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Celebrating 10 years in the Lowy Packer Building

When Crown Princess Mary of Denmark opened the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute building a decade ago, she predicted it would be home to the “brightest and best minds in the country and the world”.

Her foresight and the 10th Birthday of the Lowy Packer building have been celebrated with balloons and bubbles for staff from the Victor Chang Institute and St Vincent’s Centre for Applied Medical Research, which shares the facility.

Before the glasses were raised, Victor Chang Institute Executive Director Professor Bob Graham remembered the moment philanthropist Chuck Feeney agreed to donate $20 million for construction of the research centre.

“I was thanking him for his time, and had just turned to walk away when he said: ‘Oh, by the way, you can have the $20 million’,” Professor Graham said.

“That $20 million from Chuck also allowed us to install state-of-the-art equipment and facilities straight away.”

“It’s a beautiful building. We are lucky to have it.”

Representing St Vincent’s Centre for Applied Medical Research, Chief Operating Officer Phil Cunningham said collaboration between the two organisations was to be commended.

“This building extends beyond just four walls, it’s created a sense of unity and partnership between our two organisations,” explained Mr Cunningham.

A decade ago when Crown Princess Mary spoke at the official opening, she referred to her “own personal experience of the devastating effects of heart disease”. Her mother died from the condition in 1997.

“Buildings like this don’t just happen. They take a great deal of work from many people over many years,” Crown Princess Mary said.

“In this regard, the leadership of the Board, not only of the Victor Chang institute, but also St Vincent’s Hospital and their precinct partner the Garvan Institute, deserve much praise and congratulations.”

The gala opening ceremony in 2008 was also attended by Mrs Ann Chang, former NSW Premier, Morris Iemma, as well as former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, at that time, Federal Member for Wentworth.

When the Victor Chang Institute was established in 1994, it started with just two scientists.

Today there are 300 staff and scientists working in 24 laboratories making world-class discoveries in heart research. 

“Dr Chang was an original thinker and saw the need for research and the development of heart assist devices and not least, he is known for his legendary caring for his patients and their families,” Crown Princess Mary added.

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