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A bequest that has transformed research into liver disease

9 October 2017
One man’s gift becomes his legacy

Before Robert Storr passed away from liver cancer in 1992, he pledged his support for medical research into this devastating illness and its treatment.

Robert’s visionary bequest of more than $8 million to the University of Sydney is making a major contribution to the fight against liver cancer and other common liver diseases. His significant gift has not only funded decades of innovative medical research but will continue to fund, in perpetuity, the Storr Liver Centre.

Part of the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, the Storr Liver Centre is making ground-breaking advances in the fight against liver cancer and the prevention and treatment of liver disease. The centre’s research covers liver cancer, metabolic liver disease, genetics of liver disease, viral hepatitis, liver immunology, liver injury and fibrosis, and drug metabolism. Researchers are also investigating the bioinformatics of human liver and metabolic diseases, natural history and outcomes of liver disease, and conducting clinical trials for the treatment of viral hepatitis, metabolic liver disease and liver cancer.

Professor Jacob George, Director of the Storr Liver Centre and Head of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Westmead Hospital and Sydney West Local Health District, is a renowned hepatologist and liver research scientist. He currently holds the position of Robert W Storr Professor of Hepatic Medicine, a professorial chair in liver cancer that was also established by the bequest.

“The Storr bequest, without a doubt, has been the biggest philanthropic gift for liver research in Australia,” says Professor George, who was appointed to the position in 2006. It has established the Storr Liver Centre as an internationally-acknowledged centre of excellence for research on viral hepatitis, fatty liver disease, genetics, gene regulation, liver cancer and other aspects of liver pathobiology. The centre publishes on average 70 papers per year in the highest impact journals, including Nature Genetics, Nature, Nature Communications, and Cell.”

Staff of the Storr Liver Centre

Staff of the new Storr Liver Centre, established by a bequest from Robert Storr.

The centre is one of the top liver research centres in the world, and its work has led directly to improved outcomes for patients with liver cancer. This year, the centre made a world-first discovery by identifying the specific protein that causes liver disease – providing hope for new targeted treatments for liver disease.

The Storr Liver Centre enables researchers to conduct end-to-end research – from the patient to the lab and back to the patient. Attracting researchers from across the world, the centre has made ground-breaking discoveries that have significantly impacted understanding of liver diseases.

Between 1996 and 2017, Robert’s donation funded more than $8.6 million in medical research at the Storr Liver Centre. Today, the centre is tackling the rising rate of liver cancer in NSW through a large-scale project that involves a combination of surveillance, epidemiology, better treatment and the creation of a tissue bank for basic science research.

“This has transformed our understanding of liver diseases in general, but more importantly has impacted the lives of patients with liver diseases, leading to greatly improved outcomes,” says Professor George.

Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University, Dr Michael Spence says: “We are so grateful for the ongoing benefit the University derives from bequests such as these and their power to do good in the field of medical research.”

“Thanks to Robert Storr’s generous gift, the Storr Liver Centre is leading the charge in translational research and achieving life-changing outcomes for people suffering from liver disease.”

How you can help

If you would like more information on how your gift can support research and education, please call Alexandra Miller on +61 2 8627 8811 or via email at alexandra.miller@sydney.edu.au

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