Westmead offers a full spectrum of medical research from basic research to translational and clinical research, and population health studies.
Westmead is home to over 1,100 full-time equivalent (FTE) research staff, across four major institutes and numerous research centres, groups and networks. The majority of these (700) are full-time researchers, including 170 leading clinician-scientists, with the remainder being research support staff.
In 2015 Westmead researchers were awarded over $79 million in Category 1 public medical research grants, compared to less than $30 million in 2006. In 2015, researchers at Westmead achieved a grant writing success rate of 22%, compared to a publicised national success rate of 14%.
Westmead’s research institutes and clinical facilities also play an integral role in education. In 2016, Westmead’s research institutes, in partnership with Westmead’s hospitals, will train over 200 PhD students, and a further 100 post graduate students. The University of Sydney alone trains over 300 PhD students and 700 students in medical, nursing, dental and allied health professions at Westmead.
“At Westmead, businesses have the opportunity to work alongside some of the World’s pre-eminent scientists and clinicians with the most advanced research equipment available.”
Professor Tony Cunningham, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research
Major plans for research growth
- Western Sydney University Translational Health Research Institute
- National Institute for Complementary Medicine (Western Sydney University)
- Children’s Medical Research Institute, stages 2-5 (increasing researchers five-fold)
- The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, stage 2
- NSW Bio-Banking facility
- Westmead Innovation Centre
- Dedicated paediatrics clinical trails centre at the Kids Research Institute
- Western Sydney University Clinical Training Facility
- Sydney University’s Knowledge Hub (Westmead spoke)
- Western Sydney University LaunchPad.
“With a world-class basic medical research program we are making new discoveries and helping to train the next generation of researchers, problem-solvers and innovators who can harness the current explosion in scientific knowledge to improve the health of people everywhere.”
Professor Roger Reddel, Children’s Medical Research Institute
- Continue to grow the research profile and presence of Westmead, with the purpose of translating discoveries into new therapeutics, improved clinical care, and improved hospital population health outcomes
- Attract additional private sector funding for health and medical research conducted at Westmead
- Position research conducted at Westmead to maximise global trends from health innovations forecast over the next decade
- Ensure the commercial benefits of high impact research conducted at Westmead are retained in Australia.
Components of the vision
- Westmead Research Hub to identify ways to better align and promote precinct research with global health innovation opportunities
- Using the strength of national centres for research excellence in infectious diseases, immunisation, pancreatic islet transplantation, obesity and melanoma
- Hub networked translational research centres including:
- Cell and Gene Therapy Centre aimed at curing diabetes, leukaemia, heart failure and immune diseases.
- Infectious and immune diseases
- Neurosciences and mental health
- Link to establishment of university science and engineering schools at Westmead
- Greater access to research expertise to attract private sector interest in core research facilities including;
- The world’s first industrialised proteomics cancer research facility
- Plans for a jointly funded Centre for Clinical Bio-Banking
- Continue to create formal partnerships with research institutes external to Westmead.
- Focus on building scale and diversity of innovation activities across Westmead, followed by improving the translation of discoveries into healthcare and commercial applications
- Establish a Westmead commercial hub to be the conduit for researchers, innovators, and students to take great research and ideas to the world, encourage and engage with private sector
- Foster education pathways for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) students interested in pursuing a career in the medical and life sciences
- Ensure Westmead researchers are aware of venture capital opportunities and what they would need to do to gain the interest of venture capital
- Continue long-term investment in facilities, equipment and data services to future-proof research and continue to attract and retain internationally acclaimed researchers and academics to Westmead
- Increased support for translational research, through provision of greater facilities for clinical research.
Since 1978, medical researchers at Westmead have led the development of numerous new medical treatments and prevention programs in Australia and in some cases have changed health practice internationally. Here are just a few of our discoveries:
Melanoma: Westmead researchers helped discover the first gene that causes a high risk of melanoma in families. They have subsequently found most of the more than 20 gene variations that influence melanoma risk in the community, together with sun exposure.
Leukemia: Westmead researchers also developed therapies with immune cells to control potentially fatal infections in leukemia patients where drug therapy is failing. Recently they have adapted this type of cell therapy to treat leukemia itself.
Breast cancer: Breast cancer researchers made a discovery critical to improving diagnosis of the disease. They revealed that antibodies used in diagnostic testing often fail to detect both forms of progesterone receptor – which are an indicator of response to endocrine therapy in the clinical management of breast cancer.
Diabetes: Diabetes researchers at WIMR/Westmead Hospital established Australia’s first successful clinical pancreatic islet cell transplant program. Infusing patients with pancreatic islet cells gave normal blood glucose levels without insulin injections, thus curing patients in the majority of cases.
Cancer treatment: Westmead researchers discovered the Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres mechanism (ALT), creating an entirely new field of research that could lead to treatments for 15% of cancers that use this mechanism to maintain unlimited growth, including some of the most aggressive types, such as glioblastoma.
Gene therapy: Westmead researchers also conducted the first ever gene therapy clinical trial for a genetic disease in Australia.