15 Dec 2023

Miss Sofia Carter - Highest achieving BMedSc(Hons) student

Congratulations to Miss Sofia Carter, the highest achieving Monash University BMedSc(Hons) student for 2023!

Sofia's research on antibiotic resistance in urinary tract infections (UTIs) highlights the need for changes to antibiotic recommendations for uncomplicated lower UTIs in nonpregnant females.

Speaking of the award which includes a $1000 prize money, Sofia said,  "To have spent this exciting and challenging year learning from some exceptional researchers was honestly rewarding enough - but being recognised with this award and the Alfred Research Alliance awards has provided even more reasons to be grateful".

Pictured L-R: Prof Terence O'Brien, Head of School, Miss, Sofia Carter, Prof Steven Jane, Dean, Sub-Faculty of Translational Medicine & Public Health

24 Nov 2023

Head shaving fundraiser event for Cancer Immunology Research

Christopher Chew, PhD Student in the Cancer Development and Treatment Laboratory (Shackleton Lab) has been growing his hair for the last 8.5 years and will be shaving his head on Saturday 9 December in Melbourne CBD as part of Hair Off For Hair Loss.
The event will be run with the City of Melbourne as part of the Little Korea Street Food Christmas Festival - What's On Melbourne, including food, live performers, face paint, balloon art and Christmas celebrations!

Funds will be directed towards hair loss related initiatives including cancer immunology research, supporting the alopecia areata foundation and skin health institute.

Unveiling Hidden Potential: The Underappreciated Benefits of Integrating Community Medical Perspectives into Research

Co-authored by Chris Ewert Community Representative and Evangelia Bishop, CaRE Coordinator

Monash University established the Consumer and Researcher Engagement program (CaRE) to facilitate mutually beneficial and meaningful connections between researchers and community members with lived experience as a patient or carer of the medical conditions being studied at the Central Clinical School (CCS)

CaRE is a planned process covering a broad range of interactions with the specific purpose of informing, consulting, partnering, and empowering community members to contribute to medical research through a number of approaches.

When pain after surgery becomes chronic

Authors: Paige Druce, with special thanks to community representative Chris Ewert for contributing to this article.

Pain after surgery is expected. Pain that lasts for days, or even weeks is normal, and usually nothing to be concerned about. But for some patients, pain can persist for months or even years and develop into chronic pain.

It can be hard to know when pain after surgery becomes chronic pain because the symptoms can range from mild to severe. However, the pain can be distressing and debilitating for the people it affects, including stabbing and tingling feelings, numbness, altered sensations and problems with sensitivity.

Chronic pain after surgery may depend on the operation undergone and is often difficult to treat, meaning there are no proven strategies for prevention. So, it’s one of the most important research priorities in Perioperative Medicine – the area of medical care that covers the time from surgery being considered, through the operative period, to the patient’s full recovery. 

17 Nov 2023

Vice-Chancellor’s award for Professor Anne Holland

Monash Medicine Nursing and Health Science researchers and staff have received ten awards in the Vice-Chancellor’s Education, Research and Professional Excellence Awards 2023. These awards acknowledge the efforts of high-performing Monash staff and the impact of their work on the Monash community.  See full list of recipients HERE.

From, Professor Terence O'Brien, Head, Central Clinical School

It is with great pride that I can inform you that Prof Anne Holland, Head of Respiratory Research@Alfred, CCS, was awarded the Monash Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research Engagement and Impact. This highly prestigious award recognises Anne’s sustained, impactful research developing and trialling in-home rehabilitation as a way to improve access for patients with chronic lung disease, providing an alternative to the traditional in-person delivery at outpatient facilities. Her work has resulted in a transformative shift of clinical practice towards a more integrated model of disease management (in-person and at-home via web-based platforms), as demonstrated by its citation in 27 clinical guidelines and position papers on pulmonary rehabilitation, pulmonary fibrosis, COPD, skeletal muscle dysfunction, oxygen therapy and respiratory management, from eminent bodies including the Thoracic Societies in the UK, USA, Europe, Asia and Australia/New Zealand.

Please join with me in congratulating Anne on her award.

16 days of activism against gender-based violence

In Australia, one in four women have experienced violence by an intimate partner or family member. On average, a woman in Australia is killed by a man they know every 10 days. 

