Now that the ANZAC Research Institute is well into its second decade, it continues to thrive as an independent medical research institute supporting its co-located teaching hospital and affiliated medical school. By all standard global measures of medical research productivity – winning over $11 million annually in external grant income, housing nearly 150 staff including 50 graduate (mostly PhD) students undertaking research training and producing nearly 100 research papers per year – it is a great success. But above and beyond the conventional metrics, proudly it remains a great place for medical researchers to work while making important progress in many fields as outlined further in this Report.
As Concord Hospital’s own medical research institute, the ANZAC Research Institute has earned its reputation for scientific excellence in the wide range of research areas on display in our Report. The Institute was created by the foresight of two key founders, the late Professor John Young, for the University of Sydney, who became our first Board Chair, together with Diana Horvath as CEO of the Central Sydney Area Health Service, the predecessor of the present Sydney Local Health District. Their remarkable shared and co-operative vision set a solid foundation for the Institute’s pathway to success. Now, in a wonderful turn of history, Professor Diana Horvath now serves as our present Board Chair.
Medical care never stands still. Every level of the world of medicine and health care requires an underpinning of thoughtful analytical research and innovation to stay up to date and maintain state-of-the-art medical care for our community. Medical research is a vital and sound investment in the shared health and welfare of our community. Yet undertaking medical research is a very expensive and demanding business. We manage this with minimal overheads needed to keep the doors open while having to acquire expensive scientific equipment and maintain complex research services to allow the highest quality medical research to flourish. In this our main support for operating costs comes from the NSW government together with some returns from the University from its research income earned by our scientists working at the Institute. More direct community support in the form of gifts, donations and bequests is also received with gratitude.
Australia’s 40+ medical research institutes contribute the lion’s share of the highest quality medical research produced in this country. Among various research-active organizations, only medical research institutes offer an un-conflicted focus on excellence in medical research. All Institutes have as their unequivocal highest priority the creation of a researcher-friendly environment providing maximal support for high quality, innovative research including the research training of the next generation of medical scientists. Hospitals are primarily health service providers whereas universities are primarily teaching institutions. Both value medical research, but as an important but secondary objective as supporting top medical research has utilitarian value in attracting prestige and creating the environment required to recruit and maintain the best professional academic or medical staff necessary to fulfill their primary objectives. However, when their primary objectives come into conflict with their secondary interests, their priority for medical research may suffer. So it is only by having strong and successful medical research institutes like ours that our health system and universities can succeed in fulfilling their primary objectives in relation to health care and medical education.
It is a pleasure, once again, to thank the Institute’s management team who make its operations go so smoothly and so well. The skill, commitment and hard work of our terrific team - Julie Taranto, Annet Doss, Candice Chang, Tracey Dent, Mark Jimenez, Mamdouh Khalil, Justin Crosbie, Rachelle Innes and Amy Ng – well deserve the highest praise and thanks from all who enjoy the excellent working atmosphere at the Institute. Achieving the Institute’s researcher-friendly environment, one of our prime goals, is largely due to their sustained efforts.
Thanks also are due to Concord Hospital and the Sydney Local Health District staff – Gary Miller, Matthew Swanborough, Tim Sinclair and the Chief Executive, Teresa Anderson - for their unfailing helpfulness and support without which the ANZAC Research Institute could not operate. Similarly, the ongoing support of the Sydney Medical School, Professors Bruce Robinson, Bob Lusby and Arthur Conigrave is gratefully acknowledged. Thanks also to John Gatfield for editing our newsletter Discovery. Finally, my personal thanks go to Professor Diana Horvath and her predecessor Dr Felicity Barr as Board Chairs together with the Board for the unflagging support and enlightened commitment all geared towards making the Institute as good as it can be. Above all, it remains a privilege to work in the challenging and productive environment created by the Institute’s scientists whose inspiring commitment make all efforts on their behalf worthwhile.