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Bringing the Centre to Life

Like any far-reaching and ambitious medical research initiative, the Garvan-Weizmann partnership relies on support and investment from generous and forward-thinking individuals and organisations.

Vital initial investment from the NSW Government, Mr John Roth and Ms Jillian Segal AM, Mr and Mrs Laurie and Di Sutton and The Johnny Kahlbetzer Family has funded the construction of the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics.

Getting off the ground

Weizmann VisitThe concept of the Garvan-Weizmann partnership was formalised on a mission to Israel by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce NSW in 2016, led by the then-Premier of NSW Mr Mike Baird (pictured left in the centre, with Garvan Deputy Director Professor Chris Goodnow, left, and Weizmann Institute Vice President Professor Michal Neeman, right).

On that mission, a memorandum of understanding between the Garvan and Weizmann Institutes was signed, cementing a NSW-based collaboration between Israel and Australia and signalling the intention to launch a joint Centre for Cellular Genomics.

Mr Baird was enthusiastic to support the establishment of the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics, and the NSW Government provided substantial seed funding to get the Centre off the ground. However, the NSW Government support alone could not fund the Centre’s development, requiring additional private philanthropic investment.

A world-class Centre in the making

Jillian Segal and John RothThe Garvan-Weizmann Centre is fortunate to have philanthropic investment from Mr John Roth and Ms Jillian Segal AM, Mr and Mrs Laurie and Di Sutton and The Johnny Kahlbetzer Family. Their support has brought the Centre to life through funding its construction and enabling the purchase of cutting-edge cellular genomics technologies.

Mr Roth and Ms Segal (pictured left) have been remarkable philanthropic partners to both the Garvan and Weizmann Institutes for many years. Both Institutes have enjoyed long-standing relationships with Mr Roth, Ms Segal and the Roth Charitable Foundation. Additionally, Garvan is fortunate to have Ms Segal as a member of the Institute Board.

As Chair of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce NSW, Ms Segal was central to bringing the Garvan- Weizmann Centre into being. She says, “When John and I visited Weizmann a number of years ago I was struck by the similarities in many areas of endeavour between the Weizmann and Garvan Institutes. I always thought that some sort of collaboration would be  ideal.”

Mr Roth adds, “The future of health care is medical research. We think that collaboration is essential to really move the dial in order to translate that research into the clinic  for  benefit  of  our  community.  This  collaboration will benefit the Garvan and Weizmann Institutes, as well as Australia and Israel, and – through great advances in the study of a number of serious diseases, like cancer – humankind will benefit too.”

Laurie and Di SuttonMr and Mrs Sutton (pictured left) are long-standing philanthropic supporters of Garvan’s medical research, and previously Mr Sutton was also a Director of the Garvan Research Foundation Board. Of their role in assisting the Garvan and Weizmann Institutes to establish the joint Centre, Mr and Mrs Sutton say,  “We’re thrilled to be involved   in the development of the Garvan-Weizmann Centre on level 11 of The Kinghorn Cancer Centre. The establishment of such a cutting-edge Centre right here in Sydney, and consequent expansion in Garvan’s research capabilities is very exciting.”

The generous investment of The Johnny Kahlbetzer Family in the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics was made by Mr Johnny Kahlbetzer as a memorial to his mother, Mrs Virgina Kahlbetzer. This gift builds on his mother’s long-standing support of Garvan’s lung cancer research. Sadly, Mrs Kahlbetzer passed away from lung cancer in 2013.

Mr Kahlbetzer is committed to lung cancer research and, as part of this commitment, recognises the importance  of cutting-edge and innovative medical research such as cellular genomics approaches, which allow researchers to look at the function of an individual cell in unprecedented detail.

Mr Kahlbetzer says, “From my conversations with Garvan’s lung cancer researchers, it’s evident that genomics and single-cell approaches are key in understanding more about the disease, how it develops, and how to make better treatments for patients. The Garvan-Weizmann Centre is going to help researchers bring us better treatment options, like cancer immunotherapy, and  improved  outcomes  for  people with not only lung cancer, but all major diseases.”