McClurg Brain Cancer Fellowship to attract new talent to SAHMRI

14 Aug 2021
McClurg Brain Cancer Fellowship to attract new talent to SAHMRI

A $1 million donation from Commercial & General founder Jamie McClurg will enable SAHMRI to take a quantum leap in the fight against brain cancer.

The donation creates “The McClurg Brain Cancer Fellowship” which will be used to attract a leading brain cancer clinician/researcher to SAHMRI on a multi-year appointment.

In thanking Mr McClurg for his philanthropy, SAHMRI Executive Director Professor Steve Wesselingh said the donation was “transformational”.

“We have been working to create a new position that further accelerates our brain cancer capability, particularly in paediatrics,” he said.

“Jamie’s generosity will make all the difference and the timing is ideal as we work towards delivering the most advanced cancer treatment available at the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research.”

Mr McClurg is the Executive Chairman of Commercial and General, the South Australian development company that’s partnering with SAHMRI to build Australia’s first proton therapy treatment and research unit. Working so closely with SAHMRI, Mr McClurg has seen the value of investment in medical research.

“I can’t cure cancer but I believe it’s up to people like me, who have built my life in South Australia, to ensure we are doing as much as we can to help those who are devoting their professional lives to creating a healthier future for our children,” Mr McClurg said.

“Health is one of the key pillars of our State’s future economic growth, and it is generally acknowledged that a strong health economy can only exist if it is underpinned by a powerful medical research capability,” Jamie said.

“SAHMRI is the flagship of that capability in South Australia but, as a comparatively young institute, it has become something of a victim of its own success.

“The Productivity Commission recently made note of SAHMRI’s significant contributions to our state’s medical research sector, however for every dollar of competitive grant funding won, institutes like SAHMRI need to find another fifty cents in third party funding to cover the gap in overheads that grants don’t meet.”

Professor Wesselingh says generosity on this scale from an individual is extremely rare in Adelaide and transformational for SAHMRI as an independent, not-for-profit medical research institute.

“I’ve seen over the past few years, working closely with Jamie, how much of a personal connection he has to our collective mission to bring proton therapy to Australia and improve cancer care, especially for children,” he said.

“In Jamie, we have someone who has both a deep understanding of and a passion for health as well as the ability to think big.

“SAHMRI can’t do what we do without the support of our community. Philanthropic donations give us the flexibility to pursue research where it is most needed, without needing to adhere rigidly to the controls placed on public funding.

“We have so many wonderful supporters across business, community groups and individuals, but a contribution like this from Jamie speaks to the boldness of his leadership. This donation, I believe, is another indication that Adelaide is maturing as an economy and that our philanthropic community is growing alongside that.”

Commercial & General is the State’s largest developer, responsible for $2.2 billion in projects that have been delivered or are under development.

These include the recently completed Calvary Adelaide Hospital, the largest private hospital ever built in South Australia, and construction of the landmark half-billion dollar Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research, the first of its kind in Australia and a game-changer for cancer patients, particularly children.

The company has been the driving force, in collaboration with SAHMRI, in bringing proton therapy to Australia by designing, funding and developing the business case and providing nearly $400 million in project finance. 

The McClurg Brain Cancer Fellowship is designed to enhance South Australia’s health and medical research sector by attracting talent from interstate or overseas. SAHMRI is approaching potential candidates with an appointment expected to be made early in 2022.