Coffee, coastlines and a cutting-edge vaccine: Griffith’s Advanced Queensland trio putting state at forefront

Dr Fawad Ali and Dr Guilherme Vieira da Silva (third and fourth from left) receiving their Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships.

Three Griffith University researchers are among the 19 scientists who will propel discoveries in their respective fields by sharing in $5.56 million of funding. 

The 2023 Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships have been awarded to Griffith researchers: 

Dr Fawad Ali.

The fellowships are awarded to Queensland-based PhD-qualified researchers. 

The program supports researchers partnering with industry to complete original research that will have a positive impact on Queensland and is focused on establishing and/or maintaining meaningful collaboration between researchers and industry. 

A major component of the program is that the fellows must have an industry partner to conduct research that improves Queensland’s agricultural industry, health outcomes, the environment and renewable energy. 

Dr Fawad Ali’s project will focus on enhancing the variety and commercial viability of new ‘coffee hybrids’ he is aiming to develop. 

“This project will develop novel coffee hybrids for the distinct conditions of the Tablelands region in Tropical North Queensland,” he said.  

“The focus will be on new grafted coffee hybrids with lower nitrogen input and better flavour. 

Dr Guilherme Vieira da Silva.

“This has the potential to increase profitability and sustainability for the regional Queensland coffee industry, develop new technology and on-farm jobs, and create a prototype model of the distinct ‘Queensland coffee flavour’.” 

The project Dr Guilherme Vieira da Silva will work on aims to develop a coastal erosion assessment framework that will improve on and complement the existing plans and policies for assessing coastal erosion in both the short and long terms. 

“Queensland is the most vulnerable state in Australia to coastal damage, with the highest number – over 7,500 – of suburbs listed as ‘most at risk’, according to CoreLogic,” Dr Vieira da Silva said.  

“Among the top 20 Australian suburbs with the highest erosion rates, Queensland has eight. So addressing coastal erosion in Queensland is crucial. The City of Gold Coast has successfully managed the beaches using a series of coastal protection measures over decades.  

“This makes it the ideal spot to develop the coastal erosion risk assessment framework which will then be transferred to other locations along Queensland.” 

Dr Arun Everest-Dass.

Dr Arun Everest-Dass’s project seeks to understand how glycosylation affects antigens as this is critical for designing successful mRNA vaccines. 

“This research project, in collaboration with Sanofi, aims to develop a comprehensive approach to studying glycosylation in mRNA vaccines,” Dr Everest-Dass said. 

“We will use advanced mass spectrometry techniques at Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics to track these changes in a mouse model.  

“By studying how glycosylation patterns impact the immune response, we hope to improve the design of mRNA vaccines and ultimately develop more effective vaccines for various diseases.” 

The Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland initiative supports the state’s innovators and scientists to develop the products and services that will make Queensland a global industrial powerhouse. 

The Queensland Government has invested more than $53 million in the Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships since 2016.