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Excellence in drug discovery attracts Asian science leaders

Media release

Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery


A Centre of Research Excellence hosted by The University of Auckland


24 August 2012

New Zealand excellence in drug discovery attracts Asian science leaders

A large delegation of science leaders from Asian industrial capitals is today visiting the Maurice Wilkins Centre to build relationships that will link New Zealand inventors into innovation networks within Asia.

The visitors represent prestigious research institutions in Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing, China; Seoul, Korea; and Kyoto, Wakō and Sapporo, Japan. Like their New Zealand hosts they are experts in chemical biology and drug discovery.

“New Zealand is the first country to sign a free trade agreement with China,” says Professor Ming-Wei Wang, Director of the National Centre for Drug Screening, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (SIMM), Chinese Academy of Sciences. “While developing a strategic partnership, scientific links between us are very important not only to strengthen bilateral cooperation but also consistent with our drive to make China a country of innovation.”

“The Maurice Wilkins Centre includes many prominent scientists in the life science sector. It is representative of top research capabilities in New Zealand and we’re delighted to forge such a close relationship.”

“The visit focuses in particular on drug discovery, a high-technology area in which New Zealand excels and which has been identified as a priority in China’s current 5-year plan,” says Maurice Wilkins Centre Director Professor Rod Dunbar. “New Zealand’s biomedical research and clinical translation capabilities are highly respected by our Asian colleagues. Our aim is to develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships that will allow the expansion of their research programmes and our own, with benefits for health and the economy,”

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The Maurice Wilkins Centre of Molecular Biodiscovery is New Zealand’s Centre of Research Excellence targeting major human diseases. “Overseas institutions have expressed enthusiasm for engaging with the Maurice Wilkins Centre as a ‘shop window’ for New Zealand biomedical science in fields such as drug discovery and immunology,” says Professor Dunbar. “We’re building portals into Asia for New Zealand biomedical science, sharing our expertise with our international colleagues and allowing local researchers to access their scientific infrastructure, which is on a scale not possible in New Zealand.”

Today’s visit is a continuation of the Centre’s work creating links with Asian institutions. It follows the signing of formal agreements with three high-profile Japanese immunology research institutions in 2011, and a trip by Maurice Wilkins Centre investigators to China this April for a specially-arranged bilateral drug discovery forum in Shanghai and to meet key contacts in academia and industry.

The 25-strong delegation, which includes 17 professors, compromises two groups: members of the Asian Chemical Biology Initiative, invited by the Maurice Wilkins Centre to hold its annual Executive Meeting here, and Chinese scientists returning the visit from Maurice Wilkins Centre investigators earlier this year.

The visit is an opportunity to connect New Zealand and Asian scientists with common interests, advance collaborative projects already been proposed, and discuss formal agreements for closer institutional ties.

The delegates will tour Maurice Wilkins Centre facilities at The University of Auckland today and discuss arrangements for scientific collaboration. They will then travel to Queenstown for a Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery satellite meeting at QMB2012, an international scientific meeting, to network with local researchers and deliver scientific presentations.


Notes

Asian Chemical Biology Initiative (ACBI): Founding members of the ACBI are Japan, Korea and China. New Zealand (represented by the Maurice Wilkins Centre), Singapore and The United Arab Emirates have since been invited to join. Its missions are: to accelerate Asian chemical biology research by fostering international collaborations and by sharing research resources; and to promote chemical biology in emerging Asian countries by recruiting and training their brightest graduate students.
http://www.asianchembio.jp/

ACBI members visiting New Zealand are:
• Professor Motonari Uesugi (Chair), Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, Kyoto University, Japan
• Professor Hiroyuki Osada, Advanced Science Institute, RIKEN, Japan
• Assoc Professor Hiroki Oguri, Graduate School of Science, Hokkaido University, Japan
• Professor Minoru Yoshida, Advanced Science Institute, RIKEN, Japan
• Professor Yan-Mei Li, Department of Chemistry, Tsinghua University, China
• Professor Ho Jeong Kwon, Department of Biotechnology, Yonsei University, Korea
• Professor Sung Hoon Kim, Department of Molecular Medicine and Biopharmaceutical Sciences, Seoul National University, Korea
• Professor Itaru Hamachi, Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, Kyoto University, Japan
• (joining delegation in Queenstown)
• Ms Mitsue Nakashima, Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, Kyoto University, Japan


Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (SIMM), Chinese Academy of Sciences: SIMM’s mission is to provide a comprehensive solution in drug discovery and development. Its scientists at SIMM play a key role in building China’s drug innovation capabilities. It focuses on drugs against diseases seriously endangering the health of Chinese people like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases, metabolic diseases, autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases.
http://english.simm.cas.cn/

SIMM members visiting New Zealand are:
• Mr Jianjun Cheng, Secretary, SIMM, Chinese Academy of Sciences
• Professor Ye Yang, Deputy Director, SIMM, Chinese Academy of Sciences
• Professor Ming-Wei Wang, Director, National Centre for Drug Screening, SIMM, Chinese Academy of Sciences
• Professor Weiliang Zhu, Director of Drug Discovery and Design Center, SIMM, Chinese Academy of Sciences
• Professor Jianping Zuo, Immunopharmacology, SIMM, Chinese Academy of Sciences
• Professor Jia Li, Pharmacology, SIMM, Chinese Academy of Sciences
• Professor Fajun Nan, Antiviral Vaccine, SIMM, Chinese Academy of Sciences
• Professor Xin Xie, Neuroscience, SIMM, Chinese Academy of Sciences
• Ms Xueping Duan, Head of Operations, The National Centre for Drug Screening/Chinese National Compound Library, SIMM, Chinese Academy of Sciences
• Ms Yanlin Lin, Foreign Affairs Officer, SIMM, Chinese Academy of Sciences


Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health (GIBH): GIBH is a government-sponsored research institute affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Its major areas of areas of research expertise include: stem cell and regenerative medicine, chemical biology, infection and immunity.
http://english.gibh.cas.cn/about/at/

GIBH members visiting New Zealand include:
• Professor Donghai Wu, Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health , Chinese Academy of Sciences
• Professor Ke Ding, Director of Chemical Biology Institute, Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences Chemical Biology


QMB2012: QMB is an annual international scientific meeting, held in Queenstown, which spans a wide range of disciplines from molecular biology to physiology and medicine. The QMB Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery satellite meeting, 26-27 August 2012, will be held in association with the ACBI.
http://www.qmb.org.nz/chemicalbiology-index.html

ends

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