How parent's insights help my research

04 Apr 2017

Dr Orazio Vittorio explains how working with parents gives his childhood cancer research a reality check.

Listening to the community— called ‘consumer engagement’—is vital to ensuring our research is relevant and meets community needs. One researcher seeing the benefit of this is Dr Orazio Vittorio, Project Leader in the Tumour Targeting and Biology Program whose research focuses on finding innovative strategies to treat neuroblastoma and glioblastoma. We asked him about his experience working with a family affected by childhood cancer, the Mazzuccos.

“Maria and Aldo Mazzucco, parents of Luciano, who passed his five year cancer-free milestone in 2015, are consumers who I have had the pleasure of working in partnership with on my research project for two years now.

“This provides me with an insight into the reality of having a child with cancer.”

The Mazzucco family have been instrumental in assisting me with making informed decisions about my research. For example, when I first discussed my project with them, they asked me: “So, are you developing a treatment that could have fewer side effects?” To which I replied, “Exactly”.

The Mazzucco family then suggested I make this message clearer and stronger in my project, because as parents of children with cancer, having treatment with fewer side effects is very important. This provides me with an insight into the reality of having a child with cancer. It has assisted me in ensuring that my project is clear and suits the needs of its end beneficiaries—children and families impacted by cancer.

The Mazzucco family have impressed upon me how important less toxic treatments are and that’s what spurs me on in my research. I’m so thankful that the Mazzucco family could turn a negative experience into something positive that will help others.”

Dr Orazio Vittorio in the lab

Consumer engagement – find out more

Learn more about consumer engagement. And, if you would like to become a consumer representative, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact our consumer engagement coordinator, Josi Demetriou.

To read this article and more stories from lab bench to a child’s bedside, download the Autumn issue of LabNotes (pdf, 480KB).

Top image: Parent and consumer representative Maria Mazzucco with researcher Dr Orazio Vittorio at the Institute.