Media Release

Newsroom Releases 2014 May $42M Federal investment in tropical health and medicine at JCU

09/05/2014
$42M Federal investment in tropical health and medicine at JCU
The Federal Government will contribute an additional $42 million to the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) based at James Cook University, matching the Queensland Government’s funding commitment.

$42M Federal investment in tropical health and medicine at JCU

The Federal Government will contribute an additional $42 million to the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) based at James Cook University, matching the Queensland Government’s funding commitment.

Commonwealth funds will enable the expansion and consolidation of planned activities in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and the Torres Strait to establish:

  • Tropical Health Research and Training facilities, JCU Townsville, Cairns and Torres Strait – $25.5m

Research and training in virology, disease and vector control, and development of new treatments and vaccines for tropical diseases, complementing Queensland Government funding in all locations.

  • Translational Research Centre, JCU Townsville – $10m

Research and training facilities and expertise to support clinical trials, tele-health and translational research and training to support world-class contributions in infectious and chronic diseases.

  • Occupational Health Research Centre, Mackay – $1.5m

Research to investigate, develop and test strategies to reduce the incidence of work-related death, injury and illness in key regional industries.

  • Network and general operating activities - $5m

Support linkages with medical researchers and health workers throughout Australia to maximise the quality and impact of research and to ensure that it is focused on the key health problems of tropical Australia.

AITHM is based at James Cook University and aims to establish northern Australia as a centre of excellence in tropical health, medical and biotechnology research and research training.

AITHM has three research priorities: Australia’s health security and biosecurity; health in rural, remote, Indigenous and tropical Australia, and health in the tropics, regionally and globally.

James Cook University Vice Chancellor, Professor Sandra Harding said AITHM is a critical element of JCU’s goal to create a brighter future for people living in the tropics.

“The research AITHM undertakes will improve health in the tropics both within Australia and world-wide. JCU has a proud history of research and development relevant to the tropics,” Professor Harding said.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, Professor Ian Wronski said JCU’s location puts it in on the frontline for biosecurity and health security.

“We are ideally placed to tackle issues including the prevalence of tuberculosis in neighbouring Papua New Guinea, as well as dengue fever, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis and soil-transmitted parasites,” Professor Wronski said.

“These are diseases that have a devastating effect on many developing nations in the tropics and also pose a threat to Australians, given our frequent interactions with neighbouring countries.

“AITHM builds on the University’s existing expertise in these areas, including our connection with Australia’s first medical research institute, the Australian Institute for Tropical Medicine, which opened in Townsville in 1913.”

AITHM operational funding through the Australian Government will help to expand research and training expertise in the microbiology of infectious diseases, including virology, as well as in disease modelling, disease control, surveillance methodologies, health information systems, health economics and occupational health and safety.