Sydney teams up with China's genomics experts
29 June 2011
The University has signed a formal agreement with China's leading genomics institute, opening the way for a new range of joint research projects and academic exchanges.
BGI - formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute - was set up in 1999 as one of the contributors to the International Human Genome Project.
After relocating to Shenzhen in 2007, it has become one of the world's most active genomics research centres, a symbol of the growing investment in scientific research in China.
BGI has been involved in a number of large-scale genomic sequencing projects including the rice plant, 40 species of silkworms and the giant panda.
A reporter for the magazine Newsweek, visiting BGI earlier this year, noted that the institute had purchased 128 cutting-edge genome sequencing machines, each costing US $500,000, "making it possible for the BGI to produce more high quality DNA-sequence data than all US academic facilities put together".
Sydney's memorandum of understanding with BGI follows a visit to the University earlier this year by the Chinese Minister of Science and Technology, Wan Gong, coordinated by the International portfolio.
Professor John Hearn, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor International, said: "BGI is engaged in some extraordinary work that will help future generations face up to global challenges.
"The MOU will enable us to explore a whole range of collaborative projects and exchanges. The benefits to our teaching, training and research will be profound." He said BGI was also looking to set up a joint laboratory at Sydney in the near future.
The MOU was signed on behalf of the University by Professor Hearn, with BGI represented by Liang Hongsheng from the Research and Cooperation Division.
Earlier Mr Liang had a meeting with Professor David Cook, Academic Director of the University's new Centre for Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease, and Professor Robert Park, Professor of Cereal Rust Research, who is involved in research to help the development of new rust-resistant strains of wheat.
Professor Park said the agreement with BGI was a tremendous opportunity for the University to engage in joint research projects. One avenue for exploration, he suggested, was to examine why rice is immune to rust but wheat, a closely related species of grass, is not.
Contact: Richard North
Phone: 02 9351 3191