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UNSW announces new institutes to address humanity’s most pressing challenges

UNSW Sydney has established four new institutes focused on using cross-disciplinary research to find solutions to major scientific and social challenges confronting society.

The UNSW Futures Institutes are part of the UNSW Futures initiative, a major component of the University’s 2025 Strategy. UNSW Futures provides a framework for facilitating cross-faculty and interdisciplinary work, driving innovative approaches to research, and addressing scientific and social challenges.

As part of the initiative, UNSW will invest up to $200 million in new and emerging areas from across faculties. These virtual institutes will receive core funding to support operations, seed-funding for new research projects, and a commitment of funding to obtain staff under the University’s showcase Strategic Hires and Retention Program (SHARP) program.

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Nicholas Fisk, announced the first four Futures Institutes last week. They are:

  • UNSW Ageing Futures Institute: enabling optimal ageing for individuals and society – led by Professor Kaarin Anstey.
  • UNSW Cellular Genomics Futures Institute: inventing technologies to decode individual cell DNA, chromatin, RNA, and protein outputs that will be used for precise diagnosis and precision treatment of human disease – led by Professor Chris Goodnow.
  • UNSW Digital Grid Futures Institute: future-proofing global energy systems to ensure reliable, secure, affordable, sustainable energy supply – led by Professor Joe Dong.
  • UNSW Materials & Manufacturing Futures Institute: transforming the future of materials and manufacturing research in energy, transport, information technology, and health care – initially led by Professor Sean Li pending a definitive appointment.

The University will formally launch the Institutes at an event on Wednesday 24 October from 4-6pm in the John Niland Scientia Building, Leighton Hall. The event will include a brief presentation and panel discussion, followed by an opportunity for networking with Futures Institute directors and lead investigators.

Professor Fisk declared that these institutes position UNSW as a big-picture visionary university of the future.

“The institutes will enhance UNSW’s focus on innovative interdisciplinary and cross-faculty research that impacts society and policy,” said Professor Fisk. “The Institutes build on our existing strengths and will act as a drawcard for international recruitment, government and industry links, while harnessing academic excellence to address humanity’s major challenges.”

A second round of UNSW Futures Institute applications will open in later 2019.

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