Algae in the form of a new pill could be the game-changer in the fight against obesity, if a joint research project being funded by the Palaszczuk Government in Queensland is successful. Science Minister Leeanne Enoch said University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) Jessica Pahl has been awarded an Advance Queensland PhD Scholarship to carry out the research.

“Our Advance Queensland scholarship program encourages collaboration between research and industry and helps translate research breakthroughs into practical and beneficial outcomes,” Ms Enoch said.

“In Queensland, two in three adults and more than a quarter of children are overweight or obese and while this research is still in the experimental stage, the science tells us this work could be the key to designing a new tool, possibly in the form of a new nutritional pill, to help overweight people and benefit our health system in general.”

“I hope this research delivers scientific evidence encouraging further investment in new products developed in Queensland, and stimulates business growth in algae and aquaculture industries,” she said.

Ms Pahl will work with algae nutrition company MBD and its research and development team at James Cook University, Townsville, who will provide the algae and specialized extracts for testing in rats at USQ, Toowoomba.

She said algae is a special food that not only provides nutrition but can treat or prevent disease. Through her research, she aims to document those health benefits in treating obesity.

“My industry partner will grow the right strains and provide the ingredients we want, and my university partner will analyze the chemical differences so I can measure which algae and which components are most effective in reducing body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol levels and reversing obesity over 16 weeks,” she said.

“Once we know which components, such as mineral salts or pigments, or whether the whole algae have led to meaningful improvements in the fat rats’ health, we’ll progress to human clinical trials.”

Ms Pahl will receive up to $45,000 over three years to pursue her and obtain a PhD degree. Ms Enoch said the Advance Queensland scholarships demonstrated the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to support vital research, retain the best and brightest emerging scientists and build local industry.

Advance Queensland is the Palaszczuk Government’s $405 million whole-of-government initiative focusing on harnessing innovation to unlock business potential, grow our regions, foster new industries, and give future generations the necessary skills and knowledge for the jobs of tomorrow.

More information about the Advance Queensland PhD Scholarships is available on http://advance.qld.gov.au/phd-scholarships