Professor Graeme Young has been named Health South Australian of the Year for 2007 in recognition of his role in the Australia-wide bowel cancer screening program and the impact this has had in South Australia, nationally and internationally. Premier Mike Rann presented Professor Young with the prestigious award, at a black-tie dinner at the Hyatt Ballroom in November 2007.
Professor Young was appointed foundation Professor of Gastroenterology at Flinders in 1997 and has developed a strong multidisciplinary research team with expertise covering population screening, clinical research, epithelial biology and molecular biology. Their internationally-recognised work has attracted major funding from Australian and overseas grant funding bodies and industry. A major outcome has been development of a faecal immunochemical test that is currently the best available test for detecting colorectal cancer and pre-cancer lesions (adenomas).
“The way the national bowel cancer screening program has rolled out has followed the model developed in our research program at Flinders,” Professor Young said. “Our research has changed the way a vital health program is delivered to the Australian public, and it is something of which we are unashamedly proud.” His work has also influenced screening programs overseas with France, Italy and Japan amongst the countries currently implementing screening programs based on the approach developed at Flinders. Secondary prevention – by screening – and primary prevention – by diet and lifestyle – have strong potential to significantly reduce death and suffering from colorectal cancer, the commonest internal malignancy in Australia.
At the clinical level, Professor Young has overseen the implementation of Gastrointestinal Services at Flinders Medical Centre and Repatriation General Hospital, a functional grouping of physicians and surgeons with major coordinated support from nurses, pathologists and dieticians.? His numerous publications include articles on intestinal cell biology, mechanisms of dietary prevention, screening and surveillance for colorectal cancer, dietary impact on colorectal disease, colonic fermentation of dietary substances and public health issues related to bowel health and bowel cancer.
Professor Young’s research group is one of several within the Flinders Cancer Control Alliance (FCCA) with a major focus on cancer prevention and early detection. In addition to being one of Flinders University’s Areas of Research Focus, the FCCA is the research arm of the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer (FCIC), an integrated cancer centre being jointly developed by the University, Flinders Medical Centre and the FMC Foundation. Construction of the state-of-the-art FCIC building adjacent to FMC is expected to commence during 2008.
Pictured above: Professor Graeme Young (right) and the South Australian Premier, the Hon Mike Rann.