Ancient medicine, modern advances combine at research symposium

Smiling, in front of banner, Queensland Minister for Science and Innovation, The Honourable Ms Leeanne Enoch MP, at the launch of the Gold Coast Science and Tech Festival
Queensland Minister for Science and Innovation, The Honourable Leeanne Enoch MP

New projects aligning Traditional Chinese Medicines with modern research and technology are the focus of an international symposium being held at Griffith University’s Nathan campus.

The symposium is co-hosted by Griffith’s Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery and the Shanghai Institute ofMateria Medica (SIMM) and was officially opened today (November 17) by Queensland’s Minister for Science and Innovation, The Honourable Leeanne Enoch MP.

Eskitis and SIMM have a long-standing research partnership within the area of Traditional Chinese Medicines, which are central to health care in China. The relationship was instigated by Eskitis Director Professor Ronald Quinn.

SIMM is a key research institute within the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and has a long history as a comprehensive research institution for drug discovery. Its priorities include finding treatments for major diseases such as cancers, cardio-cerebrovascular diseases, neuropsychiatric diseases, metabolic diseases, autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases.

SIMM also enjoys collaborations with partners around the world, including the innovative SIMM-Eskitis Joint Laboratory for Drug Discovery, which opened in 2014 and is already facilitating a number of joint research projects.

Ms Enoch said she was excited at the prospect of Queensland and Chinese researchers working together.

“The work of the Eskitis Institute and SIMM aligns with the Palaszczuk Government’s $180 million Advance Queensland initiative to develop a strong and resilient knowledge-based economy built on science, innovation and entrepreneurship,” she said.

World-class research, real world application

“Collaboration between scientists in Queensland, their international counterparts and industry is critical if we are to produce world-class research with real world application in the global marketplace.

“The partnership between Eskitis and SIMM on traditional medicine is an excellent example of what Advance Queensland is hoping to encourage.”

This week’s symposium follows the signing in September of a Memorandum of Understanding enabling Eskitis to access pre-clinical drug development facilities at SIMM, which in turn can use Griffith University for clinical trials in Queensland.

The partnership culminated recently in a prestigious Queensland-Chinese Academy of Sciences Collaborative Science Funding award totalling $250,000, jointly financed by CAS and the Queensland Government.

This project, Ancient knowledge, modern methods, combines the accumulated knowledge of thousands of years of Traditional Chinese Medicines with the latest drug discovery techniques developed at Eskitis.

The symposium will also open discussions on other projects, including the recruitment of Masters students into a potential PhD program featuring supervisors from Griffith and SIMM, and with scholarship funding provided by the China Scholarship Council and Griffith University.

“This is a win-win situation which will enable SIMM students to gain valuable international experience and for Griffith to have access to some of SIMM’s best Masters students to train in our world class research facilities,” said Griffith University’s Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Ned Pankhurst.

“This collaboration with SIMM is a very important one and Griffith is committed to growing the relationship.”

Guests at the symposium include the Consul-General of China in Brisbane, Dr Zhao Yongchen; the Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Professor Yaping Zhang; the Deputy Director-General of SIMM, Professor Yang Ye; and the Assistant Director-General (Science Division) of the Queensland Government’s Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, Dr Christine Williams.