The substantial, long-term funding will allow researchers to pursue a bold and far-sighted research program beyond the short-term funding largely available in Australia. It helps move away from incremental science to solving the grand challenges of immunology. The partnership is people-focused and will support some of Australia’s best scientists and their teams to pursue their visionary and high-risk, high-reward work that is expected to fundamentally change how immunological diseases are treated.
“We empower bold transformative research across Australia by backing the best and brightest researchers – and resourcing them with the tools they need to be world-class,” said Snow Medical Chair Tom Snow.
“We searched the country to find the best teams with the brightest ideas, and we chose to home this project at WEHI as we are confident it will help transform the lives of so many Australians with immunological disease.”
According to Snow, this $100 million commitment more than doubles Snow Medical’s investment in medical research from $100 million over the four years since 2019 to over $200 million.
“This is about our family’s commitment to long-term sustainable positive impact for the community, and it builds on the legacy of the Snow Fellowship program, research funding and other community-based philanthropy. We could not be more proud,” added Snow.
“Australia has some of the best researchers in the world. We want to get them out of short-term funding cycles and give them freedom to experiment and take risks – we’re here to back them,” said Terry Snow, Canberra businessman, philanthropist and Snow Medical founder.
“WEHI researchers have always been known for their outstanding commitment to excellence. They presented us with a bold and ambitious vision for Australian research – they’re going to change the lives of millions of Australians living with immune health issues,” he added.
Through one of the largest and longest-running philanthropic partnerships in Australian history, the Snow family will establish a world-leading research centre at WEHI that will revolutionise how we understand and treat immune Diseases.
The Snow Centre for Immune Health will be co-led by WEHI and the Royal Melbourne Hospital and will bring together a team of leading Australian and international researchers to transform how we research and treat the immune system.
Debilitating autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis collectively affect up to 10% of the population and are some of our most significant chronic health problems. Treatments for many immunological diseases are limited – many people are treated with blanket approaches, and in some cases, treatments don’t exist.
Most research globally to date has focused on a disease by disease, project by project approach, and has frustratingly led to few new treatments.
WEHI acting director Professor Alan Cowman, said the Snow Centre for Immune Health will completely change the way we view the immune system, with the ambitious aim of revolutionising healthcare delivery to be about proactively predicting and preventing, instead of reacting to and treating, immune illness and disorders.
“While research into immune health has traditionally focused on specific diseases or cells, the Snow Centre for Immune Health will invert this and look at the immune system from a ‘whole-of-system’ perspective – like we do for the cardiovascular and respiratory systems,” he said.
“The Centre will rapidly accelerate this growing field of research and do it at a scale not seen anywhere else in the world.
“We are deeply grateful to the Snow Medical Research Foundation and the Snow family for their vision, boldness and generosity, in backing this talented team and their revolutionary approach to how we understand and treat immune disease.”
Former WEHI Director Dr Doug Hilton AO played an instrumental role in co-developing the vision for the Centre with the Snow family.
“This Centre has the potential to entirely change the game when preventing, diagnosing and treating immune disease, which has a tremendous burden on the global community,” he said.
“This extraordinary investment from the Snow Medical Research Foundation has the power to solve some of the greatest puzzles in the human body. The scale of the centre, as well as the long-term backing of some of the brightest scientists in the country by the Snow family, will help accelerate this research for the good of the community.”
This article was first published in the Third Sector.