Professor Georgina Long AO and Professor Richard Scolyer AO’s immunotherapy research has saved thousands of lives from melanoma. But their partnership extends beyond the realm of medicine.
The pair share a common passion for triathlon, both proudly donning the green and gold as part of the Australian Age Group Team as various World Triathlon Championship events.
They competed together at the 2023 World Triathlon Multisport Championships in Ibiza and the 2019 World Triathlon Championships in Lausanne.
Scolyer also raced at the 2018 World Triathlon Age-Group Championships on the Gold Coast and the 2015 World Triathlon Age-Group Championships in Chicago.
In November, the pair were jointly named 2024 NSW Australian of the Year, and now stand as finalists for the 2024 Australian of the Year, to be announcement at the National Arboretum in Canberra on the evening of January 25.
As co-medical directors of the Melanoma Institute of Australia, they have played a pivotal role in transforming the landscape of melanoma treatment.
Less than a decade ago, advanced melanoma was often a fatal diagnosis. But thanks to the innovative immunotherapy approach developed by the duo, melanoma has evolved from a once-deadly disease into a curable condition.
Their immunotherapy research has dramatically increased the five-year survival rate for advanced melanoma and is now revolutionising treatment for other cancers, including glioblastoma, a challenge Richard faces personally.
A mere month after competing at the 2023 World Triathlon Multisport Championships in Ibiza, Richard suffered an a seizure and was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer.
With standard treatment, he was given less than a year to live.
Undeterred by his own prognosis, he and Georgina leveraged their expertise to develop a series of world-first treatments based on their previous successes in melanoma research.
Richard’s willingness to undergo pre-surgery combination immunotherapy, despite the inherent risks, marked him as the world’s first brain cancer patient to undergo such a groundbreaking treatment.
His courageous act not only advanced the understanding of brain cancer but also paved the way for enhanced treatments that will benefit future patients.
Scolyer continues to defying the odds with an impressive eight-month milestone free from recurrence in the face of the supposedly incurable glioblastoma.
The 2024 Australian of the Year Awards will be announced at the National Arboretum in Canberra on the evening of Thursday 25 January 2024. The ceremony will be broadcast live on ABCTV and ABC iview from 7:30pm (AEDT).