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign led by UN Women that runs from the 25th of November to the 10th of December. During this time, communities around the world join the call that aims to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls. 

Here in Australia, there are many ways to get involved, including the Walk Against Family Violence 2023 on the 24th of November, which marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism. 

All genders are welcome, so bring along your friends, family, and lab mates. Wear orange if you can and stand in solidarity with victim-survivors. 

If you’d like to join a group from the Department of Neuroscience that is attending, please contact Dr Georgia Symons (georgia.fullersymons1@monash.edu). One of the reasons they are walking is to acknowledge the contribution of victim-survivors in their research study to investigate brain injury in intimate partner violence. 

Other ways to get involved during this time:

Thanomporn Wittayacharoenpong wins the Alfred Health Week Abstract Prize

Congratulations to Ms Thanomporn (Mon) Wittayacharoenpong on winning the Alfred Research Alliance Senior Medical Staff Association Prize for Clinical / Public Health Research at the 2023 Alfred Health Week.

A PhD student in the Epilepsy surgery research group led by Associate Professor Andrew Neal, Mon's research abstract submitted was entitled, "Using Stereo-EEG data to determine the optimal intracranial venous sinus location for an endovacular seizure detection device". She won the award for the best journal article, in the Abstract Prize category.

Find out more about the Alfred Health Week Prizes 2023.

Picture: Mon with Professor Terence O'Brien (Head, Central Clinical School) and Professor Stephen Jane (Dean, Sub-faculty of Translational Medicine and Public Health).

Strategies and tips for a healthy working life

 Summary of the CCS-SPHPM joint panel discussion for Mental Health Week by Zhoujie Ding and Lenka Vodstrcil (on behalf of CCS EDI committee)

Striving to maintain our mental wellbeing has emerged as a primary goal for many workers, especially since COVID first disrupted our routines and changed how we work. In academia, meeting deadlines and balancing our workload and expected output can sometimes be really overwhelming, especially when other issues in life cause additional stress. To provide some insights into how our working lives can be improved and where to get help when mental health issues arise, the CCS-SPHPM EDI committees organised a panel discussion with experts in the field, which took place at the Alfred Center Lecture Theatre on 6 November 2023.

13 Oct 2023

Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences recognises Professor Catriona Bradshaw

AAHMS video (0:29min)

Congratulations to Professor Catriona Bradshaw who has been elected as new Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS), the nation’s learned academy for the most influential experts in health and medicine. 

Professor Catriona Bradshaw is a clinician-researcher and Head of Research Translation and Mentorship and Genital Microbiota and Mycoplasma Group Lead at the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and holds an honorary appointment at the University of Melbourne.  Catriona is an NHMRC Leadership Fellow, a centre head for the Centre to Impact Antimicrobial Resistance at Monash University, and a co-director of the ARC Research Hub to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance. Catriona is a member of national and international STI guideline committees, a board member of the International Society for STD Research, a technical advisor for the World Health Organisation, a past recipient of the L'Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Award in 2007 and of the Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research in 2022.

Find out more about Professor Catriona Bradshaw.

See all recent AAHMS Fellows HERE.

FMNHS Research Platforms Roadshow

This is your opportunity to meet with Platform staff and learn about the equipment, services and capabilities they have. 

  • Date:     Thursday 26 October 2023
  • Time:    10:00am - 12:30pm (morning tea will be provided)
  • Venue:  Seminar Rooms 1 & 2, Level 5 Alfred Centre, 99 Commercial Road

Drop by anytime between 10am and 12:30pm to see how they can support your research projects. 

Further information about the event is available here and information about the participating platforms is available here.

Dean's Award for Professor Anne Holland

Watch Dean's Award video (0.28min)

Congratulations to Professor Anne Holland, Head of the Department of Respiratory Research@Alfred, who won the Dean's Award for Excellence in Research - Engagement and Impact. An NHMRC Leadership Fellow (2021-2025), Professor Holland's research program investigates supportive therapies for people with chronic respiratory disease, with a focus on COPD and pulmonary fibrosis. Her recent clinical trials have tested new models of pulmonary rehabilitation to improve access and uptake, including low cost home-based models and telerehabilitation. Professor Holland is currently leading a multi-national trial of ambulatory oxygen for people with fibrotic lung disease. Anne is a Chief Investigator for the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Pulmonary Fibrosis and the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Treatable Traits. Find out more about Professor Anne Holland.

