Events and Announcements

2019 ANZSA Sarcoma Research Grant Program Recipients - April 2019

The Australia and New Zealand Sarcoma Association (ANZSA) is proud to announce the funding of four Australian researchers under its annual Sarcoma Research Grant Program. These four research projects will focus on understanding the genetics of sarcoma tumours and investigate new diagnostics and treatment options for sarcoma patients.


“As the peak body for the sarcoma community, we are pleased to support these researchers through our research grant program and are confident that their quality research will one day lead to new breakthroughs in sarcoma diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr Denise Caruso, CEO of ANZSA.


The ANZSA Sarcoma Research Grant Program is funded by generous sarcoma charitable foundations that were established by friends and families in memory of their loved ones who have passed on due to sarcoma. Upon realising the challenges in sarcoma research and treatment due to resources and awareness, these foundations decided to make a difference for future sarcoma patients through fundraising campaigns.


Since the formalisation of the ANZSA Sarcoma Research Grant Program in 2011, the organisation has awarded more than 30 local researchers with grants worth over $1.2 million.


We are extremely grateful to all the foundations for their trust in ANZSA and their generosity in raising funds to invest into sarcoma research like these to improve early diagnosis, treatment options, outcomes and quality of life in hopes that one day we can find a cure,” added Denise.


ANZSA was formed following the merger between the Australasian Sarcoma Study Group (ASSG) and the Australia Sarcoma Group (ASG) in 2018. It remains steadfast in its mission to lead the sarcoma narrative through research, education and awareness of sarcomas and related tumours.


The four research projects are worth $130,000 and will be worked on throughout 2019. Details of the researchers and their projects include:

The Hannah’s Chance Sarcoma Research Grant was awarded to Dr Cristina Vargas from the Douglass Hanly Moir Pathology, Sonic, and University of Sydney


Dr Vargas’ research aims to improve the diagnosis and management of patients with soft tissue sarcomas (STS). The current landscape shows that sarcoma tumours are particularly unpredictable as it is unknown which patients may be cured after completing treatment and which ones will relapse years later with widespread, inoperable disease.


Dr Vargas and her team will assess a retrospective cohort of patients with metastatic or recurrent STS. The research will focus on direct comparisons using molecular tools between the primary sarcoma and the recurrent or metastatic deposits, and to understand key molecular changes. Dr Vargas’ research hopes to unravel potential biomarkers through DNA methylation analysis which could be applied to tissue samples at the time of diagnosis to identify patients with metastatic potential, who will require more aggressive and different targeted therapeutic approach.


The Johanna Sewell Sarcoma Research Grant was awarded to Dr Willem Joost Lesterhuis from the Telethon Kids Institute, Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia


It is understood that despite intensive surgical treatment, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for sarcoma, relapses frequently occur, particularly at the site of surgery. Dr Lesterhuis’ research aims to develop a degradable biomaterial containing immune-stimulating drugs, which can be applied to the wound bed during sarcoma surgery. They are hopeful that the material will slowly release the drugs, resulting in the attraction and activation of immune cells that can eradicate remaining cancer cells. Through this research project, his team of researchers will undertake the first step of developing the material and testing it for safety and efficacy with minimum side effects.


The Leon Stone Sarcoma Research Grant was awarded to Dr Belinda Kramer from The Kids Research Institute, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead


Dr Kramer’s research aims to develop an immune therapy to target sarcomas in children. Her research will focus on taking patients’ immune T-cells, and gene modifying the cells to carry a Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) that allows the T-cells to detect and kill tumour cells.


Her team will access sophisticated instruments such as mass cytometers to characterise the types of CAR T-cells and the way it can be used to target sarcoma cells at a molecular level. This research will also analyse the CAR T-cell and tumour interactions to provide insights into designing the protocol for testing of sarcoma targeted CAR T-cells in a clinical trial.


The Xavier Krikori Sarcoma Research Grant was awarded to A/Prof Evan Ingley from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research


Liposarcoma is one of the most common subtypes of soft tissue sarcoma. It is found that consistent genetic mutation found in liposarcoma can cause the transformation of normal fat into low-grade tumours that have the potential to become high-grade tumours.


A/Prof Ingley’s research aims to examine the genetic changes responsible for the development of high-grade liposarcoma tumours by comparing the gene sequences and genetic activation of low and high-grade tumours. As a result, this will help the research team identify genes responsible for aggressive changes and thereafter, the ability to perform a gene-editing study. By editing out the genes of interest from liposarcoma cell cultures and examining the effects. A/Prof Ingley is hopeful that it will identify pivotal targets for the development of precision anti-cancer drugs.

For more details about the individual projects or any media queries, please contact Jeffrey (

Merger of Australian Sarcoma Group (ASG) and Australasian Sarcoma Study Group (ASSG) - October 2018

Over the last year, the Australian Sarcoma Group (ASG) and Australasian Sarcoma Study Group (ASSG) have been working towards a proposed merger of the two organisations. 

