University announces $80 million molecular and life sciences research centre

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The University of Wollongong has announced plans for an $80 million investment in the creation of a Centre of Molecular and Life Sciences.

The centre, which is the university's largest ever self-funded research infrastructure investment,  was launched at Parliament House in Canberra by Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE and distinguished guests before a gathering of Australian political leaders, international dignitaries and prominent members of Australia’s medical and scientific community.

The purpose-built collaborative research centre will be equipped with world-leading technologies, centred around the revolutionary $7m Titan Krios cryo-electron microscope.

The three metre tall, one tonne Titan Krios microscope - one of only a handful in the world and only the second in Australia - is the world’s most powerful and flexible high-resolution electron microscope for biological research.

It will allow researchers to see with unprecedented clarity the inner workings of human cells and enable new health-related breakthroughs.

The university has also acquired a second microscope, the Talos Arctica, which is a smaller version of the same sophisticated imaging technology and complements the flagship Titan Krios with faster sample preparation.

It will be the first of its kind in Australia and be installed in an existing building to begin operating in the coming months and then be relocated into the new centre once built.

Purpose designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, Molecular Horizons will be located alongside existing intellectual strongholds in the areas of physical sciences, biology and laser chemistry in the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) and existing teaching and research facilities in the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health to provide a seamless transition for students from learning to research.

It will house around 150 researchers and be equipped with facilities from single-molecule to molecular and cellular imaging including X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy and flow cytometry as well as single-molecule and high-resolution fluorescence microscopy, structural mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Approximately $25 million of the total $80 million project cost will be devoted to microscopes and associated lab equipment.