Renowned cancer researcher to lead UniSA’s Sansom Institute for health research

Professor Ian Olver AM Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Council Australia and renowned oncologist, cancer researcher and bioethicist, Professor Ian Olver, AM has been appointed as the new Director of the University of South Australia’s Sansom Institute for Health Research.

With a long career in anticancer drug studies, symptom control, bio-ethics and psycho-oncology, Prof Olver will lead the Sansom Institute’s ambitious program of health research which stretches from cancer treatment to genetic and infectious diseases, nutrition and exercise, population health and epidemiology and the early origins of adult health.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says he is delighted to welcome not only a brilliant researcher to the University but also a man who has been able to build cohesive research communities and have a significant impact on public understanding of health issues.

“Ian has had an outstanding career in cancer research and has been generous mentor, leader and communicator, making an important contribution to the fight against cancer at a national and international level,” Prof Lloyd says.

“He will be leading a large group of quality researchers and his experience and leadership skills will be of great benefit to the Institute and the University as it builds its profile in cancer research and population health.”

Prof Olver says he is looking forward to working with the talented research community at UniSA’s  Sansom Institute.

“This position will offer great opportunities to lead UniSA’s health research and strengthen the important cross-disciplinary collaborations that underpin innovative research,” Prof Olver says.

“My career has been rooted in ensuring that the research discoveries made are translated quickly and effectively to make a difference in fighting diseases like cancer, so it will be good to be working at such an enterprising and solutions-focussed institution as UniSA.”

Prof Olver graduated in medicine from the University of Melbourne and went on to train in medical oncology at the Peter McCallum Cancer Institute in the Alfred Hospital and at the University of Maryland Cancer Centre in Baltimore, USA.

He received a Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1984 and after finishing his medical oncology training, worked for six years at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute where he jointly developed the oncology clinic at Bendigo Base Hospital.

In 1991 he was awarded an MD from the University of Melbourne for a project in antiemetic clinical trial methodology and in 1997 he completed a PhD in bioethics from Monash University, focussing on life and death issues.

He moved to Adelaide and became director of oncology at the Royal Adelaide Hospital where he established a comprehensive multi-disciplinary cancer centre and was made Clinical Director.

He was the first Cancer Council SA Professor of Cancer Care at the University of Adelaide.

In South Australia he initiated a number of programs to improve cancer care in rural and remote communities with a special focus on Indigenous people, pioneering the use of telemedicine and establishing Alice Springs’ first oncology unit.

Part of his work included research into culturally appropriate approaches to the care and treatment of Aboriginal people diagnosed with cancer.

Author of more than 200 journal articles he was elected as Chair of the Medical Oncology Group of Australia from 2004–2006.

He moved to Sydney in 2006 to take on the roles of CEO of Cancer Council Australia, Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Sydney and an Honorary Associate, Department of Medical Oncology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

He has also served as Chair of the board of directors of the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre and on a number of advisory committees including the Advisory Board of Cancer Australia and the Health Ethics and Prevention and Community Health Committees of the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Prof Olver also supports cancer care in India through his association with the Christian Medical College Hospital in Vellore, through the Australian Friends of Vellore group.

He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to medical oncology as a clinician, researcher, administrator and mentor, and to the community through leadership roles with cancer control organisations.

Media contact: Michèle Nardelli office: +61 8 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: Michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au

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