Professor Maree Smith . . . has two game-changing pain therapies close to being available on the global market
Professor Maree Smith . . . has two game-changing pain therapies close to being available on the global market
19 September 2013

A vaccine against cervical cancer, a global parenting program, new forms of pain relief, better yielding crops and improved medical imaging are some of many high-impact outcomes of University of Queensland research.

UQ’s inaugural Top Five Inventors and Top Five Innovators awards last night celebrated the researchers who delivered these and other significant outcomes for the global community.

President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj said the awards were presented to UQ researchers whose efforts optimised the benefits of high-calibre research.

“Top-tier innovators and inventors are not only excellent researchers; they are also highly successful at translating their research outcomes into benefits for society, ” Professor Høj said.

“They demonstrate the tremendous economic, social and sustainability potential that can be realised when outstanding researchers work with partners in private industry, government and communities.”

Translational research is defined as the process of making basic scientific discoveries useful and accessible for practical application.

“UQ’s list of translated outcomes is impressive, and as an institution we are looking at what more we can do to foster invention and innovation,” Professor Høj said.

“We need avatars of innovation and invention that young and emerging researchers and students can emulate. These awards pay tribute to such role models.”

The awards were presented by Jeroen Prinsen, Thomson Reuters’ senior Australasia Director for IP and Science, and Dr Dean Moss, chief executive officer of UQ’s main research commercialisation company, UniQuest.

Pain relief pioneer Professor Maree Smith received two ‘Top Five’ awards at last night’s ceremony.

QRxPharma, the start-up company based on Professor Smith’s discoveries, made ASX history in 2007 as the largest initial public offering of a biotech company to date, as well as the largest biotech capital raising at an IPO.

Professor Smith has two game-changing pain therapies close to being available on the global market.

Other ‘Top 5 Inventors’ awards last night went to:

• Professor Robert Birch and Dr Luguang Wu, who invented ways to accelerate crop development and boost yields. Their work is acknowledged as an important breakthrough in feeding the world’s growing population.

• Dr Jiuling Chen and Professor Zhonghua (John) Zhu, for their carbon fuels research, which is transforming the production of clean energy.

• Professor David Fairlie, for his work discovering new drugs and treatments for viral and parasitic infections, inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, metabolic dysfunction, including obesity and type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, cancers and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and stroke.

• Professor Stephen Taylor for his work developing anti-inflammatory drugs used particularly to treat rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and reperfusion injury. His work led to the filing of several patents, and the formation of a UQ startup company, Promics Pty Ltd.

In addition to Professor Smith, the Top Five Innovators awards went to:

• Professor Stuart Crozier, of the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology. Professor Crozier’s research has helped to improve the functionality and effectiveness of high-field magnet technology. Two-thirds of the world’s clinical magnetic resonance imaging machines use signal correction technology that Professor Crozier co-invented.

Professor Ian Frazer, of the Translational Research Institute (in which UQ is a partner), for his work with the late Dr Jian Zhou in developing cervical cancer vaccine technology that is now approved for use in more than 125 countries. The vaccines also are proving effective in protecting against viruses that cause other genital cancers.

• Professor Mark Kendall of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, for his work in developing the needle-free Nanopatch. This technology is set to change how vaccinations are delivered, especially in developing countries where safe storage and transport of vaccines is often compromised.

• Professor Matt Sanders, who developed The Triple P Positive Parenting Program, which has benefited six million families worldwide. The program is available in 18 languages and 24 countries, and numerous trials continue to enrich the research on which it is based.

A trial national research impact assessment last year, the Excellence in Innovation for Australia survey, found that UQ research has delivered outstanding economic, social and environmental benefits - and that top research is likely to underpin the most outstanding impact.

Some of UQ’s Fellows of the Australian Learned Academies also spoke at last night’s event.

They were:

- Professor Matt Brown, Australian Academy of Science Fellow
- Professor Gay Hawkins, Australian Academy of Humanities Fellow
- Professor Brian Head, Australian Academy of Social Sciences Fellow
- Professor Max Lu, Australian Academy of Science Fellow, and Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Fellow
- Professor Maree Smith, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Fellow
- Professor Andrew White, Australian Academy of Science Fellow

During Research Week, this week, UQ has launched Excellence to Excellence+, a new website with exciting stories on the impact of UQ research.

Contact: Fiona Cameron, UQ Communications, ph +61 7 3346 7086,

More information on UQ Research Week:

UQ Foundation Research Excellence Awards / Awards for Excellence in Research Higher Degree Supervision (with videos)