My initial efforts to raise funds to support my research certainly seemed to confirm the idea that funding biochemical based research into schizophrenia was not high on the agenda of many funding agencies. In 1988 I first became aware of the Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation and that they had made schizophrenia a special priority for funding.
I immediately prepared an application for equipment funding. To my great pleasure this application was funded and I attended my first ‘Foundation Dinner’ in 1989 and collected a cheque that enabled the purchase of a scintillation counter, a critical piece of laboratory equipment. Up until that funding was available, I had to travel around Melbourne begging any available time on the equipment in other Laboratories.
More importantly, one of the critical steps that a junior researcher makes on the road to an independent career is to raise funding in support of their research. Indeed, this application was the foundation stone to the establishment of my own Laboratory at the Mental Health Research Institute.
This Laboratory subsequently became known as the Rebecca L. Cooper Research Laboratories, producing world class research and successfully raising competitive funding from many funding bodies, including the National Health and Medical Research Council and the National Institutes of Health in the USA.
Three decades later I continue my research into the causes of schizophrenia and I am pleased to say the Foundation continues to support such medical research. It is apparent that they still support junior researchers in the beginning of their careers and help them realise their research dreams.