Australia and New Zealand have submitted a joint proposal to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The official submission is a crucial step towards the goal of hosting the world’s most powerful radio telescope.

Australian Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr and New Zealand Economic Development Minister David Carter said hosting the SKA would put Australia and New Zealand at the forefront of international science.

“We have a remote site based in Western Australia with exceptional radio quiet characteristics and superb astronomy infrastructure. And, thanks to the National Broadband Network, Australia is rolling out the necessary fibre-optic links to allow SKA signals to be processed and transmitted,” Senator Carr said.

A team of up to 50 researchers and research students, led by internationally renowned sleep researcher Drew Dawson, has left the University of South Australia to join Central Queensland University (CQU).

Victorian University researchers have been awarded $2.7 million in grants from the Federal Government and industry partners for three desalination projects.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Institute are conducting research on how to assist stroke victims repair swallowing functions, which brake down in more than 50 per cent of patients.

Research into wheat species diversification has received a major boost after the signing of an equity investment in HRZ Wheats Pty Ltd by one of the nation’s leading agricultural disease and pest control companies, Dow AgroSciences Australia Ltd.

Logging in Victoria’s mountain ash forests is increasing the risk of catastrophic wildfires, according to an expert from The Australian National University.

Construction of a new oil and gas research facility has begun in the Northern Territory.

Australian Research Council (ARC) Chief Executive Officer, Professor Margaret Sheil, announced Elsevier’s SciVerse Scopus as the successful tenderer to provide citation information for the next round of the Australian Government’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative.

“ERA is a world-class research evaluation initiative based on a combination of expert review and indicators of research excellence,” said Professor Sheil.

“As citation analysis is one of the indicators used in ERA, it is crucial to appoint a suitable citation provider. Citation analysis is a widely recognised bibliometric tool for assessing the quality of scholarly research.”

Scopus provided the citation information for the 2009 ERA trial and the first full ERA exercise in 2010, which was the first ever comprehensive assessment of the research effort of Australia’s universities.

“In its continuing role as citation provider for ERA 2012, Scopus will help ensure the collection and analysis of citation data for ERA is accurate and not onerous for universities.

“The ARC welcomes our continued partnership with SciVerse Scopus, and acknowledges the strong business commitment that they have shown throughout the evolution of ERA.”

The ERA 2012 evaluation will open for submissions in March 2012. For more information visit the Excellence in Research for Australia initiative page.

Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote exchange between the two countries in the areas of health and medical research.

The Federal Government has launched the new Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

The Australian Museum has presented this year's Eureka Prizes, recognising the country's top scientific researchers & innovators, science leaders, and leaders in school science and science journalism & communication. 

The New South Wales State Budget has outlined $105.6 million for medical research in the 2011-12 financial year.

A  collaborative research body aimed at improving sustainability practices of water use in the fringes of Australia's largest cities has been expanded.

The Federal Government is holding a series of information sessions to explain the processes and accessibility of new R&D Tax Incentive.

The Australia Solar Institute is interested in receiving feedback from the Australian solar research community in relation to a proposed Strategic Research Initiative (SRI) funded initially under the auspices of the United States – Australia Solar Energy Collaboration (USASEC).

Australia's first desalination research facility has opened in Rockingham, Western Australia, as a joint venture between State and Federal Governments, and participating research organisations.

Professor Jiri Neuzil from the School of Medical Science and GHI is leading a research team that has developed anti-cancer agents derived from vitamin E (VE), with the capacity to induce programmed cell death, a process known as apoptosis.

"This (chemical modification) potentially represents a new paradigm in efficient anti-cancer therapy. It has a very solid scientific basis because it sends the compounds where they matter most," Professor Neuzil said.

"Thus, the process is much more efficient when the relevant drugs are targeted to mitochondria."

He explained that mitochondria are organelles inside cells that contain their own DNA. While they are essential to supply the cells with energy, mitochondria also contain proteins needed to kill cells.

Working initially with Professor Smith from Otago University in New Zealand and recently with Associate Professor Mark Coster from Griffith's Eskitis Institute, Professor Neuzil has successfully modified the VE-based drugs so that some 90 per cent of the agents localise to mitochondria, triggering the death of cancer cells much more efficiently than the non-targeted counterparts of the agents.

The process has been successfully tested on mice, focusing on breast and colorectal tumours.

"The new compounds don't harm good cells. And they're more efficient than (parental) compounds that don't target mitochondria directly.

"Its potential is huge. We now want to test these agents in other types of tumours, preferably those that are hard to treat."

Using this innovative approach, Professor Neuzil is attempting to 'outwit' cancer cells he describes as 'bloody clever'.

"When cancer cells are exposed to certain agents, their genes mutate as they learn how to resist the drugs."

However, by combining the vitamin E-derived agents with other therapeutic drugs, the cancer cell's attention can be effectively 'distracted', reducing its capacity to mutate.

This combinatorial and, potentially, intermittent form of treatment also serves to reduce negative side-effects through the positive synergy of two or more drugs that exert their cancer cell-killing activity by different mechanisms.

Professor Neuzil's pre-clinical research is also investigating if other recognised anti-cancer drugs are similarly effective in mitochondria when modified in a corresponding way.

To take the research to the important clinical stage, he is hoping to get the attentions and support of a benefactor.

Australian scientists are set to gain access to one of the world’s most powerful synchrotrons following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Japanese SPring-8 Centre.

The South Australian Government is developing a cross-government strategy to increase the supply of people taking up careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields to meet the future needs of local industry.

A generous gift of $5 million from one of Australia's leading businessmen will enable the University of Sydney to make major advances in the field of nanoscience.

The possibility of redesigning the illicit recreational drug ‘ecstasy' to treat blood cancers is being explored by a team of researchers from The University of Western Australia and the University of Birmingham in England.

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