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Global partnership to create home-grown vaccines

Queensland will become a major international hub for vaccine discovery and development with a global partnership formed in the United States today to help address the world’s critical health challenges.

Speaking in Boston during an international biotech conference, Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said The University of Queensland and Emory University in Atlanta have committed to scaling up their collaboration to focus on pandemic preparedness and regional disease prevention.

A UQ researcher using a bioreactor, one of the key pieces of equipment in establishing a vaccine candidate.

Professor Terry said the Brisbane-Atlanta partnership would bring together world-class researchers to accelerate the development of vaccines to help deliver commercial and public health outcomes.

“The focus will be on rapid progression to clinical trial of a scaled-up number of vaccine candidates for the treatment of Asia-Pacific region viruses and infectious diseases, along with pandemic preparedness,” Professor Terry said.

“This partnership will make Brisbane a centre for the Asia Pacific region and significant player of the burgeoning global biomedical industry.

“Biotech companies from around the world will be able to come to Brisbane to take advantage of the facilities already established and work with the 300-plus researchers associated with the Emory and UQ partnership.”

The partnership builds on more than a decade of collaboration in drug discovery between Emory University, UQ and QIMR Berghofer through the Queensland Emory Development Alliance, which was renewed today in Boston for a further 10 years.

Last year, global vaccine manufacturer Sanofi and the Queensland Government signed an agreement for the establishment of a Brisbane-based $280 million Translational Science Hub, with UQ and Griffith University as foundational partners.

“This exciting new partnership builds on the Sanofi Hub and will accelerate the number of successful vaccine candidates progressing into our Translational Research Institute. This is a crucial step in getting new vaccine candidates from the lab to the community in the shortest possible time,” Professor Terry said.

Speaking on the trade mission to the United States, Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the partnership would allow Queensland to take a greater share in the world’s multi-billion-dollar biomedical sector and builds on investments the Palaszczuk Government has made to grow this high-value industry.

“Partnerships like this one are why Queensland is fast becoming a global research and innovation hub, driving the development of ground-breaking new vaccines and healthcare solutions,” Mr Miles said.

“Importantly, it creates more training and knowledge sharing opportunities, and highly-skilled jobs for Queenslanders – helping put this state on the map as the place to work and invest in science.

“Government will continue to look to where the State can support local growth in these industries.”

Director and CEO of QIMR Berghofer, Professor Fabienne Mackay has welcomed the re-signing of the alliance.

“QIMR Berghofer’s vision is to build a robust health and medical innovation ecosystem to solve health challenges and develop future talents,” Professor Mackay said.

“This requires strong and strategic partnerships with leading international institutions. This a strong foundation towards that vision.”

Emory University is a world-leader in vaccine and drug discovery and works alongside the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in searching for life saving cures for the world’s most threatening diseases.

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