Archived News for Research Sector Professionals - March, 2012
Sydney doctor and philanthropist Tom Wenkart has donated $4 million to endow the University of Sydney Wenkart Chair in Endothelium Medicine at the Centenary Institute.
The inaugural Chair is Jennifer Gamble, Professor of Vascular Biology and one of the pioneers of endothelium research.
Professor Gamble's work has already transformed our understanding of the role of endothelial cells.
"Fifty years ago we just regarded blood vessels as simple pipes," she said. "Today we know that they're much more complex - a living, changing organ that rapidly reacts to threats.
"You prick your finger on a rose thorn - within the hour the wound is inflamed and itching as your body mobilises to fight infection. That's the endothelium in action," says Professor Gamble.
These same endothelial cells are implicated when things go wrong in atherosclerosis and auto-immune disease. And tumours need endothelial cells to form blood vessels - without new blood vessels, tumours won't grow.
We each have within us some 80,000 kilometres of pipelines, that carry the essential supplies needed to all parts of our body. The endothelial cells that form this network of blood vessels are essentially a hidden organ weighing about one kilogram.
The endothelial cells maintain these perfect, smooth pipelines year after year but then, when there's an accident they turn into traffic police within minutes, allowing white blood cells to pass through the wall of the blood vessels, and giving emergency services access to the scene.
In 1985, working in Seattle and Adelaide, Professor Gamble showed that if endothelial cells are stimulated then white blood cells bind to them - the start of inflammation.
Now we know much more about the role of these cells in immunity, heart disease, cancer and other conditions. But Professor Gamble says it's still early days in this field of study.
"I hope that, over the next decade or two we'll be able to understand and control the endothelium in diseases — especially inflammation and those associated with ageing such as atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's."
Tom Wenkart says that's what excites him about this field of research. "These endothelial cells play a critical role throughout the body. I believe they're the key to understanding heart disease, for example. What is happening in my body today that could lead to a heart attack in 20 years?"
The Centenary Institute, University of Sydney is an independent leader in medical research seeking improved treatments and cures for cancer, cardiovascular and infectious diseases.
The Dow Chemical Company and The University of Queensland have unveiled a strategic partnership that will establish the Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation.
Funded through a Dow contribution worth $10 million over the next six years, the newl Centre will pursue a program of research and collaboration aimed at harnessing solutions to the sustainability challenges of the 21st Century.
“This is a lighthouse initiative - hot-housing innovation at the urban energy, water and carbon nexus, which will attract international attention to the issues of sustainability and position Dow and UQ as leaders, achievers and contributors to society,” Dow Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Liveris said.
Dr Bates Gill, formerly Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.
Australian and Korean radio telescopes have been linked for the first time, producing a system with 100 times the resolving power of the Hubble Space Telescope.
The CSIRO and Cotton Seed Distributors have announced a five-year, $35 million extension to their existing agreement to fund projects through the Cotton Breeding Australia join venture, which has been running since 2007.
One hundred and forty seven distinguished researchers have been selected to assess and report on the quality of research in Australia as part of the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) evaluations.
Researchers from The University of Queensland (UQ) and Korea have combined their expertise in polymer patterning and materials science in a bid to develop new-generation solar cells.
UQ's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) Director, Professor Peter Gray, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.
It will allow AIBN Professor Ajayan Vinu's research group to work closely with Yonsei Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Professor Eunkyoung Kim, and School of Advanced Materials Science and Engineering, Professor Cheolmin Park.
Professor Vinu said the collaboration would encourage “the creation of new science and new products”, including efforts to improve the efficiency of solar cells.
He said AIBN would bring expertise in materials science, particularly Prof Vinu's work on and porous semiconducting and bio-nanomaterials.
Yonsei researchers would match this expertise with their knowledge of polymer patterning and fabrication.
“We can't all be experts in every field. That is why we are collaborating with these experts in this field,” Professor Vinu said.
“We have expertise in the fabrication of porous functionalised semiconducting nanostructures that will maximise quantum efficiency of dye sensitized or organic solar cells, while the Yonsei researchers have know-how in designing the various types of solar cell device.
“The fusion of materials development and device fabrication can help us to achieve a new solar cell technology or product with a low cost, which is going to make a huge revolution in the solar industry.”
Beyond collaborating on research, the bond between AIBN and Yonsei includes joint conferences, student exchanges and plans for a joint lab in Korea.
AIBN will host the third joint International Conference on Emerging and Advanced Nanomaterials in Brisbane from October 22-25.
The institute has welcomed visiting Korean student Sehwan Kim to the Vinu research group for a three-month internship.
The institutes also had a collaboration with the National Institute for Materials Science – the number one materials institute in Japan.
Dr Wayne Stange, the Managing Director of AMIRA International, has been appointed Director of the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC) within the University of Queensland's Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI).
Macquarie University has announced it will provide Australia’s first integrated advanced coursework and research training degree as a key pathway to entry to a PhD.
The Federal Government has announced $4 million in research funding to 13 new projects that are investigating methods to prevent the harm caused by obesity, tobacco and harmful use of alcohol.
Federal Minister for Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans, has urged greater investment in Australian science and research, saying that it is key to driving higher productivity and forging a strong and sustainable economy.
Flinders University has launched a researcher mentoring scheme that pairs researchers in the early stages of their careers with experienced University academics who will act as their mentors, guiding and supporting them in all aspects of academic life.
Funding for three collaborative projects through the first round of the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) Grand Challenge Fund has been announced by the Minister for Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans.
The CSIRO Organic Geochemistry of Mineral Systems Cluster has been officially launched at Curtin University’s Resources and Chemistry Precinct.
The Federal Government has announced the successful applicants for the first round of the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) Grand Challenge Fund.
University of Wollongong scientists are behind the establishment of a global consortium which is using sunlight to convert water into important chemical fuels such as hydrogen gas.
An international consortium comprising around 100 scientists and mathematicians, including Australian researchers, has for the first time pooled shared knowledge and data to deliver a holistic understanding of the biological changes in a cell.