60 years of discovery

Posted: 27th February 2018

The atmosphere in a medical research laboratory is one of quiet concentration accompanied by the steady background hum of freezers. It is almost as far as you can get from the frenetic atmo-sphere of the racetrack where Jack Holt made his fortune.

But it is thanks to Jack Holt’s success at the track that SVI’s laboratories exist at all. Jack Holt was arguably Australia’s most successful racehorse trainer of the early 20th century. In the 17 racing seasons from 1919 to 1935, he headed the Victorian Trainers’ Premiership 13 times. His career peaked at the 1933 Melbourne Cup with the winning colt Hall Mark.

During his life, Jack Holt was known as a generous man. After the death of his sister, Holt put considerable thought into how his legacy could live on after his own death. Accordingly, when he died in 1951, he left 200,000 pounds to establish a medical research institution at St Vincent’s.

The money was enough to secure premises, hire staff and convince one of the world’s leading biochemists, Dr Pehr Edman, to take up the Director’s chair. St Vincent’s School of Medical Research (renamed St Vincent’s Institute in 1984) was officially opened on the 23rd of April 1958.

In the 60 years since, researchers at SVI have made important insights into common diseases that affect many Australians. This includes the discovery of how the balance between dissolving and renewing bone is controlled, which has the potential to lead to therapies for diseases such as osteoporosis, through to understanding the protein AMP kinase, a major target of efforts to combat type 2 diabetes and obesity.

And philanthropy has continued to play an important role. Bridging the gap between what could happen in the future and what will, SVI’s supporters, both past and present, are a vital part of the fabric of the Institute today.

We invite you to celebrate Jack Holt’s generosity with us in 2018, and learn more about SVI's world-class research. Visit our website for news and events updates, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SVIResearch.