The Balnaves Foundation helps kick start medical research


Mr Neil Balnaves AO, Founder of the Balnaves Foundation, Mr Hamish Balnaves, Professor Bruce Robinson, Dean Sydney Medical School

Mr Neil Balnaves AO, Founder of the Balnaves Foundation, Mr Hamish Balnaves and Professor Bruce Robinson, Dean Sydney Medical School.


Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney and philanthropic organisation, The Balnaves Foundation, are giving next-generation medical leaders a ‘kick start’ through a new program aimed at boosting the competitive grant funding success of early career researchers.

The ‘Early Career Researcher Kick Start Grants’ is a new three-year joint initiative made possible by a generous $450,000 commitment by The Balnaves Foundation along with funding from Sydney Medical School. This gift builds upon a successful program developed by the medical school, designed to address a major challenge in Australian medical research.

“Early career researchers are the lifeblood of all successful medical research projects and face an increasing battle for grant funding due to their limited body of work, lack of experience and intense competition,” says Professor Bruce Robinson, Dean of Sydney Medical School.

“But they face a classic dilemma; they need research expertise to receive grant funding, but they need grant funding to develop research expertise.”

Currently only 15 per cent of all National Health and Medical Research Council grant applications are successful, a figure that has declined steadily over the past five years making it increasingly difficult for early career researchers to get a much-needed “leg up”.

Twenty-eight early career researchers from Sydney Medical School are the first to receive ‘Kick Start’ grants in 2015, which will fund pilot projects that will help them compete for future competitive grant funding, and help shape the future of medical research in Australia.

“The partnership between Sydney Medical School and the Balnaves Foundation will provide a crucial building block, upon which early career researchers can take a significant leap forward in their career and contribute towards meaningful health outcomes,” says Neil Balnaves AO, Founder of The Balnaves Foundation.

“It is an example of how philanthropic partnerships can significantly help to address key national issues and provide support for outstanding medical research in Australia.”

“Young people often have ‘outside of the box’ ideas and this type of research is often where breakthroughs occur. We want the novel ideas of these 28 young researchers to have the opportunity of coming to fruition and are excited to follow their progress over the next few years,” Neil Balnaves said.

The Early Career Researcher Kick Start Grants program highlights a key priority of Sydney Medical School and The Balnaves Foundation by supporting the next generation of health leaders, enabling them to realise their potential.

The Balnaves Foundation gift plays an important role in the INSPIRED Campaign which aims to raise $600 million by the end of 2017.