NSW Health Pathology’s Professor Richard Scolyer AO and his colleague, oncologist Professor Georgina Long AO will share the title of 2024 NSW Australian of the Year.
“Wow, still can’t believe the amazing honour of last night being named NSW 2024 Australian of the Year alongside my incredible colleague and friend Prof Georgina Long AO,” Richard wrote on social media after the ceremony.
“A tribute to all melanoma patients and their families, and brain cancer patients, as well as the amazing Melanoma Institute team.”
Prof Scolyer and Prof Long are co-medical directors of Melanoma Institute Australia and have worked together over many years to save thousands of lives from the deadly skin cancer. Now, they have teamed up for a very different challenge.
They have been treating melanoma using immunotherapy, which works by activating the patient’s own immune system.
In June this year Richard was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an incurable grade 4 brain cancer.
Richard has now become the world’s first brain cancer patient to have combination immunotherapy, before undergoing surgery to remove the tumour in his brain.
The experimental treatment brought with it the risk that his life expectancy would be further shortened, but he recently spoke of his gratitude at being able to advance the understanding of brain cancer for the benefit of future patients.
Richard has shared his cancer journey openly on social media, documenting his progress and his relentlessly positive outlook with a world-wide audience of supporters.
National Australia Day Council CEO Mark Fraser AO CVO congratulated all the NSW award recipients.
“The award recipients for NSW are an inspiring group of people devoted to helping others,” said Mark.
“The breakthrough work being done by Richard and Georgina, and Richard’s personal sacrifice, is simply extraordinary.”
The pair will be in the running to win 2024 Australian of the Year, when NSW’s recipients will join those from other states and territories for the national awards ceremony in Canberra on Thursday, 25 January 2024.