Implantable chips and hand-held devices to detect disease, and satellite information systems for predicting disease outbreaks are amongst the technologies that will be developed by the Australian Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (AB-CRC).
The Hon Kim Chance MLA, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, today launched the Centre’s major research node in Perth. Curtin University of Technology, the Department of Agriculture-WA, Murdoch University and PathCentre are the WA-based partners in the Centre, which brings together five universities, eight federal and state government agencies, and six industry groups nationally, and three international organisations. The Centre also receives financial support from the Western Australian Government through the Department of Industry & Technology.
It is anticipated that over the next seven years the Centre will attract more than $8 million in external funding into Western Australia for new collaborative and multidisciplinary research and education programs. This funding will provide a major boost to the State’s capacity to protect against the entry, establishment and spread of emerging infectious disease threats such as foot-and-mouth disease, SARS and avian flu.
The partners will combine their resources and expertise, integrating the latest diagnostic, computer and satellite technologies to develop specialised early warning systems for the rapid detection and response to disease outbreaks. These technologies will be developed and implemented alongside new education and training initiatives.
CEO of the Australian Bioscecurity CRC, Dr Stephen Prowse said that in the future farmers at remote locations in Australia would be able to use hand-held devices to monitor and report disease. The device would also relay the diagnostic information to a government veterinarian, who can then take immediate action to contain a disease outbreak.
“Western Australia’s partnership in this Centre is integral to our goal to counter the threat of emerging infectious diseases to Australia by strengthening the national response capability”, Dr Prowse said.
The spread of new infectious diseases into Australia, through the movement of people and animals, viruses jumping from animals to humans, or even bioterrorism, is an increasing risk, according to Dr Prowse.
“The global SARS epidemic is a perfect example of the far-reaching impacts of newly emerging diseases.
“Experts within the AB-CRC, including Professor Aileen Plant and Professor John Mackenzie, both based with Curtin, have been involved in the global response to the SARS outbreak, under the auspices of the World Health Organization,” he said.
Partners in the Australian Biosecurity CRC are Animal Health Australia, Australian Animal Health Laboratory (CSIRO Livestock Industries), Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australian Pork Limited, AusVet Animal Health Services, Curtin University of Technology, James Cook University, Murdoch University, University of Queensland, University of Sydney, Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Queensland Health Department, Western Australian Centre for Pathology and Medical Research (PathCentre), and the Western Australian Department of Agriculture.
Associate and international partners are AGEN Biomedical Ltd, Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, Meat & Livestock Australia, Northern Territory Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development, PANBIO Ltd, Consortium for Conservation Medicine (USA), National Center for Foreign Animal Diseases (Canada), and OIE South-East Asian Foot-and-Mouth Disease Campaign, Regional Coordinating Unit (Thailand).
The Australian Biosecurity CRC is one of 30 new CRCs announced in 2002 by the Federal Government. The total resources of the Centre will be more than $60million over 7 years. The Centre has major research nodes in Brisbane, Geelong, Sydney and Perth, and partners in Bangkok, New York and Winnipeg.