Medicine to grow on trees following award

14 Oct 2015

Taking medicine in the future could be as simple as eating a sunflower seed or drinking a cup of tea thanks to an award to a University of Queensland researcher.

Professor David Craik, from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), will grow medicines in plants after receiving $1 million from the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Foundation and trustee Perpetual, which he will share with collaborator Professor Marilyn Anderson from La Trobe University.

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“We are thrilled to receive the Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award for our work on using plants as ‘biofactories’ for producing next-generation pharmaceuticals,” Professor Craik said.

“This research has great potential to provide medicines inexpensively to patients in both the developed and developing worlds.

“However, this type of blue sky research falls outside the realm typically funded by government or industry so we are particularly grateful to the Ramaciotti Foundations for their support.”

The plant-grown drugs will be based on molecules called cyclic peptides that plants naturally produce.

Professor Craik and Professor Anderson will use the $1 million funding to establish the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Facility for Producing Pharmaceuticals in Plants, which will be based at IMB with a node at La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science.

Perpetual’s National Manager of Philanthropy, Caitriona Fay, said the Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award and other awards distributed by the Foundations were very significant.

“The Ramaciotti Foundations are collectively one of the largest private contributors to biomedical research in Australia and have provided essential support to some of our most remarkable scientists since 1970,” she said.

“We are very proud to be the trustee of the Foundations, which showcase the impact philanthropy can have on innovation, which is so important to Australia’s economic future."

Media: Bronwyn Adams, IMB Communications,, +61 (0) 418 575 247, +61 (07) 3346 2134.