Weizmann Institute Grant

A new grant for diabetes research

The CTC has received a grant for diabetes research as part of a joint project with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. The Australian component is being led by Professor Anand Hardikar.

This research aims to define the role of specific molecules called micro-ribonucleic acids (miRNAs) in healthy pancreatic beta cells. According to Professor Hardikar, miRNAs play a central role in the body's biological activities, such as embryo development, cell growth, cell death and metabolism, but what is not understood is the production process of miRNAs. The Sydney team will address the relationships among miRNAs and other factors.

'Understanding how two specific RNAs, called miR-375 and miR-34a, are expressed in pancreatic cells, and to determine whether these are regulated by metabolic factors such as insulin, glucose and fatty acids, is a key focus of our research', he says.

The Israeli team, led by Professor Michael Walker, will focus on the characterisation, control and development of these molecules.

'Together these approaches will provide a better understanding of how miRNAs control beta cell development and function. They may also generate novel insights into the development of beta cell dysfunction which may lead to new approaches to diabetes therapy', says Professor Walker.

The grant, over two years, is one of several similar medical research grants, which are a key part of Weizmann Australia's goal to link Australian and Israeli scientific expertise. They were announced by Weizmann Australia's Chairman, Stephen Chipkin:

'The Weizmann Institute is not publicly well known in Australia but it is well recognised by international scientists as one of the world's great science research institutes. It has a wealth of knowledge to be shared, which is why these grants were created.'

'Overall the purpose of this program is to facilitate scientific collaboration between the Weizmann Institute of Science and Australian scientists by providing seed funds to initiate or strengthen existing research ties. This will be good for Australian science and it will further strengthen the links between the two countries. If the research leads to significant scientific breakthroughs, all of humanity will benefit.'