The Australian Synchrotron is one of the most significant pieces of scientific infrastructure to be built in Australia, helping to provide breakthroughs in important research such as cancer treatment.
2008-02-12 - Australian Synchrotron Breaks New Ground
A new era in Australian research into chronic diseases like cancer started today at the Australian Synchrotron, with construction beginning on a new $10 million facility for advanced medical research
Minister for Innovation, Gavin Jennings, said the new beamline would be the first at the centre to be used for research into new techniques for medical diagnosis and therapy
“This new beamline, one of the first in the world, will be the centrepiece of the Imaging and Medical Therapy centre,” Mr Jennings said.
“Opening in late 2008, the new Imaging and Medical Therapy Centre will use synchrotron x-rays to advance studies in biological, medical and industrial sciences.
“It will lead to major advances in medical, biomedical and industrial imaging and importantly assist with the development and delivery of new cancer treatments.”
Health Minister Daniel Andrews said cancer was the leading cause of death for Victorians, with one in three affected by the disease.
“The new beamline will continue to foster Victoria’s international reputation in cancer research,” Mr Andrews said.
“This initiative shows that Victorians can be confident that the Government is committed to improving cancer services and building on Victoria’s status as a world-class centre for research and cancer treatment excellence.”
Mr Andrews said that while cancer survival had increased from 48 per cent in 1990 to 61 per cent in 2004 in Victoria, the government would continue to work on finding new treatments.
“Since 2000 this Government has committed nearly $700 million in medical research to create world class research facilities, including $25 million towards establishing the Olivia Newton John Cancer Treatment and Research Centre at the Austin Hospital,” Mr Andrews said.
“The Government’s Victorian Cancer Agency Consultative Council was created last year to help turn laboratory breakthroughs into improved treatments.
“We’ve also appointed leading cancer surgeon Professor Robert Thomas as the state’s first Chief Clinical Advisor for Cancer and announced several exciting initiatives including $5 million planning money for a world-class cancer precinct at Parkville.
“We have also instituted new regulations around the use of solariums that will save the lives of Victorians and announced nearly $6 million in research grants for 2007/08, nearly three times the allocation last year.”
Mr Jennings said that in addition to pioneering new treatments for cancer, the Imaging and Medical Therapy Centre would further medical research that could help premature babies.
“Synchrotron x-rays allow our leading scientists to see for the first time what happens when mammals take their first breath,” Mr Jennings said.
“It’s not well understood how our lungs go from a fluid to an aerated state when we are born and for premature babies, this process can be problematic due to the immaturity of their lungs.
“Through the examination of lungs in animals, the Synchrotron will enable us to build a model that will help take the guesswork out of ventilation in humans in to the future.”
Professor Tony Burgess from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research said the new facility will lead to major breakthroughs for Australian biomedical science.
“Having this facility on our own soil will not only speed up existing research, it will allow many more medical researchers to access these tools for the first time,” he said.
Mr Jennings said the $220 million Australian Synchrotron’s wide-ranging applicability to medial research, aeronautics, materials engineering, agriculture and general biology made it a key part of Australia’s innovation future.
“Since the Australian Synchrotron officially opened in July 2007, Australian and international scientists have used the facility’s unique research capabilities to examine a wide range of biological, geological and engineering samples,” Mr Jennings said.
“Many have already made significant advances in important fields such as climate change, in-vitro fertilisation, mineral processing and the development of new medical drugs.
“The Synchrotron is also being used remotely by school physics students to study light ensuring as many Australians as possible are benefiting from this world class research facility.”
Catherine Walter, Chair of the Australian Synchrotron Company, said today’s announcement was an important milestone in the development of the facility.
“We already have a world-class synchrotron. This new development has the potential to take us to the forefront of biomedical research and position us within the top three synchrotron facilities world-wide in this field,” Ms Walter said.
Mr Jennings said today’s announcement at the Australian Synchrotron was part of a two day Cabinet Forum to focus on Victoria’s biotechnology and medical research sector.
“The Victorian Government’s Biotechnology Strategic Development Plan aims to position the State among the world’s top five destinations for biotechnology by 2010,” Mr Jennings said.
