Three decades at the helm of the Malaghan Institute

Thirty years ago this month, Malaghan Institute Chairman Graham Malaghan joined the Trust Board, helping transform the Institute from a cash-strapped organisation to New Zealand’s world-leading and flourishing independent biomedical research institute.

The occasion was acknowledged by Trustees, staff and supporters at the Trust Board’s final meeting of the year.

Graham Malaghan’s first connection with the Institute dates back to 1967, when his parents, Len and Ann Malaghan, gifted some $200,000 worth of shares (equivalent to around $4M today) in their company General Foods Corp Ltd to the Wellington Medical Research Foundation (Research For Life) for research into blood cancers.

The Foundation, with the Wellington Division of the Cancer Society, created the Wellington Cancer and Medical Research Institute Trust to foster medical research in the capital. The Malaghan's initial donation was followed up with several generous gifts by Ann for research equipment.

In 1986, the research institute was renamed as the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research in recognition of the family’s generosity, but by 1989, on the back of the 1987 share market crash, the Institute was on the verge of insolvency.

Graham Malaghan joined John Beattie and Alan Harris to construct a rescue package designed to financially underpin the Institute and widen its support in the community. Graham Malaghan then invested much time and energy to resuscitate the Institute and was responsible for creating a new Trust Board, which had the vision and purpose for the Malaghan Institute to play an independent and pivotal role for health research in New Zealand.

Director of the Institute Professor Graham Le Gros says Graham Malaghan came on board when the Institute was in much need of new direction.

"He came in with a real degree of presence and purpose and has created a fantastic organisation. From all the staff,trustees and the wider New Zealand community, we are immensely grateful.

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