New centre is major boost to men's health

Among its many aims, the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health will develop effective strategies for promoting positive health and wellbeing among men and boys.

Among its many aims, the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health will develop effective strategies for promoting positive health and wellbeing among men and boys.
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Tuesday, 2 October 2007

In a major step forward for men's health in Australia, the University of Adelaide and the Freemasons Foundation have jointly established the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health, which aims to enable men to live longer, healthier and happier lives.

The $2.25 million centre will be officially launched at the Art Gallery today (Tuesday 2 October) by key figures in industry, sport and government: industry leader Sir James Hardy; Head Coach of the Adelaide 36ers Phil Smyth; and South Australian Minister for Health the Hon. John Hill.

To be established within the University of Adelaide's School of Medicine, the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health is the first of its kind in Australia and one of only a handful of centres in the world with a focus on all aspects of men's health. It aims to:

  • raise the public profile of men's health issues;
  • develop effective strategies for promoting positive health and wellbeing among men and boys;
  • develop effective treatments for health conditions and diseases affecting men; and
  • to build a critical mass of researchers and practitioners with interests in various aspects of men's health.

Sir Eric Neal, Former Governor of South Australia, is the principal patron of the new centre. The Director of the centre is Professor Villis Marshall, an internationally recognised consultant in urology, educator and researcher.

"Australian men have unacceptably high rates of physical and psychological disease, and are not inclined to adopt healthy lifestyles," says the Head of the University's School of Medicine, Professor Gary Wittert.

"Preliminary results of the Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study being conducted at the University of Adelaide present an alarming picture of men's health, with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, insomnia, and erectile dysfunction all being severe problems in Australia's male population.

"Combined with the challenges posed by an ageing population, poor health and wellbeing poses a major threat to our productivity and economic growth as a State and a nation," Professor Wittert says.

Grand Master of the South Australian and Northern Territory Freemasons Mr Graham Bollenhagen says the Freemasons Foundation was keen to partner with the University of Adelaide to address the shortfall in research and public information about men's health.

"By sharing interests, strengths and resources, this partnership is sure to deliver on life-changing research to benefit all men," Mr Bollenhagen says.

"The Freemasons Foundation sees improving the health and wellbeing of Australians as essential to improving social and economic prosperity.

"The University of Adelaide, through studies such as the Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study and others, already has a strong track record of research into men's health, and we want to ensure that the University is able to build upon its efforts so that its work can make a real impact on the health and wellbeing of men in Australia."

The Freemasons Foundation and the University of Adelaide are co-funding the establishment of the centre. Funding is also being provided for two Freemasons Foundation Research Fellows and six Freemasons Foundation PhD Scholarships.

"This support will be critical in ensuring that research efforts are quickly established within the centre and are sustained through early career researchers," says the centre's Chief Executive Officer, Anne Hayes.

"We already know a lot about men's health, but there are also many areas in which we need to know more to develop effective strategies to improve health and wellbeing.

"Initially, the centre will seek to build on existing research strengths in aspects of men's health, but as additional funds are secured, new priority research areas can be identified and pursued."

Among the major studies currently underway at the University of Adelaide into men's health are:

  • Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study (Professor Gary Wittert) - a multidisciplinary population study examining the health and health related behaviours of 1195 randomly selected men, aged 35-80 years and living in the north-west regions of Adelaide;
  • Male obesity (Professor Gary Wittert and Professor Stephen Worthley) - investigating the effects of obesity and diet-induced weight loss on cardiovascular function, plasma androgens, sexual function and lower urinary tract symptoms in men;
  • Prostate cancer (Professor Wayne Tilley and Professor Villis Marshall) - world leaders in prostate cancer research. Their research aims to understand at the molecular and cellular level how prostate cancers grow and escape from hormonal control. This research is essential to develop new strategies for the treatment of prostate cancer;
  • Male reproductive health (Professor Richard Ivell) - looks at the fundamental way that the male reproductive system and its hormones are programmed and influenced throughout life. One aspect of this work is looking at the programming in the male foetus, which determines the subsequent development of different testicular components, and how environmental factors, especially man-made chemical contaminants, determine the quality and quantity of testis function later in life;
  • Masculinity and health (Adjunct Associate Professor Murray Drummond) - a socio-cultural researcher on men and masculinities. His primary area of research investigates the way in which men socially construct masculinities and how this intersects with aspects of health.


Contact Details

Professor Gary Wittert
Head of Discipline of Medicine, Medical Specialties
The University of Adelaide
Mobile: 0409 411 789

Anne Hayes
Chief Executive Officer
Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health
The University of Adelaide
Business: + 61 8 8222 4228

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762