Prof Dayong Jin

Image: Distinguished Professor Dayong Jin, ARC Future Fellow, and Director of the IDEAL Hub, in the lab.
Image courtesy: Professor Dayong Jin. Photographer: Anna Zhu.

ARC Future Fellow, Professor Dayong Jin, is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), and Director of the ARC Research Hub for Integrated Device for End-user Analysis at Low-levels (IDEAL Hub). Awarded over $3.7 million in funding by the ARC in 2016, the IDEAL Hub is the culmination of many years work by Professor Jin to put Australian biophotonics research into a world leading position, with strong industry partners.

 “The IDEAL Hub is the first Industrial Transformation Research Hub at UTS, and as a technology university, we do need this link with industry—especially with small and medium sized enterprises,” says Professor Jin.

“I am also particularly excited about the links we are making with the University of South Australia (UniSA). We have six Chief Investigators at UTS and five at UniSA. We also have a number of connections with industry growth centres.”

Researchers at the IDEAL Hub are applying biomolecular technologies to the early detection of diseases such as prostate cancer, which can develop for years before symptoms appear. The key mission of the IDEAL Hub is to build a portable device that can detect these diseases in a non-invasive way ‘on site’, rather than in a lab. Developing such a device requires next generation technology that is being developed in concert with the IDEAL Hub’s partners, including NSW-based biotech companies: Minomic International Ltd; and Surgical Diagnostics Pty Ltd.

“I had worked with Minomic International on a previous ARC Linkage Projects scheme grant, and they are successfully developing next generation biomarkers for prostate cancer. There is a new urine test being developed that uses hypersensitive molecular probes, called ‘superdots’, which pinpoint small numbers of abnormal cells with greater accuracy than current tests.”

Professor Jin and the CEO of Minomic International were among those who shared the 2015 Australian Museum University of New South Wales Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research.

Another industry-research collaboration is underway WITH the IDEAL Hub is the development of better technologies for roadside alcohol and drug testing, in partnership with the Perth-based company Alcolizer Technology. “Current tests are about 50 per cent accurate and cost $30.00–$40.00 each.  Within the IDEAL Hub, we are now actively assigning students to work with Alcolizer Technology to improve their technology,” says Professor Jin.

“The Industrial Transformation Research Hubs scheme is a very manageable size and funding is of a good duration for an industry partner organisation so there is less risk of losing focus or structure. The scheme is being closely watched by industry, who really care about outcomes when they put in cash.”

Professor Jin says that he encourages all his students to go out and make collaborations, both interdisciplinary and international.

“A good researcher thinks about collaborations and takes action to develop them as they build their research career. I know what a difference it makes,” says Professor Jin. “Often we don’t even realise that there is a need for some technology until we work with industry”.