Dr James Wilmott

Melanoma Institute Australia

Skin Cancer

Cancer Researcher, Dr James Wilmott from the Melanoma Institute Australia was funded by the Can Too Foundation in 2019 and 2021. His work focuses on developing a simple test to ensure advanced melanoma patients get the right drug for their disease, to give them the best chance of beating cancer.

Dr Wilmott shared that he decided to research melanoma as it kills one Australian every five hours. And the good news that melanoma has gone from one of the worst survival cancers to one of the most effective treatments now which stimulates the patients’ immune system to attack the tumour.

Dr Wilmott is part of a team of researchers focused on finding treatments for the more than 40% of patients that are not cured with our best current therapies. In another study funded by Cancer Council NSW early career fellowship, the team of oncologists, pathologists, scientists and statisticians identified a set of immune related genes that are critical for a melanoma patient’s response to immunotherapies. The team have initially used these genes to successfully predict the effectiveness of immunotherapy in 105 patients with advanced melanoma.

In this project, the team aim to translate this information from the laboratory into the clinics of their oncology team, giving them the opportunity to test their methods in over 400 patients. They hope to verify their test can accurately identify patients who will respond to standard immunotherapies and the patients for who should be offered alternative treatment options.

This study could lead to the introduction of a simple test in the earliest stages of treatment planning for patients who are diagnosed with advanced melanoma. This would provide critical information for decision-making and ensure patients are offered the treatments most likely to be effective against their cancer.

Dr James Wilmott is the winner of the 2020 NSW Premier's Award for Wildfire Highly Cited Publication.