New Victorian manufacturing facility at CSIRO Clayton

BioMedVic members interested in the production of biological products such as vaccines, antibodies and stem cells for clinical trials will be delighted to know that a new Advanced Biotechnology Manufacturing Platform will be built at the CSIRO Clayton Central precinct.

The facility will allow the development of state of the art, early-stage biological and pharmaceutical products in Australia, and will ease the process of manufacturing for a wide range of companies, including those smaller ones that can’t afford to manufacture their candidates overseas.

The new manufacturing facility will be owned and run by CSIRO. It has received substantial funding from several institutions, including the Victorian Government, MTPConnect, SIEF and NCRIS/TIA , as well as companies including Telix Pharmaceutical and Sementis P/L. This investment is expected to boost the translational capabilities of the biotech sector in Australia, help to increase the number of Victorian institutions doing clinical trials while supporting local jobs and attract more investments from Australian biotech companies.

For more information see the CSIRO Blog or the Victoria Government page.

Celia Vandestadt, former UROP student: “My UROP placement changed my whole scientific trajectory”

Celia did her year-long UROP placement in 2013 and it changed her scientific life. It gave her the hands-on experience she never got during her undergraduate coursework and prepared her for a PhD, which she is currently about to finish at Monash University’s Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI). In this interview, Celia explores what were the drivers, highlights and turns of her UROP experience.

Why did you apply for UROP?

When I came across UROP I was immediately drawn to the idea of it. I felt like it was important to gain a real-life experience into what being an academic would be like, because during my undergrad I only got some insights into it. But UROP was something different: it allowed me to embed myself in the lab and work on a real-world project.

Also, as an undergrad student, I was very pressed for time. I was dedicated full time to my studies, but I had to earn a living too. UROP was a unique opportunity to fulfil both needs, while also gaining an amazing lab experience.

Would you say UROP was valuable to you?

Yes! I did UROP in my last year of undergrad, so at that time it was extremely valuable for me to go through a real application process: writing my CV, preparing for the genuine interview process, and finally getting experience in a lab.

The UROP Conference was also very valuable, I still remember it! It was my first experience presenting my scientific research. It was a bit daunting, getting up there and talking for 5 minutes about my results in front of a crowd, but it was very rewarding. I attended the presentation skills workshop offered before the Conference, and that really helped me. I still use some of those tips when I write presentations today.

My UROP experience, with a genuine project and real-world work,
gave me the confidence to seriously pursue science.

How much has UROP influenced your scientific career?

My UROP placement changed my whole scientific trajectory, because I fell in love with research. Working on a real project sparked my curiosity, which led me to continue with that project through honours and, eventually, gave me the confidence to say “yeah, I can pursue this crazy thing called a PhD”. Because, to be honest, at the end of my undergrad I wasn’t sure whether I should pursue academia or find a job. My UROP experience, with a genuine project and real-world work, gave me the confidence to seriously pursue science.

How was the relationship with your UROP supervisor?

My supervisor had more of a guiding role and our relationship was rather informal. He gave me freedom to explore but also provided guidance when I needed it. He wanted me to go and get my hands dirty and find solutions to problems by myself, and then go back to him to discuss my results. Thanks to that freedom, I got to see how much fun wet lab work could be!

Would you recommend UROP to new students? What tips would you give them?

Absolutely. It’s a smart move for students because they will gain an incredibly valuable experience. In my case, UROP allowed me to really understand the techniques in the lab, which helped me to do well on my Honours and afterwards to succeed in getting a PhD scholarship.

My tips would be, firstly, to throw yourself at it, take it with both hands and try to get yourself immersed in the lab as much as possible. Secondly, to learn from people working around you, even if it’s just shadowing. Be curious about your research organisation and try to engage with peers. And finally, remember that you are not expected to know everything! So, don’t be afraid to ask questions or get things wrong, and make sure you speak up if you don’t understand something or if you need further clarification.

Would you like to become a supervisor?

Definitely! The questions and the energy that new students bring are so welcome in the lab. That energy feeds into what we are doing on a daily basis and makes the lab more fun. It’s a very positive symbiotic relationship between the the lab and the students, we all benefit from UROP!


Read more about the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) here.

Defence Research Funding Opportunity for Universities

Universities and Small Business are invited to submit research proposals in response to a new call for Defence Research that aims to find new ways to integrate advanced materials onto military platforms. Find more information here.

Applications open on 28 November 2018 and close on 1 February 2019.

Funding will be provided jointly by Australia’s Defence Science and Technology and the United Kingdom’s Defence and Security Accelerator. Initial funding of up to $900,000 is available under the Next Generation Technologies Fund through the Small Business Innovation Research for Defence (SBIRD) program.

For more details and the chance to speak directly with the SBIRD project team, attend the Information Session on Wednesday 28th of November at Engineers Australia (Melbourne). Register online now!

