BioMedVic celebrates twenty years of achievements

On Thursday 5th December 2019 BioMedVic gathered a crowd in the beautiful Treetops room at the Melbourne Museum to celebrate twenty years of biomedical achievements. At this warm reception, BioMedVic counted with the participation of key figures in the configuration of the health and medical sector who have shaped Melbourne’s vibrant and changing biomedical landscape.

Having decided that the best way to mark the “End of the BioMedVic Era” was by celebrating its achievements and those of the remarkable Victorian health and biomedical research community, we brought together key players of the last twenty years to celebrate, discuss and explore the past, present and future of biomedical research in the state.

The event started its narrative in 1999, when the Bio21 Cluster was created by the Bracks government as part of the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) initiative. Richard Larkins, Jane Niall, Stella Clark, Malcolm McConville and David Pennington shared their knowledge about the history behind the STI as a platform for promoting Victoria, the creation of the Bio21 Cluster and its transition to BioMedVic.

But to understand the importance and impact of past events, we knew we needed to acknowledge how far we have come today. Panel two discussed the current focus on the role of clinicians and patients, on the interplay between researchers and industry, and on the importance of the sector for economic growth. Ingrid Winship, Michael Parker and Andrew Cuthbertson gave a sector-wide perspective from different points of view, which were complemented by contributions from Katherine Locock, Celia Vandestadt and Avnika Ruparelia, participants of the successful and “life-changing” BioMedVic programs ‘Researcher in Residence’ and ‘UROP’.

Finally, we looked into the future and asked, “where will we be in 2040?”. Peter Rogers, Grant McArthur and Sam Forster discussed current sector trends in research highlighted the impact of strong leadership, strategic collaborations and international partnerships on Victoria’s future success.

We are certain that all guests appreciated learning more about the STI and the early days of BioMedVic.

The Forum was a great opportunity for BioMedVic to highlight its many achievements and celebrate its 20-year-long contribution to the biomedical research fabric across Victoria. Collaboration has always been at the heart of BioMedVic, so we couldn’t be prouder of delivering an event so aligned with this goal.

BioMedVic Chair Warwick Tong thanked everyone for attending and recognised the fabulous work of BioMedVic’s past and present staff over the years.

The event concluded with a toast to BioMedVic and to the future of biomedical research in Victoria!

(L-R): Warwick Tong, Jan Tennent, David Pennington, Jane Niall and Richard Larkins

NHMRC recognises Victoria’s leadership in health and medical research

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recently announced grant outcomes, totaling $437 million distributed among 495 projects throughout Australia.

Following the usual trend, Victorian researchers have received the majority of the funding, with $392 million for 329 projects. This represents 44.3% of all funding and reflects the leadership, expertise and strength of Victoria’s capability in the health and medical research sector.

BioMedVic congratulates all NHMRC grant recipients.

More information here.

Reflecting on two decades of growth of biomedical research in Victoria

How the state became the national leader in the field

Standing on the shoulders of others  

In 2019 Victoria is unchallenged as Australia’s State of Biomedical Research.

The state attracts around 40% of the total Federal Government investment in health and medical research. Victorian organisations employ approximately 25,000 researchers and clinicians working on biotech discoveries and treatments. The commercial biomedical sector employs another 21,000 people and generates more than $12.7 billion dollars in revenue every year.

Victoria’s leadership is not an accident. It’s the result of two decades of good public policy and good governance initiated by the Bracks’ government and built on by subsequent administrations. Premier Steve Bracks and his Treasurer and Innovation Minister John Brumby understood that science and research are drivers of economic growth, so they developed the 1999 Science and Technology Initiative (STI). Backed by over $620 million, the STI supported biomedical, environmental, agricultural, manufacturing, design, and information and communication technologies across metropolitan and provincial Victoria over a decade.

The invisible hand of Victorian collaboration

One project backed by STI was the establishment in 2001 of Bio21 Australia Limited, a not-for-profit company with three founding members – the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Health and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) – and a mission to support the development of nascent biotechnology discoveries. Quickly growing its membership from 3 to 15, the Bio21 Cluster (as it came to be known) helped break down organisational barriers and enabled Parkville-based researchers to better share facilities, networks and knowledge.

