UQ scientists win $4.4 million in research grants

20 April 2018

University of Queensland researchers have topped the nation in the 2018 round of Human Frontier Science Program research funding awards.

Three of the four Australian university scientists awarded funding in the Program Grants category are from UQ, with their international collaborative projects winning collectively more than $US3.4m ($A4.4m) from the highly competitive global program.

The grants will help support the life sciences research of Professor Kirill Alexandrov, Associate Professor Claudia Vickers and Dr Taras Plakhotnik over the next three years.

Professor Alexandrov, of UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, is leading a team aiming to develop a novel approach for allowing electronic devices to directly control biochemical processes in living organisms.

"The proposed work lays the foundation for integration of biochemical and electronic systems, and may eventually lead to the rise of bioelectronic hybrids,” he said.

The UQ Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology’s Associate Professor Vickers is part of an international team studying how enzymes work inside living cells. 

“Thanks to this grant, we will gain new understandings which could allow us to improve the development of synthetic biology products for applications such as environmentally friendly biochemicals that have many different applications including fragrances, pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals and biofuels,” Dr Vickers said. 

UQ Faculty of Science researcher Dr Plakhotnik is leading an international team studying mechanisms for cellular communications that could lead to new ways to treat nerve damage.

“This funding provides crucial support to high-risk cutting edge research which is nearly impossible to get elsewhere,” Dr Plakhotnik said.

Human Frontier Science Program collaborative research grants support a broad range of projects under the umbrella theme of complex mechanisms of living organisms.

Twenty-three teams out of 612 submissions won Program Grants in a year-long selection process in the global competition that involved more than 50 countries.

Media: Dr Taras Plakhotnik, taras@physics.uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 9683; Professor Kirill Alexandrov, k.alexandrov@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 2397; Associate Professor Claudia Vickers, c.vickers@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 3958.


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