Gastroenterologist awarded VCCC Alliance Inaugural Tony Burgess Medal


Pictured: Associate Professor Jessica Howell
St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne gastroenterologist, Associate Professor Jessica Howell, has been awarded the Inaugural Tony Burgess Medal by the VCCC Alliance. 

A/Prof Howell received this award for ground-breaking research that is improving the screening and diagnosis of liver cancer. This work has advanced the diagnostic screening tools in liver cancer, which in turn has impacted liver cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. A/Prof Howell heads up a multidisciplinary research program that led the invention of two world-first, rapid point-of-care tests for liver inflammation and cirrhosis. 

Collaborating with St Vincent’s Pathology, A/Prof Howell’s team has developed Australia’s first scalable, low-cost population-level liver screening program via routine blood tests that also links to care for cirrhosis.

“It is a tremendous honour to be receiving an award named after Prof Tony Burgess, whose pioneering work in cancer began at the lab bench and transformed the lives of people with cancer at the bedside. This award reflects the incredible work of my team and collaborators, whose generous support has made our work possible, said A/Prof Howell. 

“Liver cancer has a very low survival rate and disproportionately affects marginalised people. As a hepatologist, I see the impact of liver cancer on the lives of my patients and their families every week. This drives me to search for new ways to improve equitable outcomes for people with liver cancer.”

In the past five years, A/Prof Howell has published 75 papers. She credits supportive mentors, work environment, and her family as vital to the success of her research

A/Prof Howell will deliver the plenary address on the eve of the VCCC Alliance Postdoctoral Symposium, which has been established in honour of Prof Tony Burgess’s significant contribution to the establishment of the VCCC building and the VCCC Alliance.

To read more about A/Prof Howell’s research, visit VCCC Alliance.