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Philanthropist Gives $5 Million to University


10 February 2015 at 9:38 am
Xavier Smerdon
Husband and wife philanthropists have made a multi-million dollar donation to an Australian university that will help it create cutting-edge small healthcare devices.

Xavier Smerdon | 10 February 2015 at 9:38 am


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Philanthropist Gives $5 Million to University
10 February 2015 at 9:38 am

A philanthropist couple have made a multi-million dollar donation to an Australian university that will help it create cutting-edge small healthcare devices.

Melbourne University announced recently that a $5 million donation had been made by Leigh Clifford AO, his wife Sue Clifford and their family as part of its Believe campaign.

The donation took the total amount raised through the campaign, which is aiming to raise $500 million by the end of 2017 to support key research, scholarship and engagement goals, to $400 million.

Clifford, the current Chairman of Qantas Ltd and former CEO of Rio Tinto, is an engineering alumnus from the University and Deputy Chairman of Believe.

His donation will allow the University to endow The Clifford Chair in Neural Engineering.

“The Chair will bring together researchers and experts from Engineering, Medicine and Science to improve health outcomes for every Australian not just those living in major metropolitan cities,” Clifford said.

“The gift will allow researchers to concentrate on progressing their pioneering and collaborative work ensuring people across Australia, and the region, have equitable access to healthcare. The idea of small, low cost and easy to use devices for the best patient management is only one example of what is possible in the future.”

The University said the CfNE is a cross disciplinary research and development centre with a focus on the world-wide convergence of the engineering, physical and the life sciences.

Through the Centre, potential treatments for conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and spinal injuries are being researched and developed.

Director of the Centre, Professor Stan Skafidas, said he was inspired by the long history of innovative research conducted at the University.

“This gift will enable us to address some of the long term and complex challenges facing health care. Bringing together interdisciplinary teams, allows them to build technologies that will change lives and help dictate the future of healthcare,” Professor Skafidas said.  

“It will also help CfNE in our work towards addressing some of the major challenges in neuroscience and neurological and psychiatric disorders.

“This is an exciting challenge as we work together to create not only portable diagnostic tools, but the next generation of bionic devices and implants.”

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Professor Glyn Davis AC, said the establishment of the Chair was recognition for the Centre’s work, and would enhance its role in the Melbourne precinct, where over 10,000 researchers from all disciplines are working together to resolve health challenges.

“In the long-term, this gift is enabling the collaboration required to alleviate some key issues related to healthcare access and equity,” Professor Davis said.

“We are also delighted that a gift of such significance has contributed to a milestone in Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne, our biggest ever philanthropic undertaking.

“The Cliffords join over 18,000 donors who have contributed to our ability to educate tomorrow’s leaders, to meet the world’s great challenges via research and teaching and deepen our engagement with the local and global communities we serve.”


Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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