The University of Queensland & Queensland Brain Institute 20th Anniversary Dinner
Assistant Minister for Health and Regional Health Infrastructure, Ms Brittany Lauga MP; Member for Mudgeeraba, Ms Ros Bates MP; University of Queensland Provost, Professor Aidan Byrne; Queensland Brain Institute Founding Director, Emeritus Professor Perry Bartlett AO, Executive Director, Professor Pankaj Sah, and Advisory Board Chair, Dr Sallyanne Atkinson AO; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to any First Nations people with us this evening.
As Official Visitor to The University of Queensland, I was delighted to accept the invitation for Graeme and me to be with you tonight to celebrate the achievements of the first 20 years of the Queensland Brain Institute.
It is particularly pleasing to be able to share this celebration with the Institute’s founding director, Professor Bartlett, and the other trailblazers who are here tonight.
At the very beginning, in 2003, there were just three laboratories and ten researchers; today, there are 350 researchers working in 36 laboratories, so the 20-year milestone is an occasion of justifiable pride.
I take this opportunity to congratulate and thank everyone associated with the Institute, especially those early pioneers and visionaries, for their contribution to building the Institute’s reputation as a world leader.
By any measure, Professor Bartlett’s early recruitment efforts were extraordinary.
In the first 14 months, he persuaded no fewer than 60 researchers to join him, including his former neuroscience team of 15 from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne!
And the establishment and rapid growth of infrastructure was no less remarkable.
As part of Queensland’s ‘Smart State’ policy, then Premier Peter Beattie announced in January 2004 that the State Government would invest 20 million dollars in facilities for the bioscience powerhouse he envisaged.
At the same time, he announced the formation of a joint company with matching investments of 20 million dollars from the University of Queensland and a further 20 million from the late Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies.
It was a game-changer, and 20 years on, Queensland and Queenslanders continue to reap the benefit as more generous donors and commercial partners have added their support, and the community has increasingly embraced the opportunity to participate in research.
When he announced that 60-million-dollar joint venture in 2004, Peter Beattie proudly spoke of creating an “international brains trust”; today, that “brains trust” is a reality, inspiring new generations of researchers and giving hope to those living with the most puzzling and debilitating brain disorders and diseases.
Long may the “brains trust” continue – happy 20th anniversary!