Disease centre funded

Australian Animal Health Laboratory in East Geelong.

Geelong will become a centre for research into emerging infectious disease after federal government funding was confirmed today.

The Independent reported earlier this week the City of Greater Geelong expected the $3 million funding announcement for the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Disease.

The funding creates a world class research hub to tackle the increasing health and economic threat of diseases such as SARS, Hendra virus and bird flu.

The centre is an alliance between Deakin University, Barwon Health and CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory.

Geelong Mayor Cr Keith Fagg said the announcement was great news for the region, putting Geelong at the frontline of protecting the health of the population and the national economy.

“This is a great example of Geelong leveraging its expertise.

“Innovation in the field of emerging infectious disease will stimulate commercial opportunities. There is potential for biotech companies to take vaccines and therapeutics to market.”

He said the centre promised flow on potential for local supply chain industry and the attraction of further investment into new fields of research and development.

“The economic impact of emerging infectious diseases can be catastrophic.

“The cost of the 2002 SARS outbreak was estimated at USD 50 billion and in Australia the 2007 equine influenza outbreak devastated racing, farming and recreational businesses and cost $50 million on disease control alone.”

The funding will contribute towards fitting out a floor of Barwon Health’s Teaching, Training and Research building in Ryrie Street.

The centre will create 30 new ongoing jobs, 107 jobs during construction and directly contribute $29.7 million into the regional economy.

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