SAHMRI 2 to bring new hope for cancer patients

By Melissa Keogh

It’s no secret that the architecturally renowned South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is one of the most eye-catching buildings in the State.

However, a second one is on its way.

SAHMRI 2, to be located alongside the first institute on North Terrace, will house hundreds more medical researchers and the Southern Hemisphere’s first proton-therapy research centre.

SAHMRI 2 is expected to open by the end of 2020.

The proton therapy unit, spread over three floors in SAHMRI 2, is expected to make a world of difference for about 700 children with cancer and people with inoperable tumours every year.

An artist's impression of what the new SAHMRI building could look like alongside the first SAHMRI, pictured right, on North Terrace.

An artist’s impression of the new SAHMRI building, left, alongside the first SAHMRI on North Terrace.

The cutting-edge treatment delivers precise radiation to tumours with less risk of affecting surrounding tissues and organs.

The technology is currently unavailable anywhere in the southern hemisphere, so patients must travel to the US or Europe to receive treatment.

Watch the video below to hear South Australian woman Carol Coombs’ story.

Carol was forced to travel to the US to receive expensive proton therapy treatment after being diagnosed in 2010 with a tumour close to her brain stem.

SAHMRI executive director Professor Steve Wesselingh says the proton therapy unit will “put us on the world stage”.

“Proton therapy is a form of radiotherapy, but much more precise,” he says.

“It doesn’t kill surrounding tissue.”

Proton therapy also treats cancers in children, whose development can be affected by exposure to typical radiation therapy.

The State Government recently announced a $44m contribution to SAHMRI 2, following $68m in Commonwealth funding.

The overall SAHMRI 2 will cost $273m and is expected to create 250 jobs in construction and 340 ongoing jobs.

The SAHMRI 1 building is renowned for its unique design.

The SAHMRI 1 building is renowned for its unique design.

So, will the design of the SAHMRI 2 be as unique as the first?

“We always want SAHMRI 1 to be the iconic stand-out on the strip,” Prof. Wesselingh says.

“We think the architects Woods Bagot will come up with concept designs (for SAHMRI 2) that synergise with SAHMRI 1 but won’t overwhelm SAHMRI 1.”

Curious about SAHMRI? Tours run every Friday. Click here for more details or contact India Wallace at tours@sahmri.org.