New arrivals: Victoria welcomes global innovators from Denmark, Canada & the UK focused on industry collaboration

23 July

The secrets to the human brain, chronic inflammatory diseases and modern engineering challenges, including the key to making air travel faster and cheaper, could be uncovered in Victoria with the arrival of three international researchers from Canada, Denmark and the UK as veski innovation fellows. 

Associate Professor Roger Pocock from Denmark and Professor Colby Zaph from Canada, who have moved to Melbourne to work at Monash University, and Professor Richard Sandberg who has moved from the UK to work at the University of Melbourne, were all named as veski innovation fellows this week.

Along with their innovative research programs and strong industry contacts, the three fellows bring more than eight outstanding young researchers from their previous laboratories to continue their research in their new labs in Australia, which delivers a boost to the Australian economy of 12 bright minds in return for three fellowships.

Receiving a total of $450,000 worth of funding from veski and the Victorian Government, along with matched funding from their universities, the three new veski innovation fellows will be helping combat some of society’s biggest issues with a strong focus on translating their research into real world applications from revolutionary new drugs to faster and cheaper air travel.

In a virtual wind tunnel at the University of Melbourne, Professor Sandberg is using a powerful numerical code to leverage modern supercomputers and create a ‘time machine’ to reduce simulation time from 30 years to as little as one week. His aim is to develop models which industry can use in engineering ‘greener’ technologies, faster and cheaper air travel and improved heating and cooling systems.

Studying the brains of tiny worms at Monash University using an injection of a fluorescent jelly fish protein, Associate Professor Roger Pocock is focused on better understanding degenerative brain diseases. He is in the trenches building a foundation, which he hopes will one day hold the answer to treating diseases such as Schizophrenia.

Also at Monash University, Professor Colby Zaph is helping Victoria focus on claiming its share of the $70 billion global pharmaceutical market for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and immune deficiencies, including irritable bowel syndrome and asthma. His lab is working on defining the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control immunity and inflammation, ready for translation to industry.

veski chief executive officer Ms Julia L Page says there are both economic and societal benefits of attracting this pool of talent to Victoria and having these three international researchers in Australia with their strong industry collaborations and a clear focus on translational research will deliver big results for the state and the nation.

“Not only has veski and Victoria been able to attract three world-class researchers to Melbourne, we have also managed to help them bring more than eight of their colleagues, who are each leaders in research and will contribute to Victoria’s success in key areas including medical research and high performance computing,” Ms Page said.

Ms Page added: “This injection of talent will not only ensure Victoria remains competitive in these important areas of research but it provides Victoria with a solid foundation to support the development of our State’s industries including advanced manufacturing”.

The three fellows and their teams were welcomed to Victoria by the Hon James Merlino, Deputy Premier, Deputy Leader of the Labor Party and Minister for Education and leaders from Victoria’s science and innovation communities at an official event hosted by veski and the Victorian Government.

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