October 19, 2016

From the CEO’s desk

This August, I was privileged to witness the presentation of the inaugural Lung Foundation Australia/Deep Manchanda Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award in lung cancer. The presentation was made at Lung Foundation Australia’s 6th Australian Lung Cancer Conference by Foundation Chair, Professor Christine Jenkins. The recipient of the Fellowship, Dr Atiqur Rahman, will join Professor Philip Hansbro at the University of Newcastle to progress our understanding of the genetic changes that drive the development and progression of lung cancer.

Joining me at the presentation was the generous donor, Mrs Rabia Manchanda, whose support made the award possible. Mrs Manchanda’s significant donation was made earlier this year in memory of her husband, Deep Manchanda, who died of lung cancer. Her donation will not only support Dr Rahman’s important work, but will also support eight Post-Doctoral fellowships over the coming 16 years.

When we first started discussing what could be done with such a significant donation, the Lung Foundation proposed to the Manchanda family that we would offer funding to support a series of two year post-doctoral fellowships. We also undertook to attract matching funds for the donor’s contribution, effectively doubling the value and impact of their donation. With matched funding and a program of investing the capital in high interest term deposits, we proposed to our donor that we would be able to fund eight two year fellowships over 16 years. This compares to three fellowships over six years if we had not sought matching funding for the donor’s original contribution.

Early this year, we put out a call for expressions of interest to universities and research institutes to seek matching funding to our donor’s contribution for the first award. The University of Newcastle was one of four expressions of interest we received and was the successful bid. Not only did they propose matching dollar for dollar the donor’s contribution for this first Lung Foundation Australia/Deep Manchanda Fellowship, they also proposed funding an additional PhD scholarship to support the successful Fellow, taking the total value of the research package to almost half a million dollars – research that might not otherwise have been undertaken if it had not been for the original donation.

By matching donations with support from academic partners, Lung Foundation Australia is able to extend and increase the value of the award, maximising the return for the community.

This approach is not a new one for the Lung Foundation; we have worked with other significant donors to increase the value of their donations to support PhD scholarships by seeking matching funding. The Lung Foundation Australia/David Wilson PhD Scholarship in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) will leverage a donation from the Wilson family that would have supported three and a half PhDs on its own to a program that will support seven PhDs over 18 years through matched funding from the university sector.

Similarly, we have worked with the Tasmanian family of Neville Bantoft, who was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 41. His bequest to us, with leveraged funding, has supported four PhDs over the past three years.

We are all too familiar with the relative lack of support for research into lung disease and we value the support from generous families such as these. Lung Foundation Australia has set the ambitious goal that by 2020, we’ll be contributing $5 million a year to support research – both research awards and research platforms, including our lung cancer trials groups and our disease-based registries (IPF and bronchiectasis) which facilitate and attract funding for research in previously neglected disease areas. With the generous donations of the Manchanda, Wilson and Bantoft families, this year sees us take a significant step in that direction.

Heather Allan