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Partnership_

North America

Competitive funding supports research and teaching excellence
Our partnerships with American and Canadian universities put us in touch with some of the world’s best researchers and educators.

In the past three years, our academics have produced more than 7000 co-authored publications with North American partners – 1173 of them with Harvard, our leading international collaborator.

Since 2016, we have signed four new agreements with North American university partners – three in the US and one in Canada. Our partners are committed to building and investing in active, productive collaborations.

To date we have committed almost $400,000 in competitive funding awards to support our talented researchers and teachers to undertake joint research projects, early career mobility awards and collaborative workshops.

The funding has benefited 89 of our academics, including 28 early-career researchers who received mobility funding to travel to Harvard.

Our partners in North America

The University of Sydney and Harvard University have entered into an agreement that enables University of Sydney PhD students and academic staff to visit and conduct research at Harvard. Funding is being provided to develop high-impact research and educational themes with staff and students at Harvard. 

The University of Sydney and the University of California, Davis have agreed on a high-level partnership agreement that promotes research collaborations and academic exchange. A joint seed funding program encourages further research collaborations in all disciplines. Five projects are funded biannually.

The two universities have active collaborations in veterinary science, agriculture, medicine and medical microbiology.

The University of Sydney has a university-wide agreement with the University of California, San Diego that initiates faculty and student exchange, joint research, the exchange of materials and short-term programs and visits. The two universities have also discussed collaborative opportunities in neuroscience, psychology, medicine and engineering.

The University of Toronto is one of our top four partners worldwide for joint publications, with shared interests in multidisciplinary research. The two universities are currently exploring exciting new research links in Indigenous health.


Steve Meikle

World-first technology tackles chronic conditions 

Researchers from the University of Sydney and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) are collaborating on a groundbreaking program that could have significant benefits for people with debilitating chronic conditions such as mental illness and diabetes.

With the help of a Partnership Collaboration Award, our researchers are working with partners at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) to develop the world’s first total-body PET scanner. The scanner, EXPLORER, is being built by United Imaging Healthcare in collaboration with UC Davis.

Professor Steve Meikle, head of the Imaging Physics Laboratory at the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Centre, says: “EXPLORER will have unprecedented sensitivity and will enable all tissues and organs within the body to be imaged simultaneously using very low doses of ionising radiation.

“This is a hugely important step that takes us beyond single organ imaging. All the key questions we are currently asking about the development of chronic disease require a systems biology, whole-of-body approach.”

Professor Meikle says the University of Sydney’s expertise in PET image analysis, motion correction and kinetic modelling complements the internationally recognised strengths in molecular imaging technology at UC Davis, and gives rise to opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration.

He says the collaboration also opens the way for the University to become one of the first sites in the world to gain access to the new imaging technology when it becomes commercially available, and develop its own EXPLORER program.

The University, in partnership with ANSTO, is a node of the National Imaging Facility, which has received $53 million in new National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) funding from the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training.


More collaborative projects

Researchers from Sydney and the University of California, Davis, (UC Davis) have connected through a virtual workshop to discuss developing solutions to bushfires and the associated challenges experienced in both regions.

Following the devastating and unprecedented fires in Australia and California since 2018, UC Davis and Sydney are focusing their ongoing partnership efforts on a coordinated research initiative that addresses key areas of importance relating to bushfires and supports overlapping areas of research expertise.

“The fires in Australia this past summer were the largest to affect any of the megadiverse countries, with reports of more than one billion animals perishing,” said Professor Kathy Belov, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement), University of Sydney.

Professor Paul Dodd, Associate Vice-Chancellor for Interdisciplinary Research and Strategic Initiatives at UC Davis, added that the fire season had become almost year-round in California, and the spatial distribution of populations meant townships were greatly affected. As a result, more than 30 faculty members at UC Davis are involved in research projects.

The first output of the group will be a White Paper looking at common critical issues in the United States and Australia concerning wildfire, led by Professor Tina Bell. Themes include threatened species, ecological distress, impact on first nations and indigenous populations, mental health impacts, long-term health effects (including potential respiratory damage and susceptibility to diseases such as COVID-19), air quality and pollution research.

The majority of people want to make decisions about their health and diet that are backed by science. But news outlets and social media are a minefield of misinformation – and even our own experiences can be deceptive.

A joint research project co-led by Dr Micah Goldwater, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sydney, and Dr Caren Walker, Assistant Professor in Psychology at UC San Diego, is tackling this critical issue from multiple angles.

The project looks at how people form beliefs about health from both their own experiences and from information spread through the media, both traditional and social. It also examines how to counter false beliefs and misinformation with well-crafted messaging about scientific research.

The researchers plan to conduct an initial analysis of news articles about diabetes to examine all the different ways cause and effect relationships are described. For example, "a high sugar diet is a risk factor for diabetes" or "a high sugar diet leads you down the path to diabetes".

Dr Goldwater said: “Our aim is to test how these kinds of statements are interpreted, and then set out guidelines for public health and media communication to improve both understanding of the medical science, and to reduce the stigma of medical conditions.”

They also plan to study beliefs and decisions about ineffective health remedies which are perceived to be effective, such as herbal or vitamin supplements.

“It is easy to think perhaps there is no harm in these beliefs, but actually there is a lot of evidence that taking supplements of various kinds increases rates of emergency room visits,” said Dr Goldwater. “They can have negative interactions with prescribed medicine and can lead people to forego evidence-based treatments.

“One reason people may endorse the efficacy of these remedies is because of a misinterpretation of their own experiences. For example, if you have a cold, and then take a herbal remedy and the cold goes away, we are prone to attribute the causal power to the herbal remedy. It makes sense!

“However, people do not naturally consider what a potential "control" condition would look like, where you did not take the herbal remedy. In all likelihood, the cold would have gone away anyway. Our immune system does the work, and there really is no such thing as "boosting" our immune system with supplements.”

He said laboratory tests had returned promising results indicating that when the logic of randomised control trials was explained to people and they were shown data from medical experiments, people who took herbal remedies could see there was no evidence for their efficacy.

“Our next step is to take this kind of work from the lab to the real world where we can track people's use of ineffective health remedies over time, and see how we can help them interpret their own experience in line with medical science.”

Facts & figures

North America fast facts

  • 4 partners
  • $600,000+ in funding committed
  • 57 projects supported
  • 1322 co-authored publications with Harvard alone

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