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Our key role in PrOSPeCT

27th September, 2023

NSW Health Pathology staff are playing a key role in a new study aimed at opening up new, potentially life-saving treatment pathways for more than 23,000 Australians with rare, difficult-to-treat or incurable cancers, including ovarian, pancreatic and sarcomas.

PrOSPeCT (Pre­ci­sion Oncol­o­gy Screen­ing Plat­form enabling Clin­i­cal Tri­als), offi­cial­ly launched by Omi­co on 27 July 2023, will pro­vide faster access to the most advanced can­cer fight­ing treat­ments – genom­ic pro­fil­ing and match­ing to pre­ci­sion treat­ments, includ­ing ear­ly-stage clin­i­cal trials.

The study brings togeth­er a nation­al net­work of lead­ing can­cer research cen­tres, and diag­nos­tic and treat­ment ser­vices, with NSWHP pro­vid­ing a range of ser­vices including:

  • blood col­lec­tion
  • sup­ply of diag­nos­tic tissue
  • cen­tral tis­sue sectioning
  • genom­ic sequencing/comprehensive genom­ic pro­fil­ing services
  • biobank­ing of blood sam­ples, and
  • logis­tics, ICT infra­struc­ture, bioin­for­mat­ic, oper­a­tional and research support.

We expect to receive more than 3,500 sam­ple requests over the course of the study.

Act­ing Chief Exec­u­tive Prof Rob Lin­de­man says it’s an excit­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty for NSWHP, which has been made pos­si­ble by the exper­tise and ded­i­ca­tion of our peo­ple right across the state.

“I’m incred­i­bly proud to be pro­vid­ing inte­grat­ed, statewide ser­vices for this col­lab­o­ra­tive, cut­ting-edge project that will offer new treat­ment path­ways for those who great­ly need them,” he said.

“Over the last 12 months, our mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary teams have been work­ing hard to build vital capac­i­ty and infra­struc­ture to sup­port our participation”.

We want to recog­nise some of the peo­ple with­in our organ­i­sa­tion who have played a key role in the PrOSPeCT project so far.

Our project team

Our core project team has worked tire­less­ly to facil­i­tate the plan­ning for this com­plex project and ensure our ser­vices for PrOSPeCT are ready for the offi­cial launch. Michael Hip­well, Senior Hos­pi­tal Sci­en­tist, Nicole Pearce, Clin­i­cal Ser­vices Oper­a­tions Man­ag­er Genomics and Dr Bente Talseth-Palmer, Research Strat­e­gy Lead have led the project for NSWHP, coor­di­nat­ing the involve­ment of our staff from right across the organisation.

Michael, Nicole and Bente have been sup­port­ed by:

  • Prof Rob Lin­de­man, NSWHP Act­ing Chief Exec­u­tive and Exec­u­tive Sponsor
  • Mar­tin Cano­va, Direc­tor Strat­e­gy and Trans­for­ma­tion and Act­ing Direc­tor Clin­i­cal Operations
  • Louise Carey, Act­ing Direc­tor of Genomics
  • Dar­ren Croese, Chief Oper­at­ing Officer
  • Prof Jen­nifer Byrne, Direc­tor of Biobanking
  • Sarah Balk, Senior Legal Counsel
  • the PrOSPeCT Steer­ing Com­mit­tee, whose mem­bers have pro­vid­ed lead­er­ship in clin­i­cal oper­a­tions, cor­po­rate gov­er­nance, finance, ICT, DevOps, pro­cure­ment, qual­i­ty, research, peo­ple and cul­ture, project man­age­ment and strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and
  • our Col­lec­tors, CSRs and research coor­di­na­tors right across the state.

Dr Cliff Mel­drum, who recent­ly cel­e­brat­ed his retire­ment, was also an instru­men­tal mem­ber of the project team.

Our genomic sequencing and comprehensive genomic profiling services

Our Genomics Statewide Sequenc­ing Ser­vice and Mol­e­c­u­lar Med­i­cine depart­ment locat­ed at John Hunter Hos­pi­tal New­cas­tle and led by Senior Hos­pi­tal Sci­en­tist, Michael Hip­well have worked for 12 months to devel­op the new test, or assay, required for PrOSPeCT, which looks at more than 500 genes. With the sup­port of Clin­i­cal Super­vi­sor Dr Michael Buck­ley and Kel­ly Kiej­da, Genomics JHH, Michael Hip­well also secured our NATA accreditation.

Our supply of diagnostic tissue and central tissue sectioning service

Our Anatom­i­cal Pathol­o­gy (AP) labs across the state are sup­ply­ing diag­nos­tic tis­sue for the PrOSPeCT study and col­lab­o­ra­tion with Prof Wendy Coop­er, AP Clin­i­cal Stream Lead and Senior Staff Spe­cial­ist and the AP Clin­i­cal Stream has been essen­tial to enable this. Hui Yin, Senior staff spe­cial­ist and Ricar­do Valain, Staff Spe­cial­ist at our John Hunter Hos­pi­tal AP Lab are ensur­ing ade­qua­cy or suit­abil­i­ty of tis­sue sam­ples for the project.

NSWHP is also pro­vid­ing a cen­tral tis­sue sec­tion­ing ser­vice based at our Prince of Wales Hos­pi­tal (PoWH) Rand­wick lab. A/Prof Trent David­son, Local Pathol­o­gy Direc­tor, South East Syd­ney, Clin­i­cal Direc­tor Anatom­i­cal Pathol­o­gy and Senior Staff Spe­cial­ist is respon­si­ble for this essen­tial ser­vice and over­sees staffing, resources and pro­cess­ing out­puts. He is sup­port­ed by Joanne La Mal­fa, Anatom­i­cal Pathol­o­gy Man­ag­er, and Mon­i­ca Ahu­ja, Senior Sci­en­tif­ic Offi­cer at PoWH who have led the set­up of infra­struc­ture and recruit­ment of spe­cial­ist staff at PoWH for PrOSPeCT.

Our Statewide Biobank

All blood sam­ples col­lect­ed for the PrOSPeCT study are banked at the NSW Health Statewide Biobank. Dr Beth Caru­a­na, Senior Sci­en­tist, and the team at the Biobank have imple­ment­ed new high-through­put lab­o­ra­to­ry work­flows to process thou­sands of patient sam­ples for future research.

Our ICT infrastructure and bioinformatics pipeline

Our ICT Infra­struc­ture and bioin­for­mat­ic pipeline sup­port and enable data and analy­sis for our labs to analyse and pro­vide a diag­nos­tic report. Con­nor McBride, NSWHP Genomics Cloud DevOps, Eva Chan, Senior Bioin­for­mati­cian and her team and Neil Cur­ry­er, Fiona Mil­lar-Hen­nessey and Simon Win­ters, Clin­i­cal Oper­a­tions ICT and Tim Eck­er­s­ley, Chief Tech­nol­o­gy Offi­cer have been instru­men­tal in its creation.


Read more about the launch of PrOSPeCT and the work of NSW Health Pathology’s Statewide Genomics Sequenc­ing Ser­vice here.


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