A $20 million partnership between 14 leaders in health, education and medical research in NSW was launched in Sydney today by the NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research, Brad Hazzard.
The Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE) is a collaboration between leading experts in health, research and education sectors and aims to develop new and innovative ways to deliver better healthcare for communities in NSW.
Modelled on successful academic health science alliances in the UK and the US, SPHERE has already highlighted a range of state and national health challenges that it intends to look at, including cancer treatment, mental health, diabetes and childhood illnesses.
Professor Ian Jacobs, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of New South Wales and inaugural Chair of SPHERE said one of the key goals of the partnership was to accelerate the path of promising and potentially lifesaving research into clinical practice.
“It currently takes 17 years on average to commute positive research and laboratory findings into actual practices that will benefit patients. That is too long.
“SPHERE’s aim is to speed up the adoption of potentially lifesaving research in medicine and science by bringing some of Australia’s leading minds in health, education and research together to share their ideas, knowledge, expensive equipment and staff to deliver solutions to major health challenges.
“While similar partnerships in Australia have tended to focus on research and science, SPHERE is focused on translating research and science into real outcomes for patients and their communities,” Professor Jacobs said.
Members of the SPHERE partnership include some of NSW’s biggest universities, medical research institutes and NSW Government agencies, with all 14 partners already committing a minimum 0.05 percent of their annual institutional turnover, more than $20 million, to SPHERE over the next five years.
Professor Jacobs said the SPHERE council had first met some 18 months ago, bringing together VCs and Deans from universities with Board Chairs and Chief Executives of key health organisations to set out the partnerships structure and vision.
“Several members of our team including myself have founded, led or worked in leading health science partnerships around the world and have seen the difference these organisations can make,” he said.
“Our ambition is for SPHERE to emulate the very best international exemplars of this sort of partnership in NSW.”
Conjoint Associate Professor Susan Woolfenden, Community Paediatrician and Integrated Care Clinical Lead, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, said: “We’re bringing clinicians, researchers, educators and most importantly our families together to make sure that no matter where a child is, they’re getting the right care, at the right time, in the right place."
In 2016, SPHERE was gifted an Indigenous name 'Maridulu Budyari Gumal', which means “working together to promote better health and wellbeing” in the language of the Dharug people (the original inhabitants of lands comprising much of Sydney) in recognition of SPHERE’s importance to Aboriginal health in NSW.