Melanoma Research Receives Funding Boost

Dr Elin Gray
Dr Elin Gray

Edith Cowan University melanoma researcher Dr Elin Gray will investigate how to better target treatment for cancer patients after being awarded a $750,000 research fellowship.

The five-year Cancer Research Trust Fellowship will strengthen Dr Gray’s research into the role of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in melanoma patients and expand to other cancer types.

The Fellowship is the first grant to be awarded by the Subiaco-based Cancer Research Trust, which was established in 2009 to support world-leading cancer researchers.

Quick Facts

  • Measuring the level of CTCs is already used to predict the chance of survival for cancer patients.
  • Dr Gray’s work will focus on how to analyse the genetic material of CTCs in a patient’s bloodstream to allow for more tailored treatment.
  • CTC analysis can give a real time snapshot of the tumour which will allow treatments to be modified as it mutates.
  • As part of the fellowship Dr Gray will work with the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Nedlands and join the mentor program at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne.
  • Dr Gray began her research career in Cuba after graduating from Havana University in 1997.
  • She then moved to South Africa in 2001 where she worked at the AIDS Research Unit in Johannesburg.
  • She was a visiting fellow at Duke University and at National Institute of Health, USA.
  • She joined the melanoma research group at ECU lead by Professor Mel Ziman in 2011.


“Circulating cancer cells can give a real-time snapshot of the patient’s tumour , like a liquid biopsy.

The advantage of CTC sampling is that it will allow analysis of the cancer in real time, whereas with a traditional biopsies, the sample of the tumour can be stored for years, in which time the tumour may have changed.

The hope is that analysing the specific genetic makeup of the CTCs will allow us to develop more effective personalised treatments tailored to each patient’s tumour.

Given WA’s very high rates of skin cancer it felt natural to start work researching melanoma when I moved here in 2011.”

Dr Elin Gray
Cancer Research Trust Post-Doctoral Fellow
School of Medical Sciences, ECU

“The Cancer Research Trust is delighted to have awarded the Inaugural Cancer Research Trust Post-doctoral Fellowship Award to Dr Elin Gray.

This cancer research Fellowship is one of the most generous of its type in Australia in terms of salary and tenure, demonstrating the commitment of the Cancer Research Trust towards making an internationally significant contribution to the advancement of cures for cancer.”

Peter Mansell
Chairman, Cancer Research Trust

“This Fellowship recognises ECU’s expertise in melanoma research and brings the analysis of cancer cells in the bloodstream a step closer to being used in treating patients.”

Professor John Finlay-Jones
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), ECU

Media Contact

David Gear, Corporate Communications Officer, (08) 6304 2288.