Farewell Jette Ford

The Telethon Kids Institute has farewelled research officer Jette Ford after an incredible 37-year career. Jette is one of the Institute’s most treasured employees, having a huge impact on child cancer research not only in Western Australia but around the world.

Jette’s work focused primarily on leukaemia but also other paediatric cancers, with CLCRF proudly supporting her throughout it all.

Her research career began at the Research Unit at Princess Margaret Hospital in January 1984, alongside Professor Ursula Kees, who had been entrusted with creating Western Australia’s first paediatric cancer research program. Amazingly, Jette established her first cancer cell line within just months of starting.

Cell lines are immortalised cells cultured from samples taken directly from patients. They are essential tools to find new therapies to fight cancer. Cell lines are notoriously difficult to establish, yet Jette went on to coax 116 paediatric cancer cell lines into life over her time at Telethon Kids Institute. This is an incredible achievement and a feat only few could match.

Over the course of her career, Jette has overseen an array of leading-edge technologies and built and cared for an extensive biobank of paediatric cancer samples. According to lab records, Jette’s handwriting appears on at least 9,000 samples.

Two of the Foundation’s staff members, Kylie and Wendy, attended Jette’s farewell morning tea at the Telethon Kids Institute in March this year. They were also joined by Geoff Cattach, CLCRF Chairman, and Professor Ursula Kees, CLCRF Board Member, as they celebrated Jette’s incredible work over the years.

This isn’t the first time Jette has retired. The first time was in 2005, not long after she turned 60. Quickly growing bored with retired life, Jette went back to tending to her cells within a year. Now a great-grandmother, Jette insists her retirement will stick this time!

From everyone at CLCRF, we congratulate Jette on all she has achieved in her illustrious career. We are so proud to have been able to support such a talented researcher who has changed the face of childhood cancer research.