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Renowned Hunter doctor wins prestigious award

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Winning an award that recognises your work as being the best in the country is normally a reason to boast.

However, for Newcastle cancer researcher Dr Matthew Dun, it is just another tool to help improve the lives of sick children.

Dr Dun, a researcher from The University of Newcastle and The Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), was announced as the winner of the 2020 ‘Young Tall Poppy’ science award this week.

The prestigious annual award recognises the achievements of Australia’s outstanding young scientific researchers and communicators.

Dr Dun was deemed a worthy winner for his dedication to improving cancer survival outcomes.

Despite being grateful for the recognition, Dr Dun said the award would help him continue the work he was deeply passionate about.

“I am honoured to receive this award, particularly given the calibre of those who have gone before me,” he said.

“As a recipient of this award, I’ll be even better placed to advocate for the importance of this research and continue to improve treatments for kids with cancer.”

Focusing on cancers with extremely poor outcomes, Dr Dun is one of only a handful of international researchers that conduct ‘quantitative phosphoproteomics’ in tumours, a technique that attempts to identify novel treatment targets and drug combinations to improve survival.

He works with clinical and pharmaceutical industry partners to design tailored therapies.

“Cancers are not all the same, so the more precisely a drug can target tumour cells the more effective the therapy is and the fewer side effects patients will suffer,” he said.

Dr Dun’s research is helping to improve the outlook for children with brain cancer and will soon move into clinical trials for leukaemia patients.

His quest to find better cancer treatments is a very personal pursuit for him and his family after he lost his daughter Josephine (‘Josie’) to brain cancer in December 2019.

She was just four-years-old.

Dr Dun and his extended family have since formed the charity ‘Run DIPG’, which advocates for this rare cancer and raises much-needed funds for research into its treatment.

Dr Dun joins a broader alumni community of 800-plus scientists who have been acknowledged for their scientific and communication excellence through the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS)’s Tall Poppy Awards.

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