A leading bowel cancer researcher has been awarded a fellowship and ongoing research work after a Rotary Bowelscan Committee Incorporated funding announcement.
Dr Jason Kelly has been awarded the bowel screen cancer research fellowship at the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute.
He said he was feeling very overwhelmed and speechless at the announcement.
"It is not every day someone turns up and wants to try and secure your future when you are a PhD student," Dr Kelly said.
"I have friends down in Melbourne who struggled to find funding.
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"As a PhD student you think it could be a very bleak future ahead, if the rest of the funding of the world is anything to go by."
Dr Kelly has been researching how the immune system and cancer interact.
"Normally, if you get a small tear in your bowel or appendicitis, you get very sick," he said.
"We have discovered that the cancer itself is switching off the immune system in that environment and not reacting to bacteria."
Dr Kelly is now at the stage of identifying the proteins responsible for turning the immune system off and discovering ways to block these proteins.
"That will hopefully turn back on those immune responses to kill the cancer," Dr Kelly said.
The Rotary Bowelscan Committee have increased their donation from $20,000 to $50,000 over the next two years.
"We felt FECRI was a very worthy cause, as well as supporting now Dr. Jason Kelly, to hopefully come up with a solution in the treatment of bowel cancer," Rotary Bowelscan Committee chair Barry Stokes said.
Bowel cancer can affect all age groups and the rotary committee organise at home kits to test for the cancer.
Ballarat South Rotary representative Anne Appledore said: "I think having early detection is the real key for a lot of people.
"For myself, there is a familial history of bowel cancer and so for my children it is really important that they follow up.
"This is an easy way for them to do it and most people tell me that it is actually easier to do this test than the national one."
FECRI honorary director Professor George Kannourakis said Dr Jason Kelly had done pivotal work in bowel cancer research that had been published internationally.
"We have a head start with such a young, bright guy to join us in the institute," Professor Kannourakis said.
He said it was important for young people to think about getting tested if they noticed any changes with their bowel.
"I still see an increasing number of young people presenting with bowel cancer at a relatively advanced stage," Professor Kannourakis said.
"So it is important that people who experience symptoms like bleeding in the bowel or any strong family history of bowel cancer, should be looking at some sort of surveillance.
"It is only by picking those cases early, that we are going to have a better outcome overall."
At-home testing kits are available at rotarybowelscan.com.au
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