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Looking towards the future of biomedical research and innovation

A world-leading health, education and research precinct in Sydney.

A crowd of people attend a gala dinner and are seen clapping from their seats.
SydneyConnect Image: District executives and NSW Health Secretary Susan Pearce attend a gala dinner for the Sydney Biomedical Accelerator.

Researchers, clinicians, industry, government and philanthropic partners have come together to celebrate the future of biomedical research in Australia, with construction of the state-of-the-art Sydney Biomedical Accelerator set to begin this year.

Tonight, we have the opportunity to celebrate the long-standing partnership between the University of Sydney and Sydney Local Health District, and the next stage in this partnership - the Sydney Biomedical Accelerator,” said Professor Emma Johnston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) as she opened the gala dinner event on Tuesday 13 February.

Our ambition is to create a globally recognised precinct for the development and translation of health and medical research.”

A co-funded partnership project between the NSW Government, Sydney Local Health District and the University of Sydney, the $650 million Sydney Biomedical Accelerator (SBA) will accelerate the translation of biomedical research and discovery into new healthcare solutions and improved health outcomes for our community.

The Honourable Anoulack Chanthivong MP, Minister for Innovation, Science and Technology spoke to the societal and economic benefits of the SBA.

There are so many key benefits of the SBA to the people and to our country. From the many thousands of jobs it will create, to the increase in research and grant funding. But in my view that doesn’t measure the true value of the SBA. Investment in the SBA means investment in our love of learning, of science and discovery which will improve lives and indeed create a better society,” he said.

The gala provided the opportunity to learn about the vision for the SBA as a first-in-Australia precinct that genuinely integrates fundamental research at the molecular and cellular level with clinical and patient-centred research and health outcomes.

Chief Executive of Sydney Local Health District Dr Teresa Anderson said the Sydney Biomedical Accelerator will be a transformative initiative for our community, for Australia, and globally.

“The SBA will unite a diverse workforce of clinicians, researchers, academics, and engineers across the broad spectrum of human diseases to accelerate the translation of biomedical discovery into solutions of the most complex diseases of today and tomorrow.”

Guests also heard from leading researchers, including 2024 Australians of the Year, Professor Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer, about what the SBA could mean for some of our most complex health challenges, including cancer, vision science, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Speaking of his journey applying melanoma science to the treatment of his own glioblastoma Professor Scolyer said; “this is why we are ambitious for the Accelerator because we know we’re not curing as many cancers as we could and its time the cancer research field, and indeed all medical research, thinks big and gets courageous.”

“Our advances based on one single patient and one single tumour are the tip of the iceberg of what can be achieved when cancer researchers and clinicians, underpinned by science, are brave and prepared to challenge the status quo. And critically it is teamwork that underpins success. We are ambitious for the Accelerator because its model can advance bringing multidisciplinary teams together,” said Professor Long.

Due to open in 2027, the SBA will cover 36,000m2 and consist of two new buildings that will span both the University’s Camperdown campus and the District’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital campus, physically connecting these institutions for the first time in their over 140-year partnership. The Centenary Institute is the first research collaborator of the SBA.

The new building on the University of Sydney campus will be known as the Isaac Wakil Biomedical Building (28,000m2) in recognition of the transformative $20 million donation from the Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation towards the establishment of the SBA.

Housing 1,200 biomedical researchers and clinical scientists, the SBA will include purpose-built facilities to transition discoveries from bench to bedside including wet labs, a biobank, a prototyping core research facility for medical devices and implant development, good manufacturing practice (GMP) cleanrooms, and clinical trial and patient-facing spaces.

With a unique global concentration of biomedical research talent, the SBA will enable dynamic collaboration with industry and start-ups as part of a world-leading hospital, university, and tech innovation ecosystem.

Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Annamarie Jagose acknowledged the founding donors of the SBA - the Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation, Medich Foundation, CLEARbridge Foundation, the Dr Marie Knispel bequest and anonymous donors – for their transformative support that has allowed SBA to become a reality.

She also thanked the hundreds of staff from across the University, Sydney Local Health District, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Centenary Institute who contributed to planning for the facility.

“We are all incredibly excited for the SBA’s completion and all that it could mean and achieve for not just the organisations involved, but for the entire community and beyond,” she said.