Context - Aims
Linking key nodes across the country, ARNTE will bring geographically
separate groups from a wide range of disciplines into a critical
mass of cell and tissue engineering research. ARNTE will deliver
benefits to Australia in terms of improved medical care, employment
opportunities and global recognition. Notably, the ARNTE research
activities align well with the 2004 National Research Priorities
for ‘Promoting and Maintaining Good Health’ and for
‘Frontier Technologies for Building and Transforming Australian
Industries’. The aims of the Network are as follows:
To identify appropriate expertise.
The multidisciplinary nature of this emerging discipline means that
no one group has a complete suite of relevant expertise, making
it essential to facilitate complementary skill sets. ARNTE involves
all of the core enabling skills and technologies. Furthermore, ARNTE
can call on expertise in a range of areas as diverse as mathematical
modeling, proteomics, molecular biology, clinical practice and fabrication
technology, likely to be key drivers for advancing the field in
a non-incremental, synergistic fashion. ARNTE will be the means
by which researchers can quickly identify and locate the expertise
and resources they need for a specific project. In addition, ARNTE
will continually scan and probe the research and commercial environments
for new and relevant facilities, technologies and expertise.
To develop training and mentoring programs.
ARNTE will be involved in developing a new generation of tissue
engineers, trained by high quality, tailored education programs.
Students will be integrated into projects involving international
and local high calibre researchers, and have access to expertise
and equipment across institutional and geographic borders. Together
with young post-doctoral researchers, students will participate
in formal national and international exchange programs coordinated
and facilitated by ARNTE. ARNTE will also be involved in the development
of seminars and workshops aimed at enhancing industry awareness
of available technology and expertise, and will provide on-going
professional development in association with educational institutions
and professional bodies. ARNTE is comprised of well-established
researchers with impressive track records, as well as researchers
who are in the early, formative stages of their careers (Young Investigators;
Early Career Researchers).
The results of a survey of our members
is shown above. Early Career Researchers are defined by the Australian
Research Council as those who are within five years of the start
of their research careers/awarding of their research doctorate.
Young Investigators are those who received their PhD after 1 January
ARNTE will function as a research community that actively
promotes collaboration and effective mentoring. Through ARNTE, younger
researchers will help set the goals and priorities for future Australian
tissue engineering research.
To provide communication systems
and tools such as a skills database. An electronic bulletin
board has already been established for use by ARNTE members. It
is available here.
The searchable skills database has been implemented and can be accessed
using this link. ARNTE has already sponsored several
successful meetings, workshops and teleconferences across the country,
and has brought together the core participants for two sets of round-table
To bring together proficiencies
in innovative ways. ARNTE will strengthen existing collaborative
links and develop new ones, to support the deep level of communication
and understanding required for success. In particular, ARNTE will
facilitate innovation in tissue engineering research by bringing
together researchers who will approach challenges from different
perspectives. Building on this platform, ARNTE will facilitate the
development of innovative collaborative grant proposals from within
its constituency. These activities will enhance the scope and focus
of Australian tissue engineering research.
To create linkages.
The broad scope of this endeavour requires significant collaborations
outside traditional discipline boundaries, which will be instigated
and developed by ARNTE. ARNTE will identify and nurture new and
exciting links and facilitate the formation of focused multidisciplinary
teams. Areas as diverse as art, public awareness studies, and nanotechnology
will be tapped. Globally, ARNTE has an extensive network of overseas
collaborators prepared to offer their expertise on a reciprocal
basis. ARNTE also has the enthusiastic support of global networks
such as Tissue Engineering Society International, enabling it to
play a significant role internationally. These activities will encourage
national and international collaboration between tissue engineering
researchers, particularly between researchers from different disciplines,
geographic locations and organisations.
To inform the broader community.
ARNTE recognises that the intensity and range of its activities
have the potential to impact significantly on the Australian community,
and that its responsibilities extend beyond the boundaries of scientific
research. Informed debate is a pre-requisite for the acceptance
of these new therapies by the Australian public. In turn, researchers
need to be aware of, and respond to, public concerns. ARNTE will
address these issues through a number of activities:
- Analysis of the ethical issues involved in developing new tissue
engineering techniques and in extending the application of existing
techniques (e.g. transgenic developments, artificial organs, xenotransplantation
- Fostering of public awareness of TE and generating discussion
of the social and ethical implications of developments in TE;
- Ethical evaluation of policies and regulations relating to research,
access to tissues, or clinical application of new tissue engineering
- Evaluation of the need for legislation and the risks associated
with legislating or of not doing so.
