25/07/2006 - 22:00

Not For Profit: Vital signs good for research

25/07/2006 - 22:00

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

It has been a another year of growth for the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, with the organisation attributing its overall strength to early policies aimed at getting the right people on board.

It has been a another year of growth for the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, with the organisation attributing its overall strength to early policies aimed at getting the right people on board.

WAIMR director Peter Klinken said the institute’s financial success – grant income doubled to $16 million in 2005 from the previous year – was due to a cutting-edge research environment that had attracted talented people.

“My very firm belief is that we managed to recruit good people successful at attracting grants,” Professor Klinken said.

Certainly this view corresponds with the growth of the organisation, a key driver for the state’s growing science sector.

Professor Klinken said research staff numbers had quadrupled from 35 to 170 from the 2002 calendar year to 2006, while research income had risen almost 10-fold from less than $2 million per annum in 2000 to over $16 million in 2005.

The state government has injected more than $12 million into WAIMR programs and promised $50 million to build a new medical research precinct. UWA has matched that building fund with its own $50 million contribution.

The precinct will be in two stages, at two locations – Nedlands and Murdoch – with a 2012 completion date.

Professor Klinken said WAIMR’s first challenge was to reverse WA’s brain drain. To do this it aimed first to get the best local researchers and then sought to bring outstanding researchers to WA from interstate and overseas.

“It was critical to make sure that the medical research environment in WA is viable, to have the right infrastructure,” he said.

“Basically what happens in the research industry is that we send very bright people overseas to get experience, which is great, but if they don’t come back it becomes an export which is not cost effective; that becomes an untenable situation.

“I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to recruit good people, and you can see by the grants that money is flowing into the state as a consequence.”

WAIMR was started in 1998 as a tripartite agreement between UWA, Royal Perth Hospital and Sir Charles Gardner, with Wesfarmers providing a $5 million grant over the first five years.

“If that hadn’t happened we wouldn’t be where we are at today. As far as we are aware it’s the biggest single donation from a corporate group ever done in Australia,” Professor Klinken said.

“After that initial period, we really sought to become self sufficient as much as possible, by attracting grants and other forms of support. We look at all different sources of income and commercialisation of our research is also important.”

Among the key appointments the organisation has made are David Ravine recruited from Cardiff, Lyle Palmer (Harvard), Grant Morahan (Melbourne), Sibylle Schwab (Germany), Luba Kalaydjieva, Michael Millward (Sydney), Ruth Ganss (Heidelberg) and Karin Eidne (Edinburgh), all professors or associate professors.

The organisation has a wide variety of projects on its books, from  clinical trials for cancer research through to Professor Palmer’s Joondalup family health study.

“Today the challenge is to make people work as closely, integrated and collaboratively as possible,” Professor Klinken said.

“We really need to be focused on the big game and the big game is the international stage, for that we can’t afford to be working in isolation.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options