Percolating for prostate cancer research

13 Oct 2023

As a former medical researcher Joseph Box knows all too well how important funding is to the advancement of medical research. Now he is putting his money or rather his coffee where his mouth is.

As the owner of new café Brew On Brunswick, alongside wife Tarni, who is also nurse, Joseph is raising funds for prostate cancer research by donating the proceeds from all coffee sales from November 27 to 31 towards a fundraiser he has called Percolate for a prostate.

Having had cancer touch both sides of their family, and with prostate cancer now Australia’s most commonly diagnosed form of cancer, the couple were keen to help out by raising funds.

“My Wife lost her mother to ovarian cancer when she was 20. She lost her Aunty that same year to Fungating breast cancer. Her father survived stage 4 colon cancer but it certainly changed his life,” Joseph said.
“My nan had bladder cancer and is in remission thankfully, my uncle also runs a charity in the US called Sunbus that’s focused on preventing skin cancer.”  Brew on Brunswick has been operating for approximately three months now at 84 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley and the owners are keen to give back to the wider community, starting with their prostate cancer fundraiser. Strenghtening their connection to the community and a healthier future for has been the arrival of Joseph and Tarni's son Banjo, born earlier this year.

“We are steadily growing our following and we’re really keen to increase the traffic through the shop because it will help us to promote more initiatives like this and Bear Cottage who we also support,” Joseph said.

“Our hearts really are in supporting the health and well-being of everyday people who are going through really tough stuff and putting a smile on the faces of our busy community as they go about a hectic life. That’s the driving factor for everything we do.” 

Joseph who was a medical researcher for a decade, has always had  a passion for hospitality after undertaking an apprenticeship in his teens, and when the Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to ongoing funding in the medical research he was undertaking he eventually shifted back to the field.

“I started in the lab as an undergraduate with Dr Nikolas Paquet and Professor Derek Richard. I worked on Nestor Guillermo Progeria Syndrome,” he said.

“When I loved research I shifted my attention to acute myeloid leukaemia and DNA repair. I then shifted to Michael Landsberg's lab to do my PhD in ABC toxins where we used biophysics, bioinformatics and biochemistry to understand the structure, function and evolution of these large virulence toxins secreted by bacteria in the gut. We wanted to understand the mechanism of gut epithelial recognition and then re-engineer the toxin to deliver a targeted therapeutic.

“I then headed to Queensland Brain Institute where I managed the Drosophila quarantine facility and studied the structural and mechanical mechanisms of presynaptic transmission of Anaesthetics and worked on a hypothesis to use genetics to study Wolbachia (a symbiotic bacteria living in the gut of Drosophila) that secrete ABC toxins.

“COVID hit, funding dried up, and I moved into healthcare HR at Metro North Health Service.

“Prior to my 10 years of research, I started a career in Hospitality at 13 as an apprentice chef. I always had a plan to open a restaurant. When money got tough in 2020, I jumped back in a restaurant casually and remembered why I love it.

“I get to meet and serve some amazing people and I have noticed that I love to host others and make them feel welcome. I learned how to make coffee and found that I was good at it. My wife's favourite meal of the day is breaky and she would have it for every meal if I agreed to it. The opportunity to open a small cafe came up, and we decided it was a great idea to jump on. We are super passionate about amazing food and amazing coffee.

“We both love caring for people though, we both do it in incredibly different ways. Our cafe is all about making people feel as though they have a place to escape for a couple moments during the day and feel incredibly welcome. We care about our community and it's important for us to give back in whatever capacity we can.”

You can donate directly to Brew on Brunswick's percolate for a prostate for a prostate here