University of Queensland confirmed as leading Australian research institution

9 Nov 2005

The strength and depth of research at The University of Queensland has again been confirmed with the University receiving almost $36 million in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding announced today. 

UQ received the third highest amount of funding in Australia, following the University of Sydney and the Australian National University, with research projects covering areas such as using squid, cuttlefish and octopus to discover better treatments for chronic pain; better warning systems for tsunamis; enhancing Australia's largest literature database; tracking crocs with crocodile hunter Steve Irwin; and how to get bigger fillets of barramundi. 

UQ was the top Queensland university ($35.6M) and received almost 10 percent of the total national funding. In Queensland UQ won 68 percent of the more than $52 million going to projects around the state. 

The University also topped the nation for Australian Professorial Fellowships and successful Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities grants. 

UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor David Siddle said having 110 projects approved, worth almost $36 million, was an "outstanding" result and spoke volumes for the quality and standing of UQ's research. 

"I am delighted with the success of our researchers in this latest round," Professor David Siddle said. 

"We work hard and smart to back our top people by providing world-class facilities and learning environments so they can break new ground. 

"This is a truly outstanding result and affirms The University of Queensland as one of the leading research-intensive universities in Australia." 

Federal Minister for Education, Science & Training, Dr Brendan Nelson announced $370 million of ARC funding today, under a number of schemes including Discovery Projects; Discovery Indigenous Researchers Development; Linkage Projects; Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF); and Linkage International (Awards). 

UQ's success includes a record result for the University in LIEF grants where nine out of 14 applications were approved (worth $5 million), placing it equal first in the nation for the number of successful grants. 

UQ was also placed third in the country for Discovery Project Fellowships with 15 overall, which includes four Australian Professorial Fellows, the most of any university in Australia. 

Some of UQ's successful projects: 

UQ's Vice-Chancellor Professor John Hay, AC, is part of the innovative AustLit project, which received more than $540,000 in LIEF funding to develop specialist databases relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers, multicultural writers, and regional and colonial writing from Queensland and Tasmania. AustLit ( is a joint project of eight of Australia's leading universities and the National Library of Australia. It provides one of the world's most comprehensive online database of Australian literature from 1780 to present. 

Associate Professor Jenny Martin, from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience, will lead a $1 million LIEF project to establish online infrastructure to allow greater collaboration between researchers around Australia in the field of molecular and materials science. Understanding molecular and materials structure in atomic detail is vital to a knowledge based economy and a healthy society. Dr Martin will also lead a $286,000 Discovery Project to look at membrane proteins, which make up 30% of the predicted products from the human genome, yet little is known about them. By cracking this problem, new technologies and drugs may be opened up. 

Professor Craig Franklin, from UQ's School of Integrative Biology, will lead three projects worth almost $1.9 million. One Linkage Project will involve the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin to track crocodiles in remote regions to better understand the reptiles. Another Linkage Project will look at ways of improving the growth rate and flesh quality of one of Australia's premier eating fish, barramundi. The third, a Discovery Project, will look at ways to avoid muscle wastage from injury or space travel by studying a unique Australian frog that burrows underground and remains immobile for up to 12 months. 

Professor Jurg Keller, from UQ's Advanced Wastewater Management Centre, will lead a $1.3 million Discovery Project looking at using microbial fuel cells that can create electricity from organic compounds, to treat wastewater more cheaply and efficiently. 

Professor Maree Smith, from UQ's School of Pharmacy, will lead a $372,000 Linkage Project to develop an in vitro method to successfully identify novel morphine like strong analgesics with a reduced propensity for adverse side effects. This has the potential to improve pain management and to reduce the economic burden of chronic pain on the Australian healthcare system. 

Professor Rob Capon, from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience, will lead a $280,000 Discovery Project looking at the toxins octopuses, squids, cuttlefishes and nautiluses use to paralyse their prey. Knowledge of these toxins can lead to safer and better drugs for the relief of chronic pain. 

Professor Peter Mora, from UQ's Earth System Science Computational Centre, will lead a $275,000 Discovery Project to provide better warning systems for tsunamis. 

Professor Tapan Saha, from UQ's School of Information Technology & Electrical Engineering, will lead a $226,000 Discovery Project to provide planning tools to prevent system electricity blackouts in the Australian National Electricity Grid. 

Professor Matt Sanders, from UQ's School of Psychology, will lead a $263,000 Discovery Project looking at ways to reduce the emotional costs to families and children going through a divorce.