History of Melanoma Institute Australia

MIA evolved from the Sydney Melanoma Unit formed in the early 1960s by Dr Gerald Milton at Sydney Hospital. The Unit relocated to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, adjacent to The University of Sydney, in 1982.

In 2008, with the impetus provided by Greg Poche’s incredible philanthropy, the Unit evolved into the Melanoma Institute Australia and the Poche Centre was built.

Today our reach extends well beyond our building. MIA is affiliated with The University of Sydney, Macquarie University, St Vincent’s and Mater Health Sydney, The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Westmead Hospital, Skin and Cancer Foundation Australia and Australian & New Zealand Melanoma Trials Group (ANZMTG).

 

The Poche Centre

The Poche Centre was constructed on the Mater Hospital campus at Wollstonecraft as a purpose-built, world-class, integrated melanoma treatment facility providing the best possible care for patients, and is the headquarters of MIA. The Poche Centre was made possible by a generous donation from philanthropist Mr Greg Poche AO.

Over 70 staff are located under the one roof sharing technology, resources, facilities and expertise. This integration enhances the exchange of ideas and research methods, and ensures the latest treatment and knowledge in melanoma care are quickly translated to patients.

 

The Poche Centre houses independent clinical practices that provide care to melanoma patients throughout Australia. It is only the centre in Australia that focuses on a single cancer.

As well as world-class consulting facilities, the Poche Centre contains:

  • Largest melanoma patient database and integrated BioSpecimen Bank in the world.
  • State-of-the-art laboratories.
  • Modern educational facilities including a 100-seat capacity auditorium, video streaming and conference rooms.
  • Provision of Clinical Nurse Consultants to provide support and education for patients.
  • Molecular pathology leading the way for personalised medicine for melanoma patients.
  • Facilities dedicated to the preparation and storage of drugs used in clinical trials and treatment.
  • Cutting-edge facilities for laser capture microscopy.

 

Making a difference

After the sale of his business, Mr Greg Poche AO was looking to give financial support to a worthy cause which, in his words to his friend Reg Richardson AM, "would make a difference". He asked Reg to find such a cause. Reg thought of his friend Jonathan Stretch, a melanoma surgeon and Deputy Director of the Sydney Melanoma Unit, which had been continually short of sufficient funding to undertake the substantial research needed in melanoma. Jon put together a proposal seeking $10 million from Greg Poche for research and medical equipment.

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Greg readily agreed to fund this, but decided that he wanted the project to be a bigger one. So after wide consultation, Jon and Reg approached Greg for the funding to build and establish a centre that would be a world-class single tumour cancer facility for research and treatment of melanoma. Greg accepted this proposal, with a final cost to him of $40 million. "The Unit was already world class in terms of skills," said Greg, "but they were living out of corridors in the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. There wasn't enough space for them to expand and their caseload was huge."

What was lacking was someone with money who believed in them. Greg Poche was that person; with both the money and the belief in the people and the cause. The construction of the remarkable Poche Centre building would provide a comprehensive first-class facility for melanoma research and patient care. When announced in 2005, the benefaction represented the largest ever donation by an Australian to a single cause.

Out of this project, Melanoma Institute Australia was born and, as Greg originally asked for,  it is making a world of difference.