Lead Chief Investigator: Brad Sherman, The University of Queensland

Collaborating Chief Investigators: Mark Cooper, Daniel Ortiz-Barrientos, Graeme Hammer, Kevin Burrage


Intellectual property laws are based on specific conceptualisations of creation and innovation. As a result, plant breeders’ rights and patents for plant-based materials have evolved around a model of plant breeding that is rapidly changing.  

Developments in experimental capabilities, computational power and statistical modelling have contributed to the rise of quantitative biology—the application of statistical, mathematical and computational techniques to the study and development of living organisms.  

Our aim is to develop best practice guidelines for the Centre’s researchers that prevent potential regulatory and legal barriers to innovation. 

Our research will also be of benefit beyond the Centre, for policymakers, lawyers and life science researchers. 

Our approach

We will explore the historical trajectory of quantitative biology, its influence on how plant-based subject matter is described and identified, and how the new forms of innovation and novelty it engenders will interact with intellectual property systems. 

We will investigate how the types of research we are doing at the Centre conflicts with and challenges the existing regulatory and legal frameworks; for example, in terms of how we think about novelty, originality and authorship.  

We will also explore how the existing frameworks affect and influence the Centre’s research. To the extent that they do, we will develop best practice guidelines for use within the Centre (and outside) and offer suggestions for reform.