Terry and Ginette Snow: a story of humble beginnings

Enduring family values

It’s safe to say that, by any standards, the Snow family are extraordinary. Known for their business acumen, forward-thinking investment strategies and passion for life, the family have also set up two of the most generous philanthropic foundations

Coming from salt-of-the-earth roots, a keen sense of social justice is in their DNA. From the moment their grandfather arrived in Canberra in 1926 to establish the capital city’s first general store, the Snow family have been supporting those who have been disadvantaged in our community.

The Snow family are stalwarts of Canberran society having played a seminal role in the creation of the new modern and vibrant city as it stands today. Underpinning all of Terry Snow’s business decisions has been a ferocious tenacity to invest in bold, progressive projects. He shares this vision with his wife, Ginette and children, Scarlett, Tom, Georgina and Stephen.

After 50 years of marriage, family is vitally important to the Snows. In keeping with the values instilled in them from a young age, their four children have instrumental roles in the family’s business and philanthropic pursuits.

Investing in excellence

Under the leadership of Georgina Byron, the Snow Foundation has grown from a $1m investment by brothers Terry and George Snow in 1991 to a corpus of over $132m. The Foundation has supported over 440 organisations and over 520 individuals with a total giving of $68m.

With the support of Ginette, a former pharmacist, Tom Snow was the driving force behind the establishment of the Snow Medical Research Foundation (Snow Medical), which grew from a standing start in 2019 to over $200 million in commitments to medical research by the end of 2023.

Snow Medical’s vision is to support the next generation of emerging research leaders and their teams to build multidisciplinary programs that will change the face of healthcare in Australia and globally. To date, it has supported exceptional, visionary biomedical research leaders through an investment of nearly $100 million into the prestigious Snow Fellowship program, as well as additional funding into COVID research, heart research and other areas.

The Snow Fellowship is unparalleled in Australia in its vision and generosity for emerging researchers. In March 2022, WEHI’s Dr Stephin Vervoort received an $8m Snow Fellowship for him and his team to investigate new treatment options for cancers such as leukaemia. The Vervoort Lab is exploring how malfunctions in the enzyme RNAPII fuel aggressive cancer growth.

“It is only through long-term and well-funded investment into extraordinary teams with a bold vision, like Vervoort’s team, that we will deliver truly world-class research outcomes,” says Tom Snow, Chair of the Snow Medical Board.

“The Snow Medical Fellowship represents an exceptional vote of confidence in our research and an enormous boost in our battle against cancer. This generous investment allows our lab to pursue bold and innovative approaches which accelerate our quest to understand how genes are (dys)regulated and use these insights to treat aggressive blood cancers,” Dr Stephin Vervoort said.

L-R:Terry Snow AM, Ginette Snow and Tom Snow.

Looking to the future

This year, Snow Medical is doubling its investment into Australian research by establishing one of the world’s leading immunology research centres at WEHI through an initial commitment of $100 million over 10 years – one of the largest and longest running philanthropic partnerships in Australian history.

“Australia has some of the best researchers in the world. We want to get them out of short-term funding cycles and give them freedom to experiment and take risks – we’re here to back them,” said Terry Snow.

For the first time globally at a large scale, the Snow Centre for Immune Health will look at immune health and the immune system from a whole-of-system, whole-of-person perspective, to deliver transformational, real and measurable impacts.

Research at the Snow Centre for Immune Health will address the increasing “tidal wave” of immune disease in modern society:

  • Debilitating autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis affect 10% of the population and are some of our most significant chronic health problems.
  • One-in-five Australians live with some form of allergic disease including anaphylactic food allergies.
  • 10% of Australians live with asthma.

Co-led by WEHI and the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Centre will translate discoveries made in the lab to life-changing benefits for patients at unprecedented scale and speed.

WEHI is proud to share the Snow family’s passion for change and pursuit of excellence. We thank Snow Medical for sharing our vision for a better future, free from the most devastating diseases we face today.

Ways you can support WEHI

Sign up to our quarterly newsletter Illuminate

Find out about recent discoveries, community supporters and more.

Illuminate Autumn 2024
View the current issue