02 Oct 2023

Westmead Health and Innovation District: a snapshot

Articles
Westmead Institute for Medical Research building

Sydney’s Westmead is on a transformative journey. Known as the Westmead Health and Innovation District, this established health hub is gaining global recognition for its cutting-edge facilities, wealth of expertise and groundbreaking medical and biotechnology advancements.

The district will serve as a gateway to global markets, strategically located just 30km from the upcoming Western Sydney International airport, set to commence operations in 2026. The northern area offers untapped potential for future development, presenting fresh opportunities for industries to co-locate within Australia’s largest and fastest-growing health district.

Australia’s premier health focused innovation district

Attracting global attention for its top facilities, talent, and medical breakthroughs, the Westmead Health and Innovation District comprises an impressive network of organisations joining forces to leverage and strengthen the capabilities of each other. They include:

  • Four major hospitals
  • Two universities (University of Sydney and Western Sydney University)
  • Five world-leading medical research institutes
  • NSW’s largest research-intensive pathology service
  • CSIRO’s eHealth Research Unit
  • Western Sydney Startup Hub
  • Westmead Biomedical Incubator
Graham Loy headshot Graeme Loy, Chief Executive of the Western Sydney Local Health District and a foundation partner of the Westmead Health Precinct

At the centre of the district is the Westmead Health Precinct, Australia’s largest cluster of health services and biomedical research. Westmead stands at the forefront of medical advancements, hosting up to 1,000 clinical trials at any given time.

Graeme Loy, Chief Executive of the Western Sydney Local Health District and a foundation partner of the Westmead Health Precinct, acknowledges its value for global health outcomes.

“The things that we do in research, innovation, clinical care, education, and training are world-leading,” he says. “We bring people here from all over the planet to learn from our experts and to see how they can work with us. The expertise, the intelligence, and the capability are just phenomenal.”

Graeme Loy

Chief Executive of the Western Sydney Local Health District and a foundation partner of the Westmead Health Precinct

Mr Loy shares that the district’s collaborative efforts are contributing globally to major medical breakthroughs in gene therapy, cancer treatment, immunology, vaccinology, and more.

“Some of the things we’re working on here are really attracting global attention from many countries including Israel, from South Korea, from Japan. These countries have all come here to see what we do and are looking to partner with us. Westmead is absolutely the cutting edge of technology and innovation,”

Graham Loy

Chief Executive of the Western Sydney Local Health District and a foundation partner of the Westmead Health Precinct

Liza Noonan headshot Liza Noonan, Executive Director of Innovation Districts

Fostering collaboration and transforming healthcare

A highly visible component of Westmead’s transformation is the Innovation Quarter (iQ), a multidisciplinary research space promoting the seamless exchange of knowledge and resources among businesses, healthcare professionals, and researchers.

Spearheaded by Western Sydney University and Charter Hall Group, the visionary $350-million iQ hub already hosts respected research institutes, including the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development; National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) Health Research Institute; Translational Health Research Institute; and the esteemed Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

The presence of the Australian government’s CSIRO research agency marks a significant milestone. Liza Noonan, Executive Director of Innovation Districts, recognises the district’s potential in merging health, life sciences, and data science.

“Researchers from CSIRO’s Australian e-Health Research Centre and Nutrition and Health teams moved to the Westmead Innovation Quarter in 2021,” explains Mr Loy. “This, coupled with the existing strengths across the district means that this is an exciting time to be part of Westmead.”

Liza Noonan

Executive Director of Innovation Districts

 

Garvan Institute of Medical Researcher

Positioning Australia as a global medical leader

The Westmead Health and Innovation District is steadily making its mark on the world stage, positioning Australia as a frontrunner in medical research and treatment. Integrating various facilities within the district fosters collaboration with the shared goal of better health outcomes for all. The ultimate result of this collaborative and innovative effort leads to better and lower healthcare costs, paving the way for transformative end-to-end care.

“The magic of Westmead is that you can go from discovery through to the clinical trial process, and in the near future – capacity for on-site manufacturing to accelerate better outcomes for patients and the commercial potential of great Australian science,

Liza Noonan

Executive Director of Innovation Districts

A key example is the construction of a 550-litre capacity viral vector facility planned for Westmead. Viral vectors are modified viruses used in gene therapy to deliver therapeutic genes into cells and replace faulty genes that cause disease.

Westmead’s Professor Ian Alexander has lent his expertise to this breakthrough project. A professor in the Paediatrics and Molecular Medicine Disciplines of Child and Adolescent Health and Genetic Medicine at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, he says the laboratory research in viral vectors underway at Westmead is being used in clinical trials that can quickly progress to the manufacturing of viral vectors on site for use in clinical treatment.

“We can go in and edit genes now, just like you would edit a spelling error in a document,” Professor Alexander says. “A single error in the genome can cause a devastating illness, but we now have the technology to remove some of those errors with incredible precision.

“At Westmead, we’ve got access to a highly competitive clinical and research environment that sets an elite global standard. We are one of the best precincts on the planet for doing gene therapy.”

Professor Ian Alexander

A professor in the Paediatrics and Molecular Medicine Disciplines of Child and Adolescent Health and Genetic Medicine at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead

Professor Alexander says recent advancements in technology have caused an explosion of clinical activity and successful therapies. Westmead is at the forefront of this groundbreaking work, particularly in the development of AAV vectors (adeno-associated virus), the leading platform for gene delivery.

“AAV vectors are the leading viral vector transfer system on the planet,” he says. “This campus has made world-leading contributions to this gene transfer technology to deliver genes efficiently to particular target organs.”

Professor Ian Alexander

A professor in the Paediatrics and Molecular Medicine Disciplines of Child and Adolescent Health and Genetic Medicine at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead

Westmead Health Precint coloured helix

Embracing an exciting future

The Westmead Health and Innovation District is well positioned to become a global leader in bioinnovation. Its presence makes Sydney an ideal destination for hosting conferences, meetings, and events within the health and life sciences industries.