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World’s largest genomic organisation to collaborate with leading Queensland researchers
Publish Date: 2016-08-16

August 16, 2016, Shenzhen, China --The world’s largest genomic organisation, China-based BGI, is deepening its collaboration with leading Queensland researchers as part of its growing presence in the Asia Pacific region.

Under agreements BGI signed today with CSIRO, Griffith University, James Cook University, it will collaborate with local researchers on genomic projects relating to human medicine and health, sports health, marine science, biodiversity, agriculture and aquaculture.

The new collaborations come as BGI today officially opened its new Australian and Asia Pacific headquarters at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute at Herston, which will initially employ 10 people.

BGI President and co-found Professor Jian Wang said the strength of Queensland’s existing life science institutions, industries and networks made it an obvious choice for BGI’s research and development, and commercialisation centre for the Asia Pacific region.

 “BGI has some very lofty ambitions to use omics technology to improve human life - increasing the average life span by five years, increasing global food production by 10 per cent and understanding the mechanisms of half of all diseases,” he said.

“BGI’s global precision medicine initiative is also seeking cures for cancer, birth defects, cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, and infectious diseases.

“But to achieve all of this, we need to collaborate with the world’s best to better understand the omics of plants, animals and humans.

“BGI’s decision to come to Queensland demonstrates our confidence in the state as a major centre for life sciences, including cancer research, biomedical science, genomics and biotechnology, as well as agricultural science and development.”

Professor Wang said BGI had been supported in its decision to come to Queensland and collaborate with local partners by Trade and Investment Queensland and Think Queensland.

“BGI has already established some very strong links with Queensland research institutes on genomics research related to biodiversity, crop improvement, environment and diseases.  Today’s agreements deepen these relationships further and we look forward to working together to improve our future and life,” he said.

“BGI continues to pursue other collaboration opportunities throughout Queensland and Australia, and has already had discussions with officials and organisations in regions such as the Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Townsville.”

CSIRO Agriculture and Food Research Director Dr Graham Bonnett said CSIRO was keen to pursue the possibility of a new millet cropping option for farmers.

“CSIRO has deep expertise in farming systems and crop improvement, and works successfully with a range of partners.  With BGI, we are keen to collaborate on a joint research program that leads to a profitable production system that includes high performing millet cultivars and hence benefits to Australian farmers.”

Griffith University Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Ned Pankhurst said that partnerships with global industry partners such as BGI were essential to translate research outcomes.

“Griffith is keen to work with BGI in a number of areas.  Griffith is well known for its capabilities in sports science, immunology, drug discovery and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome research. Collaboration with BGI will complement our capabilities in genome sequencing and could lead to development of new genetic tests and approaches to treatments.”    

James Cook University Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Chris Cocklin said the university was excited to be partnering with BGI. 

“We look forward to working with BGI on new and existing areas of scientific research, including tropical health and medicine, environmental science, and aquaculture,” he said.

BGI is one of the world’s largest genomic organisations.  It was founded in 1999, and today has established 47 laboratories worldwide (including joint labs) and employs more than 5,000 people.

Apart from contributing to international projects such as the Human Genome Project and the 1000 Genomes Project, BGI was the first in the world to sequence genome of key plants (such as rice, sorghum and millet), animals (such as giant panda, silkworm and polar bear) and bacteria and viruses.

About CSIRO

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is the federal government agency for scientific research in Australia. Its chief role is to improve the economic and social performance of industry, for the benefit of the community. CSIRO works with leading organisations around the world, and CSIRO Publishing issues journals with the latest research by leading scientists on a broad range of subjects. http://www.csiro.au/en 

About Griffith University

Griffith University is a public research university, has been deeply connected to the Asian region, environmentally aware, open to the community and industry focused for years. Its vision is to be one of the most influential universities in Australia and the Asia–Pacific region. https://www.griffith.edu.au/  

About James Cook University 

James Cook University is one of the world's leading institutions focusing on the tropics. The University conducts nationally significant and internationally recognized research in areas such as marine sciences, biodiversity, tropical ecology and environments, global warming, tourism, and tropical medicine and public health care in under-served populations. https://www.jcu.edu.au/  

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