Prime Minister opens flagship Health and Medical Research Centre

29 Nov 2013
Prime Minister opens flagship Health and Medical Research Centre

The first stage of the largest health and bio-medical precinct in the Southern Hemisphere has been officially opened in Adelaide by the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP.

The visually striking South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) has been built as part of a new $3 billion-plus health and biomedical precinct on Adelaide’s North Terrace will house a team of more than 600 leading researchers working together in the search for better treatments and cures for some of the world’s most challenging diseases.

Over the next five years, it will be joined by the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, a proposed second SAHMRI research building and two multi-storey medical research and training facilities to create the largest health and biomedical research precinct in the Southern Hemisphere.

SAHMRI’s world-leading research will be centred on seven research themes of Aboriginal Health; Cancer; Healthy Mothers, Babies and Children; Heart Health; Infection and Immunity; Mind and Brain; and Nutrition and Metabolism.

Researchers from all of South Australia’s universities will work under the same roof – a model that is unique in Australia. The facility brings together a partnership of the Federaland State Governments, the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia and collaboration with organisations including the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australian Cancer Research Foundation,Cancer Council SA, Heart Foundation and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory - Europe’s flagship for the life sciences. The South Australian Department of Health will also play a key role in applying and delivering research outcomes within the community.

The Executive Director of SAHMRI, Professor Steve Wesselingh, said SAHMRI would provide a clear focal point for health and medical research in South Australia and nationally.

“SAHMRI will be a vibrant, globally recognised research institute which harnesses dynamic collaborations to deliver tangible health outcomes and community impacts not just in Australia, but across the world,” Prof Wesselingh said.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said the SAHMRI "is a symbol of our ambition for South Australia".

“With state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment, scientists and clinicians will work together there in search of better treatments and cures for some of our most challenging diseases," Mr Weatherill said.

“Across the whole health and bio-medical precinct - which will include the new Royal Adelaide Hospital and two new University of Adelaide and University of South Australia facilities - thousands of staff will be employed.

“They will be working in the high-tech jobs of the future and their presence in the precinct will provide an injection into the city’s economy and vibrancy – transforming the West End of the city."

Prof Wesselingh said SAHMRI had been established and its key research themes developed as a direct response to identified needs in the South Australian, national and global communities.“SAHMRI is not a ‘me too’ research facility. Its research themes have been chosen to fill gaps in global health and medical knowledge with a view to then applying that knowledge through extensive and interactive community engagement and education programs,” Prof Wesselingh said. “The research themes also recognise existing local world-leading scientific knowledge and researchers already residing within South Australia – which in turn has attracted some of the finest health and medical researchers from around the world to join the SAHMRI team.”

Prof Wesselingh said the advantages of bringing a range of research focus areas under one roof included sharing the cost of expensive technology, improved sharing of research techniques and outcomes, and synergies from knowledge sharing.

SAHMRI’s seven research themes will be serviced by Pillar Committees comprising experienced members of the health and medical research community who will engage with SAHMRI’s research themes and promote cross-disciplinary research. They will be based on the four pillars of health and medical research – Bioscience; Clinical Research and Drug & Device Development; Health Services Research; and Population Health and Health & Social Policy. Each pillar intersects with each of SAHMRI’s research themes and links with the other pillars to achieve health outcomes.