Griffith University Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O'Connor has welcomed the announcement by Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, the Honorable Tony Abbott MP, of $22 million to establish the Adult Stem Cell Research Centre.
The new centre will position Griffith University and Australia as world leaders in adult stem cell research and develop collaborative links throughout the country with leading adult stem cell researchers.
The funding recognises the excellence of Griffith’s scientific and clinical research led by Professor Alan Mackay-Sim and Professor Peter Silburn at Griffith’s Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies.
The combination of stem cell biology and clinical science was a major factor in support for the centre from the Health Minister and Queensland Senator Ron Boswell.
The centre will be headed by Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, Deputy Director of Griffith’s Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies.
Last year Professor Mackay-Sim and his team showed that adult stem cells from the olfactory muscosa, the organ of smell in the nose, could be grown in the laboratory into many different types of cells, including heart, muscle, liver, kidney and blood cells.
These adult stem cells have potential clinical application in stem cell transplantation therapies and will be used to understand and ultimately develop treatments for brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone Disease and schizophrenia.
Griffith University Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor said the funding was a vote of confidence for the university’s already recognised world-class reputation in adult stem cell research.
"The Adult Stem Cell Research Centre boosts Griffith’s international reputation in stem cell research and complements Australia’s established research strengths in adult stem cells from bone marrow and the brain," Professor O’Connor said.
"It will bring Professor Mackay-Sim’s team a step closer to understanding and developing therapies for paraplegia, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease and heart disease."
Queenslander of the Year in 2003, Professor Mackay-Sim said the centre would improve the ability to treat diseases by growing stem cells and identifying the cellular and genetic causes of disease. This will lead to new targets for drug discovery.
"The centre will also supply specific cells for human cell transplantation and tissue reconstruction," Professor Mackay-Sim said.
The centre will reinforce Griffith’s links with national and international researchers and organisations. Collaboration within the university will also be enhanced.
"The centre will be part of Griffith’s Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies which houses powerful capabilities for high throughput screening for drug discovery and development," Professor Mackay-Sim said.
"This combination of capabilities at Griffith will provide a unique drug discovery resource in Australia."