The Peter Goodenough and Wantoks Research Laboratory is dedicated to the memory and generosity of Mr Peter Goodenough (1936–2004). His personal battle with motor neuron disease (MND) led to an inspirational private bequest for fundamental scientific research.
Before dying in 2004, Mr Goodenough allocated a major part of his estate to the establishment, staffing and on-going support of an MND laboratory which is destined to make a lasting contribution to this area of research.
Motor neuron disease is the name given to a group of related brain disorders that affect the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, leading to weakness and muscle wasting. The condition results from the steady but inexorable loss of nerve cells that control muscle movement and function (motor neurons).
A determined and independent entrepreneur, Mr Goodenough was born in the United Kingdom and from his base in far north Queensland developed a multi-million dollar civil engineering contracting company with extensive interests in his adopted country, Papua New Guinea, where he had many friends.
Mr Goodenough was resolved to ensure his personal wealth would be directed to fighting MND even though he knew he would personally not benefit from the research.
“Wantoks” means friends in Pidgin English and Mr Goodenough's three dogs held special personal significance.
When hostilities broke out in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, in the late 1980s, Mr Goodenough was forced to leave his business operations at short notice. It was during this particularly turbulent time that his dogs’ protective instincts helped him to escape a potentially dangerous confrontation with local rebels.
Mr Goodenough later said his dogs were his three “best mates” and that a reference to them should be included as part of the laboratory name in tribute to their faithfulness.
Completed in November 2007, the Peter Goodenough and Wantoks Research Laboratory is home to the Molecular Genetics of Human Disease team led by QBI’s Dr Marie Mangelsdorf.