Graeme Philpott

One man’s personal campaign to shed light on funding for Pancreatic cancer

Jan Philpott was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2016. Her oncologist told her she would need a miracle to survive.

Jan’s husband Graeme Philpott was not prepared to give up without a fight. 

“I was devastated following Jan’s diagnosis and spent hours researching the disease and the best treatments. I wasn’t ready to lose her after 55 years of marriage,” said Graeme Philpott. 

Jan and Graeme Philpott

“I began researching this insidious cancer, known as the silent killer, and wanted to find that miracle cure for Jan.” 

Through this research Mr Philpott discovered a team of dedicated researchers at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) who are working towards better treatments for pancreatic cancer sufferers. 

He rallied the Member for Kiama, Gareth Ward to support Professor Marie Ranson, Dr Ben Buckley and Associate Professor Michael Kelso at IHMRI. 

Sadly, less than two years after her diagnosis Jan Philpott passed away in March this year. 

In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate donations be made to the Illawarra Health & Medical Research Institute in support of pancreatic cancer research.

Donations can be made online. Please make your donation “In honour of Jan Philpott.”

More than $1,190 was raised through these donations and Mr Philpott gifted an additional $5,000 to support pancreatic cancer research at IHMRI. 

Graeme Philpott's granddaughter, Abbey

Graeme Philpott’s granddaughter, Abbey

Jan and Graeme’s granddaughter, Abi Philpott also raised $5,500 for pancreatic cancer research by shaving off her long blonde hair. 

“Let us hope that the team at IHMRI and UOW can become world leaders in beating this horrible disease,” said Mr Philpott. 

Professor Marie Ranson, Dr Ben Buckley and Associate Professor Michael Kelso are focussing their research efforts on developing new drugs to treat pancreatic cancer.  

Using advanced medicinal chemistry techniques the team have generated a number of lead drugs to treat pancreatic cancer. 

These drugs are inhibitors of an enzyme, uPA. 

This team, and others, have proven that uPA is used by pancreatic cancer cells to metastasize and spread throughout the body.

In a pilot study performed by the IHMRI team their drug candidate (called BB2-30F) completely prevented the formation of metastases in the liver of mice with pancreatic cancer.  

This is a very promising result given that the only currently available drug to treat pancreatic cancer, the drug Gemcitabine, had no effect on metastasis in the same mice model.

Research efforts are now underway to expand upon the findings of the initial study and provide further data on the suitability of these promising drugs for human clinical trials in the near future.

Mr Philpott is urging the State Government to fund the next stage of this research in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven.

IHMRI is also at the cutting edge of research into improved drug delivery systems to treat diseases like pancreatic cancer by delivering the required drugs directly to the cancer cells.

This collaborative multidisciplinary research is happening at IHMRI, the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence for Electro-Materials Science and the University of Wollongong. 

IHMRI’s Dr Kara Vine-Perrow is leading a team of researchers to create the next generation of implantable drug delivery systems to treat pancreatic cancer.

The ability to deliver two chemotherapeutic drugs directly to the site of the tumour is anticipated to be more effective and less toxic than the current approach.

Related story

‘Uber’ drug delivery for cancer patients

Media contact 

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator 

t: 4221 4702

m: 0417 044 867



Top photo: Graeme Philpott. Credit: Alex Pike

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