It’s a statistical fact. We are living longer... and with better quality of life as we age.
Sixty years ago, when St Vincent’s Institute first opened its doors, life expectancy for Australian males was 67.1 years, and for females, 72.8 years of age. Today, that has climbed to 80.4 and 84.6 years respectively.
The gift of more than an extra decade of life is thanks largely to the fruits of medical research.
Just as the extraordinary discoveries of the past and the promising research currently underway here at the Institute are the legacy of legendary racehorse trainer, Jack Holt.
When he died in 1951, Jack bequeathed £200,000 (around $81 million) to establish a school of medical research, now St Vincent’s Institute.
Jack’s gift was prompted by the loss of his sister, Catherine, and his desire to contribute to medical research in her memory.
Jack lived in a period when infectious diseases such as polio and tuberculosis still posed major health risks. Today, thanks to medical research, we are fortunate to live in an era of constant medical discoveries being made at an increasingly rapid pace.
Over the past 60 years, researchers at SVI have contributed much to the rapid advancement of medical research.
- In 2007, scientists within our labs enabled the first Victorian islet transplant for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. Thanks to this revolutionary procedure, many of those treated are now no longer dependent on insulin injections.
- Our world-leading research in visualising the structures of pore-forming toxins from bacteria has provided exciting new insights into how diphtheria and anthrax toxins work.
- Our researchers discovered a number of the locally produced factors that control the grown of bone cells, leading to a much greater understanding of diseases such as osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and the spread of cancer to bone.
- It is also researchers within our Institute who are pioneering studies into a protein that may form the basis of novel drugs to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
- The Institute’s research has also led world-first discoveries with the potential to advance treatment of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and bone disease.
Together, let us continue to make history: by unlocking more medical mysteries in the lab, to translate to better and longer lives for us all, and for future generations.