Identifying the Bali bombers; testing for bird flu; and better selection of anti-malarial drugs

Testing for flu, malarial drug resistance, and identifying the Bali bombers are all outcomes of an Australia-Indonesia medical research initiative that begun in 1997 and continues today.

The original Australia-Indonesia Medical Research Initiative agreement between the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) in Melbourne and the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta was conceived and funded by the Indonesian Minister of Research and Technology and the Australian Government, and designed to boost the capacity of the Indonesian labs while enabling more transfer of ideas and skills between the two countries.

The initiative grew out of the work of Professor Sangkot Marzuki AM, who was researching genetic disorders at Monash University in 1992 when he was persuaded by the then Indonesian President to return to Indonesia and rebuild the Eijkman Institute.

The recent work of the Institute in identifying the Bali suicide bombers, and in diagnosing infectious diseases such as bird flu, has emphasised the key role of molecular biology in responding to threats to national biosecurity and safety.

Currently, they’re collaborating with WEHI researchers collecting field samples to search for better anti-malarial drugs. International collaborations for the Eijkman Institute have now extended to Monash University, Universitas Indonesia, University of Queensland, and Utrecht University in the Netherlands, as well as opening opportunities for masters and doctoral exchanges.