New cancer treatments and clinical AI recognised in awards shortlist

Researchers at Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) have been recognised for their cutting-edge clinical research, named as finalists in two categories of the 2023 SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards.  

The awards are regarded as the premier science showcase event highlighting the diversity of scientific endeavour and research in South Australia.  

Led by Professor Michael Brown, the RAH Immuno-Targeted Cancer Therapies team is under consideration for Innovator of the Year. Other team members are Associate Professor Lisa Ebert, Dr Tessa Gargett, Dr Alex Staudacher and Dr Vasilios (Bill) Liapis. 

CALHN neurology registrar Dr Stephen Bacchi is a finalist in the PhD Excellence award 

Winners will be announced on November 17 2023.  

Targeting hard-to-treat cancers

The RAH Immuno-Targeted Cancer Therapies team has developed world-first new therapies for hard-to-treat cancers.  As a result of the team’s focused work over 12 years, their unique treatments have now progressed to four early-phase clinical trials in patients with solid cancers, including pancreatic and brain cancers 

Immuno-targeted therapies offer fresh approaches for treating cancer. They are developed through studying the immune system, and then applying that knowledge to design new technologies to kill cancer cells.  

The RAH Immuno-Targeted Cancer Therapies team developed two innovations that are highlighted in their award application:  

  1. technology that delivers radiation directly to cancer cells through antibodies, and  
  2. specialised cells that target cancers through a molecule not found on healthy cells.  

Commercialisation and clinical expansion for these innovations are now underway or being explored.  

Watch the video below to hear from team member Dr Tessa Gargett describe the team’s work in boosting immune cells to target cancer.

Predicting health outcomes

Dr Stephen Bacchi’s PhD research addresses a significant problem facing society today: how to improve the efficiency of our public health systems while still offering patients and their families high quality care.  

Bringing together two fields of academic excellence – clinical care and artificial intelligence – Dr Bacchi’s research shows that algorithms may assist with predicting discharge times for patients hospitalised for conditions such as stroke. 

His evidence demonstrates that artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies may be useful to assist with planning, quality improvement and auditing in hospitals.  

“In medicine, we have to do everything in our power to make the most accurate decisions we can,” Dr Bacchi said.  


“Using tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning is hopefully going to improve our decision-making processes into the future.”  

To learn more about Dr Bacchi’s research, tune in to episode 13 of CALHN’s Research Pulse podcast, available here 

Dr Bacchi was awarded Young Professional of the Year in the SA Health Awards 2020.


Main image credit: Department for Industry, Innovation and Science