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PM: Opening of Auckland Medical Research F'tion

Friday 2 December 2005

Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister

Address at Opening of Auckland Medical Research Foundation Medical Sciences Learning Centre

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Grafton Campus Café, University of Auckland

Thank you for the invitation to open the Auckland Medical Research Foundation Medical Sciences Learning Centre.

Today’s opening is also an opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding contribution to medical research made over the past fifty years by the Auckland Medical Research Foundation, and to thank the Foundation for the substantial grant it has made to this new facility.

I know that the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences has been giving priority to redeveloping its infrastructure, so that all its research and teaching are supported by state of the art facilities and technology.

This investment, along with the quality of the research and teaching in the Faculty is important in maintaining and growing the reputation of the Faculty. It ranks now within the top one and a half per cent of biomedical facilities in the world, and actually improved its ranking in the latest Times Higher Education Supplement listings. This is a source of considerable pride for New Zealand.

I recall the first intake of medical students on this Campus in the year I began at Auckland University, in 1968.

While that seems like yesterday, it is as well to remember that it was more than three and a half decades ago!

Accordingly, many facilities are surely due for an upgrade!

Thus the Tamaki Campus is hosting the new Population Health Complex; Mercy Ascot Hospital hosts the new Advanced Clinical Skills Centre; and the Centre for Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging opened on this Campus in April.

Around four months ago I announced that the government would be investing $7 million in a new Institute of Health Innovation on the Tamaki Campus, some of which will fund a purpose built building for the Institute and its partners.

This new purpose built learning centre on the Grafton Campus brings together under-graduate and post-graduate teaching in anatomy, radiology, pathology, and clinical skills.

It will also be available to post-graduate doctors, clinicians, and researchers from our District Health Boards, and other tertiary institutions.

The Learning Centre is designed to be a museum, a classroom, a library, a lecture theatre, and a multi-media facility all rolled into one facility.

It makes use of an extensive collection of teaching tools including pathology specimens and plastinated body models which demonstrate the complex systems of the human body.

The Centre retains a museum theme, with shelving organised in a circular arrangement around a central core which depicts Da Vinci’s classic symmetrical image - the Vitruvian man. The circular concept symbolises the classic medical lecture theatre of the University of Padua, where anatomy teaching ushered in the modern era of medical education.

I recall seeing a similar early anatomical lecture theatre at the 15th Century University in Uppsala Sweden some years ago.

I congratulate the architect Rick Pearson on the design, and all others involved in bringing the project to fruition.

The Auckland Medical Research Foundation funded $500,000 of the $800,000 cost of the facility. In its first fifty years it has donated around $25 million to medical research across a wide range of fields. Its annual grants currently total around $1.3 million, with as many as sixty research projects, grants, and scholarships receiving funding at one time.

Thank you once again to the Foundation for your tremendous contribution to research, students, and medical education.

It is now my pleasure to declare the Auckland Medical Research Foundation Medical Sciences Learning Centre officially open.


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