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Queensland Celebrates Its 20th Mission to BIO

June 4, 2018
The State of Queensland in Australia has been coming to the BIO International Convention since 1999, with this year marking its 20th mission. This is because Queensland, with a population of 5 million people in a state that is 2.5 times bigger than Texas, has a globally competitive life sciences industry.

This year, the Queensland delegation of 100 business and research leaders is being led by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Innovation Minister Kate Jones.

One of the state’s big selling points is its unique biodiversity. Very few places in the world have such access to an array of flora and fauna and the potential for drug discovery. For example one hectare of the Daintree Rainforest in North Queensland is home to more flowering tree species than in all of North America.

Access to such a wealth of natural resources is driving some very interesting research in the state, from using the genetic qualities of a drought-resistant native grass to help world food crops to withstand global climate change to sourcing compounds from a sea squirt on the Great Barrier Reef to develop a new treatment for prostate cancer to the potential of a rainforest seed to treat melanoma.

The state is also home to some of Australia’s best science infrastructure – a product of key investment by the Queensland State Government during what is called the Smart State era – and with a bench to bedside ethos, including the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, the world famous Queensland Brain Institute, the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

This has generated some ground-breaking research, including Professor Ian Frazer’s work leading to the development of a world-first cancer vaccine (Gardasil) to Peplin and its treatment of skin cancer; Dr Daniel Timms, who is now based at the Texas Heart Institute, and his BiVACOR artificial heart research; and the needle-free vaccine patch – the Vaxxas Nanopatch.

The current Queensland Government is building on the Smart State legacy through a multi-million dollar program called the Advance Queensland initiative – investing in translational research, supporting industry-research collaboration, developing a healthy culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, facilitating strong commercialisation pathways, and setting up strategic partnerships with key agencies and governments internationally, including Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Siemens Healthcare – all with the aim of creating a dynamic economy with science and innovation at its core.

Queensland researchers are world leaders in viral, bacterial and parasitic infection, vaccine research and drug discovery, biochemistry, applied microbiology and biotechnology, molecular biology, genetics, animal science and zoology, and cellular and molecular neuroscience, with tropical diseases being a particular strength.

Queensland is particularly renowned as a leading research centre in medical imaging technology. The Translational Research Institute, founded by Professor Ian Frazer and located in the state capital Brisbane , is involved in an international project funded by the United States Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office to develop a new scanning technique that provides information on the impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on the brains of front-line soldiers.

The state also have very strong capability in pre-clinical and early phase clinical trials. Queensland hosts two contract manufacturing facilities in Brisbane that specialise in manufacturing drugs for early clinical trials: LuinaBio and Patheon Biologics – both of which are internationally renowned. Along with medical experts of global standing and specialised and dedicated infrastructure, Queensland has a world-class healthcare system, a strong intellectual property system, and Australia’s generous R&D tax incentive.

Queensland is also intent on growing an industrial biotech sector, looking to develop new biofuels and bio-industrial products from algae, green waste and sugar – one of Queensland’s biggest agricultural sectors. The state’s universities and research institutes are producing leading research and development on advanced biofuels, biochemicals, bioplastics, emerging specialised energy crops, and germplasm improvement, among a range of research projects. The US Navy has tasked the state with sourcing an advanced biofuel for its Green Fleet initiative.

If you’d like to find out more about what is happening in Queensland, check out the Queensland stand at the Australian Pavillion.

Queensland is also hosting Australia’s national life sciences conference later this year – AusBiotech 2018 from Wednesday 31 October to Friday 2 November. The Queensland Government is currently running an “Experience Queensland life sciences” online competition, giving a lucky winner the opportunity to see first-hand the unique opportunities that Queensland offers. The prize includes conference registration, return airfares and hotel accommodation during the conference. To find out more visit -