Expanded Bio 21 to house global research hub

Malcolm Turnbull in a lab

The University of Melbourne’s internationally recognised Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute is to be substantially expanded and will house CSL’s Global Research and Translational Medicine Hub.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the announcement after touring the Bio21 Institute in Parkville today.

The Bio21 Institute is one of the University’s flagship research institutes and for more than a decade has played an important role in positioning Victoria and Australia as a leading destination for life sciences and biotechnology research.

It is also a leading example of a successful academia-industry partnership. Australia’s largest multinational biopharmaceutical company, CSL, has been a partner in Bio21 since 2007.

The partnership has been so successful that the University is embarking on a $36.4 million, 5000sqme expansion of the Bio21 Institute. The new, state-of-the-art facility will allow for the expansion of major technology platforms that underpin personalised medicine and the development of new diagnostics.

It will also be home to the CSL Global Hub for Research and Translational Medicine where, over time, CSL expects to more than double the presence of its research scientists, from 75 to around 150.

Work on the new building will commence in 2016 and the expansion is expected to be completed during 2017.

“This is an important industry-university partnership that will enable greater knowledge and technology transfer, drive innovation and ensure Australian research is translated into positive health outcomes around the world,” said University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis.

“The National Innovation and Science Agenda recognises that universities, government and industry are crucial partners in building and enhancing Australia’s innovation ecosystems. Our successful partnership with CSL – and the support Bio21 has received from all levels of government - is proof of this.

CSL Chief Scientific Officer and R&D Director Andrew Cuthbertson said: “CSL is committed to fostering excellence in Australian research. R&D is our past and our future. The increased presence at Bio21 will allow CSL to increase its collaborations with University researchers, plus other research institutes and hospitals. It will also provide an expanded base for new national and international collaborations.

“This expansion makes business sense and is very exciting scientifically. Our research scientists find Bio21 an attractive and intellectually stimulating place to work, and the cross-cultivation of ideas from academia to commercial helps translate science into life-saving medicines.”

“Bio21 is delivering a world-class research facility for Australia and will play an important part in advancing biomedical research knowledge and the development of new therapies,” Professor Davis said.

“The co-location of a large multinational with the University is a fundamental aspect to its success and will generate an environment in which other start ups and small businesses can thrive. “

“Precincts elevate collaboration, idea generation and accelerate commercialisation. The University is a proud partner in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct.”