17 Dec 2015

Final issue of CCS blog for 2015

This is the final issue of the Central Clinical School blog for 2015. It's been a busy year and we wish everyone a happy, safe and restful break over the Christmas and New Year period.

The CCS blog resumes on Friday 5 Feb 2016.

Photo of the week: Prof Wendy Brown's group

Bariatric Surgery Registry (SPHPM) and Centre for Obesity Research and Education (CCS).
L-R Back row. Anna Palmer (Ethics Assistant), Brittany Smith (Customer Relationship Officer), Prof Wendy Brown (Director, Professor of Surgery, CCS), Cheryl Laurie (Research Nurse), Dianne Brown (Project Manager), Lucy Davenport (Administrative Assistant), Tiffany Tei (Summer Scholarship student)
Front row. Aileen Heal (Administrative Assistant), Jazz Padarath (Data entry assistant), Berihun Zeleke (Data entry assistant/PhD student), Margaret Anderson (Data Manager), Geri Ooi (PhD surgical trainee)

Video of the week: The FODMAP Grand Tour Down Under (animation)

Low FODMAP diet for IBS, Department of Gastroenterology, Central Clinical School

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder affecting approximately 15% of people worldwide. Characterised by lower abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, wind, distension and altered bowel habit (ranging from diarrhoea to constipation), the condition causes considerable discomfort and daily disruption for the sufferer. Researchers at Monash University have developed a diet strategy to manage IBS symptoms known as the low FODMAP diet. This diet is the product of extensive research which has quantified the FODMAP content of hundreds of foods, described the mechanism by which the diet works and shown that a low FODMAP diet improves symptom control in approximately three out of every four people with IBS. Join us as we go on a journey (almost like 'Fantastic Voyage'!) to understand the physiological effects of FODMAPs and the dramatic effects of a low FODMAP diet in people with IBS.

See more about Low FODMAP diet research and products at Monash:
  • Website: http://bit.ly/1vXL2tQ
  • App: http://bit.ly/1PKfK3Y
  • Booklet: http://bit.ly/1yFzqxg
  • Video link for reference:  https://youtu.be/Z_1Hzl9o5ic

Forthcoming events 2016

Dr Katherine Suter presenting
at the 2015 D.S. Rosengarten
Surgical Trainee Prize event
Central Clinical School has regular seminar series and graduate research presentations. All event notices are maintained on the CCS Events calendar. CCS staff & students can see details of both public and local events (including professional development courses, trade fairs and Graduate Research Student calendars) and deadlines, at the CCS Intranet's Announcements page.

Various departments have their own calendars. See CCS seminar index: www.med.monash.edu.au/cecs/events/seminars.html

Ethanol exposure and traumatic brain injury

By Dr Jodie Abramovitch

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an important health issue, being a major cause of death and disability worldwide. When a TBI occurs in the absence of injury to the rest of the body, it is known as an isolated TBI (iTBI). Ethanol exposure or intoxication is commonly associated with iTBI. However, following injury, the effects of ethanol in the brain are unknown.

How does ethanol affect the brain?
Researchers from the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (DEPM) and the Department of Surgery, alongside colleagues from the Alfred Hospital’s Emergency and Trauma Centre and National Trauma Research Institute, have recently investigated the association between ethanol exposure leading to iTBI and in-hospital mortality rates.

Slowing down age-related hearing loss

By Dr Jodie Abramovitch

Loss of hearing associated with age is a leading cause of disability amongst older people. Low level inflammation may damage blood vessels within the ear, leading to hearing loss. Furthermore, hearing loss may be associated with blood vessel damage within the eye, as well as loss of cognitive function. This suggests that there may be a common underlying inflammatory cause for each of these age-related conditions.

Can aspirin reduce age-related
hearing loss? 
Aspirin is a commonly used anti-inflammatory medication. It has a known role in helping treat blood vessel diseases and can inhibit the formation of blood clots.

