Linkage Projects support research partnerships

31 May 2017

Two University of Sydney projects, to combat multidrug-resistant bacteria and recover information on millions of museum zoological specimens, have received $914,983 in funding. 

Macleay specimens of cockatoo and kangaroo


The innovative projects are funded by the Australian government through the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects announced today by the Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham.

ARC Acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Leanne Harvey, said, “The Linkage Projects scheme is defined by its collaboration—these research projects all involve significant partnerships between higher education researchers and other parts of the national innovation system, from governments and community organisations, through to business and industry.”

Professor Hak-Kim Chan, from the Faculty of Pharmacy, leads a project exploring the use of novel technology to more effectively treat respiratory infection caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria, a major health problem worldwide.

“We will use nanotechnology to redesign a drug delivery system using liposomes, minute spherical sacs used to carry drugs to the body’s tissues. The project will provide new technology to manufacture antibiotic powders that we hope will lead to the development of new treatments against drug-resistant bacteria,” Professor Chan said.

The project received $511,923 in funding and will work with Dr Wojtek Chrzanowski from the Faculty of Pharmacy, and partner researchers from the US company Aradigm Inc, led by Dr David Cipolla and Dr Igor Gonda.

Reconnecting zoological specimens with vital collection data is the aim of a project receiving $403,060 in funding, led by Dr Jude Philp, Senior Curator at the University’s Macleay Museum.

“Using advanced microscopic techniques to trace the chemical signatures of materials, we’ll examine older animals to locate and identify any chemical residues remaining from taxidermy. This will help us to understand what they are made from, who made them and how they can be conserved for the future,” said Dr Philp.

Identifying the chemicals used by a particular taxidermist will also allow researchers to track specimens by relating this data to archival information in museums.  The project will focus on 18th century material from the Macleay museum, 19th century collections at the Australian museum and comparative material in Europe.

“The project will help us understand the historical commerce of natural history and provide new pathways for recovering lost ecological data, creating a resource to improve future biodiversity research,” said Dr Philp.

Congratulating the researchers on their success Professor Duncan Ivison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), said, “Linkage grants are all about linking our research excellence with industry or community partners keen to work with us to address their challenges and problems."  

“In the process, we learn to ask new research questions and explore the extraordinary potential of our research to have significant impact in the broader community. I am delighted to see these two projects funded – they embody the principles of research excellence and collaboration at the heart of our University strategy. We are targeting further growth in our engagement with the Linkage scheme.'

Today’s ARC announcement of the additional $22.2 million in Linkage Project funding supports 61 new collaborative research projects in total.

They are supported by 143 partner organisations which, in addition to ARC funding, provide a further $37 million in cash and in-kind. 

Verity Leatherdale

Manager, Faculty Media and PR

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