Science and Research Reports and Studies

The Department produces and commissions a number of different science reports and studies.

International Publications

International publications include:

International case studies

International science and technology (S&T) collaboration case studies include:

Heart tissue bank

Scientists in 11 countries have created an international heart-tissue bank to investigate age-related changes in the human heart.

The information and research from the heart tissue bank is shared among a network of scientists in 43 laboratories in Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, the UK and the USA. Researchers are analysing the heart tissue using genetics; more specifically 'gene arrays', a process also called 'transcriptomics'.

In 2009, about 500 scientists were involved in the collaboration, including researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia, and the number of partnerships continues to grow. Researchers from the Beijing University have recently joined the collaboration. The collaborating researchers have produced the most extensive data set for non-failing human hearts that exists anywhere.

Funded by the Australian Government and the Government of the Republic of France through the French-Australian Science and Technology Program (FAST).

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Oil-eating bacteria

Researchers are investigating whether bacteria could be used to clean up oil spills in the future (called bio-remediation). Some bacteria have the special ability to break down hydrocarbons, the chemical foundation of crude oil, petrol and kerosene. Petroleum-based products are the major source of energy for industry and daily life around the globe.

Using advanced genetic techniques, the researchers are investigating how these microbes work and how they could be harnessed to clean up oil spills in saltwater and freshwater. Many different bacteria, fungi and algae can break down hydrocarbons. Over eighty genera of bacteria use hydrocarbon as their sole source of carbon and energy.

The project includes field trials at contaminated sites in India and Australia. The collaborating partners are Flinders University and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia; and The Energy Research Institute (TERI) and Indian Oil Technologies Limited in India.

This project received funding from the Australian Government and the Government of India through the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund.

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Therapeutic contact lenses

Researchers at the Centre for Eye Research Australia at the University of Melbourne, the Bernard O'Brien Institute for Microsurgery and the University of New South Wales are working with the L V Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India, to develop a contact lens that could restore sight to people with damage to the outermost layer of the eye, the corneal epithelium.

The outermost layer of the eye can be damaged when alkaline substances, including certain fertilisers and ammonia-based cleaning products, come into contact with the eye. Using technology first developed to treat burns, the scientists are developing techniques to culture and then transplant the patient’s own stem cells to the surface of the affected eye using a specially-manufactured contact lens.

It is hoped this method will offer a cheaper and more effective alternative to current techniques for corneal epithelial transplantation.

This project received funding from the Australian Government and the Government of India through the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund.

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Breaking the bird flu code

The Australian and Chinese governments have established a joint research centre that brings together leading Australian researchers with internationally respected colleagues from Chinese and American research institutions to discover treatments for Avian Influenza (Bird Flu).

The China-Australia Centre for Phenomics Research is located in the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

The Centre is investigating the genetic factors that build resistance of animals to Bird Flu. This may lead to ways to boost the immune system against Bird Flu and produce new treatments.

The idea for the centre came from researchers participating in an Australia - China Young Scientist Exchange Program funded by the Australian and Chinese governments and managed by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

The Centre links the best of both countries’ capabilities, involving scientists from the Australian National University, Nobel Prize winner Professor Peter Doherty, and leading research groups from the University of Melbourne, University of Adelaide, the Monash Institute of Medical Research and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Australia.

The Chinese team is led by Professor Hong Tang, Director of the Centre for Infection and Immunity, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and Professor Hualen Chen, Director of the National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory in Harbin, and includes scientists from Nanjing University and Fudan University in Shanghai.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Michigan in the USA are also partners in the collaboration.

The Centre is funded by the Australian Government and the Government of the People's Republic of China through the Australia-China Special Fund for Scientific and Technological Cooperation and by the Australian Phenomics Network under the NCRIS Integrated Biological System capability funding.

This project received funding from the Australian Government and the Government of the People's Republic of China through the Australia-China Special Fund for Scientific and Technological Cooperation.

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The Australia-China Special Fund for Scientific and Technological Cooperation

The Australia-China Special Fund for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (the Special Fund) was established by the Australian and Chinese governments in 2001.

