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Increased numbers of students applying for the University of Melbourne's Bachelor of Science shows that students believe science is important to the future of our society, according to the Dean of the Faculty, Professor Robert Saint.

"The dramatically increased demand for Science at the University of Melbourne tells us...that students are recognising the importance of science to the future of our society, and that they recognise the quality of science education and research going on at the University of Melbourne."

Just over 5700 students will receive an offer of a Commonwealth Supported Place at the University of Melbourne when first round offers are released this afternoon.

For full details about the University's offers, please go to the media release here: http://newsroom.melbourne.edu/news/n-232.

Have you received an offer and want to share your excitment? Head to the University of Melbourne's official Facebook page http://bit.ly/unimelb.

Researchers are a step closer to developing new antimalarial drugs after discovering the normal function of a set of proteins related to the malaria parasite protein, which causes resistance to the front-line drug chloroquine. The findings also provide a novel tool for studying the malarial chloroquine-resistance factor.

Leading Australian researchers have welcomed an announcement today by the Australian Government of $42M in funding for the development of a bionic eye capable of restoring vision to the blind.

Bionic Vision Australia is a consortium including the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales, the Bionic Ear Institute, Centre for Eye Research Australia and NICTA. The project is also supported by researchers from the Australian National University and the University of Western Sydney.

 Bionic Vision Australia Chairman, Professor Emeritus David Penington AC says the consortium is honoured to have been selected by the Australian Research Council for this funding.

 “This opportunity will allow our team to use its outstanding know-how and expertise to develop a functioning retinal implant that will deliver profound benefits to sufferers of degenerative vision loss such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration,” he says.

 Research Director of Bionic Vision Australia and Professor of Engineering at the University of Melbourne, Professor Anthony Burkitt, says the research program to develop a retinal implant is ambitious but that the expertise in the team makes it achievable.

 The new device will use a video camera - fixed to a patient’s glasses - to capture images which are then translated into electrical impulses that stimulate electrodes inserted into the retina. The resulting electrical impulses stimulate the same area of the retina usually activated by visual cues, and over time the patient learns to interpret these nerve signals as useful vision.

 Professor Nigel Lovell from UNSW’s Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering says this funding means life-changing bionic vision is now a step closer.

Head of the Macular Research Unit at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), and Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Melbourne, Dr Robyn Guymer says the new device will provide a greater benefit for patients than existing bionic eyes. “This advanced bionic eye will not only provide users with increased mobility and independence, but hopefully also enable them to recognize faces and read large print,” she says.

 Professor Rob Shepherd, the Director of the Bionic Ear Institute, says that Australia has been a world leader in medical bionics with the development of the bionic ear.  “The funding announced today by Senator Carr promises to continue our nation’s leadership in innovation, discovery and commercialization in medical bionics”, he says.

 Chief Executive Officer of Australia’s Information and Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence (NICTA) Dr David Skellern, says he is thrilled that NICTA will be applying its advanced microelectronics and visual signal processing expertise to the bionic eye device development program. NICTA will collaborate with other BVA members to develop the implant’s hardware, communications and visual processing system.

 The first human implant is likely to occur in 2013 and take place at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne. 

 

Victorian researchers have warned that plans to extend Melbourne’s urban growth boundary could destroy important conservation areas.

Thousands of pairs of female twins are needed for a world-first cervical cancer study.
More than 7000 pairs of female twins from around Australia are needed to help explore the link between cervical cancer and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

As the 2009 United Nations Climate Change conference gets underway in Copenhagen, see below a list of University of Melbourne experts who can comment on the issues being discussed.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne are calling on the general public to help survey Melbourne’s microbat population to help identify the best habitats for bat conservation. Members who volunteer will join Earthwatch volunteers to understand more about microbats’ behaviour by becoming field research assistants.

Understanding how kangaroos repair their DNA could be the key to preventing skin cancer in the future, according to new research by Dr Linda Feketeová and Dr Uta Wille from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Free Radical Chemistry and Biotechnology at The University of Melbourne. 

Scientists have identified the evolution of venom proteins in lizards such as the Gila Monster, a discovery which could help provide clues to future drug development. The new study reveals extraordinary genetic rearrangements which have produced novel toxins in the Gila Monster and Beaded Lizard venoms. 

A University of Melbourne academic has been awarded US$150,000 in funding to help researchers in Asia and Africa better understand how fungi cause disease. Despite being one of the most significant health problems in many emerging countries, not enough is known about medically important fungi.

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