Magazine article Times Higher Education

Leading Light Sought to Shepherd Southern Star

Magazine article Times Higher Education

Leading Light Sought to Shepherd Southern Star

Article excerpt

Outstanding CEO and director of research will represent 'world-class' Australian biomedical research centre. Paul Jump writes

The chance to lead a groundbreaking bench-to-bedside biomedical research institution on Australia's sunny north-eastern coast is likely to draw applicants like a whiff of eucalyptus brings koalas.

The Translational Research Institute in Brisbane, which officially opened last October, will eventually house more than 780 researchers drawn from its four founding partner institutions: two of Brisbane's universities - the University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology - plus the independent Mater Medical Research Institute and the Princess Alexandra Hospital Centres for Health Research.

According to David Watson, chair of TRI and former Australian parliamentarian, the institute's combination, on the hospital site, of wet labs, a clinical trials facility and a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility (subcontracted to pharmaceutical company DSM Biologics) was unique in the southern hemisphere and rare in the northern.

Dr Watson said the manufacturing facility was crucial because "big pharma" was largely absent from Australia, meaning the country currently lacks the scale of manufacturing necessary to proceed to stage three clinical trials.

He added that the institute, which was mostly built with grants from state and national government, offered unprecedented opportunities for collaboration and economies of scale among the four partner institutions, as well as the chance for them to win funding they might not have attracted individually. Currently, TRI is about 200 researchers short of capacity. But as expansion continues, the pressure on researcher performance is likely to grow, in line with TRI's aspiration to be "world class".

The partner institutions will retain responsibility for hiring and paying staff, but TRI will apply a quality threshold to anyone that wants lab space on its premises and the institute will be, in Dr Watson's words, "very much driven by performance criteria".

The development of these criteria - scheduled to be implemented in 2016 - will be one of the major responsibilities of the new chief executive officer and director of research. Candidates must have senior management experience, but Dr Watson said it was not crucial for them to have previously run a research institute.

"The appointee must be able to gain the respect of the leading researchers in TRI; hence a significant research record would be beneficial," he said.

"However, given the wide scope of the institute's research areas, it is more of a priority that the successful candidate is able to demonstrate an appreciation for a broad range of clinical and biomedical research fields and, importantly, be respected for the scientific judgements they have made. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.