I am also a National Breast Cancer Foundation Practitioner Fellow researching the interface between cancer and co-morbidities. I grew up in Poland, arrived in Australia during Solidarity years as a teenager with a rather modest command of English (still working on that one) and landed up at Flinders Uni studying medicine a few weeks later. The first person I saw was wearing a Solidarity T shirt created by his mum to empathise with my country (it had a typo in it), the second was a new student, like me, who came to Australia on the refugee boat from Vietnam! From that moment, I knew I loved this place!
I am proud to say that I started my research career in 1986 (that is 32 years ago) doing the Anticancer Foundation vacation scholarship in Alec Morley’s Department as student scholar. My research did not revolutionise oncology but taught me how to be organised, to not contaminate laboratories with radioactive material, and work with good people (thanks Pam Sykes for all these lessons). I then finished my medical studies, started specialisation and left for United States for 4 years where I trained at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. I returned in 1997, just when the ideas for the Flinders Cancer Centre were germinating and stayed ever since; witnessing the tremendous growth of cancer as a discipline in both research and practice and the creation of the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer. So, I am new today, but I have also been around for a while…
My thanks to Ross McKinnon for his outstanding leadership of the Centre over the past six years. It truly is an amazing facility that extends well beyond the physical bricks and mortar and it is indeed an honour to lead it. While I know that I cannot emulate Ross (and he remains a key member of the Centre team as a Beat Cancer Professor), I hope that my role will add value to the Centre and its mission.
Which brings me to the question of what our mission is? I have spent the last few weeks talking to people from diverse backgrounds about who we are and what we do; and I have been asked; how we can best describe ourselves? What makes us unique? What do we stand for? I am sure that all of you have your own unique take on these questions, but it would be good if all of us agreed on how best to articulate it to the outside world and to ourselves. Knowing our common identity, and common purpose is fundamental to defining our strategy for the future, and now, six years into the Centre’s existence, it is time to consider, where do we want to be in the next six years. The Centre Executive and I have been grappling with these questions already as we hope that we can soon share with you a clear and concise summary for further discussion and consultation. More on that in the future newsletters. For now, I hope that part of the answer will be apparent as you read this newsletter and see where the work of our members makes a difference. Enjoy! Bogda
FCIC Executive Committe: L>R Prof David Watson, A/Prof Michael Michael, Dr Rebecca Keough, Dr Julie-Ann Hulin, Prof Briony Forbes, Prof Bogda Koczwara, Prof Ross McKinnon, Prof Bryone Kuss. Absent from photo: Prof Chris Karapetis, Prof Michael Sorich