BGI Australia and University of Melbourne to expand collaboration on human and animal health

A new agreement will enable research which supports the discovery of treatments and diagnostics for pathogens and disease.

Global genomics organisation BGI Australia and the University of Melbourne have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to discuss and engage in scientific collaborations in the area of One Health using -omic and informatic technologies with the aim to build a comprehensive, world-class program and joint-centre in infectious diseases.

The University’s Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences and BGI will undertake an international-collaborative research program in areas such as genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and data mining.

“-omic” technologies are used in the detection of genes (genomics), proteins (proteomics), acids which carry information for gene expression (mRNA in transcriptomics) and other information in biological samples. Information gained from these technologies has broad applications in human and animal health, including highly targeted medicines against parasites and other infections and better new tests against disease.

BGI Australia Director Dr Bicheng Yang and Professor Robin Gasser, Director of Research at Melbourne Veterinary School.

The research projects envisioned involve exploring pathogens, host-pathogen interactions and disease processes at the molecular level to underpin the discovery of radically new intervention and diagnostic methods.

“We’re delighted to strengthen our cooperations and collaborations, initiated in 2009, and are now focused on translating -omics research into new and improved tools to control infectious diseases,” said Professor Robin Gasser, director of research at the University’s Melbourne Veterinary School.

BGI Executive Vice President Duncan Yu said new research would benefit from this history of collaboration.

“We are building on something already solid and we are aiming to improve healthcare in both countries and for everyone in the world to benefits from our joint research strength and outcomes,” said Mr Yu.

The research will benefit from a One Health approach, which focusses on interdisciplinary collaboration and communication between experts in human, animal and environmental health.

Around 60 per cent of human infectious diseases are spread from animals; One Health collaborations allow scientists and health professionals to target diseases and pathogens before they become threats to humans and other species.

The relationship is also planend to include a network of international partners as well as educational exchanges between BGI, headquartered in Shenzhen, China, and the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Story by Stuart Winthrope. Banner image: BGI Executive Vice President Duncan Yu adds his signature to a banner celebrating the agreement.