Murdoch Children’s Research Institute secures $5M research boost

Health Industry Hub | November 24, 2020 |
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Medical News: Sarah & Lachlan Murdoch have announced a $5 million endowment to the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), to celebrate their family’s commitment to child health research. 

The announcement was made at MCRI’s Annual Showcase, held remotely this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was warmly welcomed by Institute Director, Professor Kathryn North AC. 

The $5 million dollar endowment, to fund a perpetual Fellowship to attract the world’s leading researchers in transformative medical research fields such as stem cell technology and genomic precision medicine.

Professor North said, “Sarah has been such a wonderful presence around the Institute and this year she celebrates 20 years as MCRI’s ambassador. Sarah sits on our Board of Directors, and chairs our United States’ Development Board. This incredible gift will allow us to strive towards the next generational breakthroughs in child health.” 

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Sarah Murdoch has been an ambassador and global champion for the Institute since the turn of the millennium, continuing Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s passion for improving child health through cutting edge research and new technologies. 

Sarah Murdoch said, “Lachlan and I know what an extraordinary place MCRI is, one that is committed to faster and more effective translational outcomes, more than is the case for most medical research institutes around the world. Philanthropy is critical to continuing our global impact in child health and with this fellowship we hope we can be a part of this impact knowing it will continue for generations. We also hope this might inspire others to invest in this way, giving MCRI long term stability.”

Lachlan Murdoch said, “From the moment Sarah met my grandmother, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, 23 years ago, it was abundantly clear that they shared a common passion for children’s health and for ground breaking medical research. Through her ensuing involvement with the institute Dame Elisabeth founded, Sarah has helped advance, and been deeply moved by, the tremendous work done by all of MCRI’s greatly talented researchers and staff.

“Both Sarah and I are humbled and excited to be able to continue to help the institute impact children’s and their family’s lives with the creation of the Sarah and Lachlan Murdoch Fellowship. We would like to thank everyone at the institute for this incredible opportunity.”

Professor North said, “Australian researchers spend approximately 550 years every year working on grant applications. Over the course of their career, our senior researchers can spend up to six years just working on grants – time that could instead be invested in finding solutions to our most pressing child health questions. 

“Fellowships allow the most talented researchers and clinicians the freedom to dream. To drive the blue-sky initiatives that will transform the medical and scientific landscape for decades to come.” 

Sarah has previously been the face of the Institute’s ‘Step-a-thon’, where kids and families pledged to walk 100,000 steps in a week to raise money for the Institute’s medical research. 

Sarah said, “I have been involved with MCRI for 20 years now. MCRI is truly one of the causes closest to my heart, both as a mother to young children and as the granddaughter-in-law of Dame Elisabeth, who was so dedicated to improving children’s lives.”

Earlier this year, Sarah and Lachlan Murdoch donated $700,000 to MCRI’s BRACE trial, which is designed to test whether BCG – the tuberculosis vaccine – can boost healthcare workers’ ‘frontline’ immunity to protect them from developing severe COVID-19 symptoms. 

The donation was made in response to an urgent call for support, and allowed the trial to launch ahead of Australia’s second wave. With additional philanthropic funding the BRACE trial is now expanding enrollment to sites in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain and Brazil. 

Professor Nigel Curtis, who leads the BRACE trial, said, “Sarah and Lachlan’s support back in April was vital and meant we were ahead of the pandemic curve to be able to protect our frontline staff.” 

“These sorts of trials normally take around eight to 12 months to start, but with the early support of Sarah and Lachlan, we were able to start within three weeks.” 

The inaugural Sarah and Lachlan Murdoch Fellow is expected to commence their research program in 2021, following a soon to be concluded global talent hunt.

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