An AU$10 million biopharmaceutical initiative with strong industry support will be established at The University of Queensland to train the next generation of scientists and enhance Australia’s capabilities in the pharmaceutical sector.

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) researcher Associate Professor Stephen Mahler will direct the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Biopharmaceutical Innovation, which has received AU$4.3m in ARC funding and AU$5.5m in cash and in-kind contributions from industry partners.

Biopharmaceuticals are drugs made by living cells for treatment of variety of human diseases including cancer, arthritis and infection.

“The Centre will focus on the development of new biopharmaceuticals and new bioprocesses for their production,” Dr Mahler said.

Industry partners include CSL Limited, GE Healthcare, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and Patheon Biologics Australia Pty Ltd.

Associate Professor Mahler said the Centre blends research excellence with industry partner experience and know-how.

“The Australian pharmaceutical industry exports products worth AU$4 billion annually, employs more than 15,000 people, and contributes significantly to Australia’s advanced manufacturing capabilities,” Dr Mahler said.

“We are very proud that the centre will be located here in Queensland.”

The Centre will fund 14 PhD students and five early career researchers (postdoctoral scientists) to work on research projects driven by the industry partners.

Students will work in industry and also take courses associated with biopharmaceutical research and development.

Students will also be trained in entrepreneurship, providing new graduates that will be “business savvy” in an increasingly competitive global pharmaceutical industry.

The Centre will be led by UQ’s AIBN, and will involve the University’s Institute of Molecular Bioscience, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and School of Chemical Engineering.

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