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Sports stars champion health and medical research for thank you day

National sporting champions will join their research heroes around the country to celebrate better health and quality of life from Australian medical research discoveries in the build up to Research Australia Thank You Day 2004. Under the theme ‘sports heroes thank research heroes’, the month-long campaign kicks off on 8 October in Alice Springs with the launch of a giant thank you card, which will be signed by key sporting and research figures at celebratory breakfasts as it tours each state capital.

The Thank You Day campaign aims to encourage Australians to thank medical researchers like those from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) whose dedication and commitment results in better treatments and cures for the many diseases affecting our community. QIMR director Michael Good said that our improved health and longevity over the past 100 years has been largely due to medical breakthroughs in diseases. Of the difference medical research makes to our lives, he said, “A child born today will live on average three months longer than a child born this time last year.”

Now approaching 60 years of medical research, QIMR has many achievements under its belt such as the discovery of genes linked with cancer, the eradication of dengue fever carrying mosquito larvae in Vietnam, and, more recently, the commencement of developing an ‘immunotherapy’ vaccine against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and other cancers.

Australian test cricket great David Boon, one of dozens of sporting legends who have joined the ranks as Thank You Day ambassadors, said Australian health researchers, like our sports champions, are leading the world in many areas of endeavour, but most people just don’t realise it. “Because their work is happening away from the public eye, few Australians truly understand our global leadership in so many vital areas of health and medical discovery,” he said.

Dr Christine Bennett, CEO of Research Australia, said Australians have been responsible for some of the greatest discoveries in medical history. “Australia has a vibrant, world-class research industry dedicated to unravelling the mysteries of the human body to improve community health and well-being,” she said. “With further support, Australian health and medical researchers will continue to create a better tomorrow.”

Now in its second year, the Research Australia Thank You Day will conclude with an awards dinner in Brisbane on 7 November, when six Australian individuals and organisations will be honoured for their remarkable philanthropy and advocacy which has helped pave the way for a stronger Australian research environment.