10/06/2020

Construction of a hi-tech medical research centre housing the Southern Hemisphere’s first proton therapy unit will begin in Adelaide next month.

The Australian Bragg Centre will be built in the Adelaide BioMed Precinct alongside its sister building the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

The $500 million project will feature a ProTom International Radiance 330 proton therapy system on the building’s three basement levels. It is the same unit as is used at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and will be one of only three of its kind in the world.

When in full operation, it is estimated as many as 600-700 patients will be able to be treated at the facility each year – with around half of these expected to be children and young adults.

As well as hosting the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy & Research, the 12-level building is also expected to be home to the SAiGEN Cancer Institute, a new independent genomics and immunotherapy centre dedicated to cancer research.

It will also allow SAHMRI to expand its research capacity in artificial intelligence, machine learning, health analytics and will make another floor available for health, biomed and pharmaceutical industries to gain a footprint in Adelaide BioMed City.

The original SAHMRI building opened in 2013 as the flagship site on the North Terrace health precinct and soon became known by locals as “The Cheese Grater” for its stunning contemporary design.

Adelaide BioMed City is now a $3 billion tripartite health hub following the addition of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital (2016), the University of Adelaide’s Health & Medical Sciences Building in 2017 and the University of South Australia’s Cancer Research Institute (2018). A Women’s & Children’s hospital is also planned for the precincts western corner.

The new building will be developed and owned by SA developer Commercial & General and built by Lendlease.

Commercial & General, which recently completed the $345 million Calvary Adelaide Hospital in the CBD, is providing almost $400 million in project finance and has worked in collaboration with SAHMRI to develop the business case.

The Federal Government is providing $68 million through a National Partnership Agreement.

The State Government, which will be a cornerstone tenant through SA Health, is chipping in $47.4 million, including a $10.6 million grant to assist in the planning and development phase and $36.8 million to relocate the Train Control Centre from North Terrace to Dry Creek, making the site ready for development.

Construction is expected to be completed in late 2023 with the first patients treated about 18 months later.

SAHMRI Executive Director Professor Steve Wesselingh said the Australian Bragg Centre would be built on the emerging technology of proton therapy.

“The building’s three underground levels are dedicated to a facility that will not only deliver life-saving treatment to cancer patients, in particular children, but will provide potential for research to unlock further benefits of this relatively new field and be a training ground for proton therapy specialists from throughout the Asia Pacific region and beyond,” he said.

“This building will also facilitate innovation spanning a range of fields including research and development, clinical trials and training.”

Commercial & General Executive Chair Jamie McClurg said this morning’s announcement was the culmination of four years of hard work by all those involved.

“Our health team has been forging strategic alliances with leading cancer centres around the world to ensure that the Australian Bragg Centre can be a beacon for sufferers and researchers,” he said.

“What we’ve been able to achieve through this innovative partnership between the private sector and Federal and State governments is on multi-institutional complex with a single aim – to attack cancer from every angle for the benefit of patients now and in the future.”

ProTom International President & CEO Stephen Spotts said ProTom was delighted to provide a key element of the new centre.

“The Radiance 330 will revolutionise cancer treatment not only in South Australia, or even Australia, but across the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said this project will further bolster the state’s international credentials and create significant economic stimulus and jobs in the wake of COVID-19.

“This significant development will put SA on the map as a pioneer in world-leading, lifesaving proton therapy cancer treatment,” said Premier Marshall.

“It will also provide the state’s building industry with significant economic stimulus as we emerge from the greatest economic challenge of our time, supporting as many as 1000 jobs and generating an estimated $1 billion in economic activity during the construction phase.

“We are pleased to support this project and look forward to it coming to fruition as a new, iconic landmark along North Terrace.”

The centre will take its name from pioneering South Australian scientists William and Lawrence Bragg, who shared the 1915 Nobel Prize for Physics, in recognition of their work on protons and x-ray.

Lawrence Bragg was born in Adelaide in the late 19th century when the family lived here, and attended St Peter’s College and Adelaide University.

Originally published on the Lead: Work to begin on hi-tech Australian cancer treatment centre