Canberra’s first family of philanthropy, the Snows, have a launched an Australia-first charitable foundation dedicated to funding the brightest and best medical researchers from across the nation and from around the world.
The Snow Medical Research Foundation (Snow Medical) is looking to fuel a new wave of medical innovation by providing generous, long-term funding and leadership support to outstanding researchers and their teams, no matter where they come from or what area of medicine they are working in.
The foundation will fund two researchers a year for eight years, offering the kind of long-term support and certainty that is unavailable in many universities and institutions. They would receive 1 million a year.
Fellowship funding will be available to set up and operate a research laboratory and pay salaries for the Snow Fellow and post-doctoral researchers, provide PhD student scholarship top-ups, technical and laboratory management support, project funds and leadership development.
The goal is to develop the next generation of exceptional, visionary biomedical research leaders.
Snow Medical is the vision of family patriarch Terry Snow, who says the well-established Snow Foundation charity already offers some medical research funding but the family, which owns and operates Canberra Airport and are prominent property developers in the ACT, thought it was time to take a different approach.
“We will specifically target bright young people all over the world to come to Australia to work and study, build a team and stay for the long term,” he said.
“There are plenty of examples where money has gone into equipment and real estate facilities but not a lot of money has gone into the intellectual capital of research.
“We want to make sure we have the best people in the world available to work with us here in Australia.”
He says the high quality of Australia’s biomedical research is recognised globally but long-term sustainable funding is needed to keep the nation globally competitive.
“We cannot let great researchers go elsewhere or have their work fail because there’s just not enough investment,” he said.
The fellowships will be open to early and mid-career researchers who will be able to work with whichever university or research institution they choose, such as the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the ANU, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne or the Garvan Institute in Sydney.
The family has already consulted with Australian institutions with which fellows will partner, and a pilot round is under way, from which one or two researchers will be selected in April 2020, when the first official round will also be launched.
Snow Medical will award two fellowships a year, so at any one time there will eventually be 16 researchers working concurrently.
Tom Snow said a lack of certainty within the university system was hampering researchers.
“You can’t get security of tenure. You end up with people with only one or two years of funding but they can’t actually plan a proper bold visionary research program,” he said.
He said the foundation also wanted to encourage a more entrepreneurial approach so fellows can feel free to take risks.
Snow Fellows and their teams will also have access to training in leadership, management and policy, entrepreneurship and engagement support.
“Success in business comes from seeing opportunities, and working hard to achieve new ideas and innovation,” Terry Snow said.
“We are looking for researchers who have that spirit and the drive in their respective fields. We want to support people who are making significant discoveries and big contributions to health across society.”
Tom Snow said he expects that some will bring or build cross-disciplinary teams.
“The really big breakthroughs are where you have engineers, and chemists and data scientists all working together with a medical researcher.”
He said the foundation also wanted to encourage the best female researchers to apply, as they are under-represented in medical research.
The Snows hope others will follow their example so home-grown researchers need not leave their country to pursue their work but also to attract the world’s best to help drive the Australian economy.
Snow Medical is working through a very significant range of networks overseas to attract applicants.
“We’re sure the whole world will beat a path to our door,” Terry Snow said.
For more information go to https://snowmedical.org.au/