“The Plan’s targets include seeing 10 firms achieve market capitalisation in excess of $250 million and the sector to have raised $1 billion in capital by 2010.”
2007-10-12 - Call For Next Experiments At The Synchrotron
The Minister for Innovation, Gavin Jennings, today invited researchers from Australia and New Zealand to submit proposals for the second round of experiments at the Australian Synchrotron.
Mr Jennings said scientists could apply to undertake research on five beamlines from January 2008.
“The Australian Synchrotron aims to become a national hub for medical and scientific innovation that leading researchers from across Australia can use,” Mr Jennings said.
“The first round of experiments are already underway and helping push the boundaries of scientific research.
“These scientists are already getting results, advancing their knowledge and training up new synchrotron users.”
Mr Jennings said the Australian Synchrotron had already helped scientists achieve several breakthroughs, including visualising the molecular ‘suicide switch’ for the first time which will help cancer researchers pioneer new treatments.
“A team from Queensland University’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience have also used the synchrotron to investigate a protein from the bacterium that causes cholera,” he said.
“And a team from Monash University have investigated proteins important in immune defence, influenza and tuberculosis.
“All these researchers are delighted with the quality of the data they collected and the progress they have made using the Australian Synchrotron.”
Beamtime is available on five beamlines in January: infrared; powder diffraction; protein crystallography; soft x-ray; x-ray absorbtion spectroscopy.
Applications for the second round of research proposals are open till 29 October 2007. Successful projects will be announced in December.
2007-09-06 - Synchrotron Spurs Scientific Research In Schools
Premier John Brumby today launched the Australian Synchrotron’s Educational Virtual Beamline to help students study the nature of light using the Synchrotron, from their classroom.
The new initiative allowed Year 12 physics students at Williamstown High School to connect via computer to a Synchrotron beamline. Students then manipulated the equipment for their experiments and gathered images and light intensity data.
“The Australian Synchrotron is already contributing to major research breakthroughs in Australia,” Mr Brumby said.
“In a first for Australia, we are now opening up this major national research facility and making it a virtual physics laboratory for every high school in Victoria.
“The powerful light of the Synchrotron has already helped break new ground in cancer research, the first of many new discoveries Australia’s leading scientists could make using this world-class infrastructure.
“By enabling students to use the Synchrotron we hope to inspire the researchers of tomorrow and continue world-leading, pioneering research.”
Mr Brumby said schools will be able to register online, book time for experiments, and give more than 6000 Victorian physics students the opportunity to work with a light source among the brightest in the world.
“The experiment the students undertake using the Synchrotron – the Young Experiment – was first performed in 1880 to discover the wave properties of light,” Mr Brumby said.
“Studying the dual properties of light is one of the basic building blocks of scientific research which is why it is part of the core physics curriculum.
“Outside the classroom, studying light has helped understand the stars, led to medical discoveries such as the x-ray and fostered inventions such as lasers which have revolutionised telecommunications.
“Victoria needs bright minds to build a brilliant future. By bringing the Australian Synchrotron into students’ own classrooms we hope to inspire the next generation of scientific researchers.”
Innovation Minister Gavin Jennings said the Educational Virtual Beamline was more than a teaching tool and would lead to ‘eResearch’ at the Australian Synchrotron.
“This project uses technology which could lead to remotely-controlled experiments on the Synchrotron’s other beamlines,” Mr Jennings said.
“Eventually we want to make it possible for scientists anywhere in Australia to send their samples to the Synchrotron and control sophisticated experiments and capture data remotely.
2007-08-27 - Victoria Leads The Nation In Research And Development
Innovation Minister Gavin Jennings welcomed today’s ABS statistics which showed Victoria has the highest rate of growth in investment in research and development since 2004-05.
Today’s report Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia, 2005-06 (cat. no. 8104.0) said:
“While all states and territories reported increased expenditure on R&D, growth since 2004-05 was strongest in Victoria (up $541.7 million) and Western Australia ($392.7 million).”
