New UQ research centre to tackle ageing stem cells

Published Monday, 17 October, 2016 at 11:24 AM


Premier and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

The age-old battle against old age has opened on a new front with the launch of a $7 million research centre at The University of Queensland today.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the UQ Centre in Stem Cell Ageing and Regenerative Engineering (UQ-StemCARE), which will capitalise on Queensland scientists’ excellent knowledge base, was confident of making major breakthroughs in the next few years.

The Premier said UQ-StemCARE would focus on building knowledge and developing techniques for slowing down the depletion of stem cells and consequent loss of function in the body as we age.

“I’m very proud of Queensland’s reputation as a world-leader in medical research, and this facility will only enhance that,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“And given the focus of this facility is on tackling the negative effects of the ageing process, I think all of us will take a particular interest in their research.

“Science tells us that when we age our bodies start turning off our stem cell functionality – our body’s natural regeneration mechanism – and we start losing the ability to heal ourselves,”

“UQ-StemCARE will look at what causes this decline in stem cell numbers and function, and investigate ways we can slow the process.

“The research will have profound implications for fighting age-related illness, such as osteoporosis, age-related vascular diseases and neural disorders such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease.”

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch congratulated The University of Queensland for providing the $7 million in funding for UQ-StemCARE and said the new centre put local scientists at the forefront of global research into stem cells, regeneration and ageing.

“The fact is we’re all getting older. There will be 9.6 million Australians aged over 65 and 1.9 million over 85 by 2064 – more than a quarter of the total population. The costs of healthcare for this number of older people will stretch health budgets,” Ms Enoch said.

“And it’s not just Australians – this is an issue around the world. A prime example is China, where a quarter of the population will be elderly by 2030,” Ms Enoch said.

“We are all facing the same issues. So the new centre is very important as it seeks to tackle some of the big health challenges of our time.”

UQ-StemCARE Co-Director Professor Ernst Wolvetang said the centre would look to provide a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental molecular mechanisms and principles underlying loss in stem cell function.

“We’ll also have a focus on engineering clinically and commercially translatable solutions for increasing health span and healthy ageing,” Professor Wolvetang said.

UQ-StemCARE is housed in the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) at the University of Queensland St Lucia campus.

The new centre is a partnership between a number of UQ research institutes, including the AIBN, the Queensland Brain Institute, the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences.

Contact: 3719 7000