through Movember's Global Action Plan.

You’ve dedicated your time and expertise to the research field… what’s your motivation for this? 
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers of men, after skin cancer, with over 3000 deaths from this disease per year within Australia alone. I have been working on prostate cancer for 29 years and I am passionate about educating people about prostate cancer and about improving the outcomes for men with this disease. It turns out to be a very complex disease, also providing a huge intellectual challenge for those working in this area.
Why did you decided to focus your efforts on men’s health research, specifically prostate cancer? 
Partly this was serendipity. I trained in immunology and changed fields in 1984, when I began working with Dr Derek Raghavan, a dedicated physician who was working in the clinic on bladder and prostate cancers. Prostate cancer threw out major challenges to be solved and at that time, men tended to have their head in the sand concerning this disease. It was important to bring it to their attention and to try to improve their lot should they contract prostate cancer. 
I helped to initiate the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (in 1995), to try to educate men and their families, and to promote prostate cancer research. I also helped establish the Genitourinary Oncology Group, who met 4 times a year to bring together different specialty doctors (medical oncologists, urologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists) with scientific researchers in order to maximise the potential of a multidisciplinary approach to solving the problems of researching prostate cancer and managing the patients’ journeys.
What will be the most important outcome for men living with prostate cancer if your GAP research is successful? 
Working with talented young prostate cancer researcher, Dr Carolina Soekmadji, our research aims to find biomarkers on very small vesicles in a man’s blood, which can indicate whether a patient is likely to respond to treatment or to relapse. In this way, we hope to be able to streamline treatment, avoid unnecessary side effects from treatments that are unlikely to work in a given patient and improve the quality of life for those patients undergoing therapy. 

What has Movember’s funding through GAP allowed you to do that would not have otherwise been possible?
Movember’s funding through GAP has brought together a series of experts from around the world to share knowledge and ideas covering how analysis of exosomes might be used to examine the severity of the prostate cancer in a given patient, and how the patient might respond to treatment. These important questions are key to improving a patient’s outcome, their quality of life and that of their families.

Networking through Movember's GAP has initiated exciting non-competitive approaches in the collaborations between groups of researchers who have different skill sets and share a common goal. Moreover, the outcomes of the studies in this particular arm of GAP can be shared with other researchers who are investigating other types of biomarkers in urine, blood, tumour tissues and in cells found in the circulation of patients with advanced prostate cancer. This should enable the most important research findings to be defined, shared, validated and taken into clinical management for men with the disease. 
How does it feel to have more than 1.1 million Mo Bros and Sistas behind you, supporting your work?
The enthusiasm and input of the Mo Bros and Mo Sistas is quite staggering and apart from the money which is raised, which is so important, provides a huge psychological support system for our research endeavours.
Do you have a message for the Mo Bros and Mo Sistas around Australia? 
Go Go Go!!! Keep up the fantastic work. With your help, we can answer the burning questions about prostate cancer and achieve improved care for men with prostate cancers and their families.

To learn more about Movember’s Global Action Plan watch this brief video and visit our GAP page here.