Despite being referred to as the ‘invisible hand’, the Bio21 Cluster actively and transparently managed a process that encouraged multiple partners to collaborate in a series of successful bids to secure STI funding for two ‘Bio21 Developments’ – the Bio21 Institute and the Joint Proteomics Facility – and six ‘Bio21 Projects’ – BioGrid, the C3 Collaborative Crystallisation Centre, and specialist facilities for NMR, human cellular diagnosis and therapy, high throughput chemical screening, and bioresources. Although STI funding concluded in 2006, all activities arising from the Bio21 Cluster process led to additional funding and proudly continue to support Victoria’s biomedical sector.

A new era with BioMedVic

BioMedical Research Logo

2014 saw the Bio21 Cluster transform into Biomedical Research Victoria (BioMedVic), a state-wide network and the premier voice for linking health and medical research to clinical care in Victoria. By fostering collaboration between research organisations across the state, BioMedVic sought to enable effective competition on the global scale.

On behalf of more than two-thirds of the scientists and clinicians in the state, BioMedVic advocates tirelessly to government for a long-term Victorian science and innovation plan that has bipartisan support, is overseen by a senior Minister and well-coordinated across departments.

BioMedVic contends that such a plan must be supported by continued investment through a dedicated fund (analogous to the STI), is focussed on areas in which Victoria is or could be a world leader and in which the clinical and economic benefits of innovation can be captured. Fund investment decisions should be recommended to the responsible Minister by a body comprising several experienced and independent members with successful track records in investing in medical research and its commercialisation, and whose experience is augmented by that of senior representatives from Treasury and the departments of Health and Innovation.

Today, BioMedVic’s thinktanks facilitate the exchange of knowledge between key opinion leaders while our programs inspire the next generation of scientists.

The organisation bridges the gap between researchers and policy makers, and between researchers, industry and Victoria’s world-class infrastructure through bodies including:

  • Scientific Advisory Council;
  • Hospital Research Directors Forum;
  • Hospital Research Managers Subcommittee;
  • Victorian Clinical Researcher Network;
  • Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program;
  • Research in Residence program; and the
  • Victorian Platform Technologies Network.

Celebrating achievements and looking forward

Forums and programs such as these have produced new ways to collaborate across institutional boundaries, and have contributed to the growth of Victoria’s vibrant and collegial biomedical research community. We are proud of our role in its success.

In 2019 there are research technology platforms everywhere and biomedical research in Melbourne has never been more integrated.

“This growth has, paradoxically, led to a decline in our membership over the past two years in line with the emergence of a complex and changing landscape of biomedical alliances in Victoria,” says BioMedVic CEO, Jan Tennent.

“After an exhaustive exploration of options for a strategic response and with the best interests of the health and medical research community at heart, the Board decided that BioMedVic would cease operations at the end of 2019.”

While its legacy of the past 20 years is evident, BioMedVic is currently planning to host a celebration of its many achievements that will include an opportunity to explore what the next two decades might hold for health and medical research in Victoria!

ATSE welcomes biomedical leader

Prof Jan Tennent, CEO of BioMedVic, has been elected Fellow to the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE). She is among 25 leaders in applying science, technology and engineering to solve real-world problems elected to one of Australia’s Learned Academies.

ATSE highlighted Prof Tennent’s career:

In her previous role as Director for Business Development & Global Alliances at Pfizer Animal Health, Professor Tennent was responsible for maximising the growth and profitability of APAC business units and leading the due diligence and negotiation teams for a number of company and product acquisitions and numerous technology licences and collaborative R&D agreements.

As a member of the CSL Animal Health executive team she was responsible for new product opportunity evaluation and leadership of product development and the launch teams for unique vaccines in Australia and the UK.

Professor Tennent’s research career included periods as Director of the CRC for Vaccine Technology and Program Manager for the Vaccines and Immunology group of CSIRO Animal Health.

Academy President, Professor Hugh Bradlow, welcomed the new Fellows. “We bring together Australia’s leading experts in applied science, technology and engineering to provide impartial, practical and evidence-based advice to enable Australia to maintain its position as a leading technology economy.”

