11 December 2020

The fourth annual Liver Cancer Forum, hosted by GMRF, brought together some of the country’s eminent liver researchers and clinicians to address the growing health burden caused by primary liver cancer.

Held on the 3rd and 4th of December, the Forum went virtual in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions and was attended by close to 50 participants. GMRF’s Director of Research, Professor Darrell Crawford highlighted the importance of ensuring the event continued this year.

“We have gained so much momentum in the past three years, and it would have

Prof Darrell Crawford and Dr Kim Bridle prepare to host the Liver Cancer Forum online.

been a terrible shame to lose that due to COVID-19. We are starting to see a shift to a wider recognition of the problem of liver cancer through an increase in grants, new policies, and the research conducted in the institutes represented at this forum,” Professor Crawford said.

“Through the progress of basic research, we can optimise the treatments and treatment strategies and fast-track new treatments through clinical trials and out into the community.”

In total, the Forum included two symposiums and 10 free paper presentations from PhD students and early-career researchers. Dr Kim Bridle, GMRF Liver Research Lead and co-organiser of the event said the quality of presentations was incredibly high.

“The calibre of the free papers demonstrates the depth of basic primary liver cancer research here in Australia. There are a lot of great young researchers, and I think the future is very bright,” Dr Bridle said.

A key outcome of the forum has been the strengthening of collaborations between GMRF and other institutes across the country. Through the sharing of patient samples and analysis, researchers hope to fast-track their progress.

“Sharing resources has always been a primary aim of the Forum, but this year it has been even more of a focus. There is a collegiate nature, and a ‘win-win’ attitude in this practical collaboration,” Dr Bridle says.

Prof Crawford has described the 2020 forum as having a recurring theme of translational, clinical outcomes. In a session sponsored by AstraZeneca, Professor Stuart Roberts discussed how the National HCC Clinical Database could be integrated into research programs to improve the quality of clinical care.

“The database is an important step forward. It allows us to benchmark care across the range of clinics involved in the management of patients with liver cancer,” Prof Crawford says.

Over the two-day Forum there was also a focus on research investigating the proper targeting and individualising of treatments.

“What we are starting to see more studies that address issues surrounding improving response to therapy and better understanding of mechanisms of resistance to new and emerging therapies,” Prof Crawford says.

The growing national burden of liver cancer highlights the need and value of meetings like the Liver Cancer Forum hosted by GMRF. This event would not be possible without the support of sponsors, AstraZeneca, Eisai and Gilead and their dedication to helping develop solutions. We are proud to be a part of a collaborative effort to progress liver cancer research and we look forward to presenting this event again in 2021.

Abstract Winners

At this year’s Forum, prizes were awarded to the four best abstracts presented by young investigators:

  • Liang Qiao | Storr Liver Centre, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research
    Mechanisms of regorafenib resistance in hepatocellular carcinoma by single-cell RNA-seq analysis
  • Ritu Shrestha | Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation
    Combination targeting of EMT and immune checkpoint molecules re-sensitises hepatocellular carcinoma to Sorafenib treatment
  • Rodrigo Carlessi | Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute
    Single nucleus RNA sequencing of the chronically injured liver reveals molecular signature that correlates with and predicts disease stage
  • Hui Emma Zhang | Centenary Institute
    Targeting a unique enzyme as a novel therapy for primary liver cancer

A Message from our Event Sponsors

GMRF is very grateful for the generous contribution from the following Sponsors. Their support makes this important event possible.

Gold Level Educational Grant Sponsor – AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is committed to liver cancer research and improving patient healthcare and outcomes worldwide. It was a pleasure being included in the Liver Cancer Forum as a sponsor in 2020. AstraZeneca remains dedicated to supporting this Forum and liver cancer research moving forward.

Silver Sponsor – Eisai

Eisai is one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical companies. We define our corporate mission as “giving first thought to patients and their families, and to increasing the benefits health care provides”. Eisai calls this human health care (HHC). Aligned to this, Eisai is proud to sponsor the Liver Cancer Forum and support the opportunity this meeting provides to share updates in the treatment of patients with liver cancer.

Bronze Sponsor – Gilead

Gilead Sciences is proud to support the Liver Cancer Forum at GMRF. Each year an average of 1,000 Australians living with viral hepatitis1 die from potentially preventable hepatocellular carcinoma. Gilead remains committed to supporting people impacted by viral hepatitis, as well as the clinicians working hard to improve patient care and save lives. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate viral hepatitis and help prevent further Australians progressing to hepatocellular carcinoma.1




  1. Kirby Institute. HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: annual surveillance report 2018. Sydney: Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney; 2018.