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Damian Glass
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A new research training centre based at the University of Melbourne will advance and deploy new technologies that will remove long-standing barriers to drug discovery and development.

Through organ-on-a-chip and bioprinting enabling technologies, the ARC Training Centre for Personalised Therapeutics Technologies aims to improve selection of new medicines for progress to clinical trials and to develop opportunities for selecting personalised treatments.

The ARC Training Centre is a multidisciplinary collaboration between academic researchers and industry partners.

The joint venture brings together research nodes at The University of Melbourne; The University of Western Australia; Monash University; the CSIRO; the National University of Singapore; and 15 partner organisations, including several biotech companies.

Through this collaboration, the Centre also aims to train an expert workforce that will drive Australian innovation.

The Federal Government is providing $3.1 million over five years to support the University of Melbourne-led training centre that will advance clinical trials testing.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell said the new Centre would play a key role in making life better for patients and help to deliver a healthier society.

“The Centre will concentrate on early testing of products through the development and adoption of new technologies for drug evaluation, one patient at a time. This will become increasingly important as medical research moves to a new era, where drug evaluation is refined by replacement technologies using human cells grown in microfluidic chips.

“By collaborating with industry and government, our researchers and investigators will contribute to the building of knowledge and new skills that will result in advanced and sophisticated capabilities,” Professor Maskell said.

The Director of the new Training Centre is Alastair Stewart, from the University of Melbourne’s School of Biomedical Sciences. Professor Stewart said it was important to prepare early career researchers to advance personalised medicine technology in the post-genomics era.

“Another aspect to the Centre will be to facilitate Early Career Researchers to develop their entrepreneurial skills. We will provide students with experience in commercial settings, as well as access to industry-sourced mentorship. This program of work is an investment for the future,” Professor Stewart said.