“The 2019 cohort of new Fellows comprises a remarkable and talented group, who will contribute to helping the Academy fulfill its mission.” The Academy has also announced a Foreign Fellow, an Honorary Fellow and a Fellow elected directly by the Board.

Twelve of the 25 new Fellows are women – the highest proportion ever and almost matching the Academy’s 2025 diversity target of electing at least 50 per cent women.

The other 2019 new Fellows are:

  • Dr Douglas Bock FTSE. Director, CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science
  • Dr Lynn Booth FTSE. Chief, Joint and Operations Analysis Division, Defence Science and Technology Group
  • Dr Gunilla Burrowes FTSE. Chair, Eighteen04 Inc
  • Dr Helen Cleugh FTSE. Director, Climate Science Centre, CSIRO
  • Dr Martin Cole FTSE. Deputy Director, Agriculture and Food, CSIRO
  • Mr William Cox FTSE. Global CEO, Aurecon
  • Professor Melinda Hodkiewicz FTSE. The University of Western Australia
  • Professor Emma Johnston AO FTSE. Dean, Faculty of Science, UNSW Sydney
  • Professor Sandra Kentish FTSE. Head, School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, The University of Melbourne
  • Professor David Lloyd FTSE. Vice-Chancellor and President, University of South Australia
  • Ms Romilly Madew AO FTSE. Chief Executive Officer, Infrastructure Australia
  • Professor Neena Mitter FTSE. Director, Centre for Horticultural Science, QAAFI, The University of Queensland
  • Distinguished Professor Adrian Mouritz FTSE. Executive Dean of Engineering, RMIT University
  • Professor Saeid Nahavandi FTSE. Pro Vice-Chancellor (Defence Technologies), Deakin University
  • Professor Ranjith Pathegama Gamage FTSE. Professor in Geomechanics Engineering, Monash University
  • Dr Andy Sheppard FTSE. Research Director, Managing Invasive Species and Diseases, CSIRO
  • Dr Surinder Pal Singh FTSE. Chief Research Scientist, CSIRO
  • Associate Professor Elaine Saunders FTSE. Executive Chair, Blamey Saunders Hears
  • Dr Alison Todd FTSE. Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer, SpeeDx Pty Ltd
  • Professor Nicolas Voelcker FTSE. Monash University
  • Professor Chien Ming Wang FTSE. Transport and Main Roads Chair in Civil Engineering, The University of Queensland
  • Professor Huanting Wang FTSE. Monash University
  • Mr Anthony Wood AM FTSE. Energy Program Director, Grattan Institute
  • Ms Zoe Yujnovich FTSE. Chair/Executive Vice-President, Shell Australia
  • Foreign Fellow: Ms Francesca Ferrazza FTSE. Senior Vice-President Decarbonisation & Environmental R&D, Eni, Italy
  • Honorary Fellow: The Hon John Anderson AO FTSE. Former Deputy Prime Minister
  • Board-elected Fellow: Dr Andrew Thomas AO FTSE. Former NASA astronaut

The new Fellows will be formally welcomed into the Academy at its Annual General Meeting in Melbourne on 29 November.

More information:

BioMedVic members at the MRFF Frontier of medical research

The grants from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Frontiers initiative have been announced. Of the $9,490,429 million awarded, Victoria has secured $6,744,102 million (71.1%). This result highlights the strength of Victoria in medical research nationwide.

Awarded research projects led by or involving as project partners BioMedVic members are:

  • “The Cortical Frontiers: Commercialising Brain Machine Interfaces project” (Monash University). Grant: $924,100
  • “The Innovative Public Health Program Against Mosquito-Borne Diseases” (Monash University). Grant: $964,700
  • “The EVE-M – Enhancing the Vaginal Environment and Microbiome – Initiative” (Swinburne University of Technology and Deakin University as project partners; the project is led by the Burnet Institute). Grant: $895,346
  • “The multidisciplinary research Alliance on pre-hospital care for stroke” (The University of Melbourne). Grant: $1 million

Three other members of Victoria’s medical research community secured funding for the following projects:

  • “The Precision Medicine for Epilepsy project” (The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health). Grant: $999,956
  • “The Australian Lung Health Initiative” (4Dx Limited). Grant: $960,000
  • “The c-FIND: CRISPR Frontier Infection Diagnostics to Detect Infection project” (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research). Grant: $1 million

BioMedVic congratulates all funding recipients!