We are delighted to advise that members and the board of directors of ASSG and the ASG have approved the merger with a new constitution and name, at our recent meetings in Perth. The new organisation will be known as the ‘Australia and New Zealand Sarcoma Association Limited’ (ANZSA).

ANZSA will remain a non-profit charitable organisation, with the purpose of improving the outcomes of patients affected by sarcoma and related tumours through research, education and advocacy. 

We look forward to the transition to our new name and to sharing our new logo in the coming months. 

We are both excited by the strength of the united group and the increased ability to better serve the sarcoma community.

Cancer Australia releases National data on Diagnosis Stages

Sarcoma cancer included in the new data released for childhood cancers in Australia

In a world first, Cancer Australia has released initial National Data on Australian paediatric cancer stages at diagnosis, including the rare and aggressive Sarcoma cancers.

This data covers sixteen major cancer types, which represent approximately three-quarters of all childhood cancers diagnosed in Australia. To see more please see ASSG's press release or visit

The Annual 2018 Sarcoma Conference

The Australian Sarcoma Group 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting will be held Friday 12th October – Saturday 13th October 2018 at the Pan Pacific, Perth. The theme for the meeting will be: Collaboration and Innovation: The multidisciplinary approach to sarcoma care.

The two international guest speakers are;

Robin Jones, The Royal Marsden (UK) who is medical oncologist with a specialist interest in bone and soft tissue sarcomas

Rob Pollock, Royal National Orthopedic Hospital (UK), a consultant sarcoma surgeon who specialises in hip and knee surgery as well as bone and soft tissue tumours

For more information visit our conference website. Registrations are now open. To register click here.

Provisional Program - Now available here


ASSG Announces 2018 Sarcoma Research Grant Awardees - May 24, 2018

The ASSG today announced that it has awarded $120,000 in research funds to deserving scientists at institutions across Australia as part of its 2018 Sarcoma Research Grant program. Four research grants have been awarded to researchers who have made it their mission to study sarcoma, a rare cancer that arises in the body’s soft tissue and bone. Since its inception, the ASSG has invested more than $1 million in sarcoma research through its research grant program. More information on the ASSG’s sarcoma research grant program can be found here
Read Full Press Release

Call for Concept Development


The ASSG is announcing a call for new concepts for sarcoma research.  The process is now open with a closing date of April 20, 2018.  If you have a great idea for a research project for sarcoma or know of a protocol you would like to see conducted in Australasia, please refer to the guidelines, fill out the Concept Development Formand forward to the ASSG office.  Each submission will be reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Committee for further development.


The Annual 2017 Sarcoma Conference

The Annual Sarcoma Conference in 2017 was held on October 13th and 14th at Flinders University in Adelaide.

The theme for this years conference was AYA Sarcomas: Current Scenario and the Way Forward

International Speakers

We were delighted to host three very high profile international speakers reflecting the multidisciplinary focus of the meeting. 

Professor Sander Dijkstra - Professor of Orthopedics, Leiden University Medical Centre

Professor Sander Dijkstra, Professor of Orthopaedic Oncology Surgery, is a renowned orthopaedic surgeon with over 100 publications. He is an award winning lecturer as well as an innovative clinician. His clinical interests include development of novel prostheses as well as innovative surgical techniques. Prof Dijkstra is a consultant with the Dutch Bone Tumour Society and has served on the committees of several International societies.  

Professor Jeremy Whelan - Professor of Cancer Medicine and Consultant Medical Oncologist, The London Sarcoma Service, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Professor Whelan leads an extensive programme of clinical research in sarcomas. He is a chief investigator of the international randomised study for osteosarcoma, EURAMOS 1, which has completed accrual of over 2000 patients in Europe and the United States. He has also taken an active role in national cancer policy developments in his areas of expertise. He is currently a member of the National Cancer Research Institute Teenage and Young Adult Clinical Studies Group and NCRI Sarcoma Clinical Studies Group.

Associate Professor Chandrajit P. Raut - Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, Associate Surgeon in the Division of Surgical Oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Surgery Director of the Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Dr. Raut specializes almost exclusively in the multidisciplinary care of patients with soft tissue sarcoma. His research focuses on (1) clinical trials and novel therapeutics to lower locoregional recurrence rates following sarcoma resection and (2) the role of cytoreductive surgery in patients with metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumors.
Dr. Raut is the Program Director of the Complex Surgical Oncology Fellowship at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital. He is the Chair of the Program Directors Subcommittee for the Society of Surgical Oncology. He also serves as Section Editor for sarcoma in the journals Cancer and Annals of Surgical Oncology and Associate Editor for the journal Sarcoma.


ASSG is now on Facebook and Twitter


ASSG is now on Facebook and Twitter! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to help us raise awareness of sarcoma and grow our community.