Monash researchers from the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (SPHPM) are involved in a new study called ASPREE-HEARING. This study will assess the effect of aspirin on hearing levels in patients aged 70 years and older who are involved in the ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) clinical trial.

16 Dec 2015

Rob Medcalf delivers 2015 Barry Firkin oration

Professor Rob Medcalf delivered the Barry Firkin Oration during the Joint Haematology congress (HAA) in Adelaide on 17 Oct 2015. Dr Jennifer Curnow (President of the Australian Society for Thrombosis and Haemostasis; ASTH) is to Rob's left, presenting the artworks to Rob.

15 Dec 2015

Congratulations to Susan Lee, CCS BMedSc(Hons) 2015 dux!

Susan Lee, 2015 BMedSc(Hons) dux
at Central Clinical School
Congratulations to Susan Lee, who was the highest performing BMedSc(Hons) student for CCS in 2015. Well done Susan!

Susan's supervisor was Dr Rebecca Segrave, Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre. Her research project was "Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: The influence of gender and endogenous oestrogen".

Prof Jenny Hoy, BMedSc(Hons) coordinator at the Alfred, said all of the 2015 students did extremely well. She said, "It's a pleasure to mentor such highly motivated students. Healthcare in Australia has a very bright future with such diligent and able students coming through!"
2015 Central Clinical School Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours) students:
L-R Back row: Frank Gao, Fei Bing, Gabrielle Freedman, Evelyn Bian, Jacqueline Bell, Storm Holwill, Victoria Berquist, William MacDonald.
L-R Middle row: Yasar Zirek, Susan Lee, Karin Utami, Diar Rudiatmoko, Angela Sarumpaet.
L-R Front row: Angus Brown, Rebecca Lewis, Lucinda Miller.
Absent: Lia Amanda, Prasanna Bhaskaran, Bridget Pianta, Nahkita Wolfe (SPHPM), Hui Yeoh

Congratulations to CCS's 26 PhD students who completed in 2015

2015's new PhD students
Congratulations to all 26 of our completed PhD students this year!! A remarkable achievement by all the students listed below.

A big thank you also to all supervisors and staff involved in supporting our PhD students.

See all enrolled CCS Graduate Research students at: www.med.monash.edu.au/cecs/education/hdr-students.html

Congratulations to Karen Alt on AMREP Seed Grant!

Congratulations to Drs Karen Alt (pictured) and Thomas Hoefer on the award of a 2015 AMREP Collaborative Seed Grant. Karen is a Senior Research Officer in Dr Christoph Hagemeyer's NanoBiotechnology Laboratory in the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases. Thomas is a postdoctoral research officer at the Baker IDI Institute, researching effects of flow dynamics on VWF-activation in thrombus formation.

NHMRC Research 2016 application dates

Forthcoming National Health & Medical Research Council application/opening dates

  • 16 Dec 2015: Centres of Research Excellence: Minimum data due 
  • 13 Jan 2016:  Project Grants : opens in RGMS
  • 20 Jan 2016:  Development Grants: Minimum data due
  • 20 Jan 2016: NHMRC - NIH BRAIN Initiative Collaborative Research Grants: Applications close
  • 20 Jan 2016: Partnership Projects: Applications for Peer Review Cycle #1 open
  • 3 Feb 2016: Practitioner Fellowships: Applications close
  • 3 Feb 2016: Research Fellowships: Applications close 3 February 2016
The funding calendar is available on the NHMRC website.

Read NHMRC Tracker updates here.

14 Dec 2015

CCS's top tweet: Robert Gillies' philanthropic work

We pinned this tweet to the top of @CCSMonash Twitter page feed, and it was seen by over 1000 viewers. Good luck to Robert Gillies for the work with homeless people - too many of them for a wealthy, first world country. Follow his work at @Homelessofmelb. See the original tweet at https://twitter.com/CCSMonash/status/659841821825044480

Position vacant: Faculty of Science HEW 5 Administration Officer, Research and Graduate Research

The Faculty of Science Research Office is seeking to appoint a full-time casual HEW 5 Administration Officer, Research and Graduate Research.  The role of the Administration Officer is to provide a wide range of administrative services and support for research staff and Graduate Research students across the Faculty of Science.  We are seeking ​a ​highly motivated individual who has exceptional organisational skills, who thrives on attention to detail, engaging with staff and students, and has a passion for delivering excellent administrative service.  Please refer to the attached Position Description for further information.

