State-of-the-art Cancer Institute to deliver world-leading research and treatment for South Australians


World-leading patient care, cutting-edge cancer diagnoses and treatments – including genomic and immune-based technologies – combined with ground-breaking research collaborations, will be the focus of a new cancer institute in South Australia.

The South Australian immunoGENomics Cancer Institute (SAiGENCI) will join a network of the world’s leading cancer research institutes to meet the global challenge of developing innovative, new treatments for cancer patients including in Australia.

Established with $80 million in funding from the Australian Government, the cancer institute concept and proposal builds on the collective efforts of the University of Adelaide, the State Government of South Australia and the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN). The new cancer institute is expected to generate $350 million in research revenue over the next decade SAiGENCI will function as an institute within the University of Adelaide and promote collaboration with a national network of cancer research centres. It will attract new research talent to the state, and provide South Australian patients with cutting-edge diagnoses and treatments.

University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Hoj AC, who is also a Trustee of The Australian Cancer Research Foundation, said: “SAiGENCI will be located in the Adelaide BioMed City, embedding the institute into this key medical research precinct and providing strong links into the Royal Adelaide Hospital, SAHMRI and the University of Adelaide. This nexus between research, clinical trials and outcomes will be critical for the future success of the institute’s work, and for translating research into real, life-saving outcomes for patients.”

"In this ecosystem, SAiGENCI will develop and advance new immunotherapies such as CAR-T cell therapies, provide greater access to genomic testing and its clinical translation and ensure that this testing is informed by the latest advances and breakthroughs in cancer genomics research. Importantly, SAiGENCI will work to support commercial opportunities as they relate to new therapies, diagnostics and clinical trials.

“Over the next 10 years we expect that SAiGENCI can grow from an initial 60 researchers and $6m per year in competitive funding, to more than 200 researchers and $20m in competitive funding,” Professor Hoj said.

The inaugural Chair of the new institute is Professor Brandon Wainwright AM, formerly Director of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland and an internationally prominent cancer researcher. He has been joined on the board by other leading figures in cancer research and treatment from around the nation, including Professor Doug Hilton AO (Director, WEHI), Professor Michelle Haber AM (Director, Children’s Cancer Institute, Sydney) and Professor Ricky Johnstone (Executive Director, Cancer Research, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre), and the University’s own Professor Benjamin Kile (Executive Dean of Health and Medical Sciences).

"In this ecosystem, SAiGENCI will develop and advance new immunotherapies such as CAR-T cell therapies, provide greater access to genomic testing and its clinical translation and ensure that this testing is informed by the latest advances and breakthroughs in cancer genomics research."University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Hoj AC

“Through the exciting new fields of genomics and immunotherapy, the work of SAiGENCI will ensure South Australian cancer patients can receive the benefit of these breakthrough technologies,” said Professor Wainwright.

“The existing network of the board will also ensure a close relationship is built between SAiGENCI and other medical research institutes in Australia and internationally. Importantly, SAiGENCI will be a key element of the Australian Government's vision of an emerging national network of comprehensive cancer centres and cancer research institutes.”

Senator Stirling Griff, who successfully advocated for the $80 million in Federal Government funding for SAiGENCI, said he pushed for the federal funding because he believed in the concept from the outset.

“The institute presents a potential game changer – both for South Australian patients, who would have access to cutting-edge therapies on home soil, and also for biomedical research,” he said.

“The initial SAiGEN concept has only been strengthened through the leadership of the University of Adelaide and its partnership with CALHN. Its world-leading expertise and substantial resourcing and financial commitment will turbo charge cancer diagnosis and treatment in South Australia.”

David Lloyd, Interim Director and CEO of SAiGENCI, has led commercial subsidiaries of the University of Melbourne and the University of Tasmania, and spent 12 years as Chief Operating Officer of the Baker Heart Research Institute in Melbourne.

“Building on a proposal put to the Commonwealth by Professors Michael Brown and Angel Lopez, SAiGENCI will be led by an internationally renowned cancer researcher. The global search for this appointment is underway, with an appointment expected by mid-2021,’’ he said.

CALHN CEO Lesley Dwyer said the creation of SAiGENCI provides another fantastic opportunity to actively join forces with other leaders in health, research and innovation to advance better healthcare outcomes for the community, and drive world-leading innovation.

“Having researchers based within our hospital network and working collaboratively with and within SAiGENCI and our BioMed City partners is vital in developing and translating the treatments straight from the lab to our patients’ bedsides,” Ms Dwyer said.

“The discoveries our researchers make with new treatments and new ways of thinking not only translate into better patient outcomes, they also allow us to improve the way we provide care and to influence policy.

“Working together to maximise the chance of cancer control and cure will help us improve health outcomes of the community and to achieve our vision of ‘shaping the future of health with world-class care and world-class research’.”

Professor Ian Frazer AC, founding CEO and Director of Research of the Translational Research Institute and co-inventor of the Gardasil vaccine against cervical cancer, said he was thrilled by the announcement.

‘‘I’m delighted that the establishment of the new institute will bring South Australia and the University of Adelaide to the table as a major partner in the national cancer effort. Angel Lopez and Michael Brown are to be congratulated for their leadership in making this happen,’’ he said.

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