News and Events


  • Providing patient-derived brain cancer cell lines to researchers around the world

    October 2021

    Transitioning from clinical nutritionist to pre-clinical researcher, BCBA Steering Committee member, Prof Bryan Day, has not only gained national and international recognition for the brain cancer research program he has established at QIMR Berghofer’s Sid Faithfull Brain Cancer Research Laboratory, but also for the much sought-after GBM cell lines the lab is generating.

    “These models are freely available to the scientific community” says Prof Day. “We want to make sure that brain cancer researchers have access to these materials to ignite discoveries and get new treatments for this disease”.

    Prof Day and his team have been collaborating with the neurosurgeons at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital to develop a brain tumour tissue bank, collecting over 350 samples to date. It is from these specimens that the primary cell lines are derived to facilitate both their own research and that of collaborating researchers around the world.

    “This work is a testament to the critical importance of biobanking in enabling next generation brain cancer research”, says BCBA’s Founder/Director Robyn Leonard.

  • Leading Biobanker, Fraud Detective and BCBA Steering Committee Member

    September 2021

    Like many scientists, a fascination with what we don’t know led Professor Jenny Byrne to choose a career in research,

    “It seemed like the only option, and it still does” she says.

    A molecular oncology professor, Byrne’s passion for biobanking has seen her transition from lab researcher to Director of Biobanking for NSW Health Pathology and focus her efforts on investigating the contribution made to research by human tissue biobanks.

    Prof Byrne is not only a leader in the biobanking field, but also a prominent figure in the world of science publishing. Her remarkable work in exposing fraudulent academic manuscripts was recognised with a 2017 listing in Nature’s 10 – the renowned journal’s annual list of the 10 people who mattered most in science.

    Jenny’s particular interest in the networking of biobanks at a national level led to her early and ongoing involvement with BCBA. Asked about her continuing commitment to the Consortium’s work she said,

    "It’s so important that biobanks and researchers can talk with each other – and it’s great to work with a group with a national vision for both brain cancer research and biobank support of research.”

  • Guiding Bioethics at BCBA

    August 2021

    “Getting paid to read, write and think” is the best part of her job according to oneofAustralia’s leading researchers in bioethics and long-time BCBA Steering Committee member, A/Prof Wendy Lipworth. 

    Starting out in medicine before switching to bioethics, Lipworth has built a successful program of research at the University of Sydney.  Her work, with its particular focus on biomedical and health technology innovation, has been cited in more than 1500 publications worldwide.  

    Her co-authored book, Medical Professionals: Conflicts and Quandaries in Medical Practice, highlights the challenges facing today’s medical professionals as they strive to make sense of the changing landscape within healthcare.

    “We’re very lucky”, says BCBA Founder/Director Robyn Leonard, “Wendy is always on hand to provide advice. Her expertise has been invaluable to the Consortium these past 6 years”.

    Lipworth describes the most rewarding thing about being involved with BCBA as,

    “Seeing such dedicated people working tirelessly towards a goal and being able to bring my understanding of ethics to that cause”.

  • Replica Brain Tumours Driving Research in South Australia

    July 2021

    Organoids - they’re known as the ‘crash-test dummies’ of the research world – tiny replica organs derived from human stem cells and created in a lab dish.

    BCBA consortium member and Head of the Tissue Architecture and Organ Function Laboratory at South Australia’s Centre for Cancer Biology, Dr Guillermo Gomez, is using this organoid technology as part of his lab’s novel approach to accelerating precision medicine in brain cancer – developing treatments that are targeted to individual patients according to the genomic makeup of their tumour.   

    “Working with samples derived from patients brings our research findings closer to translation into the clinic” he says. “This possibility is different from the past, as research models did not replicate all the details of humans' brain cancer disease”.

    Gomez was drawn to the work of BCBA through the Consortium’s efforts to provide labs like his with access to the number and type of tissue samples needed to drive research. Commenting on his involvement with BCBA, Guillermo says,

    “I see this as a valuable resource for brain cancer research in Australia. These efforts are precious now as we have entered the Big Data era, and we hope it serves to bring solutions to people affected by brain cancer”.

  • Championing Clinical Trials in Low Grade Glioma

    June 2021

    BCBA Steering Committee member, Professor Hui Gan has created and led one of the few Australian trials for patients with relapsed low and intermediate grade brain tumours. The LUMOS trial fills the void for people with these universally fatal gliomas who would otherwise have almost no access to clinical trials. But amazingly, Professor Gan doesn’t rate this achievement as his biggest contribution;

    “I actually think that my biggest contribution to date has been being part of, and helping to extend, the number of people actually focused on improving outcomes for brain tumour patients and helping create collaborations between people and groups,” he said.

    It’s this passion for collaboration that led him to join BCBA, bringing with him the drive to improve patient outcomes through clinical trials and translational research,

    “It’s the feeling of being part of a group that is always selflessly looking out for what the neuro-oncology community needs and then pursuing that fearlessly”.

  • Sequencing for every childhood brain cancer patient

    May 2021

    BCBA consortium member, Associate Professor David Ziegler has big plans for 2021. The paediatric oncologist at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, is expanding the Zero Childhood Cancer program, with the aim to offer complete tumour sequencing for every childhood brain cancer patient in the country. The program has so far identified the genetic basis of a child’s cancer in more than 90 per cent of cases, giving 70 per cent of participants at least one new potential treatment option.

    Ziegler has been spearheading the program since it began with a local pilot in 2016. His interest in paediatric oncology was sparked early in his career, and he continues to be motivated by seeing his patients respond to a new treatment his team has developed.

