UniSC Clinical Trials Set For $11.5m SEQ Expansion

University of the Sunshine Coast

The University of the Sunshine Coast is set to double its clinical trials capacity on the Sunshine Coast and at Moreton Bay, in a $11.5 million expansion project.

With support from the Queensland Government through the Industry Partnership Program, UniSC Clinical Trials will scale up the clinical footprint at the Morayfield Health Hub and establish a new 24-bed facility at the Maroochydore Private Hospital, which is currently under construction.

UniSC Clinical Trials network provides community access to clinical trials, supporting regional patient participation in trials and the development of new treatments and medical devices – with sites in Brisbane, Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast.

UniSC Clinical Trials is investing the $11.5m in its Morayfield and Maroochydore facilities.

UniSC Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Helen Bartlett, anticipates the expansion will create more than 100 new jobs over the next five years while offering greater opportunities for researchers, students, and patients.

“UniSC’s Clinical Trials has expertise in trials across a range of chronic diseases, vaccines, cancer treatment, healthy volunteers, and medical devices across all phases of development,” Professor Bartlett said.

“In deciding which trials to lead, we place strong consideration on community interest, so if we can see benefits from an early phase trial, then it’s one we will aim to secure for our community.

“This means we accept a lot of trials for potential medications and treatments to address mental health, coeliac disease, dementia, metabolic diseases like diabetes, eye health, osteoarthritis, and various trials for neurological conditions., which our communities have shown us that they care about immensely.”

She said clinical trials also assisted local innovators to more fully develop products that could lead to exports, as well as inviting international businesses to develop their products in Queensland.

Swiss orthopaedic product leader Medacta has already signed to co-locate at the hospital to research and develop new prosthetics and medical implants, in a partnership that Professor Bartlett said would benefit industry, researchers and students alike.

A render of the Maroochydore Private Hospital currently under construction (supplied by McNab).

“To have all these facilities and expertise co-located at a specialist hospital is going to be a major drawcard for research to the Sunshine Coast and a big step for UniSC as we continue to build partnerships with industry and the community that are mutually beneficial,” Professor Bartlett said.

“It’s also fitting that we expand our clinical trial capacity in the City of Moreton Bay as we expand our newest campus there too. Moreton Bay has Australia’s fastest growing population, expected to reach 690,000 by 2041.”

UniSC Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Ross Young said UniSC Clinical Trials helped bring cutting-edge medical developments to the community particularly trials in mental health, diabetes and coeliac disease.

“Clinical trials are an important feature of any advanced healthcare system and critical to the development of new therapies, devices and diagnostics, as well as the delivery of these to patients in the community, starting here in Queensland,” he said.

“The Sunshine Coast is fast becoming a leading region for biomedical and life sciences research, products and services, with an innovative health and medical infrastructure, research, clinical expertise and industry growth opportunities.

“Co-locating research and development of new medical developments and devices with healthcare delivery at the eight-storey Maroochydore Private Hospital, as they have already done at Morayfield Health Hub, will allow patients to be at the frontline of the latest in that medicine has to offer before it’s available to the general public.”

This project has been funded under the $415.5 million Industry Partnership Program that is part of the Queensland Jobs Fund to boost the State’s industry footprint, create jobs and strengthen the economy and local supply chains.

UniSC Clinical Trials Director Lucas Litewka said the network would also begin offering decentralised trials that would take the services into the community to make them more accessible.

UniSC Clinical Trials Director Lucas Litewka, Deputy Director Jessica Baird and UniSC Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Ross Young

“Community involvement is key to the network’s success,” Mr Litewka said.

“The network has delivered more than 120 new clinical trials and recruited over 4000 volunteers from the community, supporting the commercialisation of innovative medicines, medical devices and other therapies.

“We wouldn’t be in this position without the overwhelming support from the community on every project, and our network of health professionals, partners and service providers who have helped propel us to where we are now.

“By funding these two main infrastructure projects, the Government is building our ability to do more work and attract more business to Queensland, and we are enormously grateful and excited for this growth opportunity,” Mr Litewka said.

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