Page 6-7 - NeuRA 2013 in Review

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It is a sign of the scale of the medical challenges
facing us that a large, dedicated neuroscience
facility is required.
Left to right:
Construction work in 1992 to turn the site of the
Randwick Chest Hospital into POWMRI; The four founders,
in 1990, clockwise from top left – Prof Erica Potter, Prof Simon
Gandevia, Prof David Burke AO, Prof Ian McCloskey AO;
(top) The entrance to POWMRI when it officially opened in 1993;
(bottom) The colourful entrance to POWMRI when stage two was
completed in 2000; The new NeuRA building on Barker St.
our 20th
Prof Simon Gandevia is NeuRA’s Deputy Director,
the last founding scientist still walking our corridors.
In 1990, he and three colleagues drew up plans for
the nation’s then largest experimental neuroscience
facility. The idea was bold, courageous and under-
pinned by incredible foresight. Over the next two
years, this founding team secured a site and began
the enormous task of launching the Prince
of Wales Medical Research Institute (POWMRI).
The site had special significance because
it was formerly the Randwick Chest Hospital, an
internationally recognised facility for the treatment
of tuberculosis. It was established in 1968 in
response to the tuberculosis epidemic that had
swept the country. Chest hospitals became obsolete
thanks to medical research, and so the site later
housed a variety of clinics and wards for the Prince
of Wales Hospital.
When POWMRI was officially opened in 1993,
it comprised fewer than 20 researchers, assistants
and students who, in their first year, published
37 journal articles. The institute quickly outgrew
the available space and, in the next 17 years,
there were refurbishments and renovations and
the construction of many new environments for
research and learning.
Since its founding, the name of the institute
had been confused with that of the hospital and in
2010 it was decided that a new name, reflecting the
full scope of its research activity, was needed. The
Board reviewed this matter at length and resolved
to adopt the name Neuroscience Research Australia
and the acronym, NeuRA. This name reflects
more accurately what we do, namely neuroscience
research, and that the research is directed to the
benefit of all Australians.
The new name gave NeuRA space to grow,
and grow it has. This year marks the opening of our
purpose-built, seven-story building – a place where
hundreds of researchers from Australia and the
world gather to solve the health crises of today. It is
a sign of the scale of the medical challenges facing
us that such a large, dedicated neuroscience facility
is required.
We find it exhilarating to think about NeuRA’s
humble beginnings – plans and lists on pieces
of notepaper. From there to here in 20 years, one
can only wonder what exciting developments and
opportunities the coming decades will bring.
Our 20th Anniversary |5
While many things have changed over the last 20 years, our commitment, initiative
and optimism remain central to who we are and how we undertake our research.