10 November 2011

Stem cells may hold the answers


New therapeutic approaches to multiple sclerosis, diabetes, stroke and heart disease may be discovered at the new $21 million Stem Cells Australia research initiative.

The initiative, led by internationally-renowned stem cell researcher Professor Martin Pera from the University of Melbourne, is receiving $21 million in funding from the Gillard Labor Government through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Special Research Initiative in Stem Cell Science.

Minister for Innovation Senator Carr said Stem Cells Australia would keep Australian researchers at the forefront of a rapidly advancing field.

“This initiative gives our talented stem cell researchers the opportunity to carry out highly innovative, internationally-competitive research that could produce discoveries that fundamentally change the direction of health care,” Senator Carr said.

“It will also facilitate greater public awareness of the benefits of stem cell research.”

Opening Stem Cells Australia on behalf of Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr, ARC Chief Executive Officer Professor Margaret Sheil said the initiative would make an important contribution to life-changing research.

“The initiative could deliver stem cell research breakthroughs that would help ease suffering and save lives,” Professor Sheil said.

In addition to conducting leading-edge research and educating the public, Stem Cells Australia will take a leading role in encouraging public debate into the ethical, legal and public policy issues associated with stem cell science and technology.

“It is important that we explore all the issues, and understand the views of all Australians,” Professor Sheil said.

Program Leader Professor Pera recently led a major stem cell research centre at the University of Southern California in the United States.

The work of Stem Cells Australia will be strengthened through national and international partnerships, including with Monash University, the University of Queensland, the University of New South Wales, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Florey Neuroscience Institutes and the CSIRO.For more information about Stem Cells Australia, visit Stem Cells Australia website.

For more information on the ARC Special Research Initiative in Stem Cell Science, visit the Stem Cells page of the ARC website.

Media contact: 
ARC Stakeholder Relations
0412 623 056 or communications@arc.gov.au