Stem Cells Australia’s progress since its 2011 inception has been praised by external assessors who conducted a mid-term review of the Initiative for the Australian Research Council (ARC).
Stem Cells Australia was established in 2011 through an ARC Special Research Initiative in Stem Cell Science. $21 million was awarded over seven years to fast-track efforts to understand the mechanisms involved in stem cell regulation and differentiation and how to control and influence these processes, as well as train Australia’s future stem cell scientific leaders.
The Review was conducted in late 2014 – after Stem Cells Australia’s third year of operation – and was instigated by ARC to determine whether the initiative had met the ARC’s expectations in terms of achievements to date, and to provide feedback on the initiative’s performance. The Review involved a site visit and discussions with members of the Initiative – including students and postdoctoral researchers; administrative staff; members of Stem Cells Australia’s Scientific Advisory Committee and Governance Committee, and representative from stakeholder groups.
The Review panel noted the Initiative’s impressive progress to date in broad range of activities, from participating in major scientific advances like Project Grandiose, the international effort to understand the process of reprogramming, to establishing a collegiate and collaborative environment for Stem Cells Australia’s researchers.
While recommending that funding is continued at its present level, reviewers also recommended that Stem Cells Australia work to secure future funding to support a legacy at the end of the Initiative, broaden training skill sets for postdoctoral and postgraduate students, and further extend collaborations and partnerships with external research groups and industry partners.
Following this favourable review, ARC has advised that Stem Cells Australia will continued to be funded through to 2018 in accordance to the original funding agreement.
Professor Martin Pera, SCA Program Leader said, “The positive outcome of the Review reflects the very high scientific standard of research coming out of our Consortium, and the impact our team has made on the field during the past three years. We look forward to building on this excellent framework to extend our work into the translational arena.”
Stem Cells Australia would like to thank the ARC and our external reviewers for their strong positive assessment and helpful feedback on how to further improve the Initiative. We also thank all of our members and colleagues who contributed to the Review and our ongoing success.