Scope 47 - Why cancer research?
20 April 2012, Cancer
With cancer being a leading cause of death worldwide, it seems obvious that it would be an important research focus for any medical research institute. However, this is only one part of the story of why the Malaghan Institute is involved with cancer research in particular.
The idea of a research institute was originally conceived in the early sixties by the Wellington Division of the Cancer Society of New Zealand and the Wellington Medical Research Foundation as it was realised that if research were to be fostered in the Wellington region, steps would have to be taken to provide physical facilities for the work. At that time, relatively little research was being conducted in the area due to a lack of facilities, nor was it customary for Hospital Boards to foster or support research in their hospitals.
When officially opened in 1979, the Institute was originally called The Wellington Cancer and Medical Research Institute (it was renamed the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research in 1986 in recognition of the support of Len and Ann Malaghan), and the research aims were to be split equally between general medical research and cancer.
These days, while the Institute now focuses on a wide range of diseases, we are still committed to research into the causes and treatments of cancers with just over half of all our scientists working on some aspect of cancer research. Our core cancer programmes are focused on exploiting the immune system to treat cancer through the development of vaccines and immunotherapies. Our scientists are also exploring several novel cancer treatment strategies that have the potential to enhance this research, which we highlight in this issue of Scope.
We are very proud of this work and of the fact that we have been able to translate some of our bench research into early stage clinical trials, which we will update you on in Scope 48. Cancer affects many people in our communities and any steps we can take toward finding better treatments and cures will be profoundly felt for generations to come.
 accounting for 7.6 million deaths (around 13% of all deaths) in 2008 (reference: World Health Organization; Globocan 2008, IARC, 2010)