Women supporting women: Behind the screen of cervical cancer prevention

Event type: 
Event date: 
Tuesday, 10 March 2020 - 12:30pm to 2:30pm

Berg Family Foundation Seminar Room, Level 6, Wallace Wurth Building, Kensington Campus, UNSW Sydney

Booking deadline: 

A catered lunch will be provided at 12:30pm. Please register by COB Friday 6 March.

Australia is on track to become one of the first countries in the world to eliminate cervical cancer, but globally, women continue to die from this entirely preventable illness.

We now have access to highly effective vaccines and more sensitive screening tests, but the positive impacts of these are far from being realised in countries with the highest cancer burden. In Papua New Guinea, for example, it is estimated that more than 1,000 women die of cervical cancer each year.

We therefore must continue to seek out new approaches that are effective and practical in low- and middle-income settings, so they too can benefit from the advances in technology that are available.

This International Women's Day, and in recognition of International HPV Awareness Day, we meet some of the women behind Australia's leading cervical cancer research, as they share their experiences and insights into this important women's health issue.

Professor Karen Canfell, director of the Cancer Research Division at Cancer Council NSW, and Kirby Institute researchers Dr Dorothy Machalek and Ms Hawa Camara are all working across communities in Australia and internationally to help alleviate this preventable illness.


12:30pm: Lunch

1:00pm – 2:30pm: Presentations and panel discussion


Professor Karen Canfell

Professor Karen Canfell
Director, Cancer Research Division at Cancer Council NSW

Karen Canfell holds a D.Phil (PhD) in epidemiology from the University of Oxford. She leads the Cancer Research Division at Cancer Council NSW in Australia, which has over 80 staff and students and includes a program of externally awarded grants and an active internal epidemiology group. The focus of the internal program of research, called Pathways to a Cancer-Free Future, is to provide policy-makers with the evidence-base for decision making in cancer control. Karen has led evaluations of new screening approaches for government agencies in several countries and currently leads an NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Cervical Cancer Control (C4). Her team’s work underpins the Renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program in Australia, which transitioned to 5-yearly HPV-based screening from in 2017. In collaboration with the Victorian Cytology Service, Karen also initiated Compass, which is Australia’s largest clinical trial to assess cervical screening in an HPV-vaccinated population. She currently has active collaborative modelling grants from the US NIH and WHO and she is lead of one of three teams working with the WHO to model the global impact and cost-effectiveness of cervical cancer elimination.

image - Women supporting women: Behind the screen of cervical cancer prevention
Dr Dorothy Machalek

Dr Dorothy Machalek
Public Health Epidemiologist and Senior Research Fellow, Kirby Institute

Dorothy Machalek is a public health epidemiologist and Senior Research Fellow. She holds a Doctorate in epidemiology and a Master of Public Health from the University of New South Wales. Her research focuses on improving control of human papillomavirus (HPV) the primary cause of cervical cancer, the fourth-most common malignancy in women globally. Dr Machalek leads a National HPV Monitoring Program funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health. The program is evaluating the impact of Australia’s HPV vaccination program by tracking changes in HPV infection prevalence over time in different populations. She is also a Chief Investigator on a world-first project that is measuring the impact of one and two-dose HPV vaccine schedules in South Africa, co-funded by the NHMRC and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

image - Women supporting women: Behind the screen of cervical cancer prevention
Ms Hawa Camara

Ms Hawa Camara
Scientia PhD Student, Kirby Institute

Hawa Camara joined the Kirby Institute is a Scientia PhD student with the Public Health Interventions Research Group and
Surveillance Evaluation and Research Program. She holds a Master’s in Public Health and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). Before starting her PhD, Hawa worked on USAID-funded health system strengthening projects in Africa (including Guinea, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Zambia, Mozambique, Kenya and others) and in the Caribbean (Haiti) for over a decade. Her past projects focused on HIV, STIs, Health Information Systems (HIS), and Human Resources for Health (HRH) to name a few. Her PhD research focuses on point of care HPV testing in Papua New Guinea.