Odd spot: When data gets creepy - the secrets we don’t realise we’re giving away

Ben Goldacre says that we all worry about digital spies stealing our data – and now even the things we thought we were happy to share are being used in ways we don’t like.

Why aren’t we making more of a fuss? Because not really understanding the technology, we have few sound intuitions into what is safe and what is flimsy when it comes to securing our digital lives – let alone what is ethical and what is creepy. See Ben Goldacre's entire essay.

See also

11 Dec 2015

Photo of the week: 2015 D.S. Rosengarten Surgical Trainee Research Prize

Mrs Candice Rosengarten presenting the D.S. Rosengarten plate to Dr Katherine Suter, who had come straight from her Alfred ICU shift handover. Mrs Rosengarten is the widow of David Rosengarten and attends each year.
Congratulations to Dr Katherine Suter on winning this year's D.S. Rosengarten Surgical Trainee Research Prize competition on Sat 5 Dec 2015. Katherine presented on “Pre-operative Predictors of Parathyroid Microadenomas”. Adenomas are non-cancerous or 'benign' tumours. However, if they form within the parathyroid gland, they can cause a cascade of different problems, ranging from psychiatric disturbance to bone disease. If discovered, the main mode of treatment is surgical removal. Katherine's study, involving 797 patients, looked at the small, or 'micro' adenomas. The smaller they are, the more invasive the surgery required and less likelihood of cure. She concluded that "microadenomas continue to present as a challenge in both diagnosis and management."

See more:

Video of the week: Ricardo Ataide explains someone else's graph

The 2015 CCS postgraduate symposium included a couple of sections for comic light relief. Dr Ricardo Ataide of the Burnet Institute won the "Explain My Graph" segment, in which the presenter has to talk to a subject with which he or she is not familiar, and has never seen the slides before. Ricardo's own subject area is malaria, but here he fluently explains (or doesn't) a possible therapy for ovarian cancer patients.
See more

Forthcoming CCS events: Seminars, public events, general notices

2014 CCS postgraduate symposium 
Central Clinical School has regular seminar series and graduate research presentations. All event notices are maintained on the CCS Events calendar. CCS staff & students can see details of both public and local events (including professional development courses, trade fairs and Graduate Research Student calendars) and deadlines, at the CCS Intranet's Announcements page.

Various departments have their own calendars. See CCS seminar index: www.med.monash.edu.au/cecs/events/seminars.html

2015 close

  • University shutdown is 23 Dec 2015 - 3 Jan 2016 inclusive
  • 2016 events will be posted from early Feb 2016.

What's on for this coming week: 14-18 Dec 2015

Mon 14-Dec  12:30 Psychiatry Professorial Grand Round
Thu 17-Dec  17:00 Drop off gifts for Salvation Army pickup to BakerIDI foyer

10 Dec 2015

Combatting superbugs – potential role of combination antibiotic therapy

By Dr Jodie Abramovitch

Infections caused by drug resistant (methicillin-resistant) Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of bacteria, can have serious health consequences. These infections are typically found in hospitals but can also occur within the community. MRSA is known as a superbug because it is able to survive many types of antibiotic treatments. 

Prof. Anton Peleg
Daptomycin is a ‘last-line’ antibiotic and is commonly used in the treatment of MRSA infections. However, there is evidence that daptomycin is unable to treat some MRSA infections which means alternative treatments are urgently required to prevent the spread of infection.

