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Jumbo Opportunity Missed

Australia is missing out on a quarter of a billion dollars – the equivalent of one jumbo jet – in medical research opportunities each year due to a lack of infrastructure, according to 2006 Australian of the Year Professor Ian Frazer.

Speaking to a delegation of health science professionals, clinicians and industry representatives at Bond University’s Health Sciences and Medicine Research Showcase, Professor Frazer said that researchers are being forced to head overseas to develop their medical breakthroughs into commercial realities, costing Australia hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Currently there are no facilities in Australia which can clinically test and produce pharmaceutical goods conforming to Australian regulatory standards.

Professor Frazer called on the government and corporate sponsors to ensure the long-term viability of medical research in Australia.

“There are 700 small biotechnology companies in Australia developing products with no facilities to test (them) in a clinic to show they’re safe,” he said.

According to Professor Frazer, around $100 million needs to be invested in fermentation, bottling and animal toxicology plants to ensure that Australian medical scientists can develop their research so that it can directly benefit the community.

“The basic science is here,” he said, “(we) need to make sure that infrastructure to do the basic research translates and we have infrastructure to turn it into pharmaceutical products.”

Professor Frazer also highlighted the benefits of forging links between Australian universities and commercial partners to ensure Australia maximises its potential return on medical breakthroughs.

Dean of the Health Sciences and Medicine Faculty at Bond University, Professor Chris Del Mar, said that it was important to get students excited about higher education medical research degrees.

”We need to help industry and help students get research careers going… focussing on how research can be applied to directly benefit the community”, he said.

“Our ability to conduct research at Bond University is now stronger than ever due to our new, purpose-built facilities, significant investment in resources and equipment and research-active academic staff.

“We are keen to both partner with industry on collaborative projects, and welcome new higher degree research students to the faculty”, Professor Del Mar said.

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