Healthier kids, brighter futures

About Us

1950s

 
Childrens Medical Research Institute is founded

1958 Childrens Medical Research Institute is founded

The idea of a Children’s Medical Research Foundation was formulated by Sir Lorimer Dods and Dr. John Fulton.

Vision, destiny and sheer commitment all played their part in the birth of Children’s Medical Research Institute. The commitment of Australian paediatrician and researcher, Sir Lorimer Dods, in particular turned that vision into reality on behalf of children everywhere. Sir Lorimer passionately believed that prevention is better than a cure and that research holds the key to prevention.

The Children’s Medical Research Foundation (later renamed Institute) was established in 1958 with funds raised by Australia’s first telethon and a large public campaign.

The prize for success is beyond all measure: The health and potential happiness of a vast army of children of today and tomorrow.

Sir Lorimer Fenton Dods (1900-1981), Founder of CMRI

1958 Australia’s first telethon helped establish CMRI

Australia’s first telethon helped establish CMRI

1960s

 
CMRI formed Australia’s first research unit for newborns

1960 CMRI formed Australia’s first research unit for newborns

  • In the 1960s, CMRI formed Australia’s first research unit for newborns, dramatically improving the survival rate for premature babies.
  • CMRI helped develop the paediatric heart and lung life support machine.
  • Early research at CMRI looked at causes of congenital defects, such as heart disease and blood disorders, and conducted intensive studies on cystic fibrosis.

1970s

 

1970 CMRI pioneered microsurgery techniques

  • CMRI pioneered microsurgery techniques to help repair tiny blood vessels and organs in infants and children.
  • It also developed a better understanding of donor organ rejection in children and consequently improved the survival of infants following organ transplantation.
CMRI pioneered microsurgery techniques
Cystic Fibrosis research

1970 Cystic Fibrosis research

Miss Kathryn Warton (at the CMRF 1970-1972) collects submaxillary saliva from a small patient as part of research into cystic fibrosis, 1970.

1979 CMRI introduced rubella vaccinations

Dr Margaret Burgess (nee Menser) at the CMRF 1965-1984. Dr Burgess studied the efficiency and efficacy of rubella vaccines, designed successful vaccination programs, and lobbied the NSW government to establish school-wide vaccination programs.
(photo circa 1979)
CMRI introduced rubella vaccinations

1980s

 
Work on foetal alcohol syndrome

1980 Work on foetal alcohol syndrome

  • In the 1980s, CMRI’s pioneering work into foetal alcohol syndrome led to lobbying the government on the dangers of drinking when pregnant and to improve drug and alcohol support programs for pregnant women.
  • In 1985, CMRI was incorporated as an independent organisation, separate from the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children. Also at this time CMRI chose to focus its attention on the emerging and potentially revolutionary field of molecular biology.

1990s

 

1992 CMRI moves to Westmead

In 1992, CMRI was relocated to Westmead, in close proximity to where the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children was being built, ensuring close liaison with the clinical problems of children and the large referral intensive care nursery.
CMRI moves to Westmead
CMRF renamed CMRI

1994 CMRF renamed CMRI

The Children's Medical Research Foundation (CMRF) was renamed Children's Medical Research Institute (CMRI) in 1994, in order to better reflect the fact that CMRI is an active, medical research organisation.

(Image: CMRF building at Camperdown)

1994 Jeans for Genes

CMRI created the Jeans for Genes® fundraising campaign to directly support its research.
Jeans for Genes
Associate Professor Tracy Bryan - Discoverer of ALT

1995 Associate Professor Tracy Bryan - Discoverer of ALT

In 1995, Tracy Bryan in the recently formed Cancer Research Unit discovered the Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres mechanism (ALT), creating an entirely new field of research that could lead to treatments for 15% of cancers, including some of the most aggressive types, such as glioblastoma.

1995 Gene Therapy Unit Established 1995

The Gene Therapy Research Unit was established in 1995 as a joint venture with The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
Gene Therapy Unit Established 1995

2000s

 
The Gene Therapy Unit conducts the first ever gene therapy clinical trial in Australia

2002 The Gene Therapy Unit conducts the first ever gene therapy clinical trial in Australia

In collaboration with the Children's Hospital in Paris, the Gene Therapy Research Unit conducted the first ever gene therapy clinical trial for a genetic disease in Australia.

2006 Cell Signalling Unit shows dynamin controls nerve-transmission

Professor Phil Robinson and members of the Cell Signalling Unit at CMRI were the first in the world to demonstrate that dynamin-dependent endocytosis controls nerve cell transmission. This fundamental discovery leads to the development of a new class of drugs to treat epilepsy, cancer and other diseases.
Cell Signalling Unit shows dynamin controls nerve-transmission
Cancer Research Unit identifies composition of human telomerase

2007 Cancer Research Unit identifies composition of human telomerase

Dr Scott Cohen of CMRI's Cancer Research Unit was the first in the world to show the composition of human telomerase, a key factor in 85% of all cancers.

