The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital

Celebrating Five Years of the Doherty Institute


Donor in the Spotlight – Lionel Gell

What influenced your career and led you to professional success?

My career has very much been motivated by my upbringing and my drive to change the life I was born into. My childhood was remarkably disjointed. I had elderly parents, I was one of three (the middle child), and we had a difficult time then with no money. We lived in one of those weatherboard houses in West Brunswick where I was born. I took up part-time jobs from an early age to contribute to my family’s income. Despite being interested in pursuing a career in art, I didn’t have the time or funding, so I left school by the age of 14 to work across several businesses that eventually grew into successes. I’d always felt I could drag myself out of the poverty-stricken area I’d grown up in.

What inspires your philanthropy?

I thought I could, through scholarships, directly help students from the ground-level up. It’s not a fortune, but it’s a hell of a lot of money for some people. For some, it’s altered their lives considerably. I dragged myself out of poverty. To have been given a scholarship in those young years of my life would have been just out of this world. And presenting those scholarships, where the students would come to you with tears in their eyes, is such a great feeling.

What inspired you to generously support the Doherty Institute?

I had an interest in the work being undertaken at the Doherty Institute for a very long time. It is incredibly rewarding to watch the development of both the young researchers coming through the Institute, as well as seeing how the Institute as a whole adapts and changes to the new and emerging health concerns of both the Australian and global community. I had the opportunity to meet Professor Sharon Lewin in 2015 when the Doherty Institute opened and was impressed by her commitment to finding cures for some of the most pressing health concerns for human health and wellbeing.

What do you hope to achieve through your support of the Doherty Institute?

I’m hoping to leave a legacy for people to think about donating towards. Helping students of today gives you a sense of purpose. A greater sense of understanding of what people are going through. And this is where older people, like me, get that gap filled in. It gives you the appreciation of giving and what you get back.

The Doherty Institute would like to thank the following generous donors:

Mr Peter Alexander

Ms Susan Bradley

Mr Lionel Gell AM

Mrs Fiona Geminder

Mr Jean-Pierre Longayroux

Mr Andrew and Mrs Jean Miller and Miller Foundation

Mr Mark Pazolli

Mrs Jeanne Pratt AC

Dr Ray Schinazi

Dr Peter and Mrs Jane Trembath

Australian Academy of Science

The CASS Foundation Limited

Ginza Medical Club Co Ltd

The Ian Potter Foundation

John C Martin Foundation

The Myer Foundation

The Pratt Foundation

Back to Impact Report