Elizabeth Neilson (Private photo)

Interview in English with researcher Elizabeth Neilson about Danish-Australian bio-tech discoveries from the study of koala poo.


Mik Aidt
Published on
Thursday, July 16, 2015 - 20:04
File size
4.7 MB
10 min 14 sec

Can we look into the future by looking in a koalas stomach? It sounds like voodoo shaman-talk from another era, but no - it is actually in modern bio-tech that something like this is being done nowadays. At least in the Danish-Australian bio tech research project, which is currently running at the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with several Australian universites. The project has the potential to address some of the major challenges facing humanity when it comes to health, energy and our understanding of what climate change will to mean.

The koala is a popular animal in Australia. Surveys have shown that the koala is the Australian animal that tourists most want to see when they come to visit this country. But researcher Elizabeth Neilson is not only fond of koalas because they look so cute, but because of the enzymes that koalas have in their stomachs - enzymes that are able to break down toxic eucalyptus leaves, which is the only thing koalas live on.

Elizabeth Neilson was educated at Melbourne University, but she had to take a trip to the other side of the world, to Denmark, to truly to be able to immerse herself in the research into the eucalyptus leaves and the animal that eats them - and the bio-tech solutions that her research team is on the trail of. We caught Elizabeth Neilson on a skype-line in Copenhagen, where she initially told us a little about her own background.