$5 million gift for diabetes research

15 November 2010

(L-R) University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence with Australian Diabetes Council President Dr Neville Howard and CEO Nicola Stokes.
(L-R) University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence with Australian Diabetes Council President Dr Neville Howard and CEO Nicola Stokes.

The University of Sydney will appoint a new Chair of Diabetes as part of a major new research and teaching initiative, thanks to a $5 million endowment from the Australian Diabetes Council (ADC).

The endowment was announced this weekend by ADC President Dr Neville Howard at the annual Buzz Ball, held to coincide with World Diabetes Day.

When appointed, the new Chair of Diabetes will become a pivotal part of the University's Centre for Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease (CODCD), which aims to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these and related conditions.

In making the groundbreaking announcement, Dr Howard said the Australian Diabetes Council had been inspired by the University's vision in establishing the centre.

"This will be the first Chair of Diabetes in Australia dedicated to medical research and a unique interdisciplinary approach based on collaboration between world-class research groups from diverse backgrounds.

"We were inspired by the University of Sydney's vision to break down the barriers between traditionally individualistic disciplines, and their recognition that all facets of the community need to be engaged and working together to turn around the diabetes epidemic," Dr Howard said.

"The scale of the diabetes epidemic, and its cost both in human and monetary terms, is such that we have to continually think of new ways to try and combat the disease. We are delighted that the centre will be researching diabetes as part of 'life cycle investigation' - recognising that the disease's incidence is, in many instances, caused or exacerbated by lifestyle factors and recognising that diabetes itself is at the source of any number of other serious problems such as heart, kidney, eye and limb diseases.

"Type 1 diabetes prevention and management is another area that needs to be addressed.''

Professor Bruce Robinson, Dean of Sydney Medical School welcomed the $5 million endowment from the ADC which, he said, would help to support breakthrough research into identifying treatments.

"It will enable the centre to really be a major international player in the field."

Professor Robinson said the University of Sydney already had a strong record in diabetes research and treatment.

"The establishment of the Centre for Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease is recognition of the fact that each of those diseases contributes to the other," he said.

These diseases also have implications for many areas of society, including food production, public health and policymaking. As a result, the centre will draw on expertise from across the University of Sydney - from agriculture, through basic and clinical research through to social policy, education and urban planning - to understand and overcome the worldwide epidemic of these conditions.

The focal point of the centre will be a $385 million facility housing 800 researchers and providing state-of-the-art research facilities for the University and its partners, including clinical research and educational facilities that will allow the centre's discoveries to be tested and put into practice.

Dr Michael Spence, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney, said: "One of the University's priorities is to ensure our collaborative interdisciplinary research is focused on areas where we can make a real difference to issues of pressing national and international concern.

"The vision and generosity of the Australian Diabetes Council provides an important contribution to that commitment."

Construction work on the building is expected to begin in December 2010 and be completed in December 2013.

Media enquiries: For interviews with ADC CEO Nicola Stokes, contact Sam North on 0407 941 447 or Georgina Morris on 0433 469 961.

For University of Sydney comment, contact Andrew Potter, 0414 998 521,