NSW Department of Primary Industries

About the partnership

Over the past few years, NFMRI and the NSW Department of Primary Industries have together contributed approximately $800,000 to support breakthrough research into zoonotic infectious diseases that affect human health.

After launching an initial joint pilot program of $400,000 in February 2014,  NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair has announced an additional $400,000 in funding to support a ‘one health’ project, which targets the animal-human disease interface, at the National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation annual conference in September 2015.

“It is becoming more obvious that human health, animal and plant and environmental health are linked and with more than 60 per cent of emerging human infectious diseases coming from animals – it is vital we invest in research to mitigate the spread of infectious diseases,” Mr Blair said. “The NSW Government is committed to the growth of our state’s economy and the ability to detect, manage and eradicate animal and plant pests, weeds and diseases is an important enabler of trade and protecting the health of our communities.”

Mr Blair said the $400,000 was to be invested over the next two years and built on the first collaboration, which saw $372,000 invested.

The first of the grants funded a new lab-on-a-chip device for faster disease diagnostics, which can rapidly identify infections and the causative virus.  The first disease diagnostic to be developed and trialled with the device will be for avian influenza detection, with virus samples, reagents and test development expertise provided by Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute.

Dr Noel Chambers, Chief Executive Officer of the National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation said these newly created grant opportunities are supporting research specifically targeting innovation in infectious diseases at the human – animal interface.  “Infectious diseases can have a devastating impact on both human and animal health, posing significant threats to not only our community but also our livestock, wildlife and export industries,” Dr Chambers said.

Other projects supported under this partnership include:

  • The development of a vaccine for the Zika virus,  Prof Eric Gowans, University of Adelaide;
  • Liposome delivery of a chikungunya virus vaccine candidate, Dr Adam Taylor, Griffith University; and
  • A rapid, sensitive and portable molecular genetic test for diagnosis of Malaria in blood, A/Prof Joanne Macdonald, University of Sunshine Coast.

About NSW Department of Primary Industries

The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, a division of the New South Wales Government, is responsible for the administration and development for agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, state forests, biosecurity, and crown lands in New South Wales. The Department works to develop and sustain diverse, profitable food and fibre industries, and ensures best practice management of natural resources.