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.
“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.
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!