Celebrating our past and creating the future.
As the Garvan Institute of Medical Research turns 60, we’re reflecting on our incredible history and the impact our discoveries have had over the years.
From humble beginnings as a small research department of St Vincent’s Hospital in 1963, Garvan has grown exponentially to become one of the most respected medical research facilities in Australia.
Over the decades, we’ve launched countless successful studies and projects that have changed the way we think about and treat disease and improved the quality of healthcare worldwide. We’ve had made significant breakthroughs for diseases including rare cancers and cancers of the breast, prostate and pancreas, immune deficiency and autoimmunity, COVID-19, diabetes and skeletal disease.
As we look back at Garvan’s history, we celebrate the progress that has been made and the impact we’ve had, thanks to the hard work of a lineage of brilliant researchers, generous donors and visionary leaders.
Lifesaving insulin infusions
We developed an infusion technique that treats ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening complication associated with diabetes.Read more
Genes contribute to bone health
Demonstrated the strong heritability of bone density and therefore osteoporosis risk.Read more
Growing nerve cells
We developed methods to culture adult nerve stem cells capable of generating new brain cells, giving hope that some neurodegenerative diseases could be reversed.Read more
First draft of the human genome sequence
The completion of the first draft of the human genome sequence was announced.Read more (.pdf)
Discovered ‘switching off’ the Id1 gene
Cancer researchers found that by ‘switching off’ the Id1 gene, produced by the most aggressive forms of breast cancer, it is possible to induce a state of ‘senescence’, or permanent sleep, within a tumour, preventing it from growing or spreading.Read more
Gene silencing common in cancers
Garvan scientists demonstrated which sections of the genome are commonly ‘silenced’, or ‘switched off’, in prostate cancer. This work not only provides new diagnostic markers for prostate cancer, it suggests that all cancers show similarly widespread and specific silencing.Read more
Breakthrough study links Type 1 diabetes and Sjögren's syndrome
With collaborators, we discovered a new group of immune cells that for the first time directly link two autoimmune diseases, Type 1 diabetes and Sjögren's syndrome.Read more
Unmasking the secrets of pancreatic cancer
We sequenced the genomes of 100 pancreatic tumours and identified new mutations that lead to pancreatic cancer.Read more
Garvan scientists discovered osteoblasts – or bone-forming cells – need to be able to respond to the signalling molecule neuropeptide Y (NPY), to pass on messages to the pancreas to increase insulin production. This discovery sheds new light on the bone-pancreas ‘road map’, pointing to new pathways that may lead to new treatments.Read more
MRI screens pick up early stage cancers
Our research, along with international efforts, showed that whole-body MRI screening can detect primary tumours throughout the body, at a curable stage, in people with high genetic risk of cancer.Read more
Psoriasis drug for osteosarcoma
A study suggested that a common treatment for psoriasis could be repurposed to treat osteosarcoma – a rare but aggressive cancer that affects young people. Researchers showed that blocking the IL23 molecule in mice successfully shrank tumours. Drugs that block IL23 are already safely used to treat patients with psoriasis, suggesting that they could also be used to treat patients with osteosarcoma.Read more
Sydney researchers develop rapid genomics strategy to trace coronavirus
A team of leading Sydney researchers pioneered the use of a fast genomic sequencing technology to help determine the source of hard-to-trace coronavirus cases.Read more
Survival strategy of cancer cells
Researchers uncovered a fundamental survival strategy that cancer cells use to develop drug resistance – stress-induced mutagenesis. This is similar to the process bacteria use to develop antibiotic resistance. This suggests that combining conventional targeted cancer therapies with drugs that target DNA repair mechanisms may lead to improved outcomes for patients.Read more
Researchers reveal a strategy for next-generation COVID-19 vaccines
Garvan-led researchers outline a strategy to generate future-proofed COVID-19 vaccines that can resist emergent new viral strains.Read more
World-class cancer imaging launches at the Garvan Institute
The ACRF Intravital Imagine of Niches for Cancer Immune Therapy (INCITe) Centre was officially launched. This centre houses two Australian-designed, world-leading microscopes that allow researchers to observe the interactions between cancer cells and the immune system in real time, providing greater insight into how drug-resistant, dormant cancer cells develop and function.Read more
Clinical trial will test drug treatment for prevention of dementia
Following a six-year study, we launched a clinical trial to test the use of the drug metformin in slowing cognitive decline to prevent dementia.Read more
Variant-proof universal COVID-19 vaccine
We are developing a variant-proof universal COVID-19 vaccine.Read more