Biographies

Follow this link to read the biographies of key figures who have played an instrumental role in the Foundation.

A brief history of The Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation

The Foundation was inaugurated on 13 January 1984.  The original five directors included Mrs Rebecca Lillian Cooper, who in her Will of the same date endowed the Foundation.  The other directors were the late Mr Kevin Cahill who was her solicitor, the late Mr Al Rosenstrauss OAM, her real estate and business manager, Dr Nick Gregory, her GP and Dr Tom Cromer, an endocrinologist.  Dr Cromer has served as a director ever since and is the Foundation's current chairman.

Mrs Cooper died on 29 April 1984, bequeathing one hundred and five properties to the Foundation. The majority of these properties comprised terrace houses scattered through the inner suburbs of Sydney. They were predominantly located in the prestigious suburbs of Woollahra, Paddington and Bondi Junction.  At the time of her death, with few exceptions, the properties were in very poor repair with many being dilapidated and derelict.

The annual income derived from these properties has steadily increased from below $80,000 in 1984 to more than $3 million at present. A large part of this income continues to be used to upgrade the properties to a standard commensurate to current expectations of the rental market. However, with the accelerated income return that this work provides and the determination of the current Directors to broaden the Foundation's asset base, the time will come when a far larger proportion of our income will be available to the medical research fraternity.  We envisage that we will then be able to invest beyond our original endowment, thereby ensuring the continued growth of the Foundation.

2014 marked 30 years since the Foundation began giving medical research grants. To date, over $18.2 million has been awarded in grants, scholarships, fellowships, symposia and awards. It took seven years to achieve our first $1.0 million in grants, commencing in 1984 when two grants were made totalling $9,640. In the 2012 year the grants awarded exceeded $1 million per annum for the first time. This year, 297applications for grants were received and a total of $1.49 million was allocated to fund 53 grants, 4 PhD scholarships, 2 fellowships and 3 awards.

One of our early major grants totalled $250,000.  This was given, by instalments, for the establishment of the Rebecca L Cooper Laboratories at the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria (this laboratory is known today as the Molecular Psychiatry Laboratory at The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health).  A major focus of the Foundation has been on schizophrenia research, which has now expanded to become “Brain Sciences: psychiatry and neurology.”

Over the years the Foundation has introduced three awards to be used by recipients to advance their careers. These include the Leo Dintenfass Memorial Award , the John and Eileen Haddon Memorial Award and the Kevin Cahill Award, valued at $5,000, $2,000 and $2,000 respectively.

In 1999 the Foundation provided its first three-year PhD scholarship in Schizophrenia research.  This has been followed by scholarships across the other categories that we support. We currently have four PhD scholars being supported by the Foundation. 

In 2012 the Foundation was proud to announce a new award, the Al and Val Rosenstrauss Research Fellowship.  This award is a ground breaking achievement for the Foundation.  Named after Al Rosenstrauss and his wife Val, this has become a sought after and highly regarded appointment.  The successful candidate, Dr Graeme Polglase, has been awarded a fellowship with a grant $100,000 per annum for four years to assist him pursue his chosen research.

From 2015 onward, grant and fellowship applications will be peer reviewed by a Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). Having experts review applications is aimed at improving the funding decisions we make.

The Board of Directors is dedicated to the continued growth of the income stream of the Foundation, through careful management of the property portfolio and the diversification of assets to ensure that these aims are met. No matter how much money we have available, there will always be many more excellent applications than we can fund.  We are always saddened that so many good projects cannot be supported. 

It is very gratifying to find that whenever there are reports on medical research in the media, the chances are high that the researcher is someone who has received at least one grant from the Foundation.

A Historical Snapshop

Year

 Milestone

1984

 Inauguration

1985

 First funded Diabetes and Haematology research

1986

 First funded Arthritis and Schizophrenia research

1991

 First funded Lung Disease and Genetic research

 Inaugural Leo Dintenfass Memorial Award to Dr Ilja Hulinsky

1994

 First funded Geriatric research

 RLC Research Laboratories established

2004

 First funded Vision research

 Inaugural Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation Medal to Dr Janette Burgess

2005

 Inaugural John & Eileen Haddon award to Christopher Raymond Murphy

2012

 Inaugural Kevin Cahill award to Professor Minas Coroneo

 Inaugural Al & Val Rosenstrauss Fellowship awarded to Dr Graeme Polglase

 Exceeded $1million in grants for the first time

2015

 Grants Advisory Commitee introduced to inform granting decisions

2016

 Fellowship Advisory Committee introduced to inform the award of the Al & Val Rosenstrauss fellowship

2017

 Inaugural Project Grants Scheme

 First funded Dermatology with an emphasis on Psoriasis