Why we Ride

Why we ride

Originally founded by two fathers of children with cancer in 1976, Children’s Cancer Institute is the only independent medical research institute in Australia wholly dedicated to research into the causes, prevention and cure of childhood cancer. Forty years on, our vision remains unchanged – to save the lives of all children with cancer and to eliminate their suffering. The Institute has grown to now employ more than 200 researchers, operational staff and students and has established a national and international reputation for scientific excellence.

Our focus is on translational research and we have an integrated team of laboratory researchers and clinician scientists who work together in partnership to discover new treatments which can be progressed from the lab bench to the beds of children on wards in our hospitals as quickly as possible. These new treatments are specifically targeting childhood cancers, so we can develop safer and more effective drugs and drug combinations that will minimise side-effects and ultimately give children with cancer the best chance of a cure with the highest possible quality of life.

We are currently leading the establishment of the Zero Childhood Cancer national child cancer personalised medicine program for children with the most aggressive cancers, in partnership with the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. This program will revolutionise the way treatment decisions are made, with the aim of improving survivorship for those children at highest risk of treatment failure from their disease.

Children’s Cancer Institute was founded more than three decades ago by two passionate fathers. They each had a child diagnosed with leukaemia and knew not enough was being done to fight this deadly disease. At that time, of the hundreds of children diagnosed with cancer barely half were being cured with the treatments available.

Children’s Cancer Institute is the only independent medical research institute focused solely on finding cures and improving treatments for childhood cancer in Australia. Our work is very important because childhood cancer has different causes to adult cancer and occurs in different forms to adult cancers. In addition, large pharmaceutical companies focus their research on drug discoveries for the larger adult cancer market with very little investment in research of childhood cancers.

Today Children’s Cancer Institute is internationally recognised as a leader in childhood cancer research, in particular as a global leader in “translational research” which means our discoveries at the bench are taken to the bedside of paediatric oncology units as quickly as possible.

But even though there have been great advances in survival rates, there are still too many children suffering with this terrible disease, with your help we really can change that – we don’t need a miracle, just the funds to make it happen.

Childhood Cancer: The Facts

  • Sixty years ago, cancer was nearly always a death sentence for a child. Today, 8 out of 10 children survive.
  • Unlike many adult cancers, childhood cancer is not associated with lifestyle and nothing can be done to prevent it.
  • Each year, over 950 children and adolescents in Australia are diagnosed with cancer.
  • Every week, nearly 3 children and adolescents in Australia die from cancer

Why our work matters

Children’s Cancer Institute is the only independent medical research institute in Australia wholly dedicated to childhood cancer. Our focus is on translational research, making sure our discoveries are progressed into actual treatments for kids with cancer as quickly as possible.

Our Purpose

Our organisation exists solely to put an end to childhood cancer. We don’t just hope to do it. We will do it. We are making great strides. Sixty years ago, cancer was nearly always a death sentence for a child.

Now eight out of 10 children survive, what made that huge difference?

Medical Research

As the only independent medical research institute in Australia wholly dedicated to childhood cancer, our role is vital. Because, despite our progress, cancer still kills more children than any other disease. Our task won’t be easy – childhood cancer is hugely complex.

But we’re confident that with the brightest brains, the best facilities and the greatest determination, we will get the job done.

It’s not if. It’s when.

The Future: Zero Childhood Cancer

Zero Childhood Cancer is the most ambitious childhood cancer initiative ever undertaken in Australia. This unique program led by Children’s Cancer Institute and The Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children's Hospital Randwick, part of The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network uniquely brings together all major Australian clinical and research groups working in childhood cancer to offer Australia’s first ever personalised medicine program for children with high-risk or relapsed cancer.

Personalised medicine or precision medicine is tailor-made treatment, customised to each individual patient. For example two children who have the ‘same’ kind of cancer and who show the same symptoms, may respond very differently to the same anti-cancer drugs. One size doesn’t fit all. 

By using personalised medicine, the goal of Zero Childhood Cancer is to treat each child’s cancer in the most targeted way possible, to improve survival, reduce side effects, and aim for a cure for every child.

Zero Childhood Cancer will benefit infants, children and adolescents with the highest-risk cancers, those with a less than 30% chance of survival (150 of the 950 children diagnosed with cancer each year in Australia). These children include those suffering from the most aggressive forms of childhood brain tumours, sarcomas, infant leukaemias and neuroblastomas


On average 120 children are diagnosed with childhood cancer each year in Queensland (1982 to 2013).

Regardless of where they live in Queensland, every child diagnosed with cancer will be referred to the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane for treatment in a specialist oncology unit whose clinicians work directly with Children’s Cancer Institute.

Since 2002, more than 180 children from Queensland, treated at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital Brisbane, have had their bone marrow samples sent to Children’s Cancer Institute for life-saving diagnostic testing procedures. We have also been able to help 3 adult patients from Townsville who have a form of leukaemia that occurs more commonly in children.

Get in touch

Do you have a question about our work? For any enquiries please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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