The Annual 2016 Sarcoma Conference

October 15 & 16, 2016

The 2016 Annual Sarcoma Meeting, which the Australian Sarcoma Group and Australasian Sarcoma Study Group jointly convene, was held in Sydney, Australia October 15th and 16th at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.  The theme was “Translation: from Biology to Patient Care.” We were delighted to host three high profile international speakers:

Dr Matt van de RijnProfessor, Department of Pathology, Stanford University Medical Center, USA. Professor van de Rijn’s group identified the genetic rearrangement within Tenosynovial Giant Cell Tumors, which has led to the development of effective systemic therapies for this disease (Tap et al., New England Journal of Medicine, 2015).

Dr Miguel Ayerza - Surgical oncologist Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires Argentina. Professor Miguel Ayerza is a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Buenos Aires and is a renowned orthopaedic oncologist who has served on the committees of several the International societies and as President of the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons.

Dr Lee Helman - Head of Molecular Oncology and Acting Director, Centre for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, USA. Dr. Helman's laboratory focuses on rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma, osteosarcoma, and pediatric gastrointestinal stromal tumours.  His group aims to: (1) determine the pathophysiologic consequences of IGF signaling; (2) identify the molecular/biochemical determinants of the biology of these sarcomas; and (3) apply preclinical laboratory findings to develop novel clinical studies for these sarcomas.


International Clinical Trials Day

May 20 marked International Clinical Trials Day, held annually to recognise the world’s first clinical trial which took place in 1747.

To mark 2016 International Clinical Trials Day today, the Cancer Cooperative Trials Groups (CCTG) of Australia have, for the first time, come together to release a Fact Sheet providing information for people interested in taking part in a clinical trial.

The information resource is the result of close collaboration and consultation between a group of consumers, together with 14 cancer trials groups based in Australia and New Zealand and aims to encourage participation in clinical trials.

To see the full media release please click here.

New clinical trial opening at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Chris O'Brien Lifehouse

NBTXR3 Crystalline Nanoparticles and Radiation Therapy in Treating and Randomized Patients in Two Arms With Soft Tissue Sarcoma of the Extremity and Trunk Wall

RATIONALE: Radiation therapy given before surgery of soft tissue sarcoma decreases the size of the tumor mass and the presence of malignant cells in its peripheral region. NBTXR3 and radiation therapy may kill more cancer cells and increase the tumor shrinkage rendering surgery more feasible or easier and achieve better local control of the tumor.

PURPOSE: This phase II/III is a prospective randomized, multi-center, open-label and active controlled two arms study in patients with locally advanced soft tissue sarcoma (STS) of the extremity and trunk wall. Patients will be randomized to receive either NBTXR3 as intratumor injection, activated by external beam radiation therapy or external beam radiation therapy alone, as preoperative treatment. Once the radiotherapy treatment is completed, tumor surgery will be performed in all patients.

For more information please click here or visit the our research studies page for more clinical trials.


ACORD Workshop opportunity

September 11-17, 2016

The ASSG has agreed to sponsor a clinician researcher to attend the ACORD Protocol Development Workshop (a 7 day residential educational program in effective clinical trial design and development). The ACORD 2016 workshop will be  held September 11-17, at Magenta Shores, Tuggerah, New South Wales, Australia.This is a wonderful opportunity and the ASSG hopes that you will consider applying.

The Australasian Sarcoma Study Group clinician must submit their application online by the 26th of Feb 2016 at

Once the selection process has taken place ACORD will get in touch with the nominated clinician, confirm their place, confirm they are supported by the ASSG and are not required to pay the registration fee or any other workshop expenses.


Cancer Australia’s Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme 2016
February, 2016

Cancer Australia’s Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme is an annual national research project grants scheme which funds cancer research in identified priority areas to help reduce the impact of cancer in the community and improve outcomes for people affected by cancer. In 2016, Cancer Australia and its partners:

  • Australasian Sarcoma Study Group

  • Cancer Council Australia

  • Cancer Council NSW

  • Cure Cancer Australia

  • National Breast Cancer Foundation

  • The Kids’ Cancer Project

will offer funding for project grants in identified priority areas. Please click here for more information.


The Annual 2015 Sarcoma Conference

Brisbane October 17 & 18 2015

2015 returned the ASSG and the ASG (Australian Sarcoma Group) back to our usual format with the Annual Sarcoma Conference held over two days at the Translational Research Institute hosted by local sarcoma experts.  In Brisbane, Dr Scott Sommerville, Dr Warren Joubert and Dr David Pryor, along with the organizing committee, put together an interesting and multidisciplinary scientific programme under the theme “Precision Treatment in Sarcoma Care.” 

We were delighted to have three international sarcoma experts speaking at the conference. Dr William Tap, Medical Oncologist from Memorial Sloane Kettering Medical Center NY Dr David Kirsch, Radiation Oncologist from Duke University Chapel Hill North Carolina Dr Shekhar Kumta, Surgical Oncologist from The Chinese University of Hong Kong



Last update: 17-Apr-2019 01:10 PM










 Find a Sarcoma Specialist
 Ask a Question
Support Sarcoma Research