Monash researchers Dr Jhih-Hang Jiang and Professor Anton Peleg (Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases) study hospital-acquired infections and have recently focussed on how to combat daptomycin-resistant S. aureus. Samples of S. aureus from patients with infections were isolated and treated with different antibiotics, alone and in combination. When treated with both daptomycin and another antibiotic called gentamicin, antibiotic-resistant S. aureus was more effectively killed when compared to daptomycin treatment alone. However, it was noted that this approach may be associated with toxic side effects when used in patients.

This study concluded that combination therapy is an effective way to treat and limit the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of S. aureus, particularly in deep-seated, complicated infections. Further research is still required to balance the benefits of this approach with the potential risks. 

Reference: Jiang JH, Peleg AY. Daptomycin-Nonsusceptible Staphylococcus aureus: The Role of Combination Therapy with Daptomycin and Gentamicin. Genes (Basel). 2015 Nov; 6:1256-67

9 Dec 2015

A new treatment to enhance working memory

By Dr Jodie Abramovitch

Non-invasive stimulation of the brain by a weak electrical current can have therapeutic effects in a range of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression. A newer form of this non-invasive techniques is transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) which has been shown to improve cognitive processes such as working memory (includes comprehension, reasoning and learning).

A/Prof Kate Hoy
Recently, research conducted by Associate Professor Kate Hoy and colleagues from the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre (MAPrc) has focused on a closely related form of brain stimulation called transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS). This method of stimulation is thought to induce changes in the brain which more closely mimics natural brain activities.

In this study, healthy individuals were given tACS, tDCS or a sham brain stimulation across separate testing sessions, at least one week apart. Working memory was tested before and after treatment via a series of computerised tasks. Results revealed that working memory was improved in participants following tACS when undertaking more difficult memory tasks. This was not seen in participants treated with tDCS or the sham treatment. 

These results provide a platform for ongoing investigations into tACS and how it may be used to improve cognition.

Reference: Hoy KE, Bailey N, Arnold S, Windsor K, John J, Daskalakis ZJ, Fitzgerald PB. The effect of γ-tACS on working memory performance in healthy controls. Brain Cogn. 2015 Dec; 101:51-6
doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2015.11.002

How does MRI work? Neuroscientist Jerome Maller explains

Jerome Maller is a neuroscientist based at Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre, whose special area is using Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for brain imaging. In this video, he explains the physics and why the imaging technique is particularly useful for neuroscience.

Congratulations to Alfred medical students on their prizes!

L-R: Prof John Wilson, Ms Youlin Koh & Prof Anne
Powell. Youlin won the Harriet Power Prize.
Prof Wendy Brown, Mr Yiliang Zheng and Prof John Wilson.
Yiliang won the Robert Power prize in Surgery.

Congratulations to the following medical students who have won prizes this year!
  • Mr Yiliang Zheng won the Robert Power Prize in Surgery, where $2000 is awarded to a Year 5D student from CCS.
  • Ms Youlin Koh won the Harriet Power Prize in Medicine where $2000 awarded to a Year 5D MBBS student from CCS
  • Mr Alexander Olaussen (BMedSci 2013) won the Hatem Salem Award for Medical Research Excellence. $500 prize awarded to a Year 5D student who has completed a Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours) at Central Clinical school based on a one page application outlining the impact of his or her research (including publications, presentations, ongoing work, translation). 
  • Mr Michael Moso (BMedSci 2014) won the Nip Thomson Award for Medical Student Clinical and Research Excellence. $500 prize awarded to a Year 5D student who has completed a Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours) at Central Clinical School and receives the highest score for his or her general medical rotation at Alfred Health.
  • Ms Sophia Marple won the Alfred Hospital Residents’ and Graduates’ Association Prize which is $400 and a medallion awarded to the final year student who, after studying at Alfred Health, obtains the highest aggregate marks in Surgery and Medicine.
See more about CCS's undergraduate medical student prizes.

PhD student wanted for MS research

Dr Steven Petratos with his MS Research group
A PhD student is sought for research on axonal degeneration in a model of multiple sclerosis.