See all Dean's Award recipients HERE.

21 Aug 2023

Meet Fernando Gordillo Altamirano

Dr Fernando Gordillo Altamirano completed his medical training in his native Ecuador, but knew that he wanted to pursue a career in research rather than clinical practice. That decision brought him to Australia, where he completed further study including a Masters degree and PhD before joining Central Clinical School’s Department of Infectious Diseases as a postdoctoral researcher last year. 

Can you tell us about your work?

I kill superbugs! Superbugs are bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. They are increasingly common in hospitals, where they can infect the most vulnerable patients, and doctors struggle to treat these infections. I work on a method called phage therapy. Phages are viruses: good viruses! Instead of harming or killing human cells, phages only kill bacteria. So, we can treat superbug infections using these viruses, killing the bacteria and saving the patients.

How did you become interested in phage research?

As I was ‘shopping around’ for PhD projects, I met my eventual supervisor, a world leader in phage research: Associate Professor Jeremy Barr of Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences. Before that, I had only briefly learned about phages but had never imagined we could use them to treat infections in humans. Jeremy’s passion ignited my love for phages. It’s thrilling to be working in research where I can apply my medical knowledge and my laboratory expertise simultaneously. 

Promotion and new appointment for epilepsy

Congratulations to Dr Andrew Neal, who has been appointed to succeed Professor Patrick Kwan as Director of Epilepsy, Alfred Health, and also promoted to Associate Professor.

Associate Professor Neal joined Alfred Health and Central Clinical School in 2019 as a consultant Neurologist and Epileptologist, lead for the Alfred Advanced Epilepsy Surgery Program and as a research fellow in CCS’s Department of Neuroscience. He also served as Deputy Director of Epilepsy at Alfred Health from 2020. 

A/Prof Neal is a national leader in advanced epilepsy surgery, in particular stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG). SEEG involves the surgical implantation of electrodes into the brain to understand the role of brain networks in the pathophysiology of drug-resistant epilepsy and its associated neurocognitive deficits.

7 Aug 2023

Meet Dr Anouk von Borstel

A lecturer’s enthusiasm for immunology rubbed off on Anouk during her undergraduate studies, and she pursued this interest in her Masters of Science and PhD. Having maintained her passion for translational immunology and experiencing firsthand the excitement of making new discoveries, translational research became the common thread throughout her scientific career. She left her native Netherlands to join a structural biology lab at Monash University’s Biomedical Discovery Institute (BDI) in 2018, where she published two lead author papers and co-authored nine more, before joining the Allergy and Clinical Immunology Laboratory within Central Clinical School’s Department of Immunology. There she is currently focused on studying the allergic immune response and how this is altered when patients are treated with allergen immunotherapy.

How did you become interested in immunology? What excites you about this area?

My passion for immunology began during my lectures in my BSc studies, where I was fortunate to have a professor whose enthusiasm for the subject was infectious. His ability to convey the complexities of the immune system with true passion left me amazed and wanting to learn more about it.

What truly excites me about this area is the vast amount of uncharted territory. Despite significant progress, there is still so much we don’t fully understand about the immune system. Moreover, the prospect of contributing to the growing body of knowledge and making a positive impact on human health keeps me motivated.

21 Jul 2023

Meet Lizzie Thomas

Dr Elizabeth (Lizzie) Thomas has been at Central Clinical School for almost a decade, having completed her Honours and PhD at the School before staying on as a researcher. She is currently the manager of the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Clinical Research Unit at the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre (MAPrc) and a research fellow at the HER Centre Australia. 

How did you become interested in mental health? What excites you about this area?

I initially got into mental health research as I wanted an Honours project that was more clinical rather than lab based. While my research focus has evolved throughout my time at MAPrc, my passion for mental health and cognition has remained constant, whether it be in schizophrenia as part of my PhD, in relation to hormonal fluctuations in women or in TMS. Studying cognition allows me to explore the intricacies of memory, attention, decision-making, and problem-solving, all of which I find fascinating!