Cancer Therapeutics CRC signs agreement with global pharma heavyweight Pfizer

Cancer Therapeutics CRC (CTx) has signed a two-year research partnership and licensing deal with Pfizer. With this agreement, the global pharmaceutical gains the rights to two novel pre-clinical cancer programs that focus on proteins closely linked to the growth of solid and blood cancer. Exploring these programs could lead to new cancer treatments.

For these two programs, CTx received a signature payment of AUD$20M with the potential for up to AUD$648M for development and sales milestones, plus royalties on sales if program outcomes are commercialized.

“This deal, together with the three prior deals for CTX technology, has the potential to return a billion dollars to Australia. Funds that will help support the biomedical sector and that can be ploughed into new drug discovery programs”, said Brett Carter, CEO of CTx.

This partnership between the Melbourne-based CTx and NY-based Pfizer is the second significant preclinical licensing deal that CTx has completed with a major pharmaceutical company and adds significantly to the already impressive list of commercial achievements by CTx in recent years. The previous license with MSD (Merck in North America) was signed in January 2016.

BioMedVic congratulates its member CTx for reaching this agreement with Pfizer. BioMedVic’s Board is currently Chaired by Dr Warwick Tong, who until April 2018 was the CEO of CTx. Dr Tong is now CTx’s Advisor and Chair of its spin-out company CTx One. BioMedVic’s Board past Chair, Dr George Mortsyn, is also an Independent Director on the CTx Board.

More information can be found in the press release by Cancer Therapeutics CRC, and in the article published last Friday by the Australian Financial Review.

St Vincent’s Hospital and ShareRoot collaborate to improve ethical compliance in clinical trials

St. Vincent’s Hospital and the company ShareRoot have started a collaboration to apply the MediaConsent platform, a tool specifically designed to improve the compliance with human research ethics during clinical trials and enhance patient engagement.

More information is available here

Victorian Government Vouchers are Back!

BioMedVic welcomes today’s news that the Victorian Government is investing in the future of Victorian businesses with $14.5 million in new funding to help businesses grow.

Under the Boost Your Business program, Victorian businesses will be able to apply for vouchers to access targeted services from January 2018. The vouchers will provide funding for businesses to engage registered service providers to undertake activities such as developing new products, improving business processes and systems, identifying new export markets, undertaking research and development or gaining certification.

The vouchers will be available under four different streams:

The first round opens on 29 January 2018 and more information is available here.

The Regenerative Medicine Industry Interface (RMI2)

BioMedVic is pleased to be a founding partner of the Regenerative Medicine Industry Interface (RMI2).

This consortium brings together

  • Basic and applied research capability (Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University, CSIRO, The University of Melbourne) together with industry and networking associations (BioMelbourne Network, BioMedVic, AusBiotech) and an international technology transfer hub in partnership with the regenerative medicine industry.
  • Access to high calibre research students through the Monash University Graduate Research Industry Program (GRIP) for PhD students and Monash University Business School for Executive MBA students.
  • Commercialisation expertise and international access through a satellite hub of the Centre for Commercialisation of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM).

RMI2 is an initiative of the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) in partnership with Monash and Melbourne Universities, the BioMelbourne Network and Industry Partners, to progress opportunities in Australia through research excellence, highly skilled workforce and a globally connected platform for commercialisation and investment.

RMI2 is offering two industry-led PhD programs for potential students interested in working in regenerative medicine. See the ARMI website for more information.

Inspiring Research Career Paths in Industry, Hospitals & Academia

Congratulations to our 2017 Round 2 cohort of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

BioMedVic warmly thank our colleagues who volunteered their time to participate on interviewing panels and commend every student who applied to this competitive employment scheme.

We continue to be delighted by the breadth of research organisations that chose to employ a talented undergraduate student through the UROP scheme. In this round, the UROP@BioMedVic office matched the best and brightest with industry, hospital, MRI and academic research teams – reflecting Victoria’s vibrant and diverse health and medical research community.

The students will carry out research projects for six to 18 months, for at least 8 hours a week, alongside their undergraduate coursework. We look forward to hearing about their progress at the UROP Conference Day next year.

We wish all UROPs the best of luck!

Read more about the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) here.

All Eyes on Victoria at AusBiotech 2016

We’ve been busy in the lead up to the AusBiotech 2016 International BioFest conference this month, ensuring our researchers from academia and industry receive the attention they deserve. BioMedVic assisted the Victorian Government with the state’s presence at the event which attracted an estimated 2,000 delegates.

BioMedVic organised and managed the roster of the Victorian industry and research participants at the Government’s BioIndustry Exhibition booth.

Continue reading

Printing the Human Body

MEMBER FEATURE

ST VINCENT’S HOSPITAL MELBOURNE

Imagine replacing an amputated arm with a perfect replica, or swapping a diseased kidney with a freshly printed, healthy organ.

It may sound like sci-fi, but at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne a group of biologists, material scientists, biomedical engineers and robotic experts are coming together to make that happen. The Advanced Biofabrication Centre, launched in October, is set to take bionic research and regenerative medicine to the next level. Continue reading