    David was drawn to commitment of the BCBA to inspire the best research and build productive networks,

    “What I love about BCBA is that no problem is too large and nothing is impossible – obstacles are viewed as challenges that must be overcome and the focus is always on the endgame and the patients who need the investment of research and discovery”.

  • Cyclists with a Passion for the Brain Cancer Cause

    April 2021

    Against all the odds the Bike Ride for Brain Cancer (BRBC) went ahead on 19th and 20th March, with a dedicated group of 56 riders managing to complete 100kms of the 250km course despite the extreme weather conditions in NSW. The BRBC is the major fundraising event of BCBA’s charity arm, the Brain Cancer Collective. After being Covided out in 2020, the riders were more than ready to hit the road in 2021 to raise awareness of brain cancer and approximately $300,000 in funds to support the important work of BCBA.

    The spirit of the event is captured in this short video.

  • On the Road to a Cure

    March 2021

    The experience of working behind the scenes in the laboratory and face to face treating people with cancer has given Dr Ben Kong a strong drive to improve outcomes. It’s his connection to keeping the patient at the forefront that drew him to join BCBA as a consortium member,

    “BCBA has a uniquely patient-centred mission which helps all those who are involved to stay focussed on the long-term vision”.

    A medical oncologist at Royal North Shore Hospital & Mater Hospital Sydney and Clinical Research Fellow for the Neuro-Oncology Co-operative Trials Group (COGNO), Ben found BCBA’s role in facilitating collaboration helped him expand his horizons and connect with other researchers determined to improve outcomes for people with brain cancer.

    Ben’s determination to expand his horizons has recently become literal – he is taking to the open road to cycle 250km from Sydney to the Hunter Valley as part of the annual Bike Ride for Brain Cancer next month. He will share the road with local and interstate riders, raising funds to accelerate brain cancer research.

    You can support Ben's ride here

  • Championing Brain Cancer Biobanking at Westmead Hospital

    February 2021

    BCBA Steering Committee member and neuropathologist, Dr Winny Varikatt, has been the driving force behind the establishment of brain cancer biobanking at Westmead.  Dr Varikatt is the Senior Staff Specialist at Westmead’s Institute of Clinical Pathology & Medical Research. Her desire to become a neuropathologist and to do something to improve the treatment and outcomes of brain tumour sufferers was driven by a personal loss, and in her words, if you want to make a difference:

    ‘Tumour Banking is a good place to start. To make fresh tumour tissue available to researchers and one day be able to find targetable mutations that can improve the outcome of brain tumour sufferers.’

    Dr Varikatt and her team recently received a $100,000 NSW Health Biospecimen Collection Grant - a major boost for this fledging brain cancer biobanking operation.

    We are proud to have Winny Varikatt as part of our Consortium. BCBA was established and is run by a group of individuals who have a similar vision – collaborating to advance brain cancer research across Australia.

  • Congratulations - BCBA Deputy Chair, Prof Anna Nowak

    January 2021

    This month our consortium member profile includes our congratulations to Anna Nowak on her recent appointment as Pro Vice Chancellor Health and Medical Research, University of Western Australia. Anna is a leading oncologist, clinical trialist and translational researcher in the fields of neuro-oncology and mesothelioma. Named West Australian Cancer Researcher of the Year in 2018, she is also Director of the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases. As a custodian of a brain cancer biobank, Anna was involved in the first BCBA meeting. She is passionate about engaging in a consumer-led research agenda and working with the committed group of clinicians and researchers who make up the BCBA Consortium. In her words,

    ‘It’s amazing how much can be achieved on a shoestring when everyone believes in what they are doing.’

    During her time as Chair of the national Cooperative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology (COGNO) & Co-Chair of BCBA, Anna strengthened the ongoing relationship between the two groups – a link that assists in translating research from the lab into clinical trials and ultimately on to better treatments for brain cancer patients. Anna’s expert input and guidance has been fundamental in progressing BCBA’s collaborative initiatives for change in brain cancer.

  • Seasons Greetings

    December 2020

    Thank you to all our collaborators and supporters – it has been a challenging year, but BCBA has made great strides in our commitment to supporting brain cancer research and patient care. We look forward to continuing our important work in 2021.

    Very best wishes to all for a very Happy Christmas and a Joyful New Year.

  • Research Accolades for BCBA Steering Committee Members

    December 2020

    Congratulations to A/Prof Wendy Lipworth and Prof John Simes – both recently recognised for their outstanding contributions to research. Wendy was named Australia’s leading researcher in bioethics in the recent The Australian Special Edition: Research, and John has been listed in the world’s top 2% of most cited researchers in their fields in the flagship life sciences journal – PLOS Biology. BCBA has been fortunate to have benefited from their invaluable support from Day 1 and we look forward to their involvement continuing well into the future.

  • Giving Thanks and Raising Funds!

    November 2021

    BCBA Founder/Director, Robyn Leonard is still fundraising for brain cancer research because the stats haven’t changed!! For decades people diagnosed with brain cancer have faced with the same dismal outcomes.

    "There is a cure, we just need to do more research to find it", says Robyn. "I’m very thankful for the researchers and clinicians who are searching tirelessly for a breakthrough and the generous people who donate to the cause – without them we stand still, with the same outcomes and the same limited treatment options".

    So this is BCBA’s Thanksgiving Fundraiser. Please donate to help fund more research into brain cancer, to keep hope alive for people diagnosed with this cruel disease.

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  • The Alfred Brain Ball - Melbourne

    February 2022

    This black tie event is being organised by the Alfred Brain Tumour Bio-databank and Central Clinical School at Monash University to raise funds for their biobanking and research operations. The ball is scheduled for Saturday 5th February 2022. Tickets are available at $250 per person.

    If you are interested please contact Ms. Emily Galea on or (03) 9076 5879.