Research projects at The University of Queensland have delivered outstanding economic, social and environmental benefits, a national research impact assessment trial has found.
The Gardasil vaccine, which protects against Human Papilloma Virus and cervical cancer, was one of the important developments to emerge from Australia in recent years, the study shows.
Twelve Australian universities submitted 162 case studies to the Excellence in Innovation for Australia trial, and the results were released today.
The report says 87 per cent of the projects nationally had impact ranging from considerable to outstanding.
UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj said the Excellence in Innovation for Australia trial highlighted the importance of universities retaining focus on the outcomes of their research projects and to explain the benefits to the wider community.
“Our challenge is to clearly justify the claims that we make on public, corporate and philanthropic budgets — to demonstrate return on investment, in ways that have value for the broad community,” Professor Høj said.
“The EIA trial is an important step in demonstrating how Australian universities’ research can help people address their day-to-day priorities.”
The trial was enabled through partnership between the contributing universities as well as representatives from industry, non-government organisations and government, Professor Høj said.
UQ’s Professor Ian Frazer co-developed Gardasil (also branded as Cervarix), which is available in 120 countries. More than 100 million doses have been distributed worldwide.
The vaccine — made available at low cost in developing nations where cervical cancer has the greatest mortality rate — has an estimated potential to save 250,000 lives annually.
The EIA trial also assessed the Positive Parenting Program, developed at UQ, as having outstanding beneficial impact.
The “Triple P” program has benefited six million children worldwide. It reduces violence towards children, reduces behavioural problems in children, and reduces stress and depression in children and parents.
Areas where EIA rated other UQ research as having outstanding impact included:
• Dioxin contamination: Pesticide regulation has changed in Australia, USA, Canada and New Zealand as a result of Dr Caroline Gaus’s work at UQ. Her project identified contamination of soil, sediment and biota due to impurities in dioxins. The research outcomes influenced United Nations Environment Program activities.
• Aerospace materials: The development of this titanium fabrication technology through a UQ project led by Associate Professor Matthew Dargusch allowed an Australian company to win a $1 billion manufacturing contract for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet.
• MRI systems: Technology that improves the clarity of images from Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines resulted from a research project headed by UQ’s Professor Stuart Crozier. The technology has been incorporated in two-thirds of the world’s high-field MRI systems sold since 1996 and offers vastly improved diagnostics. The global MRI market has a current estimated value of $US4.5 billion per year.
• GroundProbe Slope Stability Radar: The world’s largest mining companies are actively managing production on critical slopes using this technology, developed by UQ’s Dr David Noon. More than 500 slope failures have been monitored successfully.
Professor Høj said the broad research community needed to work continually on “strongly articulating” the outcomes of its work.
Professor Høj’s office can be contacted through Fiona Kennedy on +61 7 33651384.
Further information: Fiona Cameron, UQ Communications, ph +61 (0) 407 113342