More than $3 million for leading science facility

Published Friday, 20 September, 2019 at 12:01 PM

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

The Palaszczuk Government is investing in a key science facility that is at the forefront of research into the battle against the third most common cancer diagnosed in Australia, melanoma.

Minister for Science Leeanne Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government was providing $3.74 million to the Queensland Node of Bioplatforms Australia as part of the Queensland Government’s $25 million Research Infrastructure Co-investment Fund (RICF).

“The RICF investment into the Queensland Node of Bioplatforms Australiawill enable the creation of seven jobs and bring the total workforce at the Queensland facilities to 26 people.

“This funding will also allow for upgrades to critical equipment so that this facility can remain at the forefront of scientific exploration,” Minister Enoch said.

Bioplatforms Queensland is based at the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) at the University of Queensland and specialises in what’s called ‘omics science,’ which includes genomics.

Minister Enoch said genomics is a branch of science that looks at mapping and editing genomes — an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all its genes.

“This is pioneering science, opening up the possibility of giving us the ability to fight complex diseases like cancer.

“Bioplatforms Australia will also be researching how to improve the nutrient-value and disease-resistance of the foods we eat, and look at breeding super prawns for the dinner plate.”

Bioplatforms Queensland operates as a contract facility, offering its expertise, services and equipment to other researchers and businesses.

“It plays a hugely valuable role in ensuring we have the scientific capability in Queensland to continue to be at the forefront of research in Australia,” Minister Enoch said.

“For example, Bioplatforms Queensland has been working closely with the QIMR Berghofer Institute of Medical Research and other Australian research institutes on mapping out the genetic sequences behind the various mutations of melanoma.

“This will help clinicians target melanomas much more efficiently, with clear benefits for patients in having cancer-drugs designed specifically for them, including reducing side-effects.”

Bioplatforms Australia CEO Andrew Gilbert has welcomed the Queensland Government’s investment in the Queensland node.

“Bioplatforms Queensland has been steadily building the number of organisations using its expertise and facilities since 2006. Last financial year, it supported 318 Queensland research and industry organisations,” Mr Gilbert said.

“The facility is now an integral part of the state’s life sciences industry.

“For example, the facility is involved in a major project with university and industry researchers looking at doubling the growth rate of the black tiger prawn in Queensland as well as breeding the crustaceans to be more disease tolerant.”

Mr Gilbert said the project involved selecting genes known to code for best traits.

“Another example is Bioplatform Queensland’s involvement in a study with the CSIRO, the University of New South Wales and other Australian research institutes looking at the role that microbes play in marine environments.

“Often called the ocean’s lifeblood, marine microbes include bacteria, viruses and algae.

“They play a critical role in our oceans’ health, but we know very little about these organisms, even though they make up 90 per cent of ocean biomass. This project sets out to unlock their secrets, giving us deeper insight into their contributions to the marine-food web.”

The Queensland Government established the RICF earlier this year to complement the Federal Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

The key purpose of the RICF is to provide critical co-investment in NCRIS facilities in Queensland.


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