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Great advances expected from Centre for Neural Engineering

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MEDIA RELEASESENATOR KIM CARR Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research SENATOR JACINTA COLLINS Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations Tuesday, 4 October 2011 GREAT ADVANCES EXPECTED FROM CENTRE FOR NEURAL ENGINEERING A better understanding of the human brain and diseases of the central nervous system is closer thanks to the new Centre for Neural Engineering at the University of Melbourne. Established through a $17.5 million research infrastructure grant from round 2 of the Australian Government’s Education Investment Fund (EIF), the centre will bring together scientists and researchers who are leaders in their fields. Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said the Centre is a momentous undertaking and a valuable addition to the university’s world-class collaborative research. “Through this Centre, Australia will be in the box seat for developing new brain-machine interfaces that can do anything from helping quadriplegics use computer systems to enhancing computer games and entertainment,” Senator Carr said. The role of the EIF is to build a modern, productive, internationally competitive economy by supporting world-leading, strategically focussed infrastructure investment. It has poured more than $1.6 billion into research infrastructure projects since 2008. Launching the Centre on behalf of the Government, Senator Jacinta Collins said the study of neural engineering in a purpose-built facility will do far more than just improve our scientific and research endeavours. “It will encourage our finest researchers to delve into advanced scientific modelling, complex data processing, and the development of autonomous systems,” she said. “There is great potential for the work of this centre to inspire and improve the lives of all Australians - indeed, its reach will be truly global.”

Senator Carr said the Centre’s director Professor Stan Skafidas has a brilliant international reputation for his work in the development of microelectronics, wireless communication and other communication systems.

Nobel Laureate and pioneering researcher into the nature of nerve cells, Professor Bert Sakmann of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology (Heidelberg, Germany) participated in the opening, illustrating the international interest in Australia’s work in this field.

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Media contacts: Minister's Office, 02 6277 7580 Tony Rothnie, Department, 02 6276 1998, 0413 133 866