Our legacy

Research permeates so much of clinical practice today. It underpins so much of what we do at the patient bedside, sometimes in very overt ways, where patients participate in cutting-edge trials or in more discreet ways where research is more in the background in the context of everyday treatments that have been varied over the years owing to new pathways and technologies developed stemming directly from research.

Our timeline below highlights some of our achievements as well as the rich and strong tradition of medical research which has evolved at St Vincent’s throughout its history.


  • Sister Mary Aikenhead agrees to send five Sisters of Charity from Dublin, Ireland to the Australian colony. The five volunteers, MM John Cahill, Sr M John Baptist De Lacy, Sr M Xavier Williams, Sr M Lawrence Cater and Sr M Francis de Sales O’Brien arrive in Sydney aboard the Francis Spaight on 31 December 1838.


  • Sisters of Charity establish the first hospital in Sydney at ‘Tarmons’ Potts Point.


  • A Crown Land Grant and public fundraising allows the Sisters to open a bigger purpose-built hospital on the current Darlinghurst site in 1870, now known as the De Lacy Building.


  • Victor Chang born in Shanghai to Australian-born Chinese parents.


  • Victor Chang migrates to Australia as a student at the Christian Brothers College, Sydney.


  • Victor Chang graduates from Sydney University with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degrees, later becoming a registrar in cardiothoracic surgery at St Vincent’s Hospital.


  • Garvan Institute of Medical Research opens


  • The National Heart Transplant Program is founded at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital by Dr Victor Chang.
  • April 8th, a team of doctors led by Dr Chang, operates on 14 year old Fiona Coote, who becomes Australia’s youngest heart transplant recipient.


  • Dr Victor Chang awarded Australia’s highest recognition, a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).


  • Dr Victor Chang awarded Australia’s highest recognition, a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).


  • The Garvan Institute of Medical Research’s Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study (DOES) begins in Dubbo, NSW.  It includes more than 2,500 men and women aged 60 years or more and is the longest running study of its kind in the world


  • Dr Victor Chang spearheads the Heart of St Vincent’s Appeal. This appeal raises much-needed funds for a Cardiac Transplant Ward and Cardiac Diagnostic Unit at St Vincent’s Hospital.


  • Victor Chang dies in tragic circumstances in Sydney on the 4th of July.


  • The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute officially launched on the 14th of February by the Hon Paul Keating MP, with Mr Kerry Packer, AC as Patron and Prof Robert Graham as Executive Director.


  • The Victor Chang Institute is accredited as an independent research organisation, with the Hon Neville Wran, AC, QC as its inaugural chairman.


  • The Victor Chang Institute’s temporary premises in the Garvan Building are opened by the late Diana, Princess of Wales.


  • Prime Minister John Howard and New South Wales Premier Bob Carr open current Garvan Institute of Medical Research building after original site is redeveloped


  • Dr Victor Chang voted Australian of the Century by the people of Australia.


  • The congregations’ of Sisters of Charity and Sisters of Mercy, North Sydney merge their health care services to form St Vincent’s & Mater Health Sydney (SVMHS)


  • Xavier Acute Inpatient Ward Block (public and private) opens


  • Launch of the Victor Chang School Science Awards to recognise the scientific achievements of students from underprivileged schools.


  • Crown Princess Mary of Denmark is Guest-of-Honour at The Victor Chang Royal Ball.


  • University of Tasmania Clinical School opens
  • Construction commences on the nine storey Lowy Packer Building, which will become the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute’s new home.


  • University of Notre Dame Australia opens its medical school adjacent to St Vincent's
  • Lowy Packer Building (Stage 1 St Vincent's Research Precinct) which houses St Vincent's Centre for Applied Medical Research and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute is formally opened by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark on 3rd September.


  • Cunningham Centre (first Academic Unit in Palliative Care in NSW) launches
  • Faces in the Street (Urban Mental Health Research Institute) launches
  • Nursing Research Institute (a collaboration with Australian Catholic University) launches


  • O'Brien Centre (first integrated mental health, alcohol and drug community health service in NSW) opens
  • Concept planning approval secured for Stage 3 St Vincent's Research Precinct (proposed site for future St Vincent's Translational Research Centre)


  • St Vincent's Private Hospital secures Magnet status 
  • Detailed planning for the redevelopment of St Vincent's Private Hospital commences
  • St Vincent's Private Hospital performs the first private renal transplant in NSW


  • St Vincent's Private Hospital's Mental Health Unit for Young People opens
  • Darlinghurst Campus Clinical, Teaching and Research Planning statement 2012 (our blueprint for future services development) completed
  • The Kinghorn Cancer Centre (a joint venture between St Vincent's Hospital and Garvan Institute of Medical Research) opens
  • Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics established by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in The Kinghorn Cancer Centre
  • Medicottage (in support of our homeless health priority) opens
  • Commonwealth funding secured for development of the Griffith Community Private Hospital


  • Redevelopment of St Vincent's Private Hospital commences 
  • The Huntington’s Disease Unit opens at St Joseph’s Hospital


  • Murrumbidgee Teaching and Learning Centre in Griffith opens
  • Fiona Coote celebrates 30 years since her life saving heart transplant performed by Dr Victor Chang.


  • Translational Research Centre opens
  • The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute celebrates 21 years of discoveries.


  • St Vincent's Private Community Hospital Griffith opens
  • Australia’s first clinical whole genome sequencing service for diagnosis of rare and genetic disease launched through Garvan Institute of Medical Research's wholly owned subsidiary company, Genome.One