In April 2018, the Victorian State Government announced a generous $2.1M would be provided to Maddie’s Vision to establish the Centre of Research Excellence in Bone Marrow Biology.
Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) are universally recognised as the best model for managing rare, complex and multifactorial diseases, functioning as a hub of expertise, promoting the collaboration of high quality, highly focussed researchers towards a common goal. The Maddie’s Vision CRE in Bone Marrow Biology is a virtual centre that constitutes the ‘front of house’ for the research consortium, providing a centralised contact point for existing researchers, future researchers, commercial entities and community groups. The CRE’s goals are to provide a critical synchronisation of current and future research opportunities, and to amplify and accelerate research outcomes. Significantly, the Maddie’s Vision CRE in Bone Marrow Biology’s reach is not only nationwide, supporting projects in six different Australian states and territories, but expanding internationally, with three current projects possessing an international collaboration and connection.
The CRE structure includes Director, Professor David Ritchie, Head Bone Marrow Transplantation and Deputy Director Clinical Haematology The Royal Melbourne Hospital / Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Director of Operations, Dr Simonne Neil. The CRE Executive is comprised of the principal researchers of all the projects Maddie’s Vision is both currently funding, or has previously funded. All projects sit within the CRE research portfolio and include Grants-in-Aid, Fellowships, a clinical registry, a prospective, observational clinical trial and an interventional trial.
The hive of activity occurring within the CRE is generating significant momentum, forging collaborations, developing research strategy and directing infrastructure. The CRE hosted Australia's inaugural National Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes Symposium in May 2019, which attracted two exceptional international guest speakers and 180 delegates, and our inaugural virtual Patient and Family Forum on August 28 2020, which had over 200 registrants. Our second Symposium on Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes is scheduled for May 27-29 2021 and will incorporate our second Patient and Family Forum.
Formalised CRE Executive meetings occur every 6 months, providing opportunity to discuss future strategic direction, including projects, talent identification and both national and international clinical trials to bring under the umbrella of the CRE. Importantly, assembling Australia’s incredible wealth of bone marrow failure scientific and clinical knowledge around a single table promotes ideas and possibilities. Subcommittees have been formed within the CRE Executive to pursue and progress prioritised areas of unmet need; the Australian Marrow Failure Biobank Subcommittee was formed in May 2019 and the Gene and Cellular Therapy Subcommittee in May 2020.