"Victoria's results are fantastic, particularly considering we are a non-resource state,” Mr Jennings said.
“Since 2000, the Victorian Government has developed a $1.8 billion Innovation Agenda, the largest such commitment for any State Government.
“Some of the initiatives backed by this investment include the Australian Synchrotron, Australia’s largest piece of R&D infrastructure in decades, and the $103.5 million Energy Technology Innovation Strategy focusing on low emissions technologies.
“The Innovation Agenda also focuses on Victoria’s established strengths in biotechnology, nanotechnology, polymer chemistry, energy and environmental technologies.
“As a result, Victoria has achieved global top-five leadership in areas like stem cell research, cancer research, diabetes and neuroscience, and is one of only three cities in the world with two universities in global top 20 biomedicine rankings.
“The Victorian Government has led the way in fostering innovation in Victoria, and it’s great to see businesses increasing their commitment to this important area of economic growth.”
2007-08-24 - Synchrotron Breakthrough Takes Science Closer To New Cancer Treatments
Scientists using the Australian Synchrotron have achieved a medical imaging breakthrough which could lead to the development of new cancer treatments, Premier John Brumby announced today.
Scientists from The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) have observed for the first time how the molecular ‘suicide switch’ regulating the life span of normal cells is flipped.
By seeing the actual mechanism, researchers can now develop new drugs and treatments that effectively flip the ‘cell suicide’ switch back on, enabling infected cells to die and stopping the disease in its tracks.
“The Australian Synchrotron has enabled scientists to confirm what was only theory until now,” Mr Brumby said.
“For the first time, Australian scientists can see how this key protein in infected cells has its molecular ‘suicide’ switch turned off.
“This medical imaging breakthrough now enables scientists to more effectively develop new drugs or therapies that can turn this switch back on.
“Seeing precisely how the switch is made and flipped is an important milestone on the long journey to anti-cancer drug development.”
Mr Brumby said development of drugs that can flip such switches to kill cancer cells is underway in Melbourne and in drug companies around the world.
“In time, important cancer therapies may be developed from the WEHI team’s insight and the proof provided by the Australian Synchrotron,” Mr Brumby said.
Innovation Minister Gavin Jennings congratulated the WEHI team on its ground-breaking insight.
“The WEHI team had the theory, and the Australian Synchrotron enabled them to actually see the molecules and learn how they work,” said Mr Jennings.
“This is a tremendous example of what Victoria’s world-class scientists can achieve using Victoria’s world class scientific infrastructure.
“It’s an illustration of how Victoria’s commitment to, and investment in, infrastructure can enable breakthroughs which ultimately may help millions of cancer sufferers in Victoria and around the world.”
WEHI’s Dr Mark Kvansakul said finding the molecular switch and establishing how to flip it on or off was an essential step in discovering new drugs and therapies for diseases like cancer.
“The visualised molecular switch regulates the normal and healthy process of cell death, whereby cells that are damaged or no longer needed are induced to self-destruct,” Dr Kvansakul said.
“Unfortunately, the cell death switch can be hijacked in a virus-infected cell or a cancer cell, preventing the rogue cell from dying on cue.
“The dangerous cells can then accumulate within the body and cause a disease such as cancer.”
Mr Jennings said the $207 million Australian Synchrotron is a source of powerful light that scientists can use to assess the structure of materials at the minute molecular level.
“Thy Synchrotron will help foster innovation in the life sciences and physical technologies,” Mr Jennings said.
“As we have seen today, it will help scientists produce better medical images, develop new medicines and continue to be at the forefront of medical research.
“The Synchrotron will also allow more accurate forensic examinations, produce more powerful computer chips, find new ways to extract metal from ores, make stronger building materials and monitor pollution.”
The Victorian Government contributed $157.2 million to fully fund the cost of the Synchrotron machine and building, and has invested more than $265 million in cancer research programs and infrastructure supporting cancer research since 2000.
2007-07-31 - Victorian Science’s Shining Light Open For Business
The Premier, John Brumby, today officially opened the Australian Synchrotron at Clayton, heralding a new era for scientific research in Australia.
