Uni's $18.7m injection for research projects

Wednesday, 17 November 2004

The University of Adelaide today received $18.7 million over five years from Australian Research Council (ARC) grants for new research projects and infrastructure.

It follows the $11 million awarded last week for medical, dental and biomedical fields by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Today's funding was announced by the Australian Government, which has allocated a significant amount over five years for 1,387 new research projects nationally. The projects will be funded through ARC Discovery Projects, Discovery Indigenous Researchers Development, Linkage Projects, Linkage International and Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities grants.

"We are delighted with the University's Discovery Project success rate of 33.8 per cent compared with the national rate of 30.8 per cent," says Professor Neville Marsh, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

"It is a stunning success and reflects our ability to attract large research funding. What is particularly significant is that of our 48 successful ARC Discovery Grants, 12 of them or 25 per cent were won by Early Career Researchers.

"This is a great indication of the kind of encouragement being given to our ECRs. Their ability is complemented by the achievements of long-standing researchers such as those in physics, chemistry and engineering."

Chief Investigator Associate Professor Derek Abbott, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Director of the Centre for Bioengineering and Samuel Mickan, one of the ECRs and a lecturer in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, secured $864,610 through the ARC Linkage, Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme.

These funds will be used to develop a national T-Ray facility. T-Rays, a rich new science, are between microwaves and infrared on the electromagnetic spectrum. Recent advances in T-Rays research have produced an important new imaging modality for non-invasive sensing of materials and structures.

ARC Federation Fellow Professor Mark Tester, from the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) at the Waite Campus, was the big winner receiving $1.45 million over five years. His project title is "Controlling accumulation of elements in the shoots of higher plants by manipulating processes in specific cell types in the roots".

Professor Tester says the projects would provide insights into how plants control what nutrients and toxins accumulate in their shoots.

"Salt tolerant plants often keep sodium out of their shoots so this work will help develop salt tolerant crop. Another example of the usefulness of this program would be to help efficiency of fertiliser use by plants," he says.

Chief Investigator Professor Shaun McColl, School of Molecular and Biomedical Science and Professor of Microbiology & Immunology and Associate Professor David Findlay received $474,500 through the ARC Linkage, Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme.

Their project, the Adelaide Core Live Organism Imaging Facility, will utilise the funds to purchase two major items of equipment, a Xenogen IVIS Imaging Syste 200, and a Skyscan 1076_in vivo micro-CT scanner.

The acquisition of a state-of-the-art live organism imaging facility in Adelaide is considered a major advance for investigators within the Adelaide bioscience community. The equipment will offer benefits for basic science, health and biotechnology, and will increase research productivity and international competitiveness.

The Hanson Institute, University of South Australia, Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics and the South Australian Museum, will together, with the University of Adelaide, contribute a further $330,000 to this project.

Professor Geoff Fincher, Director of the Waite Campus, secured $740,000 over five years and his team will look at three-dimensional structures and functions of polysaccharide synthases involving plant cell wall biosynthesis.

"The work will not only provide fundamental information in plant biology, but will also provide opportunities to enhance the end-use quality and nutritional value of crop plants," Professor Fincher says.


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