Monash University: Monash receives $30 million to support vital Australian brain and mental health research

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Monash University has received a $30 million philanthropic gift that will fund vital mental health research and preventative treatment initiatives to improve the lives of millions of Australians.

The generous gift from the David Winston Turner Endowment Fund will accelerate research by Monash’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health.

The Turner Institute is a world leader in research dedicated to preventative brain and mental health research, treatment and education.

The gift was announced today by Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AC.

“This incredible gift will allow Monash to expand our world-leading research into brain and mental health, and translate this innovative work into preventative and treatment approaches,” Professor Gardner said.

Professor Gardner said the funding was in addition to $13 million in previous gifts, which enabled the University to launch the Turner Institute, bringing the total donated to Monash by the David Winston Turner Endowment Fund to $43 million since 2015.

An initial philanthropic gift of $5.25 million in 2015 has supported Turner Institute research into obsessive compulsive disorder and addiction. This funding also supported the establishment of the David Winston Turner Chair (held by Professor Murat Yücel), a postdoctoral Fellowship, PhD Scholarships, and large-scale research projects.

“We are deeply grateful to the trustees of the David Winston Turner Endowment Fund for facilitating these generous gifts, which have enabled us to advance brain and mental health research and improve outcomes for all Australians,” Professor Gardner said.

This latest gift will fund a ground-breaking study by the Turner Institute that will follow thousands of residents across all age groups in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs over a 10-year period, establishing a ‘living lab’ for preventing, monitoring and treating the signs of mental illness, dementia and other brain conditions.

Due to start in 2023, the longitudinal study will break new ground in sampling a whole population – not just those with a predefined condition – and will reimagine how we identify and treat mental health problems as the world continues to deal with COVID-19. A key focus will be inclusion across diverse ages, cultural backgrounds and genders, and the engagement of community and industry groups to realise this ambitious program.

Director of the Turner Institute Professor Kim Cornish said this gift had enabled the institute to step up its efforts as the pandemic underlined the need for early detection.

“COVID-19 has impacted us all as individuals, parents, friends, partners and colleagues,” she said. “The full ramifications won’t be known for years, but it is critical that we identify and deal with them.

“The south-east corridor, covering such suburbs as Cranbourne, Pakenham, Mornington and Frankston, is a focus because in many ways it’s a microcosm of Australia. As well as filling unmet demand among those who need mental health services, this study will provide a wealth of information to guide us towards improved treatments and services that can benefit our diverse population.”

David W. Turner was a Monash economics graduate, who admired the University’s internationally recognised mental health research. When he passed away in 2012 he left provision in his will to establish the David Winston Turner Endowment Fund to support research into mental health conditions.

This latest gift is one of the largest received under Monash University’s renewed philanthropic campaign, Change It. For Future Generations, which has been supported by over 45,000 donors to date.

“David Turner recognised the importance of the legacy we leave for future generations,” Professor Gardner said.

“His generosity will ensure that millions of Australians will benefit from preventative mental health initiatives, and for those who need it, they will receive the very best clinical treatment informed by ground-breaking research of the highest quality.

“Together with the aspirations and generosity of our donors, Monash is transforming lives and addressing the biggest challenges facing our communities and our world.”

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