28 May 2009

New drugs, chemicals and surfaces will be the focus of new $30 million facilities at The University of Queensland.

Launched by the Treasurer and Minister for Employment and Economic Development, Andrew Fraser, today the new facilities will be based at UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) and will service the Queensland and Australian research sectors.

With funding provided by the Queensland and Australian Governments through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, the new facilities will service the areas of biologics, metabolomics and nanofabrication.

AIBN Director Professor Peter Gray said the facilities would build more bridges between the public and private research sectors, expand national capabilities, develop new industries and promote Australian innovation.

“This cluster of National Research and Development Infrastructure is one of the newest and largest collections of its kind in Australia,” Professor Gray said.

“It also coalesces with the extensive facilities available through the NCRIS-supported Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Facility, which also has equipment located in AIBN.

“The infrastructure enables globally competitive research in the areas of biologics, metabolomics and nanofabrication by providing Australian researchers with access to internationally acknowledged expertise and equipment.

“The infrastructure is available to all Australian research organisations, including industry groups, and in some cases users can work in the laboratory side by side with internationally acknowledged experts.”

UQ’s acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), Professor Max Lu said NCRIS, which had evolved into Super Science, maximised the value of leading edge equipment by providing funds to employ and support the people who will deliver high-impact outcomes from research.

"The facilities will also encourage more Queensland and Australian businesses to undertake research and development," Professor Lu said.

"So the medium and long-term returns on the Queensland and Australian governments' investments will be extensive, and will include improvements in health and energy technologies, employment growth and sustainable economic development."

Media: contact Professor Peter Gray (07 3346 3888) or Russell Griggs (07 3346 3989).

Fast Facts

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
The AIBN is a multi-disciplinary research institute which brings together the skills of world-class researchers in the areas of bioengineering and nanotechnology.

Biologics Facility
Biologics is an exciting new class of human therapeutics, developed using the power of biotechnology and genetic engineering. AIBN houses the NCRIS Queensland node in a specially designed $14 million facility of labs, clean rooms and state-of-the-art equipment. Facility staff are acknowledged experts, many with invaluable overseas experience in biopharmaceutical development and production, as well as associated Good Manufacturing Procedures (GMP).

The Biologics Facility is a resource of expertise and equipment and is available to Australian academic and industrial researchers wishing to bridge the gap between laboratory experiments and the well characterised cell line and bioprocesses needed to produce material for pre-clinical and clinical trials. Facility staff can advise on all stages associated with this transition and carry out cell line and bioprocess development, and the pilot scale production of potential biopharmaceuticals.

Metabolomics Facility
Metabolomics is the study of cellular metabolism; the processing of nutrients by the cell. This knowledge is used to optimise the genetic and regulatory processes in cells to increase the production of desired products.

The NCRIS Metabolomics Facility combines metabolic data with information from genomics, transcriptomics and fluxomics to understand the processes of a living organism. This will underpin the development and production of new bioplastics, biofeuls, chemical feed stocks and therapeutics.

Available to users from industry and academia, the Facility will also assist research teams to identify new drug targets and conduct toxicity screens for drug development.

Australian National Fabrication Facility – Queensland Node
The Queensland Node of the NCRIS Australian National Facility (ANFF-Q) provides Australian researchers with access to equipment and expertise for patterning of polymer and glass substrates for drug delivery, and fabrication of nanoelectronics.
Critical to this work is the ability to design and manufacture devices with dimensions measured in nanometers.

ANFF-Q additionally supports the work of researchers developing new medical devices, sensors and nanophotonics, by providing facilities for soft materials processing, as well as bio-, nano- and organic device fabrication.

ANFF-Q is comprised of the Soft Materials Processing Facility located in The University of Queensland’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences’ Centre for Organic Photonics and Electronics (COPE) and the BioNano Device Fabrication Facility located in the AIBN.

As a national facility, ANFF-Q’s equipment and expertise are available to the Australian research community as well as Australian industry. Users have the option of working in ANFF-Q’s laboratories with access to nanofabrication and characeterisation experts of have their devices fabricates according to specification.