Scope 44 - From the Director

26 April 2011, Cancer

2011: A year of challenge

Every year brings its own set of challenges. Few of us could have imagined back in January how significant these would be.

Recent events in Christchurch and Japan have really brought home the vulnerability of human health and wellbeing to environmental forces. Our thoughts are very much with those who have been directly affected, especially our friends at AMI Insurance who have been such strong supporters over the years. We wish everyone in the Garden City our best regards as they start to rebuild their lives.

It is clear that we, along with other New Zealanders, will face economic challenges in the year ahead with increasing pressure on businesses and families to balance budgets. For the Malaghan Institute, we also face greater competition for both research funding and the philanthropic dollar, as so many worthy causes demand government intervention and public attention.

In this issue of Scope, we report on this challenge with the sad news that our Breast Cancer Vaccine project has been temporarily suspended due to the reduction of funding for reasons beyond anyone's control. Although staff accept it is a privilege to do medical research, the inherent risks and insecurity of the funding has been brought home to us and the staff involved.

However, the pursuit of medical knowledge and our ability to combat disease must be able to stand the test of these turbulent times. This is the particular challenge that we at the Malaghan Institute are confronting this year: to deliver on the promise of our research programmes and ensure that short-term fluctuations in the world around us do not affect our ability to improve the health and lives of New Zealanders over time.

Good science that can deliver significant results requires a steady ship. I, and all my staff, are absolutely determined to meet these challenges. I know that, no matter what issues are assailing us at any time, New Zealanders recognise and value the critical importance of medical research.

I will do all I can to make the message of the Malaghan Institute clear and known, so that those who wish to can identify us and support our efforts. As part of improving our communication to you our supporters we have refreshed the colours and brand we use to identify the Institute in Scope newsletters and correspondence. These changes aim to make us stand out from the crowd, express how we seek to bring together old and new values, but still reflect our commitment to research leadership, passion and our sincerity in everything that we do.

Although it is trite to say that every challenge represents an opportunity, this must be our philosophy. What is research if it is not ambitious? Regardless of the changes in the world around us, our mission remains constant and our determination to succeed undiminished.

Prof Graham Le Gros