The MRFF Frontiers initiative fosters the development of cutting-edge research projects and, as stated in the official announcement, it can “transform healthcare and stimulate growth in the Australian medical technologies, biomedical and pharmaceutical sector, a vital part of the innovation economy”.

You can find the Health Minister announcement here.

BioMedVic CEO Jan Tennent features in expert innovation panel at Melbourne Knowledge Week 2019

This year’s Melbourne Knowledge Week, organised by City of Melbourne, has revolved around the many topics that shape the future of the city. Together with issues of sustainability, diversity, democracy and innovative design, the week-long event explored the role that technology and innovation play in making Melbourne a better place.

Jan Tennent participated in the “Health research and technology in the Melbourne Innovation District” panel discussion held in the fabulous surrounds of the heritage-listed Meat Market in North Melbourne. Moderated by Siegi Schmidmaier (Silver Chain), the panel also gathered Sabeen Shaikh (COO, Medtech Actuator) and Roanne Innes (CEO, Somatrack) to discuss the role of innovation districts in forming, influencing and sustaining a positive city culture towards research and innovation. Jan highlighted the importance of networks such as Biomedical Research Victoria for linking researchers and clinicians with industry, which collectively enhances research translation and innovation, and for lobbying the sectors’ views on science policy and priorities with government.

For more information on the event, please visit this page.

L-R: Roanne Innes, Jan Tennent, Sabeen Shaikh and Siegi Schmidmaier
Photo by Melbourne Knowledge Week (@knowledgemelb)

BioMedVic signs a joint statement on Health R&D

BioMedVic’s CEO, Prof Jan Tennent, has signed a joint industry pre-election statement on health research and development (R&D). The statement defends the need for industry-driven R&D and urges that the R&D Tax Incentive be preserved for the sector in order to reverse the declining trend of R&D investment in Australia.

Development of the joint statement was led by AusBiotech and has been signed, together with BioMedVic, by the CEOs of AusBiotech, Medicines Australia, MTAA, ARCS Australia, BioMelbourne Network and Research Australia.

Read the Media Release here.

BioMedVic and Osaka University collaborate on an innovative PhD program

Established in 2014, the partnership between BioMedVic and Osaka University (OU) continues to strengthen with the recent signing of a MoA to collaborate on OU’s new doctoral program, the “Transdisciplinary Program for Biomedical Entrepreneurship and Innovation” (TPBEI). The first of its kind in Japan, this innovative program involves over 20 organisations including four OU Graduate Schools, Osaka University Hospitals, the Osaka Prefecture Government, the Japanese Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, the Japan Patent Office, and industry partners such as Pfizer, Novartis Pharma and Shionogi.

A delegation from Osaka University visited Melbourne on March 25th to meet with Jan Tennent, BioMedVic’s CEO, and Núria Saladié, BioMedVic’s Engagement Manager, and sign a Memorandum of Agreement. The delegation included Prof Eiichi Morii (Dean, Graduate School of Medicine), Prof Yoshikatsu Kanai (TPBEI coordinator, Graduate School of Medicine), Prof Yasushi Okamura (Graduate School of Medicine), A/Prof Kyoko Hombo (Co-ordinator, TPBEI) and Ms Noriko Inoue (Assistant Director, Partnering Manager Global Health Initiative Graduate School of Medicine and Osaka University Hospital). The meeting was also attended by Ms Shelley Jackson, Assistant General Manager, Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade).

In the afternoon, the delegation was hosted at the Melbourne Town Hall by Mr Shane Mcilroy, Senior Business Development Coordinator, International and Civic Services Branch, who gave a short briefing on the ongoing importance of the sister city relationship between Osaka and Melbourne now in its 41st year!

The TPBEI aims to develop professionals with the dual ability to create innovative solutions to real-life challenges through world-leading academic research and apply those research outcomes to the benefit of society, while also developing their skills as entrepreneurs. BioMedVic is honoured to be the only TPBEI partner from Australia and will contribute to the curriculum and internationalisation of the program, with a focus on how cooperation between industry, academia and government nurtures entrepreneurial “knowledge professionals”.

