Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer: Hope and healing

Opened in 2012, the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer (FCIC) was South Australia’s first integrated cancer centre, combining world-class compassionate care and survivorship with groundbreaking prevention and early intervention research.

Your support can make a difference in cancer research and care

Incredible developments in cancer research and care have been made possible through the generosity of the community.

But the fight against cancer is far from won.

Support cancer research and care. Donate today

A beacon of hope for people with cancer

Incredible developments in cancer research and care have been made possible through the generosity of the community.

With support from the South Australian community Flinders Foundation built The Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer (FCIC), opening in 2012 – a place where patients, researchers and clinicians work together to create positive impacts in cancer.

The FCIC is more than an impressive glass building. It’s a hub of excellence and innovation where cutting-edge research meets compassionate care. It’s a place that treats the whole person, not just the disease.

The FCIC has changed the lives of thousands of people with cancer, and their families.

Watch the video to learn more from some of the people involved.

The vision

The FCIC was driven by a passion and vision for our community to live happier and longer lives, with the people they love.

The patient

“The patient is the preeminent person in this journey; they're the reason we do what we do.”

Flinders Foundation Chairman Alan Young AM

The challenge

Each year at Flinders more than 45,000 appointments are provided for people with cancer and around 2,500 South Australians are diagnosed with the disease.

People of the FCIC: Flinders Faces

Flinders Faces shares personal stories from some of the people who have shaped the FCIC’s remarkable history.

It also tells the first-hand experiences of the researchers, clinicians and patients who continue to live the legacy today.

From humble beginnings in Bedford Park to a world-leader in cancer research and treatment, the FCIC has a long and rich history waiting to be told.

Continue reading below to discover the far-reaching impacts of the FCIC and, importantly, its people.

Breaking new ground

The FCIC has been home to significant breakthroughs since it opened a decade ago.

This cutting-edge research includes the discovery of a link between red meat and cancer, and a bowel cancer test which contributed to the development of Australia’s national bowel cancer screening program.

It’s only thanks to the generosity of the community that these developments have been made possible, thank you.

Donate today to support cancer research and care

The past that shapes the future

While the FCIC officially opened its doors in 2012, planning for the revolutionary Centre began more than 16 years earlier.

Learn more about the historical timeline of The Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer below.

1996 Flinders unites to fight cancer

The Flinders Cancer Centre was constituted by the then State Minister for Health, Dr Michael Armitage, on 16 August 1996.

It was established as an integrated research institute, harnessing the talents of researchers at Flinders University and Flinders Medical Centre to investigate solid tumours of the breast, prostate, gut, ovary, lung and liver.

It comprised more than 100 cancer researchers in groups scattered throughout the university and medical centre.The Flinders Cancer Centre was invited in 1996 by the Australian Cancer Foundation for Medical Research to submit a second stage application for funds to support the construction of a new building for laboratories and offices, centralised facilities, a cancer information, education and seminar centre, research offices and a dedicated clinical research unit.

1997 – 1998 Laying the foundations

In 1997, Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders University established a research initiative, the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer.

This aimed to provide more comprehensive solutions to reduce the burden of cancer in the community through innovation, integration and holistic approaches.A 1998 Flinders Medical Centre Facilities Plan for the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer identified the southern end of the Flinders Medical Centre complex, specifically an extension of the medical sciences building, to house the new centre.

2000 Vision to fruition in a new millennium

The Flinders Medical Centre Foundation (now Flinders Foundation) appointed Deborah Heithersay as CEO in 2000; she was tasked with the important job of turning the concept of Australia’s first integrated cancer centre into a reality.

In 2000 the SA government committed $1 million towards the project and in late 2001, made a further $1.5 million commitment.

2001 Earmarking the Flinders Footprint

A review of site options was conducted in 2001, with the site identified for optimum public exposure being the northern access road into Flinders Medical Centre, adjacent to the ambulance ramp leading to the Emergency Department. The proposal was to consolidate several key functions of Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders University into a central, visible and functional location for early intervention and prevention activities, clinical cancer services including day therapy; and translational research.

In July 2002 Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders University submitted another proposal to the State Government to contribute funds for the development of a joint cancer and research centre. Its vision was to reduce the burden of cancer to the community through innovation, integration and holistic approaches. Its focus was to be on the commonest group of tumours – bowel, breast, lung, prostate, cervix, ovaries, uterus and skin. A revised proposal was submitted in January 2003, with $1 million of public funding already raised.

