Florey Institute has big plans for UniMelbourne money

There is alarm among some staff at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health as they contemplate a consultant report on directions to take after scientific director Geoffrey Donnan retires. Nor is everybody at the University of Melbourne particularly pleased. ““The whole document is vague but it certainly sets the power struggles out for all to see,” a Florey watcher tells CMM.

The plan proposes a dual leadership structure with a “basic science lead” working alongside a new scientific director who is a clinical scientist. Or vice versa.

It also proposes basic neuroscience areas should adapt from existing divisions, “reorganising into themes that are more contemporary.” And the report suggests three clinical pillars, stroke, dementia and epilepsy, be allocated among participating hospitals.

The overall approach is not embraced by all at the Institute; “Florey staff are upset that the research focus is streamlined and neglects many important areas of research career researchers and their staff/research assistants have contributed to immensely,” CMM hears.

The consultants also suggest the Florey become the flagship for all University of Melbourne brain research, recommending; “an unambiguous and clear branding of the Florey as the oversight structure for all of neuroscience at the University of Melbourne.” This includes creating at least four university co-funded Florey chairs. But what, an observer asks, “does UniMelbourne get out of putting all these funds into the Florey?”

However, Professor Donnan tells CMM that, “in implementing any recommendations which involve change, adjustments always need to be made. In this case, any initial disquiet about the impact on basic science were explored in a series of workshops and scientists are fully supportive.  Basic science underpins every major advance in neuroscience and is integral to the Florey’s future.”


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