More information on the “Transdisciplinary Program for Biomedical Entrepreneurship and Innovation” is here.

A delegation from Osaka University last visited BioMedVic in 2016; details about that visit can be found here.

Prof Jan Tennent and Prof Eiichi Morii after the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement

Eastern Health shines in research world rankings and helps to transform healthcare

Article by Ashlea O’Hea, Communications Adviser at Eastern Health. 

Box Hill Hospital (Eastern Health) came in at number 36 in the Times Higher Education global rankings of non-university and non-commercial research organisations: equal to the world-renowned Scripps Institute in the US. Box Hill Hospital was the first ranked hospital in Australia, being the second ranked Australian research organisation.

Times Higher Education (THE) is the UK’s most authoritative source of information about higher education. THE ranked hospitals and non-university medical institutes based on a weighting of the impact of their publications between 2013 and 2017.

“The result means the impact of Eastern Health’s research based on weighted citations is ranked highly globally and the highest ranked Australian hospital,” Eastern Health’s Chief Executive, Adjunct Professor David Plunkett said.

Eastern Health conducts research across all disciplines, with more than 600 trials currently active.

“Our success has been possible due to our multidisciplinary research strengths across medical specialities, nursing and allied health with a strong focus on translating research to improve patient outcomes. We have strong state-wide services research with Turning Point and Spectrum and an increasing depth of surgical research currently underway.”

“We have a proud history in research and innovation. We have always fostered a culture where ethical research is embedded in every day practice,” Adj Prof Plunkett said.

Recent highlights from Eastern Health’s research activity includes the launch of the DC MedsRec trial in March, which is a community pharmacy-based service for patients discharged from Box Hill Hospital with four or more medicines, designed to help reduce the risk of harm from dangerous drug interactions. The service is an Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) pilot project, managed by Eastern Health in partnership with Monash University.

Recent research has also contributed to community outpatient health clinics slashing their waiting times using a model of patient care known as Specific Timely Appointment for Triage (STAT).

The joint La Trobe University, Eastern Health and Department of Health and Human Services trial – supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council – resulted in thousands of outpatients spending significantly fewer days waiting to see a health professional.

Eastern Health and La Trobe health service researcher, Dr Katherine Harding recently received a prestigious Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) fellowship from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to do further work on translating the STAT model into practice for paediatric services. In addition, the team (collaborating with Dr Patrick Carney) has received funding from the Eastern Health Foundation to find out if the STAT model can be applied to reduce waiting times in medical specialist clinics.

Adj Prof Plunkett said he was proud of Eastern Health’s commitment to research and the impact it is having, and will continue to have on patient care and health outcomes. “Research is a vital component of providing world-class healthcare, and we are excited about what the future holds for us in this space.”

For more information about our research, visit

The Bio21 Institute

Article by Florienne Loder, Communications and Engagement Advisor at Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute. 

The Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute, or ‘Bio21’ for short, has a powerful founding vision, which is inherent in its name: a molecular science and biotechnology institute. It is a community of brilliant scientists, equipped with the most cutting-edge instrumentation, working together to improve human health and the environment through innovation in biotechnology and molecular sciences, driven by multidisciplinary research and dynamic interactions with industry.

In 2017 Professor Michael Parker took up the challenge as the new Director of leading the Institute into an exciting future, located in one of the great biomedical precincts in the world.

Professor Parker took the opportunity to reflect on what kind of Institute Bio21 is; its purpose and direction:

“Bio21 is not the ‘cancer’ centre, the ‘brain’, ‘infectious diseases’ or ‘sustainability’ institute; yet individual groups do conduct research in all these fields. From understanding how malaria invades the body, to what makes mozzarella cheese stretchy, or how organisms can adapt to climate change – the common denominator is the molecular science approach we all use to seek knowledge and solutions to problems in health and disease, environment and agriculture and more generally the biological sciences. We are the ‘molecular sciences’ institute!” says Michael Parker.

Bio21 is uniquely positioned with large, state-of-the-art technology to delve deeply into the structure and nature of molecules, from small molecules, to peptides, proteins, nucleic acids and viruses.