The Special Fund is specifically targeted at fundamental research and provides support, on a competitive basis, for Australian participation in scientific research collaboration with Chinese partners.

Since the Special Fund's inception, 116 projects have been supported by the Australian Government. From the 34 finalised projects, in addition to research publications, follow-up research and establishment of long term collaborative research networks, scientific outcomes include:

  • Development of a new shape-memory alloy 
  • Registration and worldwide recognition of a new timber and soil fumigant, replacing an ozone-depleting substance with an ozone-friendly substance in quarantine applications 
  • Development of a more effective method for removing lead pollution from waste water 
  • Invention of a more efficient biological control agent for protecting crops from fungal agents (this led to a patent registered in China and the award of a major Chinese provincial government prize to the Australian principal researcher) 
  • Advances in mapping brain connections and function with respect to studying Multiple Sclerosis 
  • A new gas turbine for reducing mine emissions and utilising methane as a clean energy source 
  • A method for organic and inorganic nano-core shell structure preparation (this led to a patent registered in China and has potential in areas including anti-bacterial, thermal conduction, sensing & biosensing and automotive applications) 
  • Clinical trials of potential treatments for diabetes and pre-diabetes conditions.

This project received funding from the Australian Government and the Government of the People's Republic of China through the Australia-China Special Fund for Scientific and Technological Cooperation.

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Boosting the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope

Astronomers from the Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organisation (CSIRO), Swinburne University and Curtin University in Australia are working with colleagues from the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) in Pune, India, to enhance the capabilities of India’s Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, already one of the world’s most powerful low frequency telescopes.

Over the course of the project, the scientists will demonstrate technology that will underpin 'next generation' radio telescopes, including the Square Kilometre Array, which Australia and New Zealand are bidding to host. The upgraded facility in India will be capable of large scale surveys for new pulsars and very short timescale transient radio sources and will benefit the international astronomy community, including Indian and Australian researchers.

In addition, astronomers at NCRA are collaborating with colleagues at the Anglo-Australian Observatory and the Australian National University to measure the amount of gas – the stuff from which stars are formed – in distant galaxies. While astronomers know that the rate at which stars are produced has dropped by a factor of ten over the last 9 billion years, their knowledge of the gas content of galaxies over this time is limited. Using optical and radio telescopes, the astronomers will measure the gas content of galaxies at a distance from Earth of between 2.8 billion and 4.3 billion light years. The project promises to open a new window of understanding on the formation and evolution of galaxies.

This project received funding from the Australian Government and the Government of India through the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund.

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Joint Australia-India Postgraduate Degrees

The Monash Research Academy in Australia, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay are conducting joint postgraduate degrees across six research themes: computational science and engineering, infrastructure engineering, biotechnology and stem-cell research, clean energy, water and nanotechnology.

Doctoral students enrolled in the Academy are jointly supervised by researchers from the Monash Research Academy and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) and receive a dually awarded PhD degree on completion. The postgraduate degree is designed to work closely with industry partners.

Students will conduct most of their research at the Academy’s premises in the Powai campus of IITB, but will spend around six months in Australia with their Monash supervisor. Since commencing the program in January 2008, the IITB-Monash Research Academy has enrolled 37 PhD students. It is expected that up to 350 students will be enrolled at any one time once the Academy reaches full strength around 2016. This project is building sound foundations for future collaborative research between Australia and India.

This project received funding from the Australian Government and the Government of India through the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund.

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Robot Soccer

Robot soccer is like a competitive field trial for robotics researchers, used to demonstrate advances in robotics technology. In 2008, the Robot Soccer Team at the University of Technology Sydney united with the team at the University of Science and Technology China (UTSC) to develop a joint software system for the robotics.

The Australia-China team made it through to the finals against Germany. The project required close collaboration between the Chinese and Australian researchers and students to solve a number of major technical hurdles in the development of the joint software system. The project continues to generate productive collaborations between Chinese and Australian researchers and students, symposia and journal articles.

This project received funding from the Australian Government and the Government of the People's Republic of China through the Australia-China Special Fund for Scientific and Technological Cooperation.

 

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