Released By: Australian Synchrotron
Release Date: Tue 12 February 2008

Australia's national synchrotron facility is set to expand, with construction beginning today on a new facility for advanced biomedical and imaging research.

Acting Premier of Victoria, Rob Hulls today joined leading Australian researchers to turn the first soil in the construction the Imaging and Medical Therapy centre, which will open in late 2008.

Catherine Walter, Chair of the Australian Synchrotron Company, said today's event was an important milestone in the development of the facility.

"We already have a world-class synchrotron, she said.

"This new development will take us to the forefront of biomedical imaging and therapy research and position us within the top three synchrotron facilities world-wide in this field."

The new centre will use high-powered synchrotron x-rays to advance studies in biological, medical and industrial sciences.

Synchrotron x-rays are more than a billion times brighter than hospital sources and can be tuned to a single wavelength, making them a powerful and flexible tool for research

Speaking at the announcement today, Professor Tony Burgess from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, said the new facility will lead to major breakthroughs for Australian biomedical science.

Already, using overseas synchrotrons, Australian researchers are leading the world in developing and advancing new techniques for biomedical imaging, he said.

Having this facility on our own soil will not only speed up existing research, it will allow many more medical researchers to access these tools for the first time.

Prof Bryan Williams, Director of the Monash Institute for Medical Research will be one of the first users of the new facility.

Professor Williams is investigating a potential cancer treatment using synchrotron x-rays. These techniques are based on findings that healthy tissue can withstand much higher x-ray doses when multiple, very thin synchrotron x-ray beams are used to target tumours.

Another early user will be Dr Stuart Hooper from Monash University's Department of Physiology.

Prof Hooper uses synchrotron x-rays to create detailed x-ray movies of mammals taking their first breaths. It is not well understood how our lungs go from a fluid state to an aerated state when we are born. For premature babies, this process can be problematic because their lungs are often not fully developed. By being able to see what is actually happening inside the lungs, Prof Hooper aims to "tune" ventilation for very pre-term infants. The Imaging and Medical Therapy centre will be used by researchers from throughout Australia and the world, with access granted on a competitive basis.

The New Zealand Government, the state governments of New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland, leading Australian and New Zealand universities, the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes, CSIRO and ANSTO have provided funding for the development of beamlines.

The operation of the Australian Synchrotron is funded jointly by the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments.

< Back to media releases