$50m boost for Australian proteomics research

By Pete Young
Tuesday, 23 July, 2002

Australian proteomics research will receive a $50 million boost, thanks to a five-year program now being negotiated by three universities, a private company and the Australian Proteome Analysis Facility (APAF).

They are creating APAF Ltd, a consortium which will have nodes at Macquarie University, University of NSW, Sydney University and Adelaide's TGR Biosciences.

As part of the package, a chair in proteomics will be appointed at two of the universities - Sydney and Macquarie.

The consortium is already advertising for a CEO and it is understood that APAF's current director, Prof Gary Cobon, will be among the list of candidates considered by APAF Ltd's board.

The consortium will undertake fundamental research in functional proteomics as well as proteomics-related contract work.

It represents the largest single advance for Australian proteomics since APAF was established with Commonwealth funding in 1995 as the world's first centre dedicated to proteomics, Cobon said.

The nodes will vastly increase the range of technologies available to APAF, which will also be hiring several new scientific staffers, he said.

The new entity is underpinned by a $16.25 million Major National Research Facility grant, plus a $2 million injection from the NSW government and $1 million from the South Australian government.

The remainder of the $50 million is made up of cash and kind contributions from the participating universities. The size of each participant's share in the consortium is one of the issues still under discussion.

Australia slipped behind the cutting edge of fundamental proteomics research over the last few years because of limited resources, Cobon said.

The creation of the consortium and the opportunity it offers for research into functional proteomics will reverse that trend.

Calling it a "first big step in a very positive direction', Cobon said the consortium will work to increase the number of collaborative ventures involving proteomics researchers around the country.

APAF last year generated about $1.5 million in revenues from contract research work. One goal of the consortium will be to increase such income to the point of becoming self-sufficient over the next five years.

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