Charles Viertel established the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation in his Will. The Foundation was established to benefit organisations or institutions involved in medical research into diseases, and the alleviation of hardship of the aged and the sick. Charles also directed that money be given to charities with low administrative expenses.
In addition, Charles named three Queensland organisations in his will: The Salvation Army (Queensland) Property Trust, Council Cancer Queensland (formerly Queensland Cancer Fund) and Prevent Blindness Foundation.
The Medical Advisory Board (MAB) was set up in 1995 under the Chairmanship of Professor John Chalmers. From the outset, it was the aim of the MAB that the Viertel Charitable Foundation should make a difference to medical research in Australia. Members were concerned about the (world wide) decline in clinical investigation and decided to support new clinical investigators, in their first career clinical positions, with untied setting up grants. The Board also recognised the need for career research fellowships which bridged the gap between post-doctoral studies and career research positions. Accordingly the flagship award of the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation, the Senior Medical Research Fellowships, were established.
The Foundation was established with an initial bequest of approximately $60 million. Today the Foundation is worth around $160 million, making it one of the largest charitable foundations in charitable causes in Australia. Justice Debra Mullins AO, Mr. Rex Freudenberg, Mr. Paul de Silva and Equity Trustees are the trustees of the Foundation.
As well as its long term partnerships with the three named organisations, the Foundation has been a significant supporter of medical research, the disadvantaged, the homeless, and the elderly.
A key achievement of the Foundation has been its investment in young medical researchers, particularly through its highly competitive, sought after, and prestigious medical research grant programs. The Foundation’s flagship program is the Senior Medical Research Fellowships worth $1,250,000 over five years to support outstanding mid-career researchers to establish a research career in Australia. The other medical grant program is the Clinical Investigator Awards for younger clinicians starting their careers. Recipients are selected with the assistance of the Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board.
In just over a decade, the Foundation has already made a significant difference to medical research in Australia, with more than 100 researchers having been able to further their careers on account of the Foundation.
Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation Trustees
Justice Debra Mullins AO (Chair)
Mr Rex Freudenberg
Mr Paul De Silva
Equity Trustees (represented by Ian Westley, Executive General Manager, Trustee and Wealth Services Private Clients Equity)
Medical Advisory Board
Professor Peter Leedman (Chair) AO
Associate Professor Paul Ekert
Professor Ian Frazer AC
Professor Gemma Figtree
Professor Angel Lopez AO
Professor Christina Mitchell AO
Professor Melanie Bahlo