Dr Fernando Guimaraes

Harnessing immunotherapy for melanoma

Fernando is an immunologist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Victoria. Focused on melanoma research, his quest is to identify “breakthrough science” that can stimulate the body’s immune system to beat cancer.

The research

With this, his second Cure Cancer Australia grant, Fernando seeks to continue previous research on how the immune system can control metastasis, which is the spread of cancer.

“Despite advances in treatment and early detection, metastasis is a leading cause of cancer-related death, especially in melanoma,” he says.

“Studies over the past decade have reinforced the role of the immune system in controlling its progression.”

Ultimately, his goal is to understand how the immune system can control metastasis and translate these findings into treatments to cure metastatic cancer.

“Medical researchers’ journeys are never easy,” Fernando reflects. “To succeed, they must be motivated, ambitious, curious, ethical, hardworking, open-minded, respectful and tolerant.”

Moreover, competition for funding is always tough. “That’s why new early-career grants like the Cure Cancer Australia emerging investigator initiative are a priceless opportunity for  scientists,” he says.

Fundraising makes a big difference

“Research using the patient’s own immune system is risky and expensive,” he says. “Government funds aren’t enough to develop all promising projects and fundraising can make a big difference.”

As a result, Fernando has also become involved in fundraising activities and events including The Weekend to End Women’s Cancer  and the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

“I understand how hard fundraising is because I’ve done it, “ he says, “I appreciate the efforts of Can Too and others who’ve worked so hard to make promising project grants from Cure Cancer Australia become possible.”

Outside of work, Fernando, who is originally from Brazil, enjoys travel, mountain biking, scuba diving and the combat sport Muay Thai.


 Fernando is funded by Cure Cancer Australia through the Cancer Australia Priority-driven Cancer Support Scheme. His grant is solely supported by The Can Too Foundation.

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