An early career researcher’s perspective of the 9th Australian Lung Cancer Conference

Nathan Harrison headshot. Background of PHAA logos.

Nathan Harrison, PHAA member

Following significant progress on lung cancer control in Australia, 2022 Konrad Jamrozik Student Scholarship recipient Nathan Harrison attended and presented at a national conference on the topic. He shares his insights with Intouch readers.

I was fortunate to be the 2022 recipient of the PHAA South Australia Branch’s Konrad Jamrozik Student Scholarship, which supported my attendance at the 9th Australian Lung Cancer Conference – ALCC2023. It was a real honour to receive this scholarship, established to provide financial support to public health students for conference attendance, and named in memory of Professor Konrad Jamrozik – a tireless advocate, cancer clinician, and tobacco control legend.

I was most grateful for the opportunities to present my own work in smoking cessation and lung cancer screening, and to learn so much on the Gold Coast in February. ALCC2023 marked a long-awaited return to face-to-face meetings, and was a valuable career development opportunity to network with experts from medical, allied health, consumer, and other public health professional backgrounds, right across the continuum of cancer care. The conference also allowed for working group sessions, and meetings with expert clinicians and consumer advocates who collaborate on the broader program of research on which I work. I was also glad to contribute as part of the organising team for an Early- and Mid-Career Researchers workshop day.



The conference left us all celebrating recent achievements in lung cancer control, including:

  1. Lung Foundation Australia’s commitments to diversity and building the next generation of lung health leaders (through the launch of new Early- and Mid-Career Researcher and LGBTIQA+ networks), and;
  2. The Lung Cancer Blueprint 2.0, which outlines the next key steps needed for policy reform and to (equitably) improve lung cancer outcomes.

A keynote presentation on lung cancer screening from Clinical Associate Professor Renelle Myers (University of British Columbia) also offered key insights from the implementation of a regional lung cancer screening program in Canada, including on how smoking cessation support is being offered in practice via opt-out referral to telephone support services. Particularly as a potential national lung cancer screening program is considered in Australia, these and other insights are vital for the design and implementation of resources that can have greatest effect.

Tobacco smoking continues to be the number one cause of lung cancer, the cancer diagnosis responsible for more deaths in Australia and South Australia than any other, and which disproportionately impacts individuals living in under-served communities.

To keep driving down smoking rates among particularly high-risk groups, we need to understand how to make the most of a new smoking cessation opportunity in lung cancer screening. I was able to disseminate my PhD research in a rapid-fire oral presentation, ‘Key stakeholder perspectives on smoking cessation support within a lung cancer screening program in Australia’, which aims to understand how evidence-based smoking cessation interventions can be optimally embedded into a potential lung cancer screening program in Australia. This opportunity led to valuable discussions with other conference delegates (that will help further progress my PhD studies), and media interest, to continue to advocate for increased smoking cessation support while ensuring we don’t further stigmatise lung cancer.


Nathan Harrison chairing a conference sessio, speaking on stage in front of audience.
Nathan Harrison chairing the ‘Health services research/QI & Implementation science’ session. Image courtesy of Dr Erin McGillick


Finally, it was great to sneak in a bit of sun in a setting that facilitates good (public) health! The Gold Coast is the perfect conference location for many reasons, including bus connections that run express to the airport, and a culture of early morning activity that gets many out running. I capped off my week with the Australian home of parkrun at Main Beach, along with new conference contacts. I’m most appreciative of the PHAA SA Branch’s support.

I am supported by a PhD scholarship at Flinders University, provided through Medical Research Future Fund Grant Number 2008603 (to A/Prof Nicole Rankin and colleagues), and also acknowledge this support in making travel to ALCC2023 possible. I have no conflicts of interest to declare.


View the ALCC abstracts published here, and view Nathan Harrison’s ALCC presentation slides here.


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