Why your donation matters - with Dr Emmy Fleuren

02 Mar 2022

Dr Emmy Fleuren – a recipient of a Can Too Emerging Research Leader Program Grant (2020-2021) – shares the outcomes and impact of this funding with the Can Too community. In addition to being a Can Too grant recipient, Dr Fleuren particpated in Can Too's Autumn Ocean Swim in 2021.

Dr Fleuren is a Senior Scientist within the Translational Tumour Biology Group at the Children’s Cancer Institute in Randwick, NSW. She is dedicated to helping improve the cure rate of children with sarcoma – a rare type of cancer that begins in the connective tissues of the body such as bone, muscle, fat, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, nerves, ligaments or tendons. Dr Fleuren’s research focuses on identifying therapies that specifically target the tumour cells and are therefore not only more effective, but also less likely to cause damaging side effects.

Through the support of Can Too funding, Dr Fleuren and her team, have generated one of the world’s most comprehensive molecular maps of childhood sarcoma. This was achieved through the integration of various molecular datasets of sarcoma patients – obtained through the ZERO Childhood Cancer Program as well as establishment of a novel technique. Setting up this novel technique has enabled Dr Fleuren to identify molecules within sarcoma cells that are activated – or “switched on”. These activated molecules are capable of driving tumour growth and are therefore attractive targets for therapy. The team are currently investigating a few targets that were identified in these initial studies. Dr Fleuren indicates the preliminary data are very promising – with at least one of the targets showing signs of being “switched off” and showing reduced tumour growth by particular therapies. The results are soon to be published and discussions for a clinical trial have begun.

Developing and equipping cancer researchers for leadership is also an important aspect of the Can Too Emerging Research Leader Program Grant. 

Dr Fleuren says the “funding from Can Too has truly allowed me to set-up my own, independent team of sarcoma research with exciting future prospects”.

Can Too funding enabled Dr Fleuren to appoint a talented research assistant who focuses on experimental aspects of the research. This allows Dr Fleuren to focus on leading the sarcoma research team, supervise research students, and establish vital research collaborations.

Dr Fleuren published two review articles in 2021 a testament to her growing international standing as an expert in the field of sarcoma research. Research findings generated from this grant have also played a pivotal role in Dr Fleuren attaining seven additional research grants, four of these as lead investigator – including a highly competitive Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Research Fellowship.     

By investing in and supporting our emerging cancer research leaders, the Can Too community collectively contributes to our increased understanding of cancer and improved outcomes for people diagnosed with cancer.  A large and lasting effect. 

The Can Too community wishes Dr Fleuren and her team all the best with her current and future research endeavours and looks forward to hearing of her continued success as a leader in cancer research.   

For more information on Dr Fleuren’s research, check out her academic profile. 

The impact of your donation – no matter how big or small – towards cancer research has a large and lasting effect. Supporting the development of our emerging cancer research leaders – and their quest to better understand cancer – leads to improved outcomes for patients. Research underpins improvements in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatments, quality of life, and survival. 

To make a contribution to cancer research click here.