Bringing bioengineering to life
In an Australian first, leading scientists have come together to take biomedical research on a fast track to success. The Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery (ACMD), will establish the first biomedical engineering innovation, application and education hub in Australia.
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.
When the new ACMD facilities open in 2021, there will be an estimated $6.1m of annual research activity, including seed-funded research and commercial contracts.
Bringing together research and training from leading hospitals, universities and medical research institutes in a purpose-built centre, the ACMD will drive medical innovation and position Victoria as a global leader in the fast growth industry of biomedical engineering.
Delivering in Australia a vibrant world-leading biomedical engineering industry and securing for our country a major share of the burgeoning global device and biomedical engineering market.
New commercial products and
services will foster a vibrant world-leading biomedical engineering industry in Australia.
Already, commercialisation of research underpins an industry that employs over 40,000 people and exports $3.8 billion of goods in this country.
The ACMD builds on that industry and will secure Australia’s place as world leaders in the burgeoning biomedical device and biomedical engineering market into the future.
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.
The ACMD's goals are to reduce the burden of chronic disease in the community through advances in biomedical engineering.
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. By impacting on chronic disease, 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 hrough this initiative, providing Victorians with a better quality of life.
Advanced skills 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 cell transplantation in Australia, giving people with unstable type 1 diabetes the prospect of a future without insulin injections.
Control Epilepsy - A new way of terminating epileptic seizures with electrical stimulation is on the cusp of human trials. Seizures are detected and a small stimulus is applied directly to the brain to interrupt this activity
Limb Repair - New materials and stem cell technologies make possible the re-engineering of parts or entire limbs. Individual components such as the muscle required to move the re-engineered limb and the nerves required to drive the movement and sensing functions of the re-engineered limbs, can be manufactured using conducting and non-conducting polymer systems.
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.