Funding boost for Monash University

Sunday, 16 September, 2001

Monash University has received a funding boost for research projects. The federal government has allocated nearly $30 million to programmes that Monash is undertaking with other research institutes and commercial organisations. Additionally, the Wellcome Trust announced a $6 million donation for biomedical research.

The Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin, said the funding would help provide Australia with the scientific infrastructure to build leading research facilities. The three successful Monash programs are:

  • The National Centre for Advanced Cell Engineering ($5.5 million), which will supply academic and commercial research centres, nationally and internationally, with human stem cells for use in research. The centre involves researchers from the Monash's Institute of Reproduction and Development and the university's Science and Engineering faculties, a cell biology group at Adelaide University, and two linked commercial organisations, BresaGen Ltd and ES Cell.
  • The National Neuroscience Facility, a joint venture between Monash and Melbourne universities ($18 million), which will establish a national neuroscience cluster and will be the preferred location for discovery and clinical product development by pharmaceutical companies.
  • The Australian Computational Earth Systems Simulator (ACESS) ($4.8 million), which harnesses the power of supercomputing to look into earth systems.

Also, the US research funding body, the National Institutes of Health, announced that Monash is one of ten on a register of institutions worldwide that met the US guidelines to supply human embryonic stem cells for research. The NIH will soon publish its official Human Embryonic Cell Registry, a list of those institutions through which interested researchers must apply to gain access to US public funds of $480 million.

Professor Malcolm Horne, of the Centre for Neurosciences at Monash, said the funding for the National Neuroscience Facility would provide fundamental research for the discovery and development of potential therapies or drugs to treat neurological and psychiatric diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, dementia, schizophrenia and brain damage from trauma and stroke. "This new funding will make this facility the hub of expertise for the Asia Pacific region and would be competitive on a world scale," he said.

Associate Professor William Hart, CEO of Neurosciences Victoria, said that in supporting the Neurosciences Victoria model and using it to create a National Neuroscience Facility, the MNRF has particularly recognised and rewarded the excellence of the neuroscience research carried out in the member institutions, including Monash. "The fact that our major international sponsor - the German pharmaceutical company Schering AG - will be funding several projects at Monash is testimony to this university's international standing," he said.

Dr Mary Phillips, the international program manager of the Wellcome Trust, which supports global biomedical research, announced the $6 million donation to Monash University. The funds will be used for a range of equipment and facilities for ongoing projects, including a molecular and cellular rheology laboratory, a microscopy and imaging research facility, a 'mouseworks', a real-time PCR analysis system, a spectral confocal system, a mass spectrometry facility and a DNA-sequencing facility.

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