Leading researchers move to Victoria with groundbreaking results

11 September

Imagine a paint that prevents the spread of infectious diseases, a child as young as four months hearing for the first time or new drugs to combat a range of parasites.

These three scientific breakthroughs have relocated to Victoria with the 2013 veski innovation fellowships announced by the Minister for Innovation, Services and Small Business Louise Asher on Wednesday, 11 September 2013.

The three new 2013 veski innovation fellows who bring valuable international expertise, experience, connections and networks to Victoria are:

  • Professor Colette McKay a senior veski innovation fellow, returning to Victoria from the United Kingdom to work at the Bionics Institute as their Leader of Translational Research. Colette will work alongside Australian company Cochlear Inc. to translate her research into the automated programing of cochlear implants into the clinical environment; allowing clinicians to more easily open up the world of hearing for infants, children and adults.
  • Dr Ethan Goddard-Borger who was originally from Western Australia has relocated to Victoria from Canada. Ethan is a Laboratory Head with the newly established Chemical Biology division of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. His project will tackle a range of parasites including Toxoplasma, which can cause serious problems for people with compromised immune systems including expectant mothers.
  • Dr Luke Connal has returned from Santa Barbara in the USA to the University of Melbourne’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Luke works with some of the world’s leading companies to develop new materials to improve Victorian lives. His research is focused on the mimicry of natural enzymes to develop a range of materials from anti-bacterial paints to biofuels to detergents.

The veski chairman Professor Snow Barlow and veski chief executive officer Ms Julia L Page joined the Minister in welcoming Professor Colette McKay, Dr Ethan Goddard-Borger and Dr Luke Connal back to Victoria.

“The veski innovation fellowships embody Victoria’s innovation vision – they deliver new knowledge and applications that help create a healthier and more sustainable community, develop thriving industries and rewarding jobs, and lift the State’s productivity,” Ms Asher said.

“Not only has the Victorian Coalition Government and veski been able to attract another three leading researchers to join Victoria’s science and innovation communities, we have also managed to identify researchers with projects very close to being translated into commercial outcomes for Victoria,” she added.

Ms Asher also talked about the commitment the Victorian Coality Government made in the 2012-13 Budget to provide an additional $1.5 million to expand the veski innovation fellowships program.

veski chairman Professor Snow Barlow said the Victorian Government funding provides the ability to offer senior innovation fellowships which can often mean the difference between a leading researcher returning to Victoria with their research or not.

“When senior researchers like Professor McKay decide to return to Victoria they need extra support from government and organisations like veski to establish new laboratories, rebuild their research teams and secure ongoing funding, which is why this additional funding for senior researchers is so critical,” Professor Barlow said.

Since 2004, 18 veski innovation fellows have returned to Victoria with funding worth more than $3.7 million delivering a return on investment in excess of $45 million and bringing a range of globally competitive individuals to Victoria to work on important research into areas such as dengue and malaria, cancer, inflammatory diseases, musculoskeletal health and obesity.

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