Combining Efforts for a Greater Cause: A Powerful Example of Donor-Researcher Collaboration

20 Apr 2023

Dr Alisha Thomson is a tireless advocate for ovarian cancer research. Her passion for this cause is evident in her extensive involvement in various fundraising campaigns and initiatives, including her role as part of WomenCan's Save the Box Campaign, ANZGOG’s Survivors Teaching Students program, and the Townsville Ovarian Cancer Group.

The Townsville Ovarian Cancer Group began with a shared goal to raise funds for ovarian cancer research. The Townsville team, a dedicated and compassionate group, share a unique bond through their personal connections to ovarian cancer which fuels their passion for raising awareness and supporting others facing similar challenges. Alisha is an integral part of the team and is currently undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer herself.

    Dr Alisha Thomson and  Professor Kum Kum Khanna meeting at the ANZGOG's 2023 ASM


Following the death of one of their integral members Janice, Alisha rallied the group to create the Janice Mayes Memorial Grant in December 2021, a lasting legacy that could directly contribute to ovarian cancer research via ANZGOG’s Fund for New Research program. Seed-funded by philanthropy, this program utilises private and public donations to support and promotes the development of investigator-led studies from initial concept to full study. It is a critical pathway that enables the brightest gynaecological cancer researchers to progress their research ideas to contribute to current clinical trials, or even lead to a future clinical trial itself. 

In 2021, the Janice Mayes Memorial Grant significantly contributed to the Fund for New Research $100,000 grant awarded to Professor Kum Kum Khanna, an ANZGOG member and Group Head Lab Researcher at QIMR Berghofer in Queensland, to support her pre-clinical concept “An Effective PARP Inhibitor-CBL0137 Combination Therapy for High-grade serous ovarian cancers (HGSOCs)".   

The work done by Alisha and her team in Townsville played a crucial role in bringing Professor Khanna's research idea to life. Alisha and Prof Khanna met for the first time at ANZGOG's 2023 Annual Scientific Meeting, giving Prof Khanna the opportunity to thank both Alisha and the group. This collaboration serves as a powerful example of how donor grants and targeted with the community can lead to pioneering new discoveries in gynaecological cancer research.


The importance of combining the efforts of researchers and donors cannot be overstated. It is through these partnerships that we can hope to make meaningful progress in improving outcomes for women diagnosed with gynaecological cancers. By working together, we can drive new research, foster innovation, and ultimately, make a difference in the lives of those affected by these diseases.