In 2006, the University of Wollongong (UOW) and South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service (SESIAHS) - superseded in 2011 by the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) - signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to confirm their mutual commitment to working together to foster and grow health and medical research in the region.
A major goal of the MOU was to establish the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute as a partnership vehicle for achieving research excellence, building research capacity - especially among clinicians within the health service - and growing the funding available for health and medical research in the region.
The proposed institute would complement existing centres of excellence and develop and drive a wide-ranging biomedical, clinical and population health research program to improve health services in the region.
Importantly, the institute would build on the partnership already developed through the establishment of the University’s Graduate School of Medicine and support the development of the Wollongong Hospital as a first-class teaching and research hospital.
In 2008, IHMRI was formally constituted as a company limited by guarantee, with the UOW and SESIAHS as its founding members. The ISLHD is now the health service member of IHMRI Limited. The company structure was designed to provide for joint ownership and governance but also to ensure an independent medical research institute for building a research-intensive, focused and accountable research environment for advancing shared research goals.
In 2008, a contribution of $15 million from the NSW Government was matched by $15 million from the UOW to allow construction of a headquarters for IHMRI, with world-class research laboratories and clinical research facilities.
IHMRI’s state-of-the-art headquarters were completed in 2010 and officially opened in July that year by the then NSW Deputy Premier, the Hon Carmel Tebbutt.
Today, IHMRI's headquarters provide centralised services and shared facilities to around 280 affiliated laboratory, clinical and population health researchers who are either based in the building or using the facilities on a regular basis.
IHMRI’s staff, researchers and networks
Professor Don Iverson was appointed as IHMRI’s inaugural Executive Director in 2008 and was supported from late 2008 by Sue Baker-Finch, IHMRI’s Chief Operating Officer.
An operations and management team was appointed in 2009 and IHMRI's research program began to take shape. The program was structured around six themes and three cross-cutting themes and two Theme Leaders (Clinical and Scientific) were appointed to each theme. This dual clinical and scientific leadership model was reflected throughout IHMRI’s structures and is retained today to demonstrate IHMRI’s philosophy of academic and clinician collaboration.
In December 2009, the IHMRI Research Network was launched to provide a mechanism for connecting academic researchers, clinicians and health care professionals around collaborative research initiatives and to communicate widely to those interested in advancing health and medical research in the region. The network grew rapidly and exceeds 700 members today. While retaining its research network, since late 2013 IHMRI has established more formal arrangements to guide the engagement with its key researchers through a formal affiliation process.
During the first five years of its development, IHMRI streamlined its research program to encourage greater critical mass and interdisciplinary groupings of researchers. Its research program now includes just three broadly based research themes.
Support our research
To make a donation visit www.givenow.com.au/ihmri
Meet IHMRI's new Clinical Director
In January 2016, Professor Leonard Arnolda was appointed IHMRI’s inaugural Clinical Director – a new leadership role shared between IHMRI and the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District. More here. More here.