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New collaborations between The University of Queensland and China could help unravel the causes of brain disorders like schizophrenia and combat Hendra Virus.
Treasurer and Minister for Employment and Economic Development Andrew Fraser has announced $1.7 million in Smart Futures Funding for Professor Perry Bartlett of UQ's Queensland Brain Institute and Professor Anton Middelberg of UQ's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.
"Professor Bartlett's team will progress work involving the study of brain function, learning and cognition in fruit flies which have 60 per cent of genes in common with humans," Mr Fraser said.
"Professor Middelberg's funding will enable work on the UQ developed Microbial Vaccine Platform that has the potential to create new vaccines in weeks."
Professor Bartlett will receive $1 million to work with researchers at the Institute of Biophysics within the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. Professor Midd elberg will receive $720,000 to collaborate with Tianjin University.
"Professor Bartlett will now be able to progress work on a joint laboratory between Queensland (within the Queensland Brain Institute) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences," he said.
Professor Bartlett said the funding would enable world-leading research to identify the genes involved in learning and memory and our understanding of what happens in disorders like dementia, depression and schizophrenia.
"The Academy also has a human 7-Tesla fMRI facility which we are very keen to work closely with to not only build up our expertise but determine the right equipment mix for our Brisbane laboratories," Professor Bartlett said.
Professor Middelberg, who was named earlier this year as the 2010 Smart Futures Premier's Fellow, will use the funding to advance his work on rapid and cost-effective vaccine development.
"We've been very keen to work with Tianjin University and create a truly collaborative approach to one of the big issues in world health - how to respond and prevent disease outbreaks quickly," he said.
Professor Middelberg's research will target three diseases: Influenza, GAS (an infection prevalent in Australia's Indigenous community) and Hendra Virus.
The grants were funded under the Queensland Government's $91.3 million Smart Futures Fund's National and International Research Alliances Program.
Mr Fraser made the announcements today at a State Lunch to mark the 21st anniversary of Queensland's Sister State-City relationship with Shanghai this year.
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Professor Perry Bartlett
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