The University of Queensland (UQ) and US-based Emory University have announced a collaboration to set up Queensland Emory Vaccine Centre (QEVC), a new hub for vaccine research at UQ’s St Lucia campus in Queensland, Australia. 

Entailing an investment of A$32m ($20m), the initiative is supported by the Queensland government’s Industry Partnership Program. 

It aims to place the state at the vanguard of research on emerging diseases and pandemic preparedness in the Asia-Pacific region. 

The partnership is expected to expedite the development of vaccine candidates ready for clinical trials.  

The alliance will also foster collaboration between UQ and other research institutions in Queensland. 

This will contribute to a pipeline of vaccine candidates for further development by global medicine and vaccine company Sanofi, as well as Translational Research Institute and Translational Manufacturing, construction on which is already underway at the Boggo Road precinct. 

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QEVC will be equipped with advanced computing infrastructure and feature various laboratories, and facilities for scaled protein expression and purification processes.  

Additional support spaces at QEVC will include a sterilisation and glass-wash facility, cold storage, storage for laboratory consumables, and dedicated rooms for meetings and offices. 

Construction of the project is expected to start by the end of the year, with the facility projected to be fully operational by next year.  

UQ vice-chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said: “QEVC will house more than 80 researchers and create over 20 direct jobs, provide new teaching and learning opportunities to boost Queensland’s skills pipeline and help to attract and retain talent.” 

Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Emory University is a research contributor to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention through the US Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium. 

This new partnership builds on a longstanding collaboration between Emory University and UQ in drug discovery, facilitated by UniQuest’s Queensland Emory Drug Discovery Initiative and Queensland Emory Development Alliance, in conjunction with QIMR Berghofer. 

Queensland development and infrastructure minister Grace Grace said: “This is a nationally significant opportunity to reduce vaccine development timeline, through investment into novel approaches of vaccine development and technologies right here in Queensland. 

“It will provide infrastructure, access to technologies and skills to fast track identification of vaccine candidates, connecting Queensland’s vaccine development through Emory University into US opportunities.”