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Koala research project (new)

Help protect endangered koalas

The future for our iconic koalas looks bleak. Koalas are now classified as endangered in eastern Australia. It is estimated that fewer than 100,000 koalas may be left in the wild.

Koala populations have been devastated by habitat loss to development, road accidents, domestic animal attacks and recent bushfire events. Conservative estimates are that more than one billion animals perished in the 2020 blazes, which claimed a third of national parks in New South Wales.

Another significant threat is the devastating effects of chlamydial infection. Infection rates are as high as sixty percent in koala populations in Queensland and New South Wales. Without intervention, chlamydia, could be the final deciding factor in the koala’s survival.

A vaccine breakthrough

Leading Microbiologist, Professor Peter Timms, has spent decades searching for a way to address disease in koalas.

His team has made a breakthrough—developing, trialling and administering a successful koala chlamydia vaccine.

  • Eight trials have been completed, with more than 250 koalas vaccinated.
  • The vaccine has been shown to be completely safe.
  • Koalas show a good immune response.
  • Chlamydia infection levels decreased and protection against clinical disease improved.
  • More than twenty scientific publications have peer-reviewed and validated the research outcomes.
  • The vaccine has been rolled out to four wildlife hospitals in South East Queensland.

We must act now, to protect endangered koalas.

There's no time to lose

The vaccine is potential lifeline for koalas. Now, the team is urgently seeking regulatory approval to administer the vaccine to the most at-risk koala populations.

Step 1. Phase 2 and 3 vaccine trials
The team will now conduct trials in wildlife hospitals and in wild koala populations. Estimated cost: $500,000.

Step 2. Regulatory approval of the vaccine
The approval stage will include vaccine production. Estimated cost: $300,000

Step 3. Production and distribution of the vaccine Estimated cost: $500,000

Koala at Qld Zoo

Take action to stop chlamydia accelerating the further demise and ultimate extinction of koalas.


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Leading the way

Professor Peter Timms is an internationally renowned microbiologist and leading expert on chlamydial infection and vaccine development. He leads a research group, with Dr Samuel Phillips, molecular biologist, to develop vaccines and new diagnostics for chlamydial disease in humans and animals.

Together they work in long established collaboration with koala field research teams and wildlife hospitals and improve understanding of chlamydial genomics, cell biology and pathogenicity.

Thanks to all supporters, including federal, state and local government schemes, koala sanctuaries, zoos, international animal foundations, and individual donors, who have brought the vaccine this far.

Now, let's work together to raise the additional $1.5million we need to ensure this project meets its ultimate goal.

In the news

Top honour for USC professor on great quest to save koalas

UniSC professor who is leading vaccine development to safeguard Australia’s iconic koala from extinction has been named a Queensland Great.

More information

Ben Nicoll
Manager, UniSC Advancement Office
Email: bnicoll@usc.edu.au
Tel: +61 7 5430 1137