University of New South Wales Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer has announced the construction of a major new research facility on the UNSW campus, to be known as the Lowy Cancer Research Centre.

The $100 million plus facility will house up to 400 cancer researchers, from UNSW and Children's Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA). It will be one of the largest dedicated cancer research centres in the Southern Hemisphere and Australia's only fully integrated childhood and adult cancer research centre.

Prominent businessman and philanthropist Mr Frank Lowy and family have agreed to donate $10 million towards the cost of the new building. This is the largest single philanthropic donation ever received by the University.

In addition to the Lowy gift and University resources, other funding has come from individual donors, trusts, foundations and grants awarded to CCIA by the NSW State Government ($18.3m), the Commonwealth Government ($13.3m), and most recently the Australian Cancer Research Foundation ($3.1m).

NSW Premier Morris Iemma said that he was extremely pleased that the NSW Government's commitment to cancer research was coming to fruition in this new integrated facility.

Construction of the building is expected to begin in October this year, with a scheduled completion date of late 2009. It will be constructed on the northern (Randwick) end of the UNSW campus.

"I am delighted to be able to announce that this major research facility is to become a reality," Professor Hilmer said.

"The Centre is the first stage of a major redevelopment of the University's medical facilities. It is also a significant addition to the Randwick medical precinct, being closely linked with Prince of Wales Hospital, the Royal Hospital for Women and the Sydney Children's Hospital.

"UNSW is a leader in the field of adult cancer research, with internationally recognised medical scientists such as Professors Philip Hogg, Robyn Ward and Levon Khachigian, while CCIA has renowned researchers into childhood cancer including Professors Michelle Haber, Murray Norris and Glenn Marshall. Bringing the two areas together will lead to new insights and discoveries.

"I believe this will take cancer research in this country to a new level. It will be a world-class facility which will enable us to attract more of the best and brightest people from around Australia and overseas.

"We are enormously grateful to Frank Lowy and his family for his very generous donation, which will allow the construction of the Centre to proceed this year. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the State and Federal Governments, and of other donors who are contributing to the project," Professor Hilmer said.

The University's Chancellor Mr David Gonski said it was important that such significant support had been forthcoming from the private sector.

"It will hopefully serve as an inspiration to others who could make a major contribution to education and life saving, ground-breaking research in this country," Mr Gonski said.

"We need to move further towards a culture of giving in Australia, to support our universities and other institutions that contribute to the public good. Philanthropic leadership from individuals, as well as from the business community, is particularly significant if that culture is to be fostered."

Mr Gonski added that the naming of the building recognised not only this generous gift from the Lowy family, but also the standing of the Lowy name in the community and at UNSW. Eleven members of the Lowy family are alumni of the University.

"The wonderful support we have received is a testament to the importance the community and Government place on the role of world-class medical research in finding answers that will go a long way towards saving the lives of all children with cancer and eliminating their suffering," said Executive Director of the CCIA, Professor Michelle Haber.

"The Lowy Cancer Research Centre will bring us one very important step closer to achieving a cure for childhood cancer by providing CCIA with outstanding research facilities, the opportunity to significantly grow the number of our dedicated researchers and extend our vital collaborative partnerships," added Professor Haber.

Dean of UNSW's Faculty of Medicine, Professor Peter Smith, said the new Centre would make a major contribution to cancer research and through its translational programs to better health outcomes in prevention and treatment of cancer.

"It will be the first centre in Australia to have a dedicated cancer bioinformatics and data management facility which will link research activities in the Centre with cancer registries, clinical trials centres and overseas networks," he said.

"This will improve the treatment and survival of people with cancer, by providing a nexus between these areas. It will also help to train the next generation of research leaders, with postgraduate students able to work with many of the top scientists in the field."

UNSW Media contact: Judy Brookman, (02) 9385 3249; mobile 0421 061251; CCIA media contact: Miriam Pollak, pager 99625663