Science saviours under the microscope at AusBio

Published Wednesday, 29 October, 2014 at 05:15 PM

Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts
The Honourable Ian Walker

The urgent need for science and technology to work together to find solutions to new health threats is in sharp focus as hundreds of top Australian and international scientists gather at the 2014 AusBiotech conference on the Gold Coast.

Science and IT Minister Ian Walker said emerging threats to Queenslanders’ health had created new frontiers in the biotechnology sector.

“The race to find cures and vaccines has become even more pressing,” Mr Walker said.

“The urgency highlights the importance of biotechnology and how research combined with new technologies brings about life-saving medicines to patients.”

Mr Walker said research, possible breakthroughs, as well as the economic potential for the sector would be on the agenda at the AusBiotech 2014 National Conference (29–31 October) at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, attended by 800 business leaders, investors and scientists.

“Queensland has a strong record of achievement in this area. In the past year, State-funded scientists have found a way to relieve the suffering of chemotherapy patients, discovered a breakthrough in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, and opened a chronic fatigue syndrome clinic, among many other advances.

“This government’s investment in science is bringing about real improvements for Queenslanders and their families.”

Mr Walker also announced the opening for applications to the $250,000 Queensland-Chinese Academy of Sciences Collaborative Science Fund.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences will match the funding dollar for dollar, with money going to projects in the areas of energy, human health and medical research, as well as agricultural biotechnology, including food safety.

Mr Walker said the 2012 Life Sciences Industry Report estimated the industry in Queensland generated an income of about $4.36 billion in 2011.

“This is the industry that produced Professor Ian Frazer’s lifesaving vaccine to prevent cervical cancer and Professor Mark Kendall’s nanopatch, a needle-free way to vaccinate,” Mr Walker said.

“Our life sciences sector has enormous potential in Queensland where there’s no shortage of great ideas that need to make that leap from the lab to the marketplace.

“The Gold Coast has a growing life sciences sector, including flagship biomedical research institute, the Institute for Glycomics at Griffith University led by Professor Mark von Itzstein,” Mr Walker said.

Prof von Itzstein, Director of the Institute for Glycomics, was head of the team of researchers at Monash University which discovered the anti-influenza drug Relenza.

Professor von Itzstein said having AusBiotech 2014 on the Gold Coast was a great opportunity to showcase the Institute’s world class translational and commercially focused science.

“Through extensive collaboration with local and international industry partners we are discovering and developing new ways to fight the major diseases of our time, including malaria and leukaemia,” he said.

Applications for the Queensland-Chinese Academy of Sciences Collaborative Science Fund close on Friday 27 February 2015. For information go to

[ENDS] 29 October 2014

Media Contact: Monica Rostron 0409 126 332