Professor Richard Lewis
Professor Richard Lewis

2 December 2009

Researchers from The University of Queensland will speed up their effort to develop new drugs thanks to the latest round of Federal Government funding.

Professor Richard Lewis, from UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience, leads a team which received $424,000 from the Australian Research Council's Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme to establish an advanced molecular discovery and characterisation facility in conjunction with RMIT University.

The LIEF scheme provides funding for large-scale cooperative initiatives so that expensive infrastructure, equipment and facilities can be shared by researchers in partnered organisations. UQ projects received $1.66 million in funding in this round.

Professor Lewis said the facility would accelerate the discovery of drugs from natural products by providing dedicated, state-of-the-art facilities for testing the suitability of molecules from organisms such as cone snails for use as potential pharmaceuticals.

“This facility will provide unique capabilities and extended capacity not currently available in Australia,” Professor Lewis said.

“Peptides and small molecules are widely regarded as crucial leads for drugs of the future and the research enabled by this facility will lead to the development of new drug candidates.”

The facility will strengthen a number of ARC-funded Discovery Grants and two NHMRC Program Grants at the IMB, and underpins a Centre of Excellence bid from UQ to further accelerate drug discovery in Australia.

Other UQ-led projects to receive funding include:

• Professor Richard Fotheringham, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, received $520,000 to further enhance AustLit's value to many Australian communities with interests in Australian literary, audiovisual and critical narratives. AustLit is a joint project of eight of Australia's leading universities and the National Library of Australia. It provides one of the world's most comprehensive online databases of Australian literature from 1780 to present.

• Professor David Reutens, director of UQ's Centre for Advanced Imaging, received $520,000 to further the work of the Australian Mouse Brain Mapping Consortium, a consortium of Australian research groups collaborating to provide the only mouse model brain mapping capability in the country. This will help researchers to study mouse models of genetic and acquired disorders across the lifespan.

• Professor Emmanuel Manlapig, from the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre, received $200,000 to investigate the use of high voltages pulses to extract more minerals from ore deposits. Recent events have shown that mining cannot rely on high commodity prices but must continually seek efficiency improvements. This research has the potential to deliver major economic and environmental benefits to Australia.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Max Lu congratulated all the research teams and said these grants would further enhance our already strong research infrastructure and facilities for cutting edge research and discovery.

“From discovering new drugs, to mapping the brains of mice, to enhancing our access to Australia's rich history of literature, UQ is making linkages to help our communities grow and prosper,” Professor Lu said.

Media: Andrew Dunne at UQ Communications (07 3365 2802 or 0433 364 181).

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