Institute for Glycomics celebrates 10-year milestone

The Institute for Glycomics, a national and international leader in the field of carbohydrate science, will celebrate 10 years of taking Australian research innovations and expertise to the world, at a fundraising dinner on October 7.

The focus of the Institute for Glycomics’ research is to discover the roles carbohydrates play in disease and ageing.

Using this knowledge, the Institute is developing novel drugs and vaccines that interfere with the carbohydrate-related biological process of disease. It is one of six dedicated glycomics research facilities in the world.

This promises a new avenue for the control of a variety of diseases such as cancer, arthritis, autoimmune disease, food poisoning; and infectious diseases such as bacterial meningitis, tuberculosis, melioidosis, influenza and malaria.

Professor Mark von Itzstein, Director of the Institute for Glycomics, said since the Institute’s establishment in 2000, it continues to be a key driver of innovation in science, sustainability and biomedical research.

“The Institute has attracted over $20 million in income from various sources including the Australian Research Council (ARC), National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Cancer Council, National Institutes of Health (NIH), US, and the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR) over the decade,” he said.

“A number of world-leading senior scientists have being appointed to its ranks during this time such as Deputy-Director Professor Michael Jennings, NHMRC Australia Fellow Professor Michael Good and ARC Future Fellow Professor Suresh Mahalingam as well as very talented early career researchers. These appointments have consolidated the infectious disease biology research program of the Institute and bring outstanding translational outcomes opportunities in both vaccine development and anti-microbial drug discovery.

“Staff numbers have grown from eight members including two research higher degree students in 2000 to about 90 including 25 students currently. We anticipate by year’s end that the Institute will be around 100 members and that within 2011 we will be at full capacity of 150.”

Over the 10-year period, Institute researchers have mentored over 15 PhD students to completion, a number of whom have won prestigious research fellowships, gone on to university academic careers or moved into government or industry positions. Researchers have had their work published in world-leading international journals and have filed a number of patents during this time.

“Proudly the Institute, through its Executive Taskforce chaired by the Hon Rob Borbidge, has engaged with the Gold Coast community to bring about a better understanding of biomedical research and science in general. The Gold Coast community has provided on-going support to the Institute over the decade and the Institute and its researchers are very grateful for this community spirit and engagement.

“In recognition of both local and international supporters, the Institute has established the title of Honorary Fellow and awarded seven to date.

“The Institute for Glycomics is harnessing its expertise, leadership and collaborative networks to deliver world-class research and breakthrough solutions which are and will continue to benefit the Gold Coast and Australia into the future,” Professor von Itzstein said.

The 10th Anniversary Dinner will be held at the Surfers Paradise Holiday Inn. The dinner will be attended by Her Excellency, the Governor of Queensland, Penelope Wensley AO, Hon Rob Borbridge and Professor Gary Taylor, University of St Andrews.