June 18, 2008

Stem Cell Education Web Site Stemcellchannel.Com.Au Breaks New Ground for Students

A world-first stem cell education web site, which includes clear written and video explanation of the complex science and allows students to ask direct questions of leading stem cell scientists, was launched today by the Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, at the BIO International Convention.

Mr Brumby said the Stem Cell Channel - www.stemcellchannel.com.au - was developed by the Australian Stem Cell Centre with the support of the Victorian Government.

"The Victorian Government has invested heavily in key infrastructure, like the Synchrotron and the Supercomputer announced yesterday, to make Victoria a world-class biotechnology hub," Mr. Brumby said.

"But a human capital investment in the next generation of scientists will be what ensures Victoria leads the way in biotechnology for decades to come."

The Minister for Innovation, Gavin Jennings, said the Stem Cell Channel is a much-needed resource for school teachers and students.

"The Stem Cell Channel provides knowledge from a range of expert sources via interviews, animations and mini-documentaries," Mr Jennings said.

"It will become the 'go-to' resource for students and teachers and covers ethics, the science and scientists, career information, patients, and legislation, and it has an 'ask-a-scientist' function."

The "ask-a-scientist" feature allows students to email questions to working stem cell scientists at the Australian Stem Cell Centre, with scientists to provide an email reply within 48 hours.

The Australian Stem Cell Centre Chief Executive Officer Professor Stephen Livesey said the website had been set up due to demand, with the centre receiving a large number of phone and email inquiries every week from school students and teachers.

"There is no resource like this anywhere in the world. There are plenty of general websites offering stem cell information, but they are often highly scientific and very dry reading - not attractive to most high school students," Professor Livesey said.

"We need to acknowledge and understand that young people now learn in different ways. Technology is driving their style of learning and we need to adapt to this new approach."

The Australian Stem Cell Centre expects the website to receive as average of 10,000 visitors a month.