Merck fellowship for Brisbane-based medical oncologist

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A Brisbane-based medical oncologist has been announced as the recipient of the Merck-AGITG Clinical Research Fellowship in gastro-intestinal Cancer for 2021-22.

Dr Fiona Paxton-Hall is an early-career medical oncologist based at Mater Hospital in Brisbane. Dr Paxton-Hall will undertake the two-year fellowship at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.

Merck Healthcare managing director Leah Goodman said, “It's our privilege and pleasure to support Dr Paxton-Hall’s oncology journey and wish her every success in the future.”

The objective of the Fellowship, which is sponsored by Merck, is to increase collaboration between the UK and Australia.

It is offered to an early-career oncologist to provide them with education and experience in treating GI cancer and conducting clinical trials.

“I’ve always been interested in GI cancer on a personal level, even before I started my advanced oncology training,” said Dr Paxton-Hall.

“One thing I’ve learned during my training is that in the last ten years or so, compared with the other tumour types that have had success with ground-breaking treatments, there haven’t really been the same developments in terms of survival for patients with GI cancer.”

The fellowship will enable Dr Paxton-Hall to gain experience in conducting early-stage clinical trials. She said the goal is to focus on neuroendocrine tumours, which are a rare form of GI cancer, as well as pancreatic cancer, which has a five-year survival rate of just 10.7 per cent.

“I hope to be able to meaningfully contribute to future GI cancer research. The Fellowship will not only put me at the forefront of cancer research in Europe, but it will also be a solid foundation for my career and provide that essential platform for me to be able to share and collaborate with the AGITG at home in Australia,” said Dr Paxton-Hall.

“Thanks to Merck’s support, Dr Fiona Paxton-Hall will be able to experience one of the busiest and most prestigious GI cancer units in the UK,” said Dr Lorraine Chantrill, chair of the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group. "This Fellowship fosters a connection between the UK and Australia that will enhance future clinical research collaborations.”