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World leading pathologist and oncologist named joint Australians of the Year

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29th January, 2024

NSW Health Pathology’s Professor Richard Scolyer AO and his colleague, oncologist Professor Georgina Long AO, have been named joint 2024 Australians of the Year.

Two Aus­tralians chang­ing the world for the better!

We’d like to con­grat­u­late our very own world-renowned melanoma pathol­o­gist Pro­fes­sor Richard Scoly­er AO and his col­league, oncol­o­gist Pro­fes­sor Georgina Long AO, on being named 2024 Aus­tralians of the Year.

Prof Scoly­er is NSW Health Pathology’s Senior Staff Spe­cial­ist in Tis­sue Pathol­o­gy and Diag­nos­tic Oncol­o­gy at the Roy­al Prince Alfred Hos­pi­tal and he and Prof Long are Co-Med­ical Direc­tors at Melanoma Insti­tute Australia.

Their endur­ing part­ner­ship has saved thou­sands of lives from melanoma, known as Aus­trali­a’s nation­al cancer.

Less than a decade ago, advanced melanoma was fatal – but thanks to Richard and Georgina’s immunother­a­py approach, which acti­vates a patient’s own immune sys­tem, it has become a cur­able disease.

Prime Min­is­ter Antho­ny Albanese pre­sent­ed the pair with the award on 25 Jan­u­ary 2024 at a cer­e­mo­ny in Canberra.

In their accep­tance speech they both called for more work to be done to address ris­ing rates of melanoma.

A man and a woman holding trophies stand in front of the Sydney Harbour bridge at night.
Georgina and Richard in Sydney.

“There is noth­ing healthy about a tan. Noth­ing,” Pro­fes­sor Long told the gathering.

“Our bronzed Aussie cul­ture is actu­al­ly killing us.

“So, we call on adver­tis­ers and social media influ­encers – stop glam­or­is­ing tan­ning,” she said.

They also spoke about Richard’s own brain can­cer jour­ney and his deci­sion to put him­self for­ward for an exper­i­men­tal treat­ment program.

In June 2023, when Richard was diag­nosed with incur­able grade 4 brain can­cer, he and Georgina devel­oped a series of world-first treat­ments based on their melanoma breakthroughs.

Richard became the world’s first brain can­cer patient to have pre-surgery com­bi­na­tion immunotherapy.

A man lying in a hospital bed, with the side of his head bandaged, smiling.
Richard Scoyler just after under­go­ing his surgery at Roy­al Prince Alfred Hospital.

By under­tak­ing an exper­i­men­tal treat­ment with the risk of short­en­ing his life, he has advanced the under­stand­ing of brain can­cer and is ben­e­fit­ing future patients.

“I stand here tonight as a ter­mi­nal brain can­cer patient. I’m only 57. I don’t want to die. I love my life, my fam­i­ly, my work. I’ve so much more to do and to give,” Pro­fes­sor Scoly­er said after receiv­ing the award.

“I’m one of the many thou­sands of can­cer patients who’ve trav­elled this path, and thou­sands will follow.

“Devis­ing this world-first exper­i­men­tal treat­ment for my type of brain can­cer was bold and for me, the deci­sion to take on Georgina’s ground-break­ing plan was a no-brainer.

“Here was an oppor­tu­ni­ty for us to crack anoth­er incur­able can­cer and make a dif­fer­ence – if not for me, then for others.”

We wish him all the best on his treat­ment jour­ney and as 2024 Aus­tralian of the Year!


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