Collaboration is key

The Bio21 Institute was built with collaboration in mind. The architects built bridges across the atrium with break-out spaces to meet and chat. The Institute is home to groups across the three STEMM faculties of the University of Melbourne (Science; Medicine Dentistry and Health Sciences and the Melbourne School of Engineering). The Bio21 community also includes industry members, CSL Ltd, Prana Biotech Ltd, Circa Group and more recently, Rhythm Biosciences and SYNthesis Research & Med Chem.

One strategy that has served Bio21 researchers well is to truly seek to work collaboratively with colleagues within and across disciplines, in academia and industry.

Bio21’s success is reflected in a Nature Index survey of leading research institutions in Australia, where the Bio21 Institute figures prominently (see BioMedVic Nature Index infographic).

There are numerous examples within the Institute of collaboration that has led to truly innovative commercialisation successes, such as: Spencer William’s success with Fibrotech; Clarity Pharmaceuticals commercialisation of radiopharmaceuticals; Barnham and Donnelly labs commercialisation and licencing of a motor neurone disease drug with Collaborative Medicinal Development Pty Ltd (CMD); and collaborative work between Takeda Pharmaceuticals and the Tilley lab to show that proteasome-inhibiting cancer drugs can be repurposed to be effective against malaria. These great stories highlight the biotechnology aspirations of Bio21.

At the end of 2018, Bio21 celebrated the opening of the Nancy Millis building and Margaret Sheil Mass Spectrometry Laboratories. It is founded on collaboration between CSL and the University of Melbourne and now houses CSL research groups as well as Platform Technology facilities from the University of Melbourne.

Nancy Millis Building

 Bio21’s collaborations, span the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct and beyond, contributing to our success as a world class molecular science and biotechnology Institute.

Industry supported and embedded in the Institute

Bio21 is co-located with industry tenants. In 2018, the Bio21 Institute welcomed Rhythm Biosciences (diagnostics), and SYNthesis med chem (medical chemistry), two biotechnology companies, that moved into the Bio21 Business Incubator building (building 404). They join CSL (biological therapeutics), Circa Group (chemistry of bio-derived products) and Prana Biotech (medicinal chemistry applied to neurodegenerative diseases) as industry research groups who are part of the Bio21 community.

From the beginning, it has been one of Bio21’s goals to support translation and commercialisation of research and to provide a supportive ‘incubator’ space for industry research, whether they be start-ups or more well established companies.

Bio21 is an attractive location for industry groups for many reasons: access to our platform technology facilities, being embedded in a thriving academic research institute and in close proximity to other University of Melbourne institutes and faculties, medical research institutes and hospitals in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct in Parkville. But, it is often the intangible factors such as a collegial, collaborative and welcoming research culture that then leads to the flourishing of these groups in the Institute, as well as the growth of opportunities for all.

Platforms Technology Facilities supporting molecular science

The Bio21 research environment consists of well-resourced platform technology facilities that house powerful research instruments.

Some of our facilities represent the largest of their kind in Australia, with cutting edge instruments and led by highly regarded national experts in their respective technologies. Much of the instrumentation has been supported through government grants, such as the ARC LIEF grants. Bio21 has been likened to Dr Who’s ‘Tardis’; small on the outside but full of amazing technology inside.

Malcolm McConville, Associate Director Platform Infrastructure says: “The co-localisation of key technology platforms at Bio21 is opening up new opportunities for researchers, encouraging them to move beyond their comfort zone. For example, the co-localisation of the proteomics, metabolomics and lipidomics mass spectrometry facilities in the new Nancy Millis building, together with recent developments in the NMR and cryo-EM platforms allows researchers to characterise their systems, from metabolites to proteins and genotype/phenotype in unprecedented detail. Co-localisation is also bringing together expertise in IT, data handling and computational biology that underpin innovation and development across of these platforms.“

The Margaret Sheil laboratories in the Nancy Millis building house the Melbourne Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics platform and Metabolomics Australia platform, with a total of over 30 mass spectrometers.

Melbourne Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics

Melbourne Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics, with its fleet of eight mass spectrometers and seven HPLC instruments, as well as sample preparation instruments makes it possible to conduct proteomic, lipidomic and metabolomics analyses of samples, as a powerful way to identify biomarkers of diseases, as well as measure the impact of potential therapeutic candidates. A recent addition to the laboratories, through a collaboration with the Doherty Institute, is an ICP-mass spectrometer that can identify metal ions at very low concentrations in biological samples.

