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Congratulations to Dr Samantha Oakes, winner of the 2016 State Custodians Young Garvan Award. Her winning edgy idea is “A new way to reawaken the immune system to treat cancer.”

On June 16, three researchers presented their ideas to an audience made up of invited guests from Young Garvan and associated sponsors. The audience then got to vote for the idea that they thought deserved to win the award. Dr Oakes was up against stiff competition in the form of Drs David Herrmann and Marcia Munoz. To ensure that all three candidates had the best chance of winning, they were each given a mentor from State Custodians and the Young Garvan Committee who helped them polish their presentations in the weeks prior to the event. In the end, Dr Oakes won over the crowd with her pitch to trick cancer cells into thinking they’re infected with a virus such that they will be recognised (and attacked) by the immune system.

Overwhelmed by the support on the night, Dr Oakes said, “I am absolutely thrilled to win the 2016 State Custodians Young Garvan Award for my edgy idea. I really believe this award and $25,000 funding will help me prove that we can make cancers sick and sensitive to immunotherapy, opening the doors for future projects and clinical trials that stop cancer patients form dying.”


SC Young Garvan Awards 2016 Ultimate winner of the award, Dr Samantha Oakes. Click here to view her idea.
SC Young Garvan Awards 2016 The three researchers who pitched their ideas, pictured with representatives from State Custodians. Dr Marcia Munoz, Dr David Herrmann, Dr Samantha Oakes, Melissa Urquhart, Lisa Jensen and Janelle Foster.