“Australian scientists already punch above their weight, but this facility means we can expand into new areas, finding solutions to modern problems,” Mr Brumby said.
“Now that this project is up and running an extra $110 million a year is expected to flow into to the national economy, creating an extra 2500 direct and indirect jobs.”
The $207 million synchrotron is a source of powerful light that scientists can use to assess the structure of materials at the minute molecular level.
It can be used to produce new medicines, allow more accurate forensic examinations, produce more powerful computer chips, find new ways to extract metal from ores, make stronger building materials and monitor pollution.
Mr Brumby said the synchrotron was the most significant scientific project built in Australia for at least 20 years and marked a new era of national collaboration in science and technology.
Commonwealth Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop, joined Mr Brumby unveiling a plaque marking the occasion.
Five State Governments, the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments, 25 Australian universities, CSIRO, ANSTO and other research institutions have come together to fund this unique research platform that will drive Australian innovation for years to come.
The Minister for Major Projects, Theo Theophanous, said that the Australian Synchrotron demonstrated Victoria’s ability to build large and technically demanding infrastructure.
“Major Projects Victoria and its contractors have done a magnificent job, delivering a highly complex facility in record time and on budget,” Mr Theophanous said.
“Firms from around the world, including over 100 from Victoria, have helped to build the new Australian Synchrotron which is regarded as one of the top ten synchrotrons in the world.”
Mr Brumby said scientists had submitted a number of applications to use the facility which were currently being assessed by a panel of experts.
“The Synchrotron is ready for business and soon Australia’s best and brightest researchers will be able to benefit from using one of the top ten synchrotrons in the world.
“It could even help to save an Australian icon – the Tasmanian Devil.”
Dr Jeff Church from CSIRO plans to use the synchrotron to combat the Devil Facial Tumour Disease – a horrific facial tumour that has killed thousands of devils.
“Only synchrotron light is powerful enough to detect minute changes in hair composition and an infrared beamline in Melbourne instead of 20 hours’ flight away makes this research possible,” Dr Church said.
“We hope to use the synchrotron to help develop a quick, inexpensive diagnostic test that can be carried out on captured animals in the field.”
Mr Brumby also announced that Catherine Walter would chair the Australian Synchrotron Company, which will oversee operation and development of facility.
She is currently Chairman of Equipsuper, a Director of Orica, James Hardie, Australian Foundation Investment Company, Melbourne Business School and Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, and also a member of the Federal Government’s Financial Reporting Council. Previously Ms Walter was Managing Partner of the Melbourne Office of Clayton Utz
2007-07-30 - Leading Scientist To Advise On Directions In Energy
Minister for Energy and Resources Peter Batchelor today announced the appointment of leading energy researcher Professor Frank Larkins to the newly created position of Chief Scientist (Energy) with the Department of Primary Industries.
He said the appointment came at an important time for energy research and policy development both locally and internationally.
“The Victorian Government is committed to establishing Victoria as a global leader in the development of sustainable energy technologies and policies, and to do this we need the best advice and expertise,” Mr Batchelor said.
“Professor Larkins is well known for his extensive research and advisory roles in energy and related fields over a career that spans more than 30 years.
“His experience and knowledge will be vital in helping steer Victoria towards developing sustainable energy solutions and policies.”
Mr Batchelor said the role of Chief Scientist was created to provide strategic and policy advice to his office and to the Department of Primary Industry following the transfer of responsibility for energy and resources from the Department of Infrastructure to the Department of Primary Industries.
Since January 2006, Professor Larkins has held the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International) at the University of Melbourne, previously serving as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) from 1990 until 2005. He has held the position of Professor of Chemistry at the University since 1990.
Professor Larkins currently chairs several committees including the National Synchrotron Scientific Advisory Committee and International Synchrotron Scientific Advisory Committee and is a member of the Victorian Knowledge Innovation Science and Engineering Council.
He has also been a member of the Victorian Government’s Brown Coal Research and Development Advisory Committee, and the Federal Government’s Energy Research Development and Demonstration Council.
