Hawkesbury Canoe Classic Association
The Hawkesbury Canoe Classic Association Inc. (HCC) is a registered charity that organises the annual 111km paddle race on the Hawkesbury River. In 1977, members of the NSW Outward Bound Ex-Students Association organised a canoe race along the river they had paddled during their course to help the community by raising money for medical research. That first race attracted 250 paddlers and raised $8,500. Now the race attracts more than 600 paddlers, and has raised in excess of $3.3 million for leukaemia research and patient support services since its association with the Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation commenced in 1994.
That support has been essential to the achievement of many important initiatives including: the Australasian Bone Marrow Transplant Recipient Registry; funding the Arrow Research Scientist; PhD Scholarships for research; purchasing medical equipment; supporting a medical research project being undertaken by Professor David Ma and his team at the Blood Stem Cell and Cancer Research Unit at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, and Arrow House.
Words of thanks from Dr Thanh Vu
Excerpt from a speech presented by Dr Thanh Vu at the HCC 2013 presentation dinner
As an Arrow/HCC research fellow, I would like to thank all of you for participating in the HCC event, and I thank the Arrow Bone Marrow Foundation (Arrow), for supporting our research team at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, and for supporting me in my medical research career.
Funding has always been a major dilemma in medical research. It would be an ideal world where medical scientists like us, who are humble, and shy away from the financial world are allowed to stay focused on doing medical research. Today, the funding issue is becoming more challenging than ever. The National Health and Medical Research Council, a major funding body for medical research in Australia, has suffered from major budget cuts in recent years. The success rate for grants this year is down to 16%, compared to 20% last year, and 30% in years before. And there are more budget cuts happening, according to the Australian Research Council (ARC). In 2002, the chance for an early career researcher like me to get funding was 25%; by 2007 it had dropped down to 15%.
You may be interested to know that according to a national opinion poll by the Australian Society of Medical Research, 90% of the people surveyed agreed that medical research is "very important" to improve the quality of health care in Australia; and 85% are concerned about the amount of medical research done in Australia. However, it is estimated that Australia paid 6 cents a day through their tax to support government-funded medical research which makes up 80% of all research funding in Australia. When asked how much is appropriate, the answer is 4.7 cents a day. A cup of coffee costs $3.50.
I'm saying this to show you how important this annual fundraising event is for a medical research. Arrow, together with the HCC, have been major sponsors of our leukaemia research. They have done an amazing job. In 2009, with funding from the HCC, Arrow sponsored Dr. Mark Lutherborrow on the gene profiling project; and together with Dr. Adam Bryant, another PhD student supported by Arrow and the HCC, had revealed important roles of small regulatory genetic elements, called microRNAs, in leukaemia. Dr Catalina Palma, a former Arrow Fellow, has successfully carried on the work aiming to discover the diagnostics and therapeutic potentials of these small genes. This year, Arrow has funded the purchase of cutting-edge equipment, including a SpeedVac, allowing more sophisticated experiments to be carried out in our laboratory.
The Cancer Genome Atlas consortium is an international collaborative effort to characterise the genomic landmarks leading to cancers, including leukaemia. Our work on one of these genes "miR-10a" has been cited by them, stating the significance of the contribution our team has endeavoured to achieve. This shows that although we are not a multi-million dollar funded laboratory, we can still make valuable contributions on an international stage.
Medical research is definitely a long term investment, and the return is not for each individual, but for the community. Supporting medical research will benefit society in terms of minimising health care costs and improving patients' outcomes and wellbeing. Supporting medical research is an investment for the future. I wish to thank all of you, our sponsors, donors, paddlers and volunteers, for your efforts and donations.
We recommend a visit to the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic web site for more information on this extraordinary event.