During her three-day visit to Delhi, Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, met a team of Indian scientists working with their counterparts in Australia to develop a vaccine for malaria, which afflicted 1.6 million Indians in 2010 and is a global problem.
Speaking after meeting the scientists, Prime Minister Gillard said "I was able to see how scientific communities are working together to fight the scourge of malaria."
The joint research project is one of 90 supported by the Governments of Australia and India to date through the two countries' flagship fund for collaboration in science, Australia India Strategic Research Fund.
Prime Minister Gillard met scientists working at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in New Delhi led by Infosys Prize winner Dr Chetan Chitnis. The team is working with counterparts at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne to improve understanding about immune responses to the malaria parasite. Their research suggests new possibilities for vaccines that look more promising than others currently being considered for development or in clinical trials.
Prime Minister Gillard said "A commitment to education, research and innovation should be at the heart of our economic and social ties - indeed our Australia India Strategic Research Fund is another important example of this."
The Australia India Strategic Research Fund is co-funded and co-administered by the two governments. With a $64 million commitment from the Australian Government to support the participation of Australian researchers in joint activities, it is Australia's largest bilateral program for collaboration in science with any country. India's Ministry of Science and Technology meets the Indian teams' costs, making this one of India's largest sources of support for international collaboration. To date, the program has brought together more than 90 top universities and research institutions on both sides and hundreds of individual researchers.
At the event Ms Gillard welcomed the announcement by the Australian Academy of Science of the recipients of the Australia-India Fellowship Fund, which supports stays in India of up to 12 months for Australian early-career researchers and shorter visits for more senior scientists. This scheme is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund. Indian recipients of fellowships, to be announced soon, will visit Australia under a reciprocal scheme funded by the Government of India. (ANI)