HELP ARRIVES: Prof De Marco, right, welcomes Dr Polkinghorne, left, and Prof Timms.
HELP ARRIVES: Prof De Marco, right, welcomes Dr Polkinghorne, left, and Prof Timms. Contributed

Expert help for our struggling koalas from USC researchers

NOOSA koala campaigner Carolyn Beaton, who has been fighting a rearguard action to save dwindling koala numbers in the region, has taken heart from having two internationally renowned microbiology researchers now working out of the Sunshine Coast.

Buddina-based Professor of Microbiology Peter Timms, and Senior Research Fellow Dr Adam Polkinghorne have started research at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

"We are very excited to now have such outstanding expertise based in our region," Ms Beaton said.

"Prof Peter Timms was a keynote speaker at the Sunshine Coast Koala Summit in 2012 (held in Noosaville) and gave a brilliant presentation.

"He has spoken of his desire to assist our efforts by administering the koala chlamydia vaccine to wild koalas in the Noosa area.

"So far the stars have not aligned in terms of funding and timing, but it is something that we remain hopeful about and we will continue to keep in contact," Ms Beaton said.

USC Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research, Prof Roland De Marco said the researchers were known for excellence in microbiology, especially with chlamydia in koalas.

"Peter and Adam are bringing over $1 million in national research funding to our University, along with a team of up to six researchers initially and extensive links with local, national and international partners," Prof De Marco said.

The duo was previously at Queensland University of Technology, where they were key members of a world-first genome mapping project that uncovered vital information about koala genes.

The data included the koala IFN-g gene, which affects the marsupial's immune defences against cancer, viruses and bacteria.

Their multi-million-dollar projects will now operate from USC, with one of the major goals being to develop chlamydia vaccines for humans and koalas.


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