Project description

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is commonly induced by the specific destruction of the protective sheath of nerve fibres, known as myelin, by immune cells, which mistakenly attack this structure. However, it has been shown that MS does not only consist of this disease pattern but is a multifactorial disease with continual destruction of the nerve fibres even without large numbers of immune cells invading the brain and the spinal cord. Importantly, the molecules which may contribute or initiate such damage in MS are becoming known. By targeting these molecules during MS, it may be possible to limit the destruction which occurs to nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord, promoting a better clinical outcome for individuals suffering with MS.

The project is investigating how damage occurs in nerve fibres with progressive clinical symptoms in the experimental animal model of MS. We plan to block the molecules that cause the nerve fibre deterioration, using a new technique of transplanting modified blood stem cells to deliver blocking agents to the brain and spinal cord.

Please make enquiries to:

Food items and toys wanted for Baker IDI Salvos Christmas appeal

Contribute to the Baker IDI Institute's Salvos Christmas appeal! Every year the Baker IDI Institute collects donations for the Salvos Christmas appeal. They are under the Baker IDI Christmas tree located in their foyer, 75 Commercial Road, Melbourne 3004.
Food items and toys are wanted by COB Thursday 17 Dec 2015 for collection on Friday 18 Dec.
See more.
  • Salvation Army: Kris Ryan ph 03 88782364
  • Baker IDI: Leonie Cullen 03 85321161

Odd spot: Remind me again, what is thalidomide?

Phocomelia was a common birth defect
from taking thalidomide during pregnancy
The Conversation is running a series on thalidomide – the history of the tragedy, its long-term impacts and the fight for justice. In this story, medical historian Arthur Daemmrich sets the scene of the mid-20th century drug landscape and explains how thalidomide was marketed, used, and withdrawn after causing thousands of birth defects.

3 Dec 2015

Photo of the week: ACBD symposium

Nov 2015 Australian Centre for Blood Diseases symposium. Names given in left to right sequence
Front row: Dr Huyen Tran,
Dr Elizabeth Gardiner, Professor Harshal Nandurkar
2nd row: A/Prof David Curtis,
Dr Mark Guthridge, Dr Jake Shortt, Dr Anissa Jabbour, Dr Stephen Opat
3rd row: Dr Max Topp, A/Prof Jody Haigh, Dr Sue Morgan, Prof Rob Medcalf, Prof Stephen Jane, Prof Christina Mitchell
4th row: Dr Stephen Ting, Dr Sanjeev Chunilal, A/Prof Ross Dickins, Dr Rob Andrews, Dr Warwick Nesbitt, Dr Justin Hamilton, Dr Christoph Hagemeyer

See more:

Forthcoming CCS events: Seminars, public events, general notices

Last year's D.S.Rosengarten winner
Central Clinical School has regular seminar series and graduate research presentations. All event notices are maintained on the CCS Events calendar. CCS staff & students can see details of both public and local events (including professional development courses, trade fairs and Graduate Research Student calendars) and deadlines, at the CCS Intranet's Announcements page.

Various departments have their own calendars. See CCS seminar index: www.med.monash.edu.au/cecs/events/seminars.html

What's on for this coming week: 5-11 Dec 2015

Sat 5-Dec  8:00 Surgery D.S. Rosengarten Prize presentations
Mon 7-Dec  12:30 Psychiatry Professorial Grand Round
Tue 8-Dec  11:00 PhD Pre-Submission Review Seminar : Ms Amani Alrehaili
 11:00 NHMRC Research Grants presentation
 14:00 CCS Head of School Annual Address
Enquiries: Catherine.wong@monash.edu
Thu 10-Dec  16:00 CCS Christmas party
Enquiries: Catherine.wong@monash.edu

Why are we not routinely screening for anal cancer?

By Dr Jodie Abramovitch

HIV positive men who have sex with men are at higher risk of developing anal cancer – a significant health issue. To date, little is known about the professional views of HIV clinicians on anal cancer screening.

Professor Christopher Fairley
To address this, a detailed survey of 20 HIV physicians was conducted by Dr Jason Ong, a PhD student of Professor Christopher Fairley who is based at the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, and collaborators from the Central Clinical School, Melbourne University and the Kirby Institute (NSW).

Their research revealed that anal cancer screening within HIV positive men who have sex with men was considered a priority by clinicians. However, it was noted that there is currently no validated method for the effective screening of anal cancer - there is no evidence that detection of precursor lesions reduces mortality.

Designing a vaccine for ovarian cancer

By Dr Jodie Abramovitch

Ovarian cancer (OC) is the fifth most common cause of cancer-related death among women. Detection of OC is difficult with diagnosis often occurring at an advanced stage. Many women who have undergone conventional treatment, involving surgery and chemotherapy, have a poor prognosis for the 5 years post-treatment.

Past and present members of the Vaccine and Infectious Diseases
Laboratory. (L-R) Sue Xiang, Ying Ying Kong, Rohimah
Mohamud, Qian Gao, Kirsty Wilson, Mutsa Madondo,
Chindu Govindaraj, Magda Plebanski
Dr Sue Xiang and other members of the Vaccine and Infectious Diseases laboratory under Professor Magdalena Plebanski in the Department of Immunology and Pathology are working on developing an effective peptide-based vaccine for OC. Peptide vaccines can induce highly specific immune responses which limits adverse side effects. In two recent studies, they characterised peptides from the human Sp17 protein which is expressed abnormally in many OC cases.

Novel method of perfusion gives longer life to donor hearts

Prof Frank Rosenfeldt & Ms Chris Egan
An Alfred-Monash group of surgery researchers have previously showed that donation after circulatory death (DCD) canine hearts can be resuscitated if perfused with warm blood. However, clinical application of this technique is complex and difficult. The group has developed a simplified system of cold crystalloid perfusion and compared it with standard cold storage for DCD heart preservation.

They found that continuous cold crystalloid perfusion in a canine model of DCD facilitates aerobic metabolism and resuscitates the DCD heart, and provides functional and metabolic recovery superior to cold storage. Prof Frank Rosenfeldt said, "We believe that this shows promise for improved clinical preservation of DCD and marginal donor hearts."

Reference: Choong JW, Ou R, Lim YW, Rosenfeldt FL. Cold crystalloid perfusion provides cardiac preservation superior to cold storage for donation after circulatory death. Transplantation. 2015 Nov 13. [Epub ahead of print]

PhD in Clinical Neuroscience: Top Up Scholarship

We are seeking a high performing new PhD student to work in the Brain Stimulation group at the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre (MAPrc). The successful student will be supervised by Professor Paul Fitzgerald, a world leading brain stimulation expert. An APA scholarship (or equivalent) is required to apply, with a top-up scholarship to be awarded to the successful applicant ($8,500pa).

The project will utilise cutting edge neurotechnologies in order to investigate the mechanisms of therapeutic brain stimulation in psychiatric illness. This is a unique opportunity to join Australia’s leading research group spanning both basic and therapeutic brain stimulation research.

To apply send your CV and half-page statement on your research interests to Paul.Fitzgerald@monash.edu

For more information contact:

2 Dec 2015

CCS Photos on Google+

Google plus has 'upgraded' its photo hosting & it's more complicated than previously. If you now visit our CCS G+ profile, you will no longer see the Photos tab (unless you switch to the 'Classic' view). I've begun a Collection of our photos. However, there is no indexing or tagging, so the photo albums only appear in the order they are posted.


1 Dec 2015

Chennai flooding information crowd sourced for real time data

Chennai's crowd sourced map of flooded streets. A live map has been launched to help people in the city. Whoever will navigate through the map, will be able to see a clear picture of the current situation and will be able to avoid waterlogged areas and roads. This map of Chennai is a crowdfunded effort to keep people updated about the waterlogged areas in the city.

27 Nov 2015

Photo of the week: 2015 CCS Postgraduate symposium

Ms Sreepurna Malakar, Department of Gastroenterology, presents her poster, 'Naturally Occuring Dietary Salicylates In
Common Australian Foods'. Sree is supervised by Dr Jane Muir, Prof Peter Gibson & Dr Jaci Barrett.
See more:  
 *Note: Google+ has recently changed its photo hosting and we're still getting to grips with it. If you can't view the gallery, please email Julia.Veitch@monash.edu with 'Photo gallery- can't view' in the subject line. Many thanks, Julia

Forthcoming CCS events: Seminars, public events, general notices

Andrew Guy (Burnet)
Central Clinical School has regular seminar series and postgraduate CCS Events calendar presentations. All event notices are maintained on the CCS staff & students can see details of both public and local events (including professional development courses, trade fairs and Graduate Research Student calendars) and deadlines, at the Intranet's Announcements page.

Various departments have their own calendars. See CCS seminar index: www.med.monash.edu.au/cecs/events/seminars.html

What's on for this coming week: 30 Nov - 4 Dec 2015

Mon 30/11/2015 12:30  Psychiatry Professorial Grand Round
Fri 04/12/2015 11:30  Immunology 'Cutting Edge' journal club presentation

In the Future

26 Nov 2015

A new approach to treating women's mental health issues

Prof Jayashri Kulkarni giving CCS's
annual public lecture in 2015.
Compared to men, women are twice as likely to experience depression and four times as likely to experience anxiety, yet their mental health has not always been given precedence. Many factors mean that women experience mental illness differently, so shouldn't gender be considered when developing treatments?

See the article by Lynne Malcolm and Olivia Willis for "All in the Mind" or listen to the podcast of the interview with Prof Jayashri Kulkarni, Dr Emmy Gavrilidis and Dr Rosie Worsley, of Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre.

Link: ABC Radio National All in the Mind 25 Nov 2015.

Removal of B1b B cells protective against lupus

2015 Mackay group. L-R: Beatriz Garcillan, Aurelie Baldolli, Fabien Vincent, Ellen McAllister, Fabienne Mackay, Angela Nguyen, Pin Shie Quah, Rachel Lim, Florence Lim, Will Figgett
By Dr Jodie Abramovitch

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), commonly known as lupus, is an autoimmune disease with no cure. Monash researchers have been working to understand the immunological causes of lupus in a mouse model so as to better understand the disease in humans. Such groundwork will enable the development of much more effective therapies for the treatment of lupus.

Professor Fabienne Mackay (former head of the Department of Immunology and Pathology), together with the department's Leukocyte Signalling laboratory headed by Associate Professor Margaret Hibbs  have discovered that a certain type of innate B cell (immune cell), known as a B1b B cell, may be critical in the development of lupus.

Two types of mature B cells that are activated by toll-like receptor (TLR) signalling are B1 B cells and marginal zone (MZ) B cells. In the mouse model studied, these cells cause disease by infiltrating various tissues such as the salivary glands and kidneys. When the MZ and B1a B cells were removed from the mice, disease still occurred. When B1b B cells were removed also, mice were protected from all symptoms of lupus. Therefore B cells and CD19 signalling, specifically innate B cells, are very important in the development of lupus and may represent a target for treatment.

Reference: Fairfax KA, Tsantikos E, Figgett WA, Vincent FB, Quah P, LePage M, Hibbs ML, Mackay F. BAFF driven autoimmunity requires CD19 expression. J Autoimmun. 2015 Aug; 62: 1-10

24 Nov 2015

New gene mutation identified in Bernard-Soulier syndrome patient

By Dr Jodie Abramovitch

Bernard-Soulier syndrome (BSS) is a rare condition in which blood does not clot properly leading to increased bleeding. The underlying cause of this condition is due to a defect or deficiency in a specific receptor found on platelets (component of blood that aids blood clot formation) called GPIb-IX-V. This particular receptor controls platelet adhesion, allowing them to ultimately form a clot and thereby prevent excessive bleeding.