Professor Larkins said he was pleased to be joining DPI at a crucial time for the energy sector.
“The whole world is looking for ways to provide for our energy needs in a sustainable and responsible manner,” Professor Larkins said.
“Victoria has an international reputation for quality and innovative work in scientific fields, including Australia’s first carbon storage trial being conducted in the Otway Basin and significantly contributing to the international understanding of geosequestration.
“The world will be watching Victoria as we tackle the substantial challenge of finding energy solutions that have lower emissions, are renewable and help address issues such as climate change and green house gases.
“There is a lot of scientific and policy talent in Victoria working in the energy field and I am looking forward to working with them to ensure Victoria has a clear, strategic approach to addressing these energy issues.”
2007-07-27 - Australian Synchrotron Pact With Taiwan
The Minister for Innovation, John Brumby, today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote scientific collaboration between the Australian Synchrotron and the National Synchrotron Radiation Research Centre (NSRRC) in Taiwan.
“Collaboration is increasingly crucial to advances in research, and building international partnerships will be a key part of the Australian Synchrotron’s agenda,” Mr Brumby said.
“This agreement with NSRRC will enable both facilities to advance synchrotron techniques and form international teams to explore scientific issues of global significance.”
Visiting the Australian Synchrotron today, Minister Chien-Jen Chen, Chairman of the National Science Council of Taiwan, said he was keen to build on existing relationships between Taiwanese and Australian scientists.
“This bond between Taiwan and Australia will benefit both nations, and advance development of synchrotron techniques and technology,” Minister Chen said.
“We want to strengthen the relationship built through the Australian Synchrotron Research Program, and contribute to a strong synchrotron network in the Asian region.”
Mr Brumby said co-operation and collaboration were increasingly important to achieving scientific breakthroughs.
“As science becomes more complex and more costly, enhancing Australia’s global science links is essential,” Mr Brumby said.
“Australian Synchrotron scientists are already working with international colleagues to make major breakthroughs such as last year’s discovery of the structure of the human insulin receptor, a key to future treatments for diabetes.”
NSRRC Director Dr Keng Liang said the current Taiwan synchrotron was a lower energy machine than the Australian Synchrotron, so the MOU would facilitate reciprocal use of beamlines.
“An Australian soft x-ray experimental station is currently installed at NSRRC and will be relocated to the Australian Synchrotron,” Dr Liang said.
“The new 3 GeV synchrotron being planned by Taiwan will also offer opportunities for collaboration with Australia.”
2007-06-18 - Brumby Announces European Research Pact
The Minister for Innovation, John Brumby, today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote scientific collaboration between the Australian Synchrotron and the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), located in Geneva, Switzerland.
“CERN is the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, and its scientists are world leaders,” Mr Brumby said.
“This agreement with CERN will enable the Australian Synchrotron to benefit from the participation in common R&D related to technologies for accelerators, from staff exchanges and from the excellent courses in advanced accelerator physics offered by CERN.”
CERN does not have a synchrotron light source like the Australian Synchrotron, but its facilities are at the forefront of global developments in accelerator science.
“Australia will be able to tap into CERN’s vast pool of expertise in accelerator development and experimental technology,” Mr Brumby said.
CERN’s Director-General, Dr Robert Aymar, said he was keen to promote links between European and Australian science.
“Interaction between mature and expanding facilities like ours, and new accelerators like the Australian Synchrotron, can lead to very interesting collaborations,” Dr Aymar said.
“There is a lot of common ground between accelerators, even those working with different sub-atomic particles.”
Mr Brumby said co-operation and collaboration were increasingly important to the development of new technology for particle accelerators, beamlines, detectors and control systems.
“As developing new components and research techniques becomes more complex and more costly, enhancing Australia’s global science links is essential,” Mr Brumby said.
The Australian Synchrotron is in Clayton in Melbourne’s south-east. It is on time and on budget, with the building and synchrotron machine complete and beamlines gearing up for opening of the facility in July.
CERN is completing the Large Hadron Collider, a machine 27 kilometres in circumference that will be used to study the kinds of reactions that occurred at the birth of the universe.