Bringing bioengineering to life
Some of Australia's leading scientists have come together to take biomedical research on a fast track to success. The Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery (ACMD), will establish Australia's first biomedical engineering innovation, application and education hub.
International experience and investigation confirms that collaborative centres like the ACMD - which bring together research, innovation and training from hospitals, universities and medical research institutes in a purpose-built, collaborative research centre - deliver better application outcomes while significantly reducing the time to commercialise the discoveries.
Through concurrent research and development collaborative work practices and strong industry support, the ACMD’s goals are:
1) to reduce the burden of chronic diseases in the community such as arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental health, musculoskeletal disorders and dementia, through advances in biomedical engineering, and
2) to create new, world-leading industries in device creation, tissue engineering and drug design and delivery.
The new ACMD facilities open in 2021.
New jobs and industry
The ACMD will drive medical innovation and position Victoria as a global leader in the fast growth industry of biomedical engineering, securing Australia a major share of the burgeoning global device and biomedical engineering market.
The vibrant new biomedical engineering industries we foster in Victoria, will provide employment opportunities and significant export revenue to the State.
Reduced healthcare costs
Translating the ACMD's discoveries into improved primary and hospital care, aged care and better preventative health strategies will help to reduce the burden of illness in the community.
By enabling better management and treatment, the bioengineered solutions will reduce the cost of healthcare for governments and the community.
From restoring sight to the blind, to limb repair and regeneration, biomedicine has the potential to heal and treat illness in ways that have never been possible before.
The ACMD will enable this pioneering work to happen faster and more effectively, bringing about new treatments for chronic disease sooner, to the benefit of more Australians.
Breaking down the barriers to medical discovery
Facilitating collaboration a new opportunity in medical research and education
Experts from the ACMD partners across the disciplines of:
- medical research and development
- allied health
- biomedical engineering (tissues, drug design and bionic devices)
- engineering (electronic, electrical, materials and software)
- biotechnical platforms and
will be co-located in a new building on the St Vincent’s Hospital campus, one of Melbourne’s most prominent inner-city gateways. This will produce a new generation of highly skilled professionals who understand each other’s disciplines and work collaboratively to make new research discoveries that can be fast-tracked to clinical use.
The ACMD will have a flexible building design and a governance structure that maximises collaboration and the sharing of specialised equipment and platform technologies, exposing partners to the clinical environment in a way that is not currently available at any other clinical research campus in Australia.
The new ACMD facilities will open in 2021.
Embedding tertiary students from different disciplines into the R&D environment
ACMDs hands-on training model will equip the next generation of tertiary students with the necessary skills and a greater understanding of emerging technologies in medicine. This will produce clinicians with an interest in applying outcomes and discoveries to patient treatment, engineers with inight into how their discoveries might be used in clinical applications and scientists who are technically skilled and workplace ready.
Outline of funding request
The total funding of $180 million for Stage 1 of the new facility will provide for site demolition, construction and fitout, ensuring a fully-functional building that delivers research benefits and cost savings as quickly as possible and with minimal disruption.
The ACMD partners have formally indicated their intention to provide one-third ($60 million) of this funding and in 2014, the State government committed to a $60 million contribution. The remaining $60 million will be sought from a combination of other sources.
Driving innovation, revolutionising healthcare
This is our opportunity to drive medical innovation and position Victoria as a global leader in the fast growth industry of biomedical engineering.
Internationally significant medical research developments within Victoria involving the ACMD partners have included bringing together medicine, medical research, bioengineering and engineering to develop the cochlear implant and the bionic eye. While in the past these developments have been based on ad hoc arrangements and relationships, they are examples of the significant benefits that a cross-disciplinary approach can achieve.
The ACMD aims to alleviate the effects of chronic disease and provide Australians with an improved quality of life through the development of clinical bionic devices. In some instances, it is anticipated that the working life of someone suffering from a chronic disease such as diabetes, could be extended by at least five years. The number of clinical bionic devices developed and implemented will be greatly enhanced through ACMD initiatives, providing Victorians with a better quality of life.
Advanced skills and technology for better health
Teams of leading experts will work together at the ACMD, building upon the life‑changing research that is already underway in the field of biomedical engineering.
Treat Diabetes without insulin injections - St. Vincent’s Institute has pioneered islet transplantation in Australia, giving people with unstable type 1 diabetes the prospect of a future without insulin injections.
Control epilepsy - In collaboration with the Bionics Institute, St Vincent’s Hospital neurology team has developed a world-first brain implant dubbed Fitbit for the brain' which is able give epileptic seizure forecasts. It has taken four years for the team of 100 neurologists, engineers, neurosurgeons and neuroscientists to create the device.
Limb repair - Surgeons have used a 3D printer pen filled with stem cell ink to “draw” new cartilage into damaged knees, opening up a world of possibilities for human body part replacements.The breakthrough Biopen paves the way for the Melbourne-led team eventually to repair damage to bones, muscles and tendons, and even to tissue in organs such as the heart, the liver, and the lungs. The Biopen was developed by ACMD partners St Vincent’s Hospital, and the University of Wollongong.
Walk again - Scientists are using nanotechnology to create implants that interact with living tissue to encourage damaged nerves to regrow. Sensory electrode systems and material matrix platforms will pave the way towards the development of effective bionic solutions for nervous system injury such as spinal cord injury and diseases like motor neuron disease.