2008 50th Anniversary of CMRI

CMRI celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008 and created a video snapshot of some significant achievements over the last half-century. View the video "50 Years of Discovery."
50th Anniversary of CMRI

2010s

 
Patrick Tam elected Fellow of Royal Society

2011 Patrick Tam elected Fellow of Royal Society

CMRI's Professor Patrick Tam was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London, an honour shared by such notable scientists as Darwin, Einstein and Newton.

2012 ACRF Centre for Kinomics Established

The ACRF Centre for Kinomics, a joint initiative of CMRI and the University of Newcastle, was officially launched in September 2012. The centre aims to accelerate therapeutic drug discovery for a range of diseases, including cancer and epilepsy.
ACRF Centre for Kinomics Established
ALT discovery brings us closer to understanding major cause of cancer

2013 ALT discovery brings us closer to understanding major cause of cancer

Dr Axel Neumann of CMRI’s Cancer Research Unit discovers there is a normal ALT pathway used by cells, which goes awry to promote the growth of cancer cells. 

2014 DNA differences in telomeres found

Using state of the art whole genome sequencing, Dr Hilda Pickett's lab has, for the first time, identified differences in the telomeric DNA of cancer cells, which may help to pinpoint how they can divide unchecked. 
DNA differences in telomeres found
Biggest advance in ALT research

2014 Biggest advance in ALT research

A key process controlling the growth of "ALT" cancer cells is discovered by Dr Hilda Pickett's laboratory and is considered CMRI's greatest advance in ALT research since discovering the ALT process in 1995

2014 New CMRI tower opens

The first stage of of a planned 5-stage redevelopment of CMRI more than doubles research capacity
New CMRI tower opens
Patent granted for kidney disease therapy

2014 Patent granted for kidney disease therapy

Along with the Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston USA), CMRI is issued a patent for a novel kidney disease treatment developed by Professor Phil Robinson, Head of the Cell Signalling Unit   

2014 Aplastic anaemia - a disease of telomeres

Discovered a new cause of aplastic anaemia – a disease characterised by bone marrow failure and a predisposition to cancer  the result of basic research on TPP1 spearheaded by Associate Professor Tracy Bryan 
Aplastic anaemia - a disease of telomeres
Cellbank launches online

2015 Cellbank launches online

Australia's first and only national cell line repository goes online to provide easier access to services. Established in 2005, CellBank has spent the past decade educating the research community in order to ensure 'confidence in cell lines, integrity in research'. 

2015 ATAC opens

Launched the ACRF Telomere Analysis Centre, a unique microscope facility, specifically designed to investigate telomeres, which are important for understanding the majority of all cancers.
ATAC opens
CMRI awareness video goes viral!

2015 CMRI awareness video goes viral!

CMRI launch an awareness video, titled 'Cure Childhood Diseases', which reaches over 14 million people worldwide via social media!

2015 Small variations in hTERT affect cancer risk

Dr Hilda Pickett and her research team found that small variations in the hTERT gene can affect a cell’s telomeres, making them shorter than they should be. This in turn makes the cell’s chromosomes – and the DNA they contain – susceptible to damage, which increases the risk of cancer. 
Small variations in hTERT affect cancer risk
Students identify key telomere control proteins

2015 Students identify key telomere control proteins

CMRI PhD students, Adrian Tong and Joshua Lewis Stern, alongside fellow international collaborators, demonstrate ATM and ATR DNA damage sensors regulate recruitment of telomerase to telomeres.

2016 VGEF Facility

The Vector and Genome Engineering Facility (VGEF) is an Australian-first. Headed by world-leading expert, Dr Leszek Lisowski, the facility officially opened in February 2016. The VGEF aims to speed up research translation into new treatments for seriously ill children. The facility develops AAV vectors for gene therapy, microscopic tools, which can deliver healthy copies of genes to the correct tissues and organs inside patients, and is also on the cutting edge of genome editing research.
VGEF Facility
ProCan Moonshot

2016 ProCan Moonshot

The ACRF International Centre for the Proteome of Human Cancer, also known as ProCan, officially launched at Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) in Sydney. 

ProCanTM was established with the help of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF)’s 30th Anniversary grant, and also attracted the attention of former US Vice President, Joe Biden and the Cancer Moonshot initiative.

2016 Innovation in Paediatric Research

The Hon. Minister Jillian Skinner MP, Minister for Health, launched Paediatrio in Sydney, an innovative joint venture between Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Children’s Cancer Institute, and Children’s Medical Research Institute that will enable NSW to set the national agenda for child health.  

The Paediatrio Vision is to create Australia’s most ground-breaking, innovative and translational paediatric research hub that will change children’s health around the world.
Innovation in Paediatric Research