[ASC-media] Media Release: Australia urged to lead in proteomics

Science & Arts Media jca-media at starclass.com.au
Mon Nov 3 21:21:04 EST 2003


November 4, 2003


Australia has an exceptional opportunity to take a world lead in the emerging superscience of proteomics, with a particular focus on better ways to diagnose and treat diseases like cancer.

The call for a new major national effort to ensure Australia remains the forefront of global proteomics research comes from Professor Mark Baker, Director of the Australian Proteome Analysis Facility (APAF a consortium involving Macquarie, Sydney and New South Wales Universities and TGR Biosciences..

Professor Baker is among an international line-up pf speakers at the Sir Mark Oliphant Conference on "Proteomics: Progress, Partnerships and Possibilities" which is taking place at the University of Sydney School of Veterinary Science Conference Centre (November 3-5).

"Australia was responsible for the birth of proteomics ten years ago and we've sustained our technological progress and leadership in the field. But proteomics is becoming so big now that it will require a focussed and major national effort to ensure we do not get swamped by other countries. Put simply without new funding from government we could easily miss the proteomics boat."

Proteomics - first described in Australia in the mid-1990s by Macquarie University scientists - is the science of separating, identifying and characterising proteins, the main messenger molecules of life itself. This is a key step in understanding and treating many diseases hitherto regarded as difficult or impossible to diagnose or treat.

"Through the Human Proteome Organisation (HUPO - www.hupo.org), Germany is specialising on the proteomics of the brain. China is investing huge sums in liver proteomics and the United States is leading the blood plasma initiative.

"There currently is a great window of opportunity for Australian science to target the proteomics of common cancers - like, colon, breast, ovarian, prostate and childhood cancers".

"To do that we need to mix our best researchers, with our best clinicians with the best technology - and make sure the Commonwealth properly resource them to build an Australian proteomics research network."

Professor Baker says that proteomics offers huge economic advantages to Australia in fields besides human medicine but these outcomes won't come without effort.  It can also be used to better identify desirable traits in crops, combat agricultural  diseases, identify contaminants in food and other products, enhance drought tolerance in crops, provide early warning of the build-up of pesticide resistance in insects and weeds, help breed superior livestock and develop barleys that make superior beer.

At the Oliphant Conference Professor Baker will focus on some new technological advances in proteomics.

The Sir Mark Oliphant Conferences - International Frontiers of Science and Technology - are sponsored by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Sir Mark Oliphant, a Foundation Fellow of both the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), who run the series.

For further information:

Media seeking to interview Professor Baker or other speakers at the conference are asked to contact Dr Kevin Downard, on 02 9351 6270.

or Sydney University Media Office, 02 9351 2261.

Details of the Sir Mark Oliphant Conference on Proteomics:

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