The University of Newcastle, Australia

$35 million secured for new Synthetic Biology Centre of Excellence

Monday, 18 November 2019

The Australian Research Council (ARC) awarded $35 million in funding for a new Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology, to a consortium which includes the University of Newcastle led by Professor Brett Neilan.

Good things may come in small packages, but for Professor Brett Neilan and his team, good things are coming to the tiniest forms of life.

Professor Brett Neilan (pictured) led the University of Newcastle's involvement in the new Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology (CoESB).

Photo: Professor Brett Neilan has championed the University of Newcastle's involvement in a new Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology.

Recently, the Australian Research Council (ARC) awarded $35 million in funding to a consortium of local and international partners to create a new ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology (CoESB). The University of Newcastle is one of the seven Australian universities involved in the collaboration – one of the largest combined efforts in synthetic biology in the world - championed by Professor Neilan.

To be established from 2020, the Centre of Excellence will combine engineering with molecular biology to design and construct biological systems that can convert biomass from agriculture or waste streams to biofuel, biodegradable pesticides, bioplastics and other high-value chemicals.

These novel microbial cell factories will underpin an environmentally sustainable biomanufacturing industry in Australia. This will in turn lead to significant rural investment, increased employment, and new export opportunities.

In addition, the Centre will train the next generation of synthetic biologists, fully conversant with industrial translation, and capable of establishing the Australian bioeconomy start-up companies of the future.

Synthetic biology can be described as the design and construction of new biological parts, devices and systems and the re-design of biological systems.

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