Monash University tops the world in pharmacy and pharmacology

Talking points

  • Monash University has been ranked Number 1 in pharmacy and pharmacology, beating Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge. 
  • Monash University was recognised for a range of factors, including developing Australia’s first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine and its work on developing life-saving treatment for women who die during childbirth in developing countries. 

Twenty-thousand lives a year.

That’s how many women could be saved each year by a powder developed at Monash University.

Monash University has been ranked as the world’s top university in pharmacy and pharmacology. From left to right: Professor Chris Langmead, Professor Arthur Christopoulos, Professor Margaret Gardner and Professor Chris Porter.Credit:Justin McManus

The powder will allow lifesaving oxytocin to be given to women who experience postpartum haemorrhages, one of the leading causes of death during childbirth in parts of the world where refrigerated injections of the drug are not accessible.

The development of the oxytocin powder is just one of the reasons the university has been recognised as the world’s best in pharmacy and pharmacology. It is the first time an Australian university has topped the list and follows a second-place ranking last year.

In recent months Monash researchers also developed Australia’s first COVID-19 mRNA vaccine and launched the Neuromedicines Discovery Centre in November to address the need for safer and more effective medicines to treat mental illness.

Faculty of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences dean Arthur Christopoulos said the improved ranking had been decades in the making.

“Our approach has always been, and always will be, based on a culture that does not accept traditional disciplinary barriers, and a faculty that simply recruits the best people that share this particular vision,” Professor Christopoulos said.

“And then we provide them with the best environment in which they can do great things in drug discovery research.”

Monash was one of seven Australian universities that made the overall top 100 in the 2022 QS World University rankings announced on Wednesday night, but it fell three places to 58th. The Australian National University is the country’s highest ranked university at equal 27th.

The University of Melbourne, The University of Sydney, The University of NSW, The University of Queensland and The University of Western Australia also made the top 100.

The rankings are based on subject scores, academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per paper and an international research network that measures the number of global institutions the university has partnered with.

Monash’s faculty of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences has been recognised for a range of achievements, including developing the Relenza flu vaccine following 20 years of research, and Australia’s first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine that is currently in the first phase of a clinical trial.

The Andrews government provided Monash with $5 million in funding last year to manufacture the vaccines for clinical trial, which is still ongoing.

“[The ranking] is a demonstration that the excellence of our research and education in (pharmacy and pharmacology) is very clear,” Monash vice-chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner said.

Minister for Medical Research Jaala Pulford said Victoria is home to the country’s best medical researchers. Credit:Justin McManus

“And that’s critical to the future health of our economy in Australia, in the region and in the world … It’s a testament to the quality of the research, and it also reflects the world community’s judgment of how significant the work is that’s coming out in pharmacy and pharmacology from Monash University.”

Victorian Minister for Medical Research Jaala Pulford said the government was committed to upholding Victoria as the nation’s home of medical research.

“We love the job creation and economic attainment, but drug development that helps us regain control of our lives in a pandemic … helps people enjoy better mental health … and stops women dying in childbirth in developing countries … is truly spectacular,” Ms Pulford said.

“It changes lives and it saves lives, and it means that people can be well, and they can get on with their life and they can enjoy all of these things.”

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