Metabolomics Australia

The Metabolomics Australia facility, also housed in the Margaret Sheil laboratories at Bio21, comprises the combination of high-throughput analytical technologies for the detection and quantification of metabolites in biological systems with the application of sophisticated bioinformatic tools for data mining and analysis. The most commonly used platforms for the detection and measurement of metabolites involves the use of gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, or capillary electrophoresis coupled with mass spectrometry. These analyses can be very powerful for biomedical and environmental research.

Melbourne Magnetic Resonance

The Melbourne Magnetic Resonance platform is home to nine magnetic resonance spectrometers, with a tenth one on the way for fragment-screening purposes. This suite of instruments includes 400, 500, 600, 700 and 800 MHz magnetic resonance spectrometers and a DNP solid-state dynamic nuclear polarization-enhanced NMR system to make increasingly sensitive measurements of samples from small molecules through to large proteins, in solution, but also as solids in more physiological conditions.

Melbourne Advanced Microscopy

The Melbourne Advanced Microscopy platform is bursting at the seams with high end electron microscopes. It is housing four TEMs, amongst which 3 cryo TEMs. It is also equipped with 2 SEMs and a dual beam microscope. The ThermoFisher FEI Talos Artica cryo EM has already led to a number of atomic resolution protein structures despite only being commissioned a year ago. Bio21 looks forward to new cutting edge technology in 2020 with the arrival of a 300 keV cryo EM and cryo FIB instrument for tomography allowing imaging of structures in their native environment. The Bio21 Institute also has several high end optical microscopes with confocal microscopes and super resolution systems as well as sample preparation equipment as part of the University of Melbourne’s Biological Optical Microscopy Platform (BOMP). A new facility will be built to house the electron microscopes and will provide much needed space and the opportunity for further expansion.

Melbourne Protein Characterisation

Bio21’s Melbourne Protein Characterisation (MPC), which is currently being established, will be a key resource within Bio21 for studying protein function and interactions as well as supporting the other platforms through the production of well characterised proteins for further analysis. The platform which is nearing completion in April, will be comprised of three facilities, to support protein discovery research: 1. Protein Production, 2. Protein Characterisation and Interaction and 3. X-ray diffraction. Protein Production will focus on insect and mammalian cell protein expression and is so far equipped with a Biostat twin control tower with rocker and cross-flow system. The Protein Characterisation and Interaction facility contains analytical ultracentrifuges, fluorescence spectrophotometers, UV-Vis absorbance spectrophotometers, isothermal titration calorimeters, circular dichroism spectrometers, dynamic light scattering zetasizer, biolayer interferometer, microscale thermophoresis, and differential scanning calorimeter. The facility will soon be complemented by Biacore surface plasmon resonance with funds from the recent successful ACRF grant. The X-ray Diffraction lab has been fitted out with a Rigaku Synergy-S X-ray diffractometer for both protein and small molecule studies and a PX Scanner. A suite of protein crystallisation robots will be added over the next year.

Systems and Computational Biology Platform
The major Bio21 platforms are supported by the Bio21 Systems and Computational Biology Platform and the Melbourne (Bio21) Specialist Store. The former has recently set up “Bio21 cluster 1”, a high performance cpu cluster with a total of 340 cpu core to support our platforms and researchers at Bio21.

Bio21 is growing

The ‘Bio21 precinct’ is growing its facilities.

With the ‘Stage 2C’ development to house CryoEM microscopes in the former Veterinary Research Institute and the newly established Melbourne Protein Characterisation platform, Bio21 is growing our already significant molecular science instrumentation capacity.

The Bio21 Institute is a wonderful environment to undertake molecular science research, equipped with a suite of platform technology facilities. It is however, the combination of these complementary technologies: for example, metabolomics using Magnetic Resonance and Mass Spectrometry; X-ray crystallography in combination with CryoEM and computational biology that often give us that extra insight, resolution, detail and data that allow us to solve the missing pieces in our respective puzzles.

Complementing each other the instruments housed in Bio21’s platform facilities, are an incredible resource to the biomedical scientific community within the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct.