15 January 2024
At our AGM in December, Graham Malaghan stepped down as Chair of the Malaghan Institute and I was appointed as the new Chair. Graham leaves a remarkable legacy of over 35 years with the institute – he is a definitely a tough gig to follow.
My background with the Malaghan Institute extends back to the 1960s. At the time my father was a leading Wellington surgeon and he was instrumental in founding the Wellington Cancer and Medical Research Institute, the forerunner to the Malaghan. I asked him at the tender age of 15 years "why?" – and his response was that as a surgeon he was the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff and through quality research we could get the ambulance to the top of the cliff and save lives.
Terms are often bandied around and loosely used like ‘world-leading’, ‘unique’, ‘cutting edge’ – well the Malaghan is all of those and while Professor Graham Le Gros and our team are too modest to say it, we are a world-leading internationally recognised medical research institute punching well above our weight.
In 2023, we had widespread acknowledgement of the success of our phase 1 CAR T-cell trial which is fantastic, but we are not a one trick pony. Our hookworm treatment in allergic and inflammatory diseases, a new mRNA vaccine targeting immune cells in the liver which could be the key to tackling malaria and the work we are doing with KiwiVax – an effective, NZ-developed Covid booster, to name just some of the key areas we are working on.
We have a great team of trustees who freely give their time to the Malaghan and an outstanding team of 130 people ably led by our director Graham Le Gros – it’s a special environment to be a small part of.
Sir Paul Collins KNZM
Chair, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research