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From the Vice-Chancellor

[ The University of Melbourne Voice Vol. 6, No. 5  3 May - 13 June 2010 ]

The Parkville Precinct

Melbourne’s Parkville Precinct is a widely-acknowledged national and international centre of excellence in healthcare and health-related education and research.

And it is no coincidence that the University of Melbourne is at its heart.

The Precinct dates back to the opening of the University in the mid 1850s. In the 1920s the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the Royal Melbourne Hospital joined the University in Parkville and, ever since, the University’s presence has continued to draw more than 20 of Australia’s leading biomedical research institutes to the precinct.

And this powerhouse continues to grow.

In 2011, the new Neurosciences facility rising in Royal Parade will be a hub for the Howard Florey Institute, the Mental Health Research Institute and neuroscience-related University research. Across Grattan Street, the old dental hospital is coming down to make room for the new world-class Parkville Comprehensive Cancer Centre, and construction of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity is getting underway. A $100 million Victorian Life Sciences Computational Facility will give the precinct unequalled computer capability in the life sciences.

The addition of this infrastructure significantly expands the precinct’s capabilities to perform world-class research.

For instance, the Parkville CCC follows in the tradition of leading cancer centres around the world – New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre or the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Centre at Vanderbilt University – which have grown out of partnerships of hospitals, universities and research institutes. The vision for the Doherty Institute is to give Australia an equal capability to the US’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is the research-rich environment in which the University will begin teaching its new Masters level professional-entry programs for medicine, dental surgery and physiotherapy in 2011.

These programs – four years for medicine and dental surgery and three years for physiotherapy – are the first Masters program to give entry to these professions for students who have already completed an undergraduate degree. Previously the only option for graduates who wanted to study medicine was to take an another undergraduate course, taught at undergraduate level over four to four-and-a-half years, and to graduate with another Bachelor degree.

They are uniquely-Australian Masters programs but they follow accepted practice in North America and many other parts of the world where entry to most professions via a Masters program is the norm.

Students in these new health-related Masters programs will study as graduate students in a team-based environment. They will have more clinical experience in their course and opportunities to develop relevant skills in readiness for internships. They will also be able to build a portfolio of research-based experience in areas such as global health, Indigenous health and so on.

But most importantly they will have the skills and experiences to seamlessly deliver the 21st century healthcare our society expects – and deserves.

Glyn Davis

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