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14 Jul 2021
Sector News

High impact – celebrating five years of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre

  • VCCC Alliance

Australia's first ever, purpose-built comprehensive cancer centre

“This is Australia’s first ever, purpose-built comprehensive cancer centre, built with the vision to save lives by connecting the world’s best cancer research, education, treatment and care under one roof.”

Those were the words of Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday 18 July 2016 as he officially opened the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre. Since then, the vision has become an exciting reality with a multitude of achievements notched up under its amazing glass roof.

First and foremost, the building - located at the heart of the Parkville Biomedical Precinct - is home to Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Peter Mac), Australia’s leading cancer treatment, education and research institute.

It is also a cancer research and education facility for Melbourne Health and the University of Melbourne and the headquarters of the VCCC Alliance. The location also supports shared clinical services between Peter Mac, The Royal Women’s Hospital and The Royal Melbourne Hospital, including a new electronic medical record (EMR) system.

At the time of the launch, Premier Andrews went on to say that in this iconic, state-of-the-art VCCC building, the best and brightest medical minds would work side-by-side to fast-track future cancer breakthroughs and deliver first-class care and treatment to patients.

...the best and brightest medical minds will work side-by-side to fast-track future cancer breakthroughs and deliver first-class care and treatment to patients.

Premier Daniel Andrews                                            

And he was right. Examples of the myriad developments notably include:

  • Establishment of The Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy – a collaboration between Peter Mac, The University of Melbourne and the VCCC Alliance – a hub of scientific interaction with scientists from Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, The Royal Children’s Hospital, WEHI, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Children’s Cancer Institute (Sydney) currently working in the space
  • The substantial growth of cancer clinical trial activity with the vision of a dedicated clinical trials space for the treatment of patients on early phase trials on level 3 fulfilled, bringing together Peter Mac, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Royal Women’s Hospital in the Parkville Cancer Clinical Trials Unit
  • The first VCCC Research Conference in 2017 featured 13 international and 65 national speakers – one of the hundreds of educational events held by the VCCC Alliance, Peter Mac and others in the building, providing exceptional educational opportunities for the cancer workforce
  • Establishment of The University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research (UMCCR) to unite academic leaders committed to improving the outcomes and quality of life for people affected by cancer
  • A new UMCCR genomics program has attracted substantial commercial and government investment leading to the creation of the Illumina-University of Melbourne Genomics Hub
  • Establishment of the National Centre of Excellence in Cellular Immunotherapies – a collaboration between Peter Mac, Cell Therapies, the Australian Government and involving many other partners including industry: an exceptional symbiotic undertaking that is keeping Australia at the forefront of CAR-T therapy innovation
  • A new Peter Mac/University of Melbourne Centre for Clinical Informatics and Health Services Research is examining how digital technologies can improve the provision of health care
  • The attraction of hundreds of millions of dollars in medical research grant funding from philanthropy and government including the Medical Research Future Fund
  • Innumerable other collaborations between precinct partners WEHI, University of Melbourne, Peter Mac, Melbourne Health, The Royal Women’s Hospital, The Royal Children’s Hospital, The Doherty Institute and MCRI. Further partnerships developed between others located in the VCCC building including Cancer Trials Australia, CanThera (formerly Cancer Therapeutics Ctx), Cell Therapies and the Australian Genomics Research Foundation, as well as national and international collaborations.

Without the benefits of co-location; a culture of strategic collaboration; support from Governments and state-of-the-art facilities for research, education and care, much of this may not have occurred, and cancer care in Victoria would be less advanced as a result.

Presidential aspirations

When now-US President Joe Biden attended the opening of the VCCC in 2016, he said the building was 'a sign of hope and aspiration’, and ‘an asset that would add exponentially to the fight against cancer both here in Australia and around the world’.

He also noted that until recently, cancer research had not been a ‘team sport’ but collaborative approaches such as that taken at the VCCC were changing that. He challenged the audience to imagine what would be made possible through initiatives such as shared data for collaborative research.

BidenSpeechNow-President Joe Biden at the 2016 opening of the VCCC

The award-winning $1 billion VCCC building was delivered under a public private partnership: the Victorian Government contracted the Plenary Health consortium, comprising Plenary Group, the Grocon / PCL builder joint venture and facilities manager Honeywell to design, build, finance and maintain the project under a 25-year concession. The VCCC was designed by Silver Thomas Hanley, DesignInc and McBride Charles Ryan.

Funding was provided by the Victorian Government, the Australian Government and philanthropy, including $15 million from The Ian Potter Foundation.

Beyond the building

The VCCC building is a demonstration of a purpose-built environment providing the conditions for effective, practical collaborations that are bringing lasting benefits and a blueprint for other endeavours.

While the building continues to act as a hub for excellence in cancer care, education and research, going forward the VCCC joint venture of 10 member organisations will be now distinguished as the VCCC Alliance. This provides a subtle differentiation from the building itself and a more inclusive reference of the VCCC Alliance members and partners outside the Parkville precinct, reflective of the importance of this broader collective effort for all Victorians. 

Find out more about the change to VCCC Alliance.

Logos of Peter Mac, RMH, UoM, The Women's, WEHI, RCH, Western Health, St Vincent's Hospital, Austin Health, MCRI