MOSQUITO GRANT: The University of the Sunshine Coast is leading the way in detecting diseases.
MOSQUITO GRANT: The University of the Sunshine Coast is leading the way in detecting diseases. Henrikl

$US100k grant awarded to Sunshine Coast Uni researchers

THE University of the Sunshine Coast has taken out a top grant from a fund set up by global tech magnate Bill Gates.

Principal investigator Dr Joanne Macdonald, a Senior Lecturer and researcher in molecular engineering, said the $US100,000 grant was awarded to develop a rapid field test for detecting mosquitoes infected with diseases such as malaria and dengue.

This will be done through world-first technology built by USC PhD student Jia Li that includes a paper-based biosensor which works like a simple at-home pregnancy test and is a lateral flow dipstick that can detect up to seven disease-causing bacteria at once.

"The Gates Foundation funding now allows us to apply the same platform technology to a different set of diseases including mosquito pathogens such as Malaria, Dengue and Chikungunya viruses," Dr Macdonald said.

"This grant pays for us to conduct trials on laboratory infected mosquitoes, as well as field trials in Cairns."

Coast MP Mark McArdle said he was impressed that all 1800 applications for the grant were only allowed to be submitted without personal details of the submitter being supplied.

The most common mosquito borne diseases in Queensland are Ross River Virus, Barmah Forest Virus and dengue. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $US 1 million.


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