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Two QIMR Berghofer scientists awarded CSL Research Acceleration Initiative partnerships

Two QIMR Berghofer scientists will collaborate with leading global biotechnology company CSL on new immunological targets after being awarded Research Acceleration Initiative partnerships.

The head of the Immunology and Infection Laboratory, Professor Christian Engwerda, and the head of the Molecular Immunology Laboratory, Associate Professor Michelle Wykes, will each receive $500,000 over two years to conduct collaborative research projects with CSL.

As well as the funding, the partnerships also give the researchers access to CSL’s R&D experts.

CSL has awarded four partnerships nationally, with QIMR Berghofer receiving half of those.

CSL’s Head of Global Research Innovation, Marthe D’Ombrain, said Australian researchers had an excellent reputation globally for producing high-quality, novel research.

“The CSL Research Acceleration Initiative is designed to enhance research commercialisation through partnerships in promising discovery programs,” Dr D’Ombrain said.

“Through these partnerships, CSL provides valuable access to our deep R&D expertise and we work alongside world-class researchers who are at the forefront of innovation.

“Ultimately we hope that these partnerships will lead to a stronger pipeline of promising discoveries being translated into new medicines.”

Professor Engwerda is investigating an immunological target to improve stem cell transplantation and to treat autoimmune conditions and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). GVHD is a common and often-fatal complication of hematopoietic stem cell transplants.

Associate Professor Wykes is exploring a new immunological target for treating rare autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren’s syndrome, and dermatomyositis. Associate Professor Wykes and CSL will work to develop and test antibodies that could help treat these autoimmune conditions.

QIMR Berghofer’s Director and CEO, Professor Fabienne Mackay, said the Research Acceleration Initiative partnerships with CSL would help translate the Institute’s research into new treatments sooner.

“I am delighted that CSL has chosen to partner with two of our scientists on developing these targets and treatments for immune complications,” Professor Mackay said.

“QIMR Berghofer is strongly committed to moving our research from the bench to the bedside.

“CSL’s vast experience in developing new therapeutics, and the funding they will provide, will help us to move these promising projects closer to new treatments for immune complications and conditions.”

The other two recipients of this year’s CSL Research Acceleration Initiative partnerships are Professor Livia Hool from the University of Western Australia, and Associate Professor Mark Coulthard and Professor Trent Woodruff from The University of Queensland.