17 Jul 2023

Immunology researcher wins early career research prize

Congratulations to Dr Paul Gill, who has been awarded the Glenn Gibson Early Career Research Prize from the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP). 

The award recognises the work Dr Gill conducted as part of his PhD, examining the interaction between dietary metabolites short-chain fatty acids and the human immune system. 

“I’m proud that all the work I did as a PhD student in the Department of Gastroenterology has been recognised by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics,” Dr Gill said. 

“My research found that a high fibre diet that increases metabolites generated by the gut microbiota can alter the immune system of healthy people. This provides us with a potential approach for treating patients with inflammatory conditions using a high fibre diet.”

Dr Gill received the award at the ISAPP Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, where he also gave a talk on investigating the effects of short-chain fatty acids on the immune system and gut microbiota of healthy humans.

“The ISAPP meeting was a great experience for me as an Early Career Researcher. I interacted with experts in the field and was involved in a panel discussion about the evidence for probiotics benefiting human health. This gave me a new insight into how scientific organisations can be involved in promoting evidence-based health advice” 

Since completing his PhD, Dr Gill has joined the Department of Immunology as a research fellow. He is currently investigating the immune response to the COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in immunosuppressed patients, as part of the PROPHECY study. 

7 Jul 2023

Media round-up: A/Prof Gemma Sharp discusses new guidelines for cosmetic surgery practice

From 1 July 2023, new guidelines for the regulation of cosmetic surgery practice came into effect in Australia. This was in response to a number of complaints made against cosmetic surgeons in the last few years following patients experiencing complications of both a physical and psychological nature. 

The new guidelines stipulate that people seeking cosmetic surgery must have a referral from their GP and undergo mental health screening. Previously, the mental health screening was only suggested, but it is now compulsory. 

Associate Professor Gemma Sharp of the Department of Neuroscience served as the lead expert for the world-first clinical guidelines for mental health assessment of people seeking cosmetic surgery back in 2018, which have since been adopted internationally. She subsequently served as the lead expert again in the 2023 revision of these guidelines in preparation of the new regulations coming into place in Australia. 

A/Prof Sharp spoke to a number of media outlets about the likely impacts of these new regulations. 

ABC TV News Breakfast (video)

New cosmetic surgery rules leave doctors divided (ABC News radio)

Beauty industry set for makeover with more than 1 billion at stake (Canberra Times)

Why so many people including the Kardashians have plastic surgery regret (The Age)

PhD student wins Early Career Top Paper Abstract

Courtney McLean
PhD student Courtney McLean from the Department of Neuroscience has been awarded an Academy of Eating Disorders Early Career Top Abstract Award for her paper ‘Disordered Eating and the Meat-Avoidance Spectrum: A Systematic Review and Clinical Implications’.

This research looked to examine the association between eating disorders and vegetarian and vegan diets. It has long been thought that vegetarianism and veganism may be related to an increased risk of disordered eating due to the cognitive effort required to adhere to a restricted diet. 

In a systematic review of 48 studies, Courtney and her co-authors Associate Professor Gemma Sharp and Professor Jayashri Kulkarni found no consensus as to whether vegetarianism or veganism is associated with higher levels of disordered eating. 

The authors note that additional research is very much needed to unpack the broad range of conflicting findings highlighted within the systematic review. The research notes a number of methodological concerns within the literature, such as extremely small sample sizes and combining vegetarian and vegan groups together which could potentially mask true associations between each group. 

The review did however show that vegetarianism and veganism appear to be associated with greater orthorexia nervosa pathology, a newly coined type of eating disorder not formally diagnosable but characterised by a fixation on eating ‘healthy’ and ‘pure’ foods. 

“Future research must focus on conducting longitudinal research to track the unique eating behaviours and attitudes of vegetarians and vegans over time,” Courtney said. “For example, it would be useful to explore the impact of length, onset, and scope of dietary adherence to begin to be able to establish a potential causal or bidirectional relationship between these groups. This will, in turn, guide evidence-based treatment approaches for these growing dietary minorities.”

Courtney accepted the Top Abstract Award at the Academy for Eating Disorders international conference in Washington DC, where she also presented her PhD research findings. 

