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HomeNewsAustralian of the Year Honours for RNSH Professor Georgina Long

Australian of the Year Honours for RNSH Professor Georgina Long

RNSH medical oncologist Professor Georgina Long AO and her colleague, Professor Richard Scolyer AO from NSW Health Pathology and Sydney Local Health District, were jointly named the 2024 Australians of the Year. 

In a rare dual-win, this recognition was bestowed upon them for their significant contributions to melanoma research. The co-directors of the Melanoma Institute of Australia have played a pivotal role in advancing the treatment of advanced melanoma through their work in immunotherapy. 

Less than a decade ago, advanced melanoma had a fatal prognosis. However, Georgina and Richard’s  immunotherapy approach, which activates the patient’s immune system, has shifted the narrative, making the disease curable for over 50 per cent of patients and saving thousands of lives. 

“With immunotherapy, we stimulate the immune system in a very specific way so that the immune system can see the enemy, that is the cancer, and kill it,” said Georgina upon receiving her award. 

They have both also been at the forefront of public education on sun-smart behaviour and skin cancer prevention.

Their collaborative efforts extend beyond melanoma, more recently, they adapted this successful treatment to address brain cancer, prompted by Richard’s  diagnosis of incurable grade four brain cancer in June 2023. This is a world-first treatment for brain cancer based on their melanoma breakthroughs.

Initiated by his colleague Georgina, the idea was to apply the knowledge gained from melanoma research to assist her colleague. Richard became the inaugural recipient of pre-surgery combination immunotherapy for brain cancer. This marks an incredible breakthrough in brain cancer treatment.

Upon receiving the joint accolade, Georgina said the duo was honoured to receive the recognition and credited the supporting team for the honour.

“Our thoughts are always with those families where our breakthrough treatments came too late,” she said.

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