9 May 2016
The University of the Sunshine Coast has won a national grant for a major research project aimed at developing a chlamydial vaccine for koalas.
Large grants have also gone to three other projects involving USC researchers. Two will be led by the University of Queensland to develop an advanced manufacturing industry based on customised stent devices and study climate change in the South Pacific, while another led by Griffith University will conduct a National Integrity System assessment.
Federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham announced the USC projects among 231 research projects valued at $81.2 million nationally to receive funding through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects scheme.
USC microbiologists Professor Peter Timms and Associate Professor Adam Polkinghorne, and partner Dr Scott Carver from the University of Tasmania, received $339,000 to develop a vaccine to reduce chlamydia infection in koalas.
Professor Timms said such a vaccine would be a significant and powerful new management tool to protect koalas in areas undergoing major declines.
“In many regions of Australia the long-term survival of the koala is under threat from a range of sources, including chlamydial disease, which severely reduces female reproductive rates,” he said.
“This three-year project aims to produce an optimised, safe, field-tested, protective vaccine that will then be ready for potential registration and use by koala care centres, wildlife hospitals and government departments.”
USC’s Senior Lecturer in Engineering Sciences Dr Damon Kent will develop customised stent devices within the ARC Industrial Transformational Research Program (ITRP) research hub headed by UQ and also involving the University of Sydney and RMIT University.
This program – which will receive $2.7 million in ARC funding and about $3.3 million in support from industry partners Cook Medical, Bosch, Advanced Materials Australia, Heat Treatment Australia and QMI Solutions – will establish world-class research and development activities to grow Australia’s biomedical device manufacturing capabilities.
The climate change and National Integrity System assessment projects are valued at $180,098 and $248,000 respectively. The work will involve significant contributions by USC Climate Change researcher Professor Patrick Nunn and Professor of Criminology Tim Prenzler.
USC’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Roland De Marco said securing funding for several projects in a single round was an outstanding outcome for the University of the Sunshine Coast.
“USC’s involvement in a major research node within the ARC ITRP research hub, a major national research centre in its field, is a first for the University,” he said. “It will bolster significantly the University’s research in biomedical science together with its engagement with the $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast University Hospital that is due to open in 2017.”
— Clare McKay