The Judith and David Coffey Life Lab

In November 2012, the Charles Perkins Centre received a very generous $2 million donation from Judith and David Coffey to establish the Judith and David Coffey Life Lab.

The first of its kind in the world, the Life Lab will create a unique graduate and postgraduate training environment where diverse life, social, economic and physical sciences will be studied for their connections to each other.

A major element of the Life Lab’s activity will be to prove that there is a need for change in the way research and innovation is undertaken and we are excited to be taking the lead thanks to the support of Judith and David Coffey.

The lab will focus on the significant challenges created by an unsustainable food system, which degrades the environment it depends on and creates significant societal health problems.

It is fundamental to building a sustainable society, and one that is more robust to face future uncertainties. Our unique approach will be a world-first in shifting research on these growing challenges from treating symptoms to prevention.

David and Judith Coffey, who previously donated $4 million to establish a chair in sustainable agriculture at the University, are passionate about finding solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

“We chose the University of Sydney because it is a community of unorthodox thinkers and brilliant analytical minds,” says Dr Coffey. “As an alumnus of the University, I have seen first-hand what pioneering graduates are capable of given the chance. I want to support the discovery of new approaches to problem solving and we believe the Charles Perkins Centre is best positioned to take on the challenge.” He adds that the lab inspires new collaborations between academics, students and researchers across a range of disciplines.

“For the first time, our brightest minds will work together to examine the interconnectivity of socioeconomic, physical and life science factors that create our food system,” he says. “The way these elements interact have far reaching implications for the environment and our health. This gift is important to us because traditional government funding models do not yet support this kind of approach. There is a very real need to forge win/win solutions by acknowledging connections in multifaceted processes, such as food production where increasing consumption is driving a global obesity epidemic and placing unsustainable pressure on degraded soil and water resources.”