Prime Minister Howard announces $50 million injection for WEHI expansion

The Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, today announced a Commonwealth government contribution of $50 million towards a seven storey building expansion program. The project will double WEHI's floor space and substantially increase medical research capacity for the benefit of WEHI and other research institutions. The multi-million dollar construction project is expected to be finished within five years.

In a visit coinciding with the Institute's 90th anniversary, Mr Howard praised the many advances made in basic biomedical research over the decades and its impact on medicine and health.

Victorian Premier, Mr Steve Bracks, congratulated the Commonwealth for joining with the State government in supporting the expansion in WEHI's research capabilities, for the ultimate good of people around the world. The Victorian government pledged $50 million to the project in November 2005.

The Director of WEHI, Professor Suzanne Cory, said that the funding would enable substantial expansion of the Institute's research programs and enhance its capacity to translate discoveries in the laboratory more rapidly into the clinic.

"Cancer and infectious diseases will be a particular focus," said Professor Cory.

"Cancer kills more Australians than any other single cause and is the nation's biggest disease concern. One in three Australians develop cancer before the age of 75, and over a quarter will die from the disease. One third of cancer cases could be prevented the remaining two-thirds must be more effectively treated. Therefore, there is an enormous need for more effective targeted therapies to treat cancer at earlier stages, reduce side effects and achieve better, personalised outcomes."

"In the wet tropical regions of the world, malaria is a continuing human catastrophe, with about 2 million fatalities every year and 500,000,000 people suffering debilitating illness. WEHI has made huge strides in understanding this terrible disease, bringing us closer to the day we can bring malaria under control."

"I offer my deepest thanks and congratulations to the Commonwealth and Victorian governments and to philanthropic supporters for their foresight and commitment to Australian medical research."

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Further information: Brad Allan, WEHI Communications Manager: tel +61 3 9345 2345; mob 0403036116.


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