Bright minds dazzle at first ever Westmead Research Showcase

Children’s Medical Research Institute director Professor Roger Redell, Westmead Hospital neurology senior staff specialist Professor Steve Vucic and Westmead Institute for Medical Research executive director Professor Tony Cunningham.

Hundreds gathered to learn from some of Australia’s best and brightest for the inaugural Westmead Research Showcase at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research today.

The event was the first time in the 18-year history of the Westmead Research Hub that all six partner organisations joined forces for one showcase.

The hub was formed in 2001 to promote collaboration between the 1300-plus full time research staff across the Westmead Precinct.

Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Graeme Loy said the incredible array of research on display made him excited for the future of the healthcare in Westmead.

“Here in Westmead our researchers are not hidden away in laboratories – they are right in the beating heart of the health system, seeing firsthand how their work helps improves the lives of everyday Australians,” Graeme said.

More than 300 people registered for the event, ensuring a full house for the presentations and hundreds of research posters.

Westmead Institute for Medical Research executive director Professor Tony Cunningham said the showcase was the realisation of a dream.

“We are close to becoming a world-leading campus, rather than just a campus of world-leading individuals,” Prof Cunningham said.

Clinical researcher Professor Tania Sorrell was one of the few at the showcase who has been part of the precinct since the early days, joining Westmead Hospital as an early career researcher in 1979.

In the ensuing decades Prof Sorrell became Head of the Clinical School at Westmead and saw the area transform into a nationally-significant centre of health, research, education and innovation.

“There is an air of optimism at Westmead right now and the current hospital redevelopment is an opportunity for us to regenerate the precinct,” Prof Sorrell said.

“We are on the brink of an exciting new paradigm where medical, other health students and non-clinical students – from IT, engineering, business and social sciences – will be offered real life project opportunities as part of inter-disciplinary teams”.

“Historically this represents the realisation of the vision of people like one of my mentors, Professor Peter Castaldi and Professor Miles Little when they founded the hospital.”

Leading immunologist Professor Carola Garcia de Vinuesa delivered the inaugural keynote address, while Westmead Hospital neurology senior staff specialist Steve Vucic gave the first hub partner exhibition talk.

Prof Vucic is a prolific translational researcher in the field of motor neurone disease, an incurable degenerative condition that kills 100% of people within five years of diagnosis. His research focuses on the six identified causes of the disease in order to determine which treatments may prolong quality of life.

The showcase will continue this afternoon with three-minute snapshots of research across Westmead, as well as 210 research posters on display. Westmead Hospital pharmacist Maggie Tso will be discussing adolescent mental health education.

The NSW Government has identified the importance of global health precincts to support its ageing and expanding community with the $1 billion-plus Westmead Redevelopment.

For more information about the Westmead Precinct visit: http://www.westmeadproject.health.nsw.gov.au/precinct/westmead-precinct