New tropical health alliance to position Queensland as a leading research location

Treasurer and Minister for State Development Andrew Fraser will launch the Queensland Tropical Health Alliance (QTHA) and its new medical research laboratory at James Cook University's Cairns campus on Thursday July 14.


Mr Fraser said the Queensland Tropical Health Alliance would become one of Queensland's great scientific assets.


"Cairns is uniquely placed to lead game changing research in tropical health," Mr Fraser said.


"Geographically Cairns has access to a natural tropical environment that could only be replicated in most other parts of the world.


"This collaboration among Queensland universities and research institutes, creating a wealth of tropical health and medical research expertise in the tropics will set the region apart from global competition.


"An important component of the Cairns Plan is our Q-Tropics Strategy which aims to nurture, develop and consolidate a tropical expertise industry in Queensland.


"By building research facilities here in Cairns we will create a critical mass of scientific endeavour in tropical north Queensland."


In 2009, the Queensland Government committed $19.45 million for an interest-free loan to establish the QTHA, construct dedicated facilities and acquire specialised plant and equipment.


The University of Queensland has just announced it is joining the Alliance which comprises JCU, the Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University, and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research. This makes it a Queensland-wide alliance affiliated with all the Queensland-based research institutes and universities conducting significant research activities in tropical health.


QTHA Expert Advisory Board Chair Dr Cherrell Hirst said it was vital to have in place the scientific, research and development foundations to build a strong tropical expertise industry.


 "The opportunities are immense and there is a strong likelihood of long-term commercialisation," she said.


"Q-Tropics Strategy uses a private-public-partnership model to foster collaboration, supporting trade opportunities and business and industry development in the tropical sector, and, I believe, this will be the way forward for QTHA."


QTHA Director Professor Louis Schofield said the Queensland Tropical Health Alliance would significantly increase Queensland's research capability in relation to tropical health, making the State one of the foremost research locations in the world.


"By working together, sharing information and research, as well as sharing specialised equipment, what these scientists do will go a long way to helping us to defeat blights like malaria, dengue fever, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, cholera, diarrhoea, rabies, avian influenza, hookworms, blood and liver flukes, bat-borne viruses, and diseases that particularly afflict Australia's Indigenous people," he said.


"This work will not only help improve the health and well-being of people living in the tropical areas of Australia and our Indigenous people, but also contribute to the health and well-being of all people living in the tropics.


"And, given that half the world's population live in the tropics, the contribution our scientists make to tackling these diseases will be significant, not only in terms of saving lives but also in helping people pull themselves out of poverty.


"We have a particular interest in Queensland in knocking diseases like dengue on the head. In Queensland, this year has seen 55 confirmed cases of dengue in Innisfail, nine in Townsville, and five in Cairns."


July 14 2011


For more information or to arrange an interview contact Lisa Jones +61 (0)7 4042 1311 or +61 (0) 405620747 or email email/lisa.jones1)(

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