2019 Research Grants

The AMRF has awarded the 2019 research projects. Quality applications were received from around the country to make a very competitive field. 

Thanks to our generous donors throughout the year, we are once again thrilled to announce our research grants for 2019.

In line with our vision going forward, these grants continue the work in different areas of research which investigate the many different pathways that will ultimately change outcomes for people diagnosed with melanoma, and to improve the current alarming statistics.

It is only with the support of our melanoma community, AMRF team and board that we can strive to achieve the best outcome now and for future generations.

We wish to acknowledge the incredible support given by donors, volunteers and fundraisers Australia wide. Thank you.

Ms Samantha Watson and Dr Pablo Garcia Valtanen

Introducing Dr Pablo Garcia Valtanen, supervisor for Ms Samantha Watson, a PhD student at University of South Australia (UniSA), who is investigating the potential for treating melanoma with a medicine that has successfully targeted oesophageal cancer cells in the laboratory. Although different, certain cancerous cells in the oesophagus and in melanoma share common traits such as the expression of disease specific molecules on their surface.

One of these molecules, is the focus of Ms Watson’s project which is trying to find new ways for treating melanoma. Her goal is to establish the potential for the use of antibodies in the clinic. This strategy has already generated positive results with oesophageal cancer models and Ms Watson now expects to replicate this success in melanoma cells.

June 2021 update

Samantha has this summary to share with us of her work along with the team at the University of South Australia.

Passive and active vaccination for the treatment of melanoma

Samantha Watson, Pablo Garcia Valtanen, Tamara Cooper, Kerrilyn Diener & John Hayball

Our work at the University of South Australia, in collaboration with industry partners, investigates the use of passive and active vaccination for the treatment of melanoma. Our laboratory has developed an antibody therapy, also known as passive vaccination, that targets a specific molecule found in some cancers.

Initially, we evaluated five melanoma cell lines, demonstrating that all five cell lines expressed this molecule on its surface at varying levels. Following this, we vaccinated the cells to determine whether these antibodies could degrade melanoma cells.

The data demonstrated that the treatment worked best where expression of the target molecule was highest, and had almost no therapeutic effect in some cells with lesser expression. As such, this data suggests that the antibody may have therapeutic potential, however only in cancers where this molecule is expressed highly.

While this type of passive vaccination relies on providing patients with the antibodies necessary to combat disease, active vaccination involves stimulating the immune system to produce its own disease-specific antibodies, as well as cell-mediated responses. To ensure we generate robust immune responses, we have constructed two novel therapeutic melanoma vaccines using an established platform technology, utilising an array of well-known melanoma antigens.

This vaccine technology has previously shown its safety in animal models and its ability to produce robust cell-mediated immune responses. We will soon begin evaluation of these vaccines, assessing the effectiveness of the active vaccines to reduce the size of both primary and metastatic melanoma tumours in animal models.

Meet the team

Ms Samantha J Watson

Currently an Honours degree student at the Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory (ETL) and PhD candidate from next year. The work funded by the AMRF will be integrated as part of Samantha’s thesis project to conduct laboratory tests towards a new treatment method to complement existing chemotherapy drugs.

Dr Pablo Garcia Valtanen

Postdoctoral scientist managing and supervising the Niumed project for the last 2 years. Dr Garcia Valtanen will directly supervise and contribute to Samantha’s work funded by AMRF.

Ms Jamie Zhang

An experienced Research Officer who has worked on all aspects of the Niumed project for the last 3 years and contributed enormously to the success of the project.

Professor John D Hayball

Head of the Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory and professor at University of South Australia supervises different projects that link industry and academia to bring therapeutic candidates closer to the clinic and treat cancer as well as infectious diseases.

Mr Antony Scammell

Founder and Director of Niumed Pty Ltd. Mr Scammell has funded, supervised and worked for many years to bring the Niumed project to its current state where candidate antibodies against the human EPHB4 receptor have been developed to successfully attack cancer cells.

Melanoma research

The AMRF is committed to funding research aimed at furthering knowledge and offering better outcomes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of melanoma.

The AMRF will focus on supporting early career researchers in Australia.

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Privacy Policy

Australian Melanoma Research Foundation (AMRF) respects and is committed to protecting the privacy of the people whose personal information it collects. We collect personal information about individuals who are employed by us, our donors, our volunteers, other supporters, allied associations, consultants and service providers.

Information we collect

Whenever we collect personal information, we will identify ourselves as AMRF and ensure people are aware of why we are collecting information and how we plan to use it.

The type of personal information AMRF usually collects and holds includes names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, donation date, reason for donation, merchandise orders and other information such as health related information pertaining to AMRF research and program delivery. This information may be collected in person, via our website on the secure payment gateway, as well as other sources.

When people visit our website, or download information from it, the following information is recorded by Google Analytics:

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How we use and disclose personal information

We collect and use stakeholder’s personal information to carry out the functions and activities of AMRF and to comply with our legal obligations, to maintain and update our records and to help us manage and provide our services.

We may also use information to ask for support and to keep people informed about the ways in which our donors and supporters help us to make a difference to raise funds for research, awareness and early detection programs.  People have the right to opt out of any communications from AMRF.  This will not stop them receiving receipts and other transactional communications as required by law.

We may disclose personal information to third parties who assist us to perform functions on our behalf (such as commercial mail preparation services, this information is permanently deleted by the provider upon completion of the service and confirmed in writing of such).  These external service providers are under a duty to maintain the privacy and security of your information in line with this Privacy Policy and to use your personal information only for the purpose for which it is disclosed.

AMRF does not use any government related identifiers, such as Medicare numbers or tax file numbers, of an individual as our own identifier.

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We may use people’s information within AMRF only in connection with marketing and fundraising campaigns. We may provide marketing communications to stakeholders on an ongoing basis by telephone, electronic messages (eg. email), online (including websites and mobile apps) and other means, unless they opt out or we are subject to legal restrictions. These may include communications relating to AMRF and our programs, campaign and promotional messages, event invitations, fundraising opportunities and newsletters.

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If people become aware of any inaccuracy in the personal information, we hold about themselves, they are encouraged to contact AMRF so we can update any personal information we hold.


Where it is lawful and practicable, we will allow individuals to deal with us on an anonymous basis. For example, if we receive a telephone enquiry, we will not require that the enquirer gives us their name, although depending on the nature of the enquiry, we may not be able to answer it unless they do.

We can also accept gifts and other forms of support anonymously. However, provisions contained in taxation legislation require AMRF to collect the name of the donor if the donor requires a tax-deductible receipt.

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If AMRF updates or changes this Privacy Policy, the changes will be made on this page. Your continued use of AMRF’s website following the posting of changes will mean you accept those changes.

Contact us

If you have any questions about privacy-related issues OR you wish to lodge a complaint about a breach of this policy OR other privacy matter OR you do not wish to be contacted by us to ask for your support, please contact us by email at  admin@melanomaresearch.com.au. Alternatively our postal address is below:

PO Box 574
Kent Town DC SA 5071

We take your privacy concerns seriously. Where you express any concerns that we have interfered with your privacy, we will respond to let you know who will be handling your matter and when you can expect a further response. We may request additional details from you regarding your concerns and may need to engage or consult with other parties in order to investigate and deal with your issue. We will keep records of your request and any resolution.

For information about privacy generally, or if your concerns are not resolved to your satisfaction, you may contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner at www.oaic.gov.au and on 1300 363 992.