Regular news from state and federal governments.
- Queensland Government announces $2.2 million in biotech project grants
- Queensland Government fellowship to support nanotechnology research at UQ
- Victorian Government contributes to the amalgamation of neuroscience research institutes
- Victorian Government commits $3 million to DNA project
- Victorian Government announces historic stem cell agreement
11 April – Improving heart disease diagnosis, making commercial products from sugarcane waste, and the development of new testing tools that will reduce the time taken to bring a medical drug to market were all beneficiaries of the Queensland Government's new Smart State Innovation Funding. Speaking at BIO2006 in Chicago, Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for State Development, Trade and Innovation Anna Bligh announced funding for collaborative 'near to market' research projects between industry and research organisations. The University of Queensland received two Research-Industry Partnership grants. 'The University and its private partner, the Brisbane-based Bio-Layer, received a $800,000 grant to commercialise new technology they have developed to improve the diagnosis of coronary heart disease and other human diseases,' Ms Bligh said. The University also received another $865,000 grant for developing a set of new preclinical drug testing tools that will reduce the time it takes to get a medical drug into the market. Ms Bligh also announced that the Queensland University of Technology was the recipient of a $600,000 grant to develop a pilot sugarcane based biorefinery plant to determine the commercial viability of turning sugarcane waste into potentially lucrative products, such as glucose fermentables and lignin. The Queensland University of Technology partners in the project include the Mackay Sugar Co-operative Association Limited, Sugar Research Limited, global mining and chemical producer Orica Limited, German chemical giant BASF, and AG Viridian Chemicals.
[Source: Ministerial Media Statement]
11 April – With the support of a Queensland Government fellowship, Doctor Mark Kendall will return to Australia from the University of Oxford to undertake nanotechnology research at the University of Queensland. Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for State Development, Trade and Innovation Anna Bligh, announced that Dr Kendall is the recipient of a Smart State Senior Fellowship, valued at $100,000 per year for three years, via the Innovation Skills Fund. 'Dr Kendall is working on a fascinating project that has the potential to revolutionise medical treatment – the development of nanotechnology skin patches designed to deliver improved DNA vaccines,' Ms Bligh said during her visit to Amgen, the world's largest biotech company. 'His ambition is to develop a small patch that can be applied to the skin which will release a drug to specific cells and the smaller structures within them, directly treating the condition. 'This skin patch will consist of tiny nano-needles that are invisible to the human eye that will be coated with the appropriate drug,' she said. The Innovation Skills Fund is one of three funds under the recently announced $200 million Smart State Innovation Funding Program which aims to build world-class research facilities, attract top-quality scientists to Queensland and stimulate cutting-edge research projects.
[Source: Ministerial Media Statement]
4 April – The Howard Florey Institute, Brain Research Institute and the National Stroke Research Institute are amalgamating to form a new neuroscience research institute in Melbourne. The total cost of the project is estimated at $125 million, of which the Victorian Government has promised to contribute $53 million. Director of the Howard Florey Institute, Professor Frederick Mendelsohn AO said, 'We are proud to partner with the Victorian Government in this ambitious venture that will help reinforce Melbourne's position as Australia's medical research capital.' The objective of the new institute will be to research brain and mind disorders including stroke, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, dementia, Parkinson's disease, addiction, schizophrenia and mood disorders.
[Source: The Howard Florey Institute at http://www.hfi.unimelb.edu.au/]
10 April – A collaborative project between one of the world's leading scientists and the Victorian Government hopes to uncover the DNA sequence of soil. The Victorian Government has committed $3 million towards a collaborative research project with the prestigious U.S. Venter Institute using the same technique pioneered to map human DNA. Speaking at the BIO2006 media conference, the Premier, Steve Bracks, said technologies developed at the Venter Institute for decoding the human genome would be adapted for environmental applications. 'The sequencing of human DNA was a defining moment in modern medicine and the Victorian Government is pleased to be working with the team behind that project to unlock the secrets behind soil's DNA,' Mr Bracks said. Innovation Minister, John Brumby, said under the agreement, scientists from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries will be working closely with Venter to fast-track the development of Victoria's already outstanding capabilities in the rapidly evolving science of environmental genomics.
10 April – The Melbourne-based Australian Stem Cell Centre and Monash University has forged a historic agreement with the University of California San Diego (UCSD) in what has been described as a major commitment towards stem cell research. Speaking from BIO2006, Premier Steve Bracks said the State of Victoria and the UCSD were creating a powerful new international collaboration in stem cell research. 'This historic initiative will cement Victoria as a global leader in stem cell research and allow our leading stem cell researchers to work alongside their Californian counterparts,' Mr Bracks said. Under the agreement, both centres will have access to research facilities and staff as well as undertake a regular exchange program to fast-track research and knowledge transfer. The Minister for Innovation, John Brumby, welcomed the announcement which followed the release the Victorian Government to make two embryonic stem cell lines, Mel-1 and Mel-2, available to researchers free of commercial and intellectual property (IP) constraints. The Australian Stem Cell Centre is funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments.