2 May 2014

New Translational Research short courses being offered by CCS

Lupus: its secrets being discovered
by research
Central Clinical School will be offering a suite of courses specialising in translational research and its management. The first four are now open for participants. See their respective links for eligibility criteria and detail of content. See also index.

1 May 2014

Dr Catherine Carmichael joins ACBD

Dr Catherine Carmichael
Welcome to Dr Catherine Carmichael from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI), whose expertise is on the regulation of both normal and abnormal blood cell development especially in relation to leukaemia. Dr Carmichael received her PhD from the University of Melbourne in 2008, studying genetic predispositions to haematological malignancies. She was a postdoc for 6 years at WEHI studying the role of the ETS-related gene, ERG, during leukaemia development. She has now joined the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases Mammalian Functional Genetics lab of A/Prof Jody Haigh as a Research Fellow, and is studying the role of Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) modulators during both normal blood cell production ("haematopoiesis") and leukaemia development. See more at www.acbd.monash.org/research/mammal-genetics.html

Participants sought: Metformin for weight loss and depression

People with depression who are also overweight are more likely to have chronic symptoms. It may be that inflammation and high insulin levels associated with being overweight make depression worse. Metformin in a medication usually used for diabetes that lowers inflammation and insulin levels and has been shown to help with weight loss. The Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research centre is investigating the effectiveness of metformin in combination with standard antidepressants at causing weight loss and improving depressive symptoms.

30 Apr 2014

Rare but critical immune cells to fight CLL can be restored

Professor Fabienne Mackay
The long-term survival of people suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) could be increased with the development of new therapeutic strategies. Ground-breaking research by Monash University Professor Fabienne Mackay from the Department of Immunology and PhD student Damien Easton-Saulep has been released today in the prestigious journal Leukemia that uncovers never before reported aspects of CLL. Professor Mackay’s research found that key cells called “plasmacytoid dendritic cells”, which are important for fighting infections and stimulating other immune cells in the destruction of tumor and infected cells, are actually eliminated in people with aggressive CLL. See more: 14 April 2014 Monash story 
Reference: www.nature.com/leu/journal/v28/n10/full/leu2014105a.html#aff1

Estrogen therapy promising for women with treatment-resistant schizophrenia

Source: alasbimn journal
Professor Jayashri Kulkarni and a team of researchers at the Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre have published evidence in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, showing the clinical effectiveness of estrogen as an adjunct therapy for women with treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Their large-scale trial adds to the growing body of evidence that estradiol has antipsychotic effects, particularly at higher doses, and has a clinically meaningful effect in this particular group of women. See article reference and abstract.

Is gluten a cause of gastrointestinal symptoms in people without celiac disease?

Gluten: appears not to affect
non-celiac IBS sufferers
The avoidance of wheat- and gluten-containing products is a worldwide phenomenon. While celiac disease is a well-established entity, the evidence base for gluten as a trigger of symptoms in patients without celiac disease (so-called ‘non-celiac gluten sensitivity’ or NCGS) is limited. Department of Gastroenterology (DoG) researchers review the evidence and conclude that, "On current evidence the existence of the entity of NCGS remains unsubstantiated." See full text of article.

Easter special: What is the FODMAP content of chocolate?

Photo: cucicucicoo
  • Green: dark chocolate. 1 serve = 5 squares or 30 g
  • Amber: milk chocolate. 1 serve = 5 squares or 30 g - Lactose is the fodmap
  • Amber: white chocolate. 1 serve = 5 squares or 30 g - Lactose is the fodmap
Avoid large serves of chocolate. Chocolate is high in fat, and when consumed in excess can affect gut motility and may trigger symptoms.
Avoid carob chocolate. Carob powder is high in oligos (fructans), and much higher than cocoa powder.  Source: www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/research/updates.html

Congratulations to Christina Chang for her PhD award

Dr Christina Chang
Congratulations to Dr Christina Chang, who has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy for her thesis, "Immunopathogenesis and diagnosis of Cryptococcosis-associated Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome (C-IRIS) in persons living with HIV". It was accepted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree by the Graduate Research Steering Committee on Tuesday 1 April 2014.The degree and title will be conferred upon graduation. Christina's supervisors were Professor Sharon Lewin, Dr Julian Elliott, Professor Martyn French and Associate Professor Eunice Moosa.

Immunology PhD graduate Christopher Chan awarded VC Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence

Dr Christopher Chan
Congratulations to Dr Christopher Chan who has received a Vice-Chancellor's Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence for his PhD thesis. Christopher was a PhD student in the Department of Immunology who completed his thesis in 2013. He did his research at the Peter MacCallum Hospital under the supervision of adjunct staff members Prof Mark Smyth and Dr Daniel Andrews.  The title of Christopher's thesis was "Mechanisms of NK cell-mediated regulation of inflammation and cancer".

Leukaemia Foundation poster prizes for ACBD researchers

Drs Nhu-Y Nguyen and Cedric
Tremblay. Photo: Bonnie Dopheide
At the recent New Directions in Leukaemia Research (NDLR) conference held in Noosa, Dr Nhu-Y Nguyen and Dr Cedric Tremblay, both Research Officers in the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases, each received a Leukaemia Foundation Poster Prize, worth $1000. With close to 200 attendees, this niche meeting discussed new strategies for treating leukaemia and other blood-related cancers.Their research respectively investigates different cancers and different strategies for controlling cancer cell activity.

Dr Elizabeth Gardiner receives Distinguished Visiting Fellowship from University of Birmingham

Dr Elizabeth Gardiner, Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD), is the recipient of a Distinguished Visiting Fellowship from the University of Birmingham, UK. She will take up this one month visiting fellowship in May, 2014 at the Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, Institute of Biomedical Research, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, UK. Her host is Professor Steve Watson, an international leader in the field of platelet biology.

Our PhD students volunteer for 29 April Day of Immunology activities with high school students

Sir Gus Nossal conjuring his audience
to grow up and become immunologists
The International Day of Immunology is held in Australia on 29 April and there are many associated activities. One is a full day for high school students at the Gene Technology Access Centre (GTAC), who have the opportunity to listen to and talk with eminent immunologists including Sir Gus Nossal, established and early career researchers, and try various wet lab activities and practicals under the careful eyes of immunology instructors. This year, four PhD students from the CCS Department of Immunology have volunteered for this task. We would like to thank Maria Demaria, Jodie Abramovitch, Tim Gottschalk and Erika Duan for their generous gift of time, expertise and enthusiasm. Hopefully these high school students will be enraptured by immunology and elect to study with us!

PhD profile: Nicholas Lam on how to regrow damaged heart muscle

Nick Lam has just completed his PhD thesis, which was investigating regrowing damaged hearts with muscle, instead of the body's own process of filling holes with scar tissue, the physiological equivalent of polyfilla. The title of his PhD is “Cardiac regeneration: effective nerve growth factor”. Basically it’s about the effect of a protein, called 'nerve growth factor', on a damaged heart. Nick was based in the Heart Failure Research Group at Baker IDI with one of his supervisors, Professor David Kaye. His other supervisor was Professor Nadia Rosenthal from Monash University. For more, see his profile.

30 May 2014 Monash University FODMAP Workshop update for Dietitians

The Monash University FODMAP Update for Dietitians is open for booking.
    Date: Friday 30 May 2014
  • Time: sign up at 9.00 am to start at 9.30 am
  • Venue: Lecture Theatre, Level 5, Alfred Centre, 99 Commercial Road, Melbourne 3004
  • Cost: $100 per person
  • Booking link

IgV presents the 2014 Immunology Master Class

The Immunology Group of Victoria (IgV) presents the 2014 Master Class, 5 May.  This forum showcases cutting-edge techniques, technologies and scientific approaches relevant to the field of Immunology and is attended by students, postdocs and lab heads alike.  The 2014 Master Class will showcase recent research from eminent immunology researchers and techniques that may be useful for Immunologists.

Molecules to Medicines intern program

The Victorian government is sponsoring the Molecules to Medicines intern program to provide practical on-the-job training and mentoring for researchers in technology transfer, translation and the commercial development of biomedical discoveries.  Further information can be found at www.molecules2medicine.org. All students/post docs interested in this program must submit a CV and a brief statement why they wish to pursue this course to Dr Steven Petratos (Central Clinical School) steven.petratos@monash.edu by 31 May 2014.

28 Apr 2014

Participants sought: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in the treatment of fibromyalgia

Image: Wikimedia
The Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre at the Alfred Hospital is currently seeking volunteers for a clinical trial of a non-medication investigational treatment for fibromyalgia called repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS). rTMS is a painless, safe, and non-invasive means of stimulating nerve cells in the brain.We are conducting this study to see whether we can reduce the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
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