THE centralisation of premier health research and services in Westmead has long attracted international and national recognition within the medical industry, but the magnitude of the precinct's discoveries and productivity is only just starting to appear on the radars of politicians and the wider community.
Every year more than a million people are treated within the Westmead health hub, which houses thousands of researchers, not only working on cutting-edge discoveries, but making them.
Professor Tony Cunningham, executive director of the Westmead Millennium Institute — one of the largest medical research institutes in Australia leading research in cancer, diabetes, major infectious and immune diseases and liver and kidney disease — said the key to Westmead's success is its focus on collaboration.
"In Westmead that has proven to be such a success [it has] been used as a model for the clustering of research and establishing critical mass," Professor Cunningham said.
The precinct's collaboration also makes it highly efficient in buying state-of-the-art equipment, which keeps it competitive with the industry's American and European counterparts. "This becomes a nucleus for high-tech medical research far bigger than anything else in the west of Sydney - and that becomes a magnet for post graduate education," Professor Cunningham said.
Underpinning the hub's rapid success is the "bench to bedside" motto at the heart of the institute, reflecting the focus on translating research discoveries into clinical advances.
"It means we can rapidly move between research and clinical excellence," Professor Cunningham said.
"Today's research is tomorrow's medicine is the old adage, and it is absolutely true."
Earlier this year an alliance of the Westmead health centres was created to advocate for multi-million dollar infrastructure improvements
The Westmead Alliance — including the Western Sydney Local Health District, The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network, Westmead Millennium Institute, Children's Medical Research Institute, Westmead Private Hospital, Parramatta Council and the University of Sydney — banded together to advocate for a multi-million dollar vision and infrastructure program for Westmead.
Earlier this month the precinct was given a federal election sweetener with $122 million promised for a redevelopment of Westmead Hospital, the Westmead Millennium Institute's new premises and redevelopment of the Children's Medical Research Institute.
As a member of the Westmead Alliance, Professor Cunningham said the council's support had also been imperative in refocusing the need for "smart jobs" in western Sydney. But as Professor Cunningham recognises the hub's success of the past, it's the future he is most excited about.
"I'd like to see our hub expand even further and relate to other universities in the region; relate to the community and at the essence be at the centre of a web of research that guides excellent medicine, so we depend on evidence-based medicine," he said.
He talks of Westmead as one day resembling the Macquarie Park-like precinct and believes key stakeholders need to recognise the ground-breaking research and care of Westmead so it can attract more philanthropy to grow further.
"I think the campus has a great future and very exciting to see it grow from small unheralded site to what it is today," he said.
"And I want a Nobel Prize winner to come from Westmead one day!"