Construction of a high-tech medical research centre housing the Southern Hemisphere’s first proton therapy unit is expected to start 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 which is used at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and will be one of only three of its kind in the world.
Once fully operational, it is estimated that 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 was quickly dubbed by locals as ‘The Cheese Grater’ for its stunning contemporary design. The new building will also be designed by leading architects Woods Bagot, which won a swag of awards for its SAHMRI 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 and Children’s hospital is also planned for the precinct’s western corner.
The new building will be developed and owned by SA developer Commercial & General and built by Lendlease.
Commercial & General is providing almost $400 million in project finance and has worked in collaboration with SAHMRI to develop the business case.
Both State and Federal governments have also been key enablers of the project, with the Commonwealth providing $68 million in a National Partnership Agreement, while the Government of South Australia is a cornerstone tenant through SA Health and a funding partner having provided $47.4 million towards the project, which includes the land and relocation of major rail infrastructure on the site.
Construction is anticipated to be finalised in late 2023, with the first patients treated approximately 18 months later.
SAHMRI Executive Director Professor Steve Wesselingh said the Australian Bragg Centre would ‘figuratively and literally’ 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.”
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall commented that the 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 the Premier.
“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.”