Australian Research Council funds $23-million flagship research centre
The Australian Research Council (ARC) has announced the funding for its flagship research program, the ARC Centres of Excellence.
One of only 12 centres funded from a starting field of 103, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics brings together leading researchers from the University of Adelaide, Macquarie University and RMIT University for a seven-year initial funding period.
"Biophotonics" is the extension of photonics – the science of studying and controlling the behaviour of light – to biological applications. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics is combining expertise in physics, chemistry, materials engineering, biology and medicine to develop new science and new technologies for controlling the interactions between light and matter at the nanometre scale, which is the scale at which the molecular "machinery" of life operates.
The new tools, techniques and sensors to be developed by the Centre will offer new ways to explore and quantify the molecular structures and compositions within cells and tissues in the body with a sensitivity and spatial resolution not previously possible. Thus the Centre will position itself to address major questions in the biomedical sciences, such as the development of embryos or the origins of pain and sensation, leading to important outcomes for diagnostics and healthcare in the longer term.
The Centre is led by Professor Tanya Monro, an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow at the University of Adelaide, and has a team of nine other "Chief Investigators". Four of the Chief Investigators come from Macquarie University and are Professor Ewa Goldys, a leader in nanotechnology and imaging techniques; Dr Dayong Jin, recent recipient of an ARC Future Fellowship for his work on diagnostic nanoparticles; Professor Nicki Packer, world recognised for her glycomics and other biological research; and Emeritus Professor Jim Piper, an eminent laser scientist and optical physicist.
Professor Sakkie Pretorius, Macquarie's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), is immensely excited by the opportunities provided by the award of this Centre. He says: "As the leader of the Centre's NSW node, Macquarie University will seal its place as world-leader in the areas of nanotechnology, nanoparticles and optical physics."
On top of the ARC funding of $23 million for the initial seven-year lifetime of the centre, the team has cash commitments from the participating institutions and partner organisations of another $15 million.
The ARC Centres of Excellence program seeks to forge major new research collaborations between universities and out into the global research arena and industry. It focuses on funding transformational research that will receive major international recognition, address challenging research problems and build Australia's research capacity.