World’s smallest cheque could start something big

It’s believed to be the world’s smallest cheque at just 1.1mm by 1.8mm but it could lead to some of the biggest drug discoveries this century according to Minister for State Development John Mickel.

Minister for State Development, Employment and Industrial Relations

The Honourable John Mickel


The Minister presented the microscopic cheque for $6M to Griffith University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Lesley Johnson today, as part of a total State Government commitment of $12M to the construction of the Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies.

“We thought the size of the cheque was appropriate given that the groundbreaking research being carried out here at Eskitis is occurring at microscopic level – looking at cellular and molecular cures to some of the world’s most serious human conditions like neuro-degeneration, inflammatory disease, cancer, as well as neglected diseases like malaria and African sleeping sickness” he said.

“It’s also using revolutionary cell therapies to cure or prevent debilitating conditions such as spinal paralysis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”

Mr Mickel said investing in research infrastructure like Eskitis was essential to Queensland’s Smart State Strategy.

“Over the past six years the Queensland Government has invested heavily in innovation infrastructure, initially through the Smart State Research Facilities Fund and now through the Innovation Building Fund,” he said.

“Eskitis is also located at Brisbane Innovation Park adjacent to Griffith University’s Nathan campus – what we hope will become a significant cluster of biotechnology and life science businesses, and a base for biotechnology advances here in the Smart State.”

Minister Mickel paid particular attention to the Institute’s Queensland Compound Library, which has also received $3.5M in State Government funding during today’s visit.

The library will be one of the Queensland innovations on show at this year’s BIO2007, the world’s premier biotechnology conference being held in Boston, USA next month.

“I’ll be heading to BIO2007 with the Premier so this is a great opportunity for me to see just what’s been accomplished by Professor Ron Quinn and his team in just a few years,” Mr Mickel said.

“The Queensland Compound Library is an Australian first and it houses quite a unique collection of some 300,000 compounds derived from animals and plants found across Queensland, Tasmania, Papua New Guinea and China.

“What makes this library so unique is Queensland itself, our natural megabiodiveristy means we have access to natural compounds found no where else in the world – a scientist’s dream.

“We hope BIO2007 will signal the start of an international rush on the library and be the first step in many new cures based on natural products.”

Mr Mickel will also view the current work of the Queensland arm of the Cooperative Research Centre for Cancer Therapeutics using the nation’s only high content screening devic e – Opera – that enables scientists to run thousands of tests each day to rapidly assess the effect of different compounds on cell function.

“This is a great move forward in cancer research and a very exciting coup for Griffith,” he said.

Eskitis is also home to the National Adult Stem Cell Research Centre where Professor Alan Mackay-Sim (Queenslander of the Year in 2003) and his team have already received international attention for their ability to grow nose stem cells in the laboratory into many different types of cells, including heart, muscle, liver, kidney and blood cells.

These adult stem cells have the 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.

“The potential for international collaboration here is enormous and again credit to Griffith and its world class sc ientists who are committed to innovation,” Mr Mickel said.