Dr Elizabeth Gardiner and A/Prof Robert Andrews
Monash researchers from the Australian Centre of Blood Diseases in the Systems Haematology group, led by Associate Professor Robert Andrews and Dr Elizabeth Gardiner, and collaborators from the Alfred Hospital and the Kolling Institute of Medical Research (Sydney) have identified a new gene mutation in platelet receptor component GPIbβ in a patient with BSS. The patient had a greatly reduced number of platelets in the blood and a clinical history of mild bleeding.

Upon closer analysis of the patient’s platelets, a number of important platelet molecules were found to only be expressed at very low levels or were undetectable. Another molecule that assists with receptor organisation, called CD9, was also found to be reduced.

They discovered that this patient had a previously undescribed genetic mutation in GPIbβ that was interrupting the formation of important platelet receptors. This led to platelets that were unable to clot together properly, resulting in a longer bleeding time.

The link between mutated GPIbβ and reduced CD9 is unclear though has been previously reported in other BSS patients. As such, CD9 may be a new marker to help definitively diagnose BSS patients.

Reference: Qiao J, Davis AK, Morel-Kopp MC, Ward CM, Gardiner EE, Andrews R. Low levels of CD9 coincidental with a novel nonsense mutation in glycoprotein Ibβ in a patient with Bernard-Soulier syndrome Ann Hematol. 2015; 94(12): 2069-71
doi: 10.1007/s00277-015-2473-1

23 Nov 2015

Peanut allergy vaccine receives commercial funding boost

The AIRMed Allergy research group.
L-R Back row: Dr Jade Jaffar, Ms Jodie Abramovitch,
Dr Sara Prickett, Professor Robyn O'Hehir
L-R Front row: Ms Neeru Varese, Ms Kirsten Deckert,
E/Professor Jennifer Rolland, Ms Anita Hazard, Ms Tracy Phan
The effort to develop a vaccine that could change the lives of sufferers of peanut allergy has taken another step forward with the announcement of $4.85 million of further funding to support the Melbourne-based research.

The Director and Head of the Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Medicine department in The Alfred and Monash University, Prof Robyn O'Hehir said peanut allergy is a rapidly growing problem in Australia and around the world.

This new investment from the Brandon Capital managed Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, together with the support of an additional $1.44M National Health and Medical Research Council grant (announced in November), will ensure Prof O'Hehir and her team at The Alfred and Monash University can continue the research effort that she began close to 15 years ago.

20 Nov 2015

Picture essay of the week: FODMAP testing

The Department of Gastroenterology has a world wide following for its low FODMAP diet as therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers. They have created a picture essay of how they go about testing their foods for #FODMAPs, which are various types of sugars, present in a huge variety of foods but to varying degrees.

On a FODMAP related issue, ABC Catalyst are broadcasting a show, "Gluten: A gut feeling", on Tuesday, 24 Nov 2015, featuring Professor Peter Gibson, Head of  Department, who has done widely cited research on so-called non coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). See reference for original article.

Forthcoming CCS events: Seminars, public events, general notices

Maria Daglas
Central Clinical School has regular seminar series and postgraduate CCS Events calendar presentations. All event notices are maintained on the
CCS staff & students can see details of both public and local events (including professional development courses, trade fairs and Graduate Research Student calendars) and deadlines, at the Intranet's Announcements page.

Various departments have their own calendars. See CCS seminar index: www.med.monash.edu.au/cecs/events/seminars.html

What's on for this coming week: 22-27 Nov 2015

Mon 23/112015 12:30  Psychiatry Professorial Grand Round
Tue 24/11/2015 11:30  PhD Pre-Submission Review Seminar : Ms Maria Daglas

20:00  ABC Catalyst on gluten sensitivity (Gastroenterology)
Wed 25/11/2015 11:00  PhD Pre-submission seminar review: Ms Kirsten Morris

11:30  PhD Confirmation of candidature: Mr Kristopher Nilsen
Thu 26/11/2015 11:00  Master of Surgery Confirmation Seminar: Dr Roshan  Ariyaratnam

In the Future

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