Speech

Address By

Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO

Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

ON THE OCCASION OF

Official opening of Translational Research Institute

Woolloongabba, Queensland

10 October 2013

Dr David Watson

The Hon Lawrence Springborg

Professor Ian Frazer

Professor Coaldrake and Professor Hoj

Members of our Queensland Parliaments

Distinguished guests

All

 

Good Afternoon my friends

 

I want you to know how thrilled and delighted I am to join you this afternoon, for this special occasion, to open this unique facility – the Translational Research Institute.

 

I acknowledge the traditional keepers of the place where we gather; the Juggera and Turrbul peoples.

 

When I return to Queensland I am warmed by a sense of coming home, of deep belonging and heartfelt memory.

It is indeed a special privilege to be part of the public launch of what will be a world-leading Institute, here in Brisbane -  a source of enormous pride and achievement for our community and our country.

 

I have to confess that I am one of those non-scientists who’s mad about science and I always have been – though never brave enough to enter its scholarship.

 

I remember the first girl from my little town of Ilfracombe to go to university in the 40s – Sanna Shannon – not only was she going to university, she was going to study science – we passed the news around with our own sense of awe.

 

I thought of her as I invested Professor Frazer with his AC at Government House last year, and how he has inspired so many of our younger generation to pursue a career in research – to discover, develop and test theories.

 

As one of Australia’s most successful and internationally renowned medical research scientists and clinicians, Professor Frazer’s contribution extends so much further.

 

His energy, talent and determination resulted in the discovery of a major lifesaving vaccine, which is significantly reducing the incidence of cervical cancer in women.

 

He has fostered strong, effective and innovative collaborations between research, academic and policy development organisations.

 

Professor Frazer’s commitment to the provision of equitable access to health care, and his dedication to reducing the burden of cancer on a world-wide scale is an example to us all.

It signifies the finest values of care and service to others.

 

Integrity shines through not just WHAT he does, but HOW he does it.

 

I recall our discussion at his laboratory where he explained that cervical cancer is responsible for nearly 300,000 deaths annually.

That over 90% of deaths occur in developing countries: about one third of those in the South East Asian region.

 

What inspired me enormously during my visit at that time to Princess Alexandra Hospital was the energy, professional skill and knowledge of the team of young scientists working alongside Professor Frazer.  I was struck by the energy, the camaraderie of the researchers at their benches, the diversity of their explorations.

 

Ian, I know that you don’t seek accolades or awards, but I want to express my admiration for the way you have used your public profile, particularly since you were named Australian of the Year in 2006, to promote science in our community, I remember how many schools you visited in that year and your lobbying for this important institute – reaching out to the community as well as the power brokers.

 

The Translational Research Institute both symbolises and facilitates innovation and excellence in learning. 

Through its goal of “partnering for better health”, TRI will bring together over 650 of the best scientists, researchers and clinicians from four leading research institutes. 

It brings together Queensland University of Technology’s Institute for Health
and Biomedical Innovation, The University of Queensland’s Diamantina Institute and School
of Medicine, Mater Research, and the Princess Alexandra Hospital Centres of Health Research. 

 

This collaboration, this coming together, will have a profound effect on the health and well-being of our society. 

 

New understandings of common and serious diseases such as cancers, diabetes, obesity, infections, and arthritis will be translated into better preventive measures and treatments, that will be available here in Australia and world wide.

 

The location of the Institute on the Princess Alexandra Hospital campus, and next to a biopharmaceuticals manufacturing facility, will allow a distinctive cross-disciplinary approach to developing improved responses to diseases that affect our health and well-being. 

 

This magnificent place truly represents the vision of ‘bench to bedside’ research, by enabling a discovery in the lab, progressing it to clinical trial, and then through to production of a treatment for community-wide application, all in the one location.

 

My friends,

What we celebrate today would not have happened without the extraordinary generosity of major private benefactor, Mr Chuck Feeney.

 

I know most of you are acquainted with Mr Feeney.

I have had occasion to thank him formally, on behalf of our country, at a dinner I hosted in Sydney on one of his last visits to Australia.

 

This afternoon I want to pay a public and heartfelt tribute to Chuck, for what is the largest medical donation in Australia’s history; I understand he gave in the order of $102 million AUD, to Queensland medical projects.

The epitome of modesty and generosity, our country has been fortunate that through the Atlantic Philanthropies Foundation, we will enjoy for a long time to come, the fruits of his personal commitment to giving.

 

Chuck has taught us much about the value of philanthropy, and can I, on behalf of all here, and in the wider medical research communities, say Thank You.

 

I know Mr Feeney is seriously ill in New York, and I send from all of us our warm wishes to him and his wife Helga.

 

Ladies and gentlemen

 

The individuals who occupy this building are performing critical research, that has the potential to have far-reaching and life changing impact on the health of us all.

I congratulate the architects-in-association, Wilson Architects and Donovan and Hill, and construction partner Watpac who have been instrumental in realising the vision, design and development of the Institute as a place where partnering comes naturally.

 

From the open-plan interaction areas, use of natural materials and sustainable design elements through to the unique educational spaces and ‘heart’ of the building – the Atrium, TRI represents the very essence of a collaborative research community.

My friends

 

I congratulate you on the realisation of a vision that has become a reality.

I wish you the very best in transforming your many research efforts and discoveries into practical outcomes to benefit our nation.

 

I invite Dr David Watson and Professor Ian Frazer to join me to cut the ribbon, and declare the Translational Research Institute officially open.