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National Grant Round Recipients for 2022

Congratulations to the 35 recipients of National Science Week grants for 2022.

Minister for Science and Technology The Hon Melissa Price MP said “Science plays a huge part in our daily life, even if we don’t always realise. The great events and activities in National Science Week are not only fun and interactive, but they can show us just how much we use science in our everyday life.

“This year, we’ve got a huge range of events and there’s something for everyone, whether it’s learning about the science of bush tucker, quantum physics, robotics or even how our bodies work.

Read the Minister’s press release.

More than $500,000 was allocated to projects from across Australia. The grant round was conducted by AusIndustry.

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Inspiring the next generation for National Science Week

Media release from the Hon Melissa Price MP, Minister for Science and Technology

A quantum technology road trip, robotics competitions and an inflatable digestive system ‘poo palace’ are just some of the science projects being supported by the Morrison Government’s 2022 National Science Week grants.

Thirty-five public science projects will share in more than $500,000 as part of Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology. 

The grants include funding for:

  • The University of Melbourne’s interactive travelling science and art show bringing quantum physics to regional and rural areas.
  • Student Robotics Club of South Australia’s Robot Scrimmage competition day where students can work together to battle it out.
  • The Hunter Medical Research Institute’s oversized inflatable re-creation of the digestive system where children can conduct interactive food experiments and learn about digestion.

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said National Science Week was a great way to encourage interest and participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

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Young adults with old knees: preventing arthritis after ACL knee injuries

Half of people who have ACL knee surgery get arthritis by 40, but exercise therapy study by La Trobe researcher / ex-AFLW footballer shows we can keep people active

Australians have the highest rates of ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) knee injuries worldwide, and young Australians are most at risk, with a 74% increase in knee surgery in people under 25 since 2000. Half the people who’ve had a knee reconstruction develop knee arthritis in their 30s, which means a less active lifestyle and potentially even a knee replacement in middle-age.

La Trobe University researcher Dr Brooke Patterson, a former basketballer and AFLW footballer, is driven by her own ACL injury to prevent the rise of this crippling condition and keep people playing sport for longer.

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Building a silicon quantum computer chip atom by atom

An atomic array in silicon paves the way for large scale devices

Video and images: direct link

A University of Melbourne led team have perfected a technique for embedding single atoms in a silicon wafer one-by-one. Their technology offers the potential to make quantum computers using the same methods that have given us cheap and reliable conventional devices containing billions of transistors.

“We could ‘hear’ the electronic click as each atom dropped into one of 10,000 sites in our prototype device. Our vision is to use this technique to build a very, very large-scale quantum device,” says Professor David Jamieson of The University of Melbourne, lead author of the Advanced Materials paper describing the process.

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Too much heavy metal stops stars producing

Stars evolve according to the elements they manufacture

Stars are giant factories that produce most of the elements in the Universe – including the elements in us, and in the Earth’s metal deposits. But what stars produce changes over time.

Two new papers published in MNRAS shed light on how the youngest generation of stars will eventually stop contributing metals back to the universe.

The authors are all members of ASTRO 3D, the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions. They are based at Monash University, the Australian National University (ANU), and the Space Telescope Science Institute.

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Closing in on the first light in the Universe

Research using new antennas in the Australian hinterland has reduced background noise and brought us closer to finding a 13-billion-year-old signal

Videos and images: direct link

The early Universe was dark, filled with a hot soup of opaque particles. These condensed to form neutral hydrogen which coalesced to form the first stars in what astronomers call the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR).

“Finding the weak signal of this first light will help us understand how the early stars and galaxies formed,” says Dr Christene Lynch from ASTRO 3D, the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions.

Dr Lynch is first author on a paper published in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. She and her colleagues from Curtin University and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research have reduced the background noise in their observations allowing them to home in on the elusive signal.

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2021 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research

More ‘good cells’, safer treatments for leukaemia patients – Siok Tey, Brisbane

Making a virtual human cell to explore how we’re made and how we can regenerate damaged organs – Pengyi Yang, Sydney

WINNERS OF THE NATIONAL STEM CELL FOUNDATION OF AUSTRALIA’S METCALF PRIZES ANNOUNCED TODAY

SCIENTISTS AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEWS:

Research to improve bone marrow transplantation and to use computer science to understand how stem cells work has won two Australian researchers $55,000 each in the annual Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research, awarded by the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia.

