Plans unveiled for Australian Institute for Infectious Disease

Aurecon Pty Ltd

Friday, 23 June, 2023

Plans unveiled for Australian Institute for Infectious Disease

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Medical Research Mary-Anne Thomas have unveiled the designs for the new Australian Institute for Infectious Disease (AIID) — a collaborative project to bring some of the nation’s greatest scientific and medical research minds together to provide a rapid, coordinated response to current and future pandemics.

The Victorian Government is investing up to $400 million to deliver the institute, which is expected to form the largest centre of infectious disease expertise in the Southern Hemisphere. An additional investment of $250 million from three Foundation Partners — The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, the Burnet Institute and The University of Melbourne — will enable greater collaboration on infectious diseases for the benefit of the community.

Supporting research into life-saving therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines, the AIID will seek to fight infectious diseases and other public health challenges highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Including dedicated spaces for drug screening and critical imaging not currently available in Australia, it will also provide access to a broad range of shared facilities and platforms to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange.

The AIID will be located in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct. Artist impression by Wardle.

To be based next to the Doherty Institute in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct, the AIID will focus on genomics, diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccine research, clinical trials and public health research to inform decision-making. These focus areas will be supported and enabled by high-tech facilities within the new building, including:

  • A human infection challenge unit designed to accelerate the development of new medicines and vaccines for key partners and industry clients, through high-quality and ethical clinical research.
  • Robotic biobanking, allowing remote treatment and storage of biomedical samples from large clinical trials, enabling more efficient and safer storage and retrieval than traditional methods.
  • One of the largest high-containment PC3 (Physical Containment level 3) laboratory facilities in the Southern Hemisphere, enabling identification, isolation and characterisation of new viruses and other infectious disease agents.
  • A combination of specialist and flexible PC2 (Physical Containment level 2) laboratories, allowing the development of new vaccine technologies such as mRNA.
  • Industry engagement spaces to create an innovation-focused entrepreneurial environment that supports the translation of promising discoveries into the successful commercialisation of medical products and services to deliver patient benefit.
  • Convergence zones, enabling collaboration between the Foundation Partner organisations through meetings, shared amenities, training, workshops and incidental conversations in social areas.
  • Purpose-designed spaces to support public health research including dry laboratories, interview rooms and spaces for community engagement and co-design work.

A combination of specialist and flexible PC2 labs will allow for the development of new vaccine technologies. Artist impression by Wardle.

The new building has been designed by Australian architectural firm Wardle to foster collaboration and innovation between the Foundation Partners, industry and an alliance of Victorian infectious disease organisations. It will also allow The University of Melbourne and the Doherty Institute to expand and the Burnet Institute to relocate its headquarters to the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct. International design, engineering and advisory firm Aurecon has been appointed as lead engineer and project manager.

Demolition of the existing buildings on the site will be undertaken in 2024, with construction to commence in 2025. Once complete in 2027, the AIID will house more than 1000 scientists, academics, students and public health experts, with the potential to support up to 5000 jobs across the research ecosystem.

The AIID is a collaborative project to bring the nation’s greatest scientific and medical research minds together. Artist impression by Wardle.

“We are thrilled to reveal the plans for the new AIID building,” said University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell. “It will be an iconic addition to the world-leading Melbourne Biomedical Precinct and will equip us with the facilities and resources we need to get ahead of the next pandemic.”

Doherty Institute Director Professor Sharon Lewin said the unveiling of the concept design will see the AIID project gain momentum and inspire those who will be working in the facility. “The AIID will allow for expansion of activities across all aspects of the Doherty Institute’s work, as well as strengthen partnerships with Foundation Partners to tackle the challenges in infectious diseases now and into the future,” she said.

Burnet Institute Deputy Director Professor Margaret Hellard said this is an exciting phase in the project, bringing to life the vision of a new state-of-the-art facility and the new home for Burnet Institute. “The relocation of Burnet Institute to the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct as a Foundation Partner of the AIID is an exciting opportunity that will strengthen collaborations across laboratory-based research and public and global health, and build our capacity to respond to significant global health challenges,” she said.

Top image: Aurecon has been appointed as lead engineer and project manager to deliver the Australian Institute for Infectious Disease. Artist impression by Wardle.

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