A $10 million biopharmaceutical initiative with strong industry support will be established at The University of Queensland to train the next generation of scientists and enhance Australia’s capabilities in the biopharmaceutical sector.
Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology researcher Associate Professor Stephen Mahler will direct the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Biopharmaceutical Innovation, which has received $4.34m in ARC funding and $5.52m in cash and in-kind contributions from industry partners, including CSL.
The Centre will conduct research projects within three thematic areas:
- Discovery of new biopharmaceuticals and diagnostic agents;
- Development of mammalian cells as factories for recombinant protein production; and
- Manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals.
Other industry partners include GE Healthcare, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and Patheon Biologics Australia. Associate Professor Mahler said the Centre blends research excellence with industry partner experience and know-how.
“The Australian pharmaceutical industry exports products worth $4 billion annually, employs more than 15,000 people, and contributes significantly to Australia’s advanced manufacturing capabilities,” said Dr Mahler.
“We are very proud that the centre will be located here in Queensland.”
The Centre will fund 14 PhD students and five early career researchers (postdoctoral scientists) to work on research projects driven by the industry partners.
Students will work in industry and also take courses associated with biopharmaceutical research and development.
Students will also be trained in entrepreneurship, providing new graduates that will be “business savvy” in an increasingly competitive global pharmaceutical industry.
The Centre will be led by UQ’s AIBN, and will involve the University’s Institute of Molecular Bioscience, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and School of Chemical Engineering.
The initiative forms part of a commitment to develop new technologies for the benefit of society, utilising bioengineering and nanotechnology to improve existing products and practices as well as new solutions to societal issues.