McKinnon leads integrated fight against cancer

professor-ross-mckinnon-1A leading academic pharmacist, Professor Ross McKinnon (pictured), has been appointed as the Foundation Director of the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer (FCIC), a joint venture between Flinders University, Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) and the FMC Foundation.

Professor McKinnon, who completed his PhD in pharmacology at Flinders University, has a national and international research profile in diverse areas including drug discovery, drug metabolism, pharmacogenomics and personalised medicine, cancer chemoprevention and ecotoxicology. Previously the inaugural director of the Sansom Institute for Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Research, he is also immediate Past-President of the Australian Pharmaceutical Science Association.

Welcoming the appointment, Flinders Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber said that Professor McKinnon had come to Flinders as one of the University’s strategic professorial appointments.

“Professor McKinnon is not only a pre-eminent and multifaceted researcher, but has a strong record of academic leadership. He is one of a new generation of Australian researchers who will take the fight against cancer to a new level in coming years,” Professor Barber said.

The FCIC will be centred in its own recently completed, state-of-the-art building adjacent to FMC, and Professor McKinnon welcomed the integrated approach it will enable.

“In the new building we have facilities that offer an inspiring and uplifting environment that will involve researchers and clinicians in the full continuum of prevention, treatment and care,” Professor McKinnon said.

“Flinders has always integrated clinicians and researchers, and the new building will take that integration to a higher level with the presence of the public, including ambulatory cancer patients who are coming in for treatment. Researchers will see the people who are going to benefit from their work on a daily basis.”

Professor McKinnon said that Flinders has a history of high quality cancer research in the area of prevention and early intervention, notably in colorectal and oesophageal cancer.

“We now want to extend these outstanding skills and increase our research base to focus on optimising the cancer journey for those affected, ensuring they get optimal treatment and services and access to evidence-based survivorship research,” he said.

“We’re talking about research that goes right from high-tech laboratory based drug discovery to psycho-social research into different models of service delivery and patient response to treatment.”

He said the new FCIC building will act as a hub for cancer-related research across the University and beyond.

“South Australia is entering an exciting and dynamic phase in its efforts to fight cancer,” Professor McKinnon said.

“With the establishment of the FCIC and the setting up of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, there will be new potential for collaboration in, and funding for, cancer research, and a capacity to undertake large-scale longitudinal projects that will provide new data and new insights into the disease.”

“In a city the size of Adelaide, we can only ask the right questions and do the best research if we do it in a collaborative manner, and what the FCIC does is give us a perfect focus in the form of an integrated flagship facility.

“FCIC is far more than a building: it’s a catalyst for a whole new cohesive approach to our cancer research here at Flinders.”

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