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More ‘good cells’, safer treatments for leukemia patients

Associate Professor Siok Tey.
Credit: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital

Associate Professor Siok Tey is researching treatments that will improve the survival and quality of life for her patients with leukaemia or other blood cancers.

“Bone marrow transplantation is an important form of treatment for blood cancers, but it cures only two-thirds of patients,” says Siok, a clinician researcher at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Siok will use her $55,000 Metcalf Prize to improve the outcomes of bone marrow transplantation, which rebuilds the blood and immune systems to protect patients from leukaemia relapse. Not all patients, however, stay in long-term remission, and the treatment often comes with serious side effects.

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Making a virtual human cell to explore how we’re made and how we can regenerate damaged organs

Dr Pengyi Yang. Credit: Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI)

 Dr Pengyi Yang plans to transform stem cell research.

“Today’s stem cell treatments have been the product of trial and error. My virtual stem cell will allow us to understand what’s happening inside a single stem cell that makes it decide what type of cell it will become, be it hair, skin, muscle, nerve, blood or other.”

He is mapping the many, complex influences that control stem cells and how they specialise into different cell types.

Pengyi is based at the Children’s Medical Research Institute and at The University of Sydney. He aims to remove much of the guess work from stem cell science and eventually stem cell medicine.

In recognition of his leadership in the field, Pengyi has received one of two annual $55,000 Metcalf Prizes from the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia.

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Faster treatments for future pandemics

Associate Professor Daniel Watterson, The University of Queensland
2022 CSL Centenary Fellow

Portrait of 2022 CSL Centenary Fellow Professor Daniel Watterson (Photo credit: The University of Queensland)

Associate Professor Daniel Watterson, at The University of Queensland will use his $1.25 million CSL Centenary Fellowship to develop new ways of rapidly generating treatments to respond to future viral pandemics as they arise.

Viruses have always intrigued him. “They are the most basic form of life, and can help us understand how life works at a fundamental level. We can use that knowledge to develop new therapies and vaccines to save lives,” Daniel says.

Over the past decade Daniel has worked to understand and combat many viruses responsible for human suffering including Dengue, Zika, West Nile and influenza.  

Vaccines have been central to the fight against viral diseases. But the challenge for many viral vaccines is to present the viral spike proteins in precisely the right shape to trigger our immune systems to develop a strong response.

Typically, when spike proteins are made without the rest of the virus, they lose their shape. Daniel is one of the three inventors of the molecular clamp, a technology that holds a virus spike protein in its original form so that an effective immune response can be generated.

He developed the technology working with Professor Paul Young and Associate Professor Keith Chappell at The University of Queensland.

“Through my work with the molecular clamp and COVID-19, I learnt is that vaccines aren’t enough. We also need the capability to develop new therapies to protect the health system and the wider community until vaccines become available,” Daniel says.  

He believes the molecular clamp can enable rapid development of such anti-viral drugs. “We’re taking a leaf out of how the human body responds to a new virus. It first creates antibodies that are broadly reactive and can actually prevent infection from a range of different viruses.”

“We’ll be able to repurpose the molecular clamp to identify anti-viral antibodies, make them in the form equivalent to that found when the body responds to a completely novel viral threat, and deliver them to patients using mRNA” Daniel says.

“The $1.25 million CSL Centenary Fellowship gives me the freedom to step back and take a bigger picture look at how we can tackle viruses. I believe we will be able to develop new therapies against emerging viral pathogens before they’re able to become anything like a pandemic.”


Photographs of Daniel Watterson

Portrait of 2022 CSL Centenary Fellow Professor Daniel Watterson (Photo credit: The University of Queensland)
Portrait of 2022 CSL Centenary Fellow Professor Daniel Watterson (Photo credit: The University of Queensland)
Professor Daniel Watterson
Portrait of 2022 CSL Centenary Fellow Professor Daniel Watterson (Photo credit: CSL)
Daniel Watterson
2022 CSL Centenary Fellow Professor Daniel Watterson at work in his lab (Photo credit: CSL)

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