14 March 2007

Two Australian Research Council (ARC) Centres at the IMB have been named as Centres of Excellence, a scheme that recognises exceptional performances with an extension of funding for a further three years.

The ARC Centre of Excellence in Biotechnology and Development will receive a further $6.42 million from 2008.

Professor Peter Koopman heads the Queensland node of this centre, which is headquartered at the University of Newcastle, with other nodes at the University of Melbourne and Monash University.

The Centre investigates the complex development of male germ cells, the cells in the body that become sperm. Defects in these cells can lead to infertility as well as cancer.

Professor Koopman and his team last year identified the chemical signals that trigger germ cells to begin sperm formation.

“This information revolutionised our understanding of how sperm and eggs develop, and the additional funding will help us apply this discovery to testicular cancer and male infertility,” Professor Koopman said.

Meanwhile, the ARC Centre for Bioinformatics will have its status upgraded to become a Centre of Excellence, and will receive a further $3.3 million from 2008.

It will now be known as the ARC Centre of Excellence for Bioinformatics.

Bioinformatics is a field that involves the collection, management and analysis of large amounts of biological data using networks of computers and databases.

The Centre’s mission is to use bioinformatics in order to understand how genetic information is translated into the physical and functional characteristics of mammalian cells, and also to develop and improve the techniques used in bioinformatics.

It is headquartered at UQ within the IMB, with nodes at the Australian National University, Deakin University, the University of Newcastle and IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

The extra funding will allow a node to be added at Macquarie University, Director of the Centre Professor Mark Ragan said.

Media enquiries:
Professor Peter Koopman - 07 3346 2059

Professor Mark Ragan - 07 3346 2616

Bronwyn Allan (IMB Communications) - 07 3346 2134 or 0418 575 247

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