With November marking national Asbestos Awareness Month, Flinders University is taking the opportunity to recognise the tremendous contribution Emeritus Professor Doug Henderson AO has made to our scientific understanding of mesothelioma and asbestos related lung disease.
Professor Henderson was a world-leading pathologist, an expert in asbestos related disorders and a valued member of the University’s academic staff. When he passed away in 2018, Professor Henderson left a bequest in his will to support research into mesothelioma and lung disease at Flinders University.
This research is now being carried out by Associate Professor Sonja Klebe, senior staff specialist in Diagnostic Pathology at Flinders Medical Centre and a Clinical Academic Associate Professor at Flinders University. Working alongside her is Dr Ash Hocking, the inaugural Professor Doug Henderson AO Postdoctoral Research Associate in Asbestos Associated Disease – a role also made possible by the bequest.
Associate Professor Klebe and her team are now progressing a study on cancer stem cells in malignant pleural mesothelioma – an aggressive asbestos-related tumour arising from the cells lining the lungs and chest wall.
She says at Flinders “We see about 200 of the 700 mesotheliomas diagnosed in Australia every year. Mesothelioma has an extremely poor prognosis, and to date, no targeted therapies are available.”
This means, there is currently no effective treatment or cure for this aggressive cancer.
Through a clinical trial, made possible through the bequest and support from the Tour De Cure, this study will track live cancer stem cells in vitro and explore mechanisms of therapy response – with the aim of improving and prolonging the lives of those who suffer from mesothelioma.
Flinders University is powerfully aware of the urgency for robust research that saves lives, but its researchers are often reliant on external funding to help sustain their progress towards outcomes. Philanthropy is an important way of providing this funding to develop innovative studies, make new discoveries and improve patient outcomes. Professor Henderson’s decision to leave a bequest to advance research will have a profound impact for many generations to come.
The University is proud of the research advancements Professor Henderson made during his life and is committed to supporting his legacy in mesothelioma and asbestos related lung disease through his generous bequest.
To extend the vital research led by Associate Professor Klebe to improve treatments for those suffering from mesothelioma, contributions are invited to the Professor Doug Henderson AO Research Fund.