From the director

From the director

Illuminate September 2015
September 2015

Director Professor Doug Hilton
Institute director Professor Doug Hilton

The past three months have been a whirlwind and have brought with them some wonderful news.

MRFF legislation passed

In August the Australian Senate passed the legislation for the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). This visionary fund couldn’t come at a better time, delivering renewed confidence to the health and medical research sector. Within the decade we expect to see a doubling of funding for medical research via a safe-guarded future fund.

I congratulate the Australian Government on standing firm on this nation-shaping fund. We also congratulate the Parliament for recognising the MRFF’s tremendous value and offering multi-party and cross bench support.

Every dollar invested in health and medical research generates more than two dollars in health and productivity gains by reducing the burden of disease on the health system and productivity, and through the creation of innovative businesses and jobs in the health industry.

Centenary celebrations

We are now more than half way through our centenary year, and have had a busy and exciting program of events over the past few months as we mark our 100th year.

In August, we celebrated our centenary with the Science in the Square Festival, a series of engagement events held as part of National Science Week. The two-week festival saw the institute welcome more than 1000 people to Federation Square to explore the institute’s research and achievements through art, comedy, film and public talks.

We were thrilled to partner with Federation Square, The Age, ACMI, Melbourne Writers’ Festival and National Science Week to bring you this exciting program of events.

We also welcomed a bevy of exciting international and national speakers as part of a three-day centenary scientific symposium in July. Nobel Prize winners Professor Elizabeth Blackburn and Professor Tom Steitz were among a number of highlights of the symposium, with institute staff and students getting the opportunity to hear from a number of world leaders in their fields.

Centenary campaign support

Just six months into the centenary year we have secured support for 10 centenary gifts, representing more than a quarter of our $50 million five-year financial target.

These confirmed centenary gifts will support 13 centenary fellowships and related project costs and/or equipment purchases, and will accelerate our research into cancers, particularly rare cancers, pancreatic cancer and multiple sclerosis. The centenary fellowships will support early career scientists in a wide range of disciplines including bioinformatics, digital imaging and immunology.

We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our donors, and their commitment to investing in the future health of all Australians by supporting our most promising young researchers. If history is any indication, this vital support in our centenary year will lead to discoveries that will make a difference to millions of people’s lives in future decades.

Farewell to a great friend of the institute

On a final note, we were saddened to hear of the passing of John Gough in July. John was vice-president of the board under Bruce Teele for several years, and a great supporter of the institute. He was also important during the establishment of the institute’s Leadership Fund. John was one of the great philanthropists in Melbourne, supporting the institute as well as the National Gallery of Victoria and the Royal Botanic Gardens, to name a few. He will be missed.

 

Very best wishes, Doug

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