The AARNet network underpins activities associated with Australia’s membership of EMBL, the renowned European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Europe’s flagship for the life sciences.
In 2008 Australia became an associate member of EMBL, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Europe’s flagship research institution for the life sciences. Membership gives Australia the opportunity to internationalise our life science research: introducing our best young researchers to new networks and tools for life sciences. Membership enables Australia to create highly competitive research teams networked across the nation and with Europe.
Underpinning advances in Australian life sciences research
EMBL Australia is developing up to 20 research teams in the EMBL Australia Partner Laboratory.
Internationalising research and mentoring early career researchers are among the core objectives of EMBL Australia. Australia’s Associate membership of the EMBL enables scientists across the country to access data and resources and contribute to international collaborations at the cutting edge of many areas of life sciences research, including cell biology, stem cells and regenerative medicine, chemical biology, plant biology, genetic epidemiology and clinical research.
The high bandwidth research network connectivity that AARNet provides helps the EMBL Australia Bioinformatics Resource share terabytes of data with the Australia life science research community and with the EMBL–EBI (the EMBL European Bioinformatics Institute).
Connecting research institutes to the EMBL Australia Partner Laboratory
Many of the universities and research institutes that scientists at the EMBL Australia Partner Laboratory work with are connected to AARNet, including the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) at Monash University, the University of New South Wales and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).
In collaboration with EMBL, scientists in the Rosenthal Group based at ARMI have found a molecule that could potentially accelerate clinical trials to combat autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune diseases occur when certain immune cells, called ‘pro-inflammatory T-effector cells’, become sensitised to specific cells in the body, identifying them as foreign and attacking them just as they would attack invading bacteria. This ‘friendly fire’ goes unchecked due to the failing of another type of immune cell, called the T-reg, which shuts down T-effector cells when they are not needed.
Professor Nadia Rosenthal, founding Scientific Head of EMBL Australia and Director of the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, and her colleague Dr Daniel Bilbao, from EMBL in Italy, found that a molecule called ‘insulin-like growth factor-1’ (IGF-1) could play a key role in ensuring the T-reg cells do their job properly. The next phase of the research will see the further exploration of the role of IGF-1 in inflammation and regeneration, and its potential for treating conditions such as muscular atrophy, fibrosis and heart disease.
High-speed connectivity across AARNet’s international network via the SXTransPORT trans-Pacific links provided in partnership with Southern Cross Cable Network plays a critical role in connecting life sciences researchers in Australia, such as Professor Rosenthal, to EMBL data and colleagues located in Europe.