Together with 15 Chief Investigators across seven Australian universities from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Assoc Prof Ju has led the team and been awarded $928,291 to establish Australia's first Single-molecule Manipulation and Interaction Facility (SMIF) in Sydney, providing multidisciplinary researchers with a platform to explore cellular processes and reveal molecular mechanisms at the nanoscale.
“SMIF will enable a deeper understanding of fundamental mechanisms governing biological systems, materials, and nanoscale devices," said Assoc Prof Ju. "This knowledge will facilitate the development of advanced functional biomaterials, biosensors, imaging, organ-on-a-chip, and microfluidic systems, ultimately improving the quality of life in Australia.
"The facility aligns with the Australian Government's National Innovation and Science Agenda and the 2030 Strategic Plan.”
Assoc Prof Ju is currently a Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow at The University of Sydney’s School of Biomedical Engineering (BME) and adjunct at the Heart Research Institute (HRI).
Under his leadership, the SMIF facility incorporates cutting-edge technologies for bio-manipulation, real-time visualisation, and characterisation of single-molecule interactions, overcoming the technical complexity of traditional tools requiring highly specialised personnel. By offering accessible, easy-to-use advanced systems, this project will significantly boost scientific discovery across physics, chemistry, and biology, fostering collaboration and innovation to better understand life at the molecular level.
The LIEF scheme provides funding to eligible organisations for research infrastructure, equipment and facilities, and this year ARC has provided more than $28 million in funding for 35 new research projects, including Assoc Prof Ju’s.
ARC Chief Executive Officer Judi Zielke said that the LIEF scheme is an integral part of the ARC’s Linkage Program which supports national and international collaboration and research partnerships between stakeholders in research and innovation, including higher education providers.
“The LIEF scheme provides funding to research collaborations for the acquisition of research equipment and infrastructure allowing Australian researchers to undertake excellent basic and applied research and training,” Ms Zielke said.
Moreover, SMIF will contribute to Australia's knowledge economy by enabling the development of new technologies and products with commercial potential, generating revenue, creating job opportunities, and developing a skilled workforce for Australia's future.
The SMIF facility will be broadly accessible to researchers from various institutions, including regional and remote institutions. This marks a significant step towards driving innovation and discovery in Australia, with far-reaching benefits for the nation's economy, industries, and society.
Ms Zielke also said that for every $1 of research that the ARC funds, $3.32 is generated in economic output back into the Australian community.