To generate focused research programs.
The structure of ARNTE is designed to stimulate new research by
cross-fertilisation of ideas. For the first time in Australia, there
will be a powerful grouping of researchers from all the relevant
sciences including physical, chemical, biological and medical sciences
to tackle, at the fundamental level, the challenges associated with
tissue engineering. Open ended and free-ranging brainstorming sessions
will be used to evolve creative new research programs. More focused
meetings will be held to refine projects and generate ideas to address
the major technological barriers identified. The creation of new
ideas in these sessions will be followed by the establishment of
research programs by Participants.
The nature of the research area is multidisciplinary in the sense
that contribution is required from more than one skill group to
achieve the best outcome. ARNTE will provide a means of surmounting
the barriers that tissue engineering currently encounters when a
research outcome is sought. These constraints frequently disappear
when researchers from another skill area are exposed to the apparent
difficulty. This problem solving aspect of ARNTE will be achieved
in the first instance by informal direct contacts between ARNTE
members. Where problems are seen as particularly intractable and
a serious barrier to progress, formal workshops will be convened.
Advances in Australian tissue engineering research will require
secure, adequate and long-term funding. Innovative research, which
may involve risk taking, is unlikely to thrive when funding is tenuous,
limited and short-term. ARNTE will generate focused research programs
aimed at securing sufficient funding to make significant research
- Due to their expertise and track record, ARNTE participants
are responsible for the effective application of substantial research
funds, from both government and non-government sources –
more than $9 million in 2003-04
- Further scientific progress will depend on the ability of ARNTE
participants to obtain additional funds. Currently, limited funding
is available after 2005, however we expect that additional funding
will be awarded for future grant proposals. At present, the majority
of funding from 2005 to 2008 shown comes from international sources
with longer- term projects.
($ M AUD)
Total funding obtained by ARNTE members from a range
of sources: ARC Australian Research Council; NHMRC National Health
Medical Research Council; Other includes private and international
To manage duplication of effort. ARNTE
will routinely audit current and planned research activities, as
well as capabilities and infrastructure. The information obtained
from this mapping process will enable ARNTE members to develop integrated
activities to maximise resource utilisation. Regular contacts between
researchers through ARNTE will also help to consolidate and integrate
research programs. Through intimate involvement with professional
societies and local initiatives, ARNTE will contribute to the integration
of tissue engineering themes at meetings, workshops and symposia
across the country, to maximise the benefits to local organizers
and attendees by providing a coherent and consistent view of tissue
engineering activity across the country.
To encourage competition where appropriate.
To achieve accelerated progress more than one approach
is advisable to insure against vulnerability to research roadblocks
that may be specific to one methodology. For important research
goals, ARNTE will encourage multiple research strategies where the
strategies offer alternative pathways for achieving a research goal.
The existence of the network will enable competing approaches to
be identified and pursued.
To foster novel commercial opportunities.
Successful commercialisation occurs when an unmet need in the marketplace
is satisfied by an idea or strategy. Many good ideas fail to progress
past the boundaries of academia because of a failure of the inventor
to communicate the idea effectively to a potential commercial partner.
In other cases, commercial entities who require help on a specific
issue, or are in need of a new idea to enable innovation, are unaware
of who to communicate with or how to engage a researcher based in
an academic or research institute. ARNTE will greatly increase the
number of contacts that have the potential to address these commercial
needs. Many ARNTE members have established commercial contacts and
these will be used to create a database that will be available to
ARNTE participants. Conversely, ARNTE will be able to supply commercial
entities with academic experts in relevant discipline areas. ARNTE
members are actively involved in industry associations such as Ausbiotech.
ARNTE is also currently discussing with state governments how their
industry development departments will participate in the Network,
and how ARNTE can help facilitate the launching of new tissue engineering
companies. Once ARNTE has established its presence, it will become
the natural focus for commercial activity in tissue engineering
in Australia and the pool of industry and academic contacts in the
relevant databases will be expanded as ARNTE grows.