2002 Windows of opportunity

In 2002, Flinders Foundation launched its first major public fundraising campaign, the Windows of Opportunity.

The fundraising drive called upon South Australians to be part of the opportunity to find a cure for cancer by donating to build the Centre.

As part of the campaign, individuals or families who donated more than $250 were provided with the opportunity to have the family’s name or that of a loved one written as a lasting legacy on the glass-fronted entrance to the building.

Today, the Window of Opportunity is a simple, lasting memorial to those who pledged their support to create the Centre.

2005 – 2008 Garnering the nation's support

In 2005, the Australia Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) announced a $1 million grant to fund a specialised cancer prevention research facility at Flinders Medical Centre, within the proposed new Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer. The grant (announced on 10 March) was awarded following a Flinders University proposal focused on innovative research that seeks to target precancerous cells and treat them, well before cancer takes hold.

In October 2006, FCIC Director Professor Graeme Young, Flinders Cancer Control Network Coordinator Rhys Williams and Flinders Medical Centre Foundation General Manager Deborah Heithersay submitted an application for Federal funding for the FCIC.

The planned physical layout included 1992sqm of new research spaces, incorporating 23 laboratories, as well as a retail shop, café and atrium. Professor Graeme Young was appointed as the Director of Development at the FCIC to drive the strategic plan and assist in fundraising for the Centre.

In the 2007/08 financial year, the Federal Government committed $10 million to the project; Federal MPs Dr Andrew Southcott and Kym Richardson played key roles in ensuring the Centre was a high priority for the government, as well as Federal Health Minister at the time, Tony Abbott.

In February 2008, Graeme, Rhys and Deborah submitted another funding application to the Federal Government, with backing from Federal MP Amanda Rishworth. The application called for a further $5m in Commonwealth support, bringing the total Federal investment to $15m.

2009 A cause for celebration

In 2009, it was reported that the research wing of the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer would be known as the LIVESTRONG Cancer Research Centre, pioneered by cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. The laboratories would focus on developing early diagnostics and new cancer prevention technologies and strategies.

At the 2009 Pink Ribbon Ball, Flinders Foundation Chairman Alan Young AM announced that funding had been secured for the $27m cancer centre after years of planning, determination and tireless dedicated from the Foundation, along with the support of many major stakeholders and thousands of individual donors.

2010 Breaking ground

An official groundbreaking ceremony took place in January 2010, attended by Lance Armstrong, former SA Premier Mike Rann and Alan Young. A traditional Aboriginal blessing ceremony was led by Kaurna elder Karl Telfer.

Construction of the Centre commenced in August 2010.

2011 – 2012 By the people, for the people

Significant contributions towards the build were received in 2011 and 2012, including $1.5 million from Cancer Council SA, $500k from the Clinicians Special Purpose Fund, $500k from the Volunteer Service of the Flinders Medical Centre, $450k from Fay Fuller Foundation, as well as millions of dollars of public donations enabling the building to rise from the ground.

2012 The doors open

In April 2012, the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer officially opened its doors as a leading Australian cancer centre delivering world-class patient care and survivorship, along with innovative prevention and early intervention research.

Facilities and services within the Centre include: the Flinders Cancer Clinic where specialists attend patients at the one location and organise their treatment plan; the Flinders Infusion Suite where chemotherapy and other treatments are provided in a warm, safe environment; the Cancer Survivorship Program that supports the physical, emotional and practical needs of those who have finished treatment; a ground-floor Wellness Centre where patients can rest, relax and access support and information; Clinical Trials groups facilitating studies on new and combination therapies; cancer care coordinators who provide specialised nursing services for support and education; open plan research laboratories; and a lecture theatre and meeting rooms.

2013 A flagship for survivorship

In 2013, the Centre held its inaugural Cancer Survivorship Conference, established and convened by Professor Bogda Koczwara. Since 2013, the biennial conference has brought together clinicians, researchers and survivors from across Australia to understand and address the issues facing cancer survivors and the priorities for survivorship care and research.

It is now the oldest survivorship conference in the world.

2015 Discovering the red meat and cancer link

Researchers at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer make a significant breakthrough on the link between red meat and cancer – the findings of which were pivotal in the World Health Organisation’s 2015 classification of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans.

2017 Winning the 'Oscars of science'

In 2017, a bowel cancer screening test developed by Professor Graeme Young won a prestigious Eureka Prize.

2020 Wellness over illness

In March 2020, the Flinders Cancer Wellness Centre opened on the ground floor of the building to address the unmet needs of people affected by cancer.

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