"It was an absolute delight to attend and present at this conference - the first international conference of my PhD! I had the opportunity to present each of the three research projects related to my PhD. These projects progressively build upon the findings of each other so attendees had the opportunity to follow my research right from its inception.” 

“It was also wonderful to hear from the wide range of international speakers at the conference. There are many areas within the eating disorder field that continue to be under researched, but to see attendees from across many professional backgrounds come together with a vision of a world without eating disorders was inspiring. I particularly enjoyed the focused inclusion of lived experience voices who were integrated into each segment of the conference."

Part of the Department of Neuroscience’s Sharp Group, Courtney’s PhD broadly seeks to explore the efficacy of eating disorder tools in measuring eating pathology in vegetarian and vegan groups. As part of this, she is developing a novel eating disorder screening tool to identify eating disorder symptoms in individuals following a vegetarian and vegan diet. This tool will be the first of its kind to specifically target this growing dietary group, which will be co-designed with diverse participant groups, including lived eating disorder voices, dieticians, and psychologists. 

3 Jul 2023

Congratulations to Associate Professor Nigel Jones on his promotion to Professor

Central Clinical School is delighted to announce that the Department of Neuroscience’s Associate Professor Nigel Jones has been promoted to Professor.

Professor Jones is a translational behavioural neuroscientist who has established a national and international reputation for his research in the clinically-important field of psychiatric disorders in epilepsy, and pre-clinical testing of new therapeutic interventions that can mitigate these and the associated seizure disorder. 

“Professor Jones is a highly talented translational neuroscience researcher who has established a national and international reputation for his neurobehavioural research in animal models of epilepsy,” said Professor Terence O’Brien, Head of Central Clinical School. “He plays important leadership roles within the School, in particular his role as higher degree research coordinator, and in the national and international scientific community.”

Prof Jones is one of two Graduate Research Coordinators for Central Clinical School’s large and growing PhD and masters program, supporting students and supervisors and contributing to the success of the program in terms of increase in student enrolments, completions and scholarship success. He has also been active and successful in his own research student supervision, including 11 completed PhD students, 4 Masters students, and 14 Honours students (all of who received H1 grades).

He has been highly successful in obtaining competitive grant funding for his research totalling more than $56 million as a Chief Investigator, holding continuous NHMRC and ARC funding since 2008. He is recognised nationally and internationally for his research, as evidenced by multiple invitations to speak at conferences, invitations to join journal editorial boards and task forces for the International League Against Epilepsy. He has established a collaborative national and international network, which has significantly enhanced his research program. 

Congratulations to Dr Sandy Shultz on his promotion to Professor

Dr Sandy Shultz
The Central Clinical School is delighted to announce that translational neuroscientist, Dr Sandy Shultz, has been promoted to Professor in the latest academic promotions rounds.

Professor Shultz has established himself as a national and international leader in ‘bench-to-bedside’ neurotrauma research. More specifically, specialising in mild traumatic brain injury and the identification, validation and implementation of biomarkers to enable better diagnosis and management of people who experience concussion. 

He has established and grown the Monash Trauma Group - a highly productive research team within the Central Clinical School’s Department of Neuroscience that is recognised widely as Australia’s leading translational neurotrauma research group. Professor Shultz has led in the group’s scientific direction, successfully obtaining multiple competitive grants totalling over $50M along the way. Prof Shultz has also recruited and supervised more than 40 PhD, masters, and undergraduate research students, as well as postdoctoral fellows, to successful completions. 

Prof Shultz has the rare distinction of having successfully translated his basic research findings into clinical studies. He now leads several large scale, internationally unique, multisite clinical studies in biomarkers and treatments for concussion, which is complemented by his innovative pre-clinical research program. This includes his $2 million NHMRC Ideas Grant-funded project which investigates brain injury following intimate partner violence, a critical area that has to date received little serious scientific research attention. 

“Professor Shultz is a hard working, innovative and insightful neuroscientist, who is well established as a national and international leader in the neurotrauma field,” said Professor Terence O’Brien, Head of Central Clinical School. “He has shown exceptional performance in terms of publications, grants, student supervision, mentoring, leadership and engagement within the University and wider community. His achievements have far exceeded our high expectations when we first recruited him as a ‘Star Recruit’ in 2017, even more impressive given the impacts on both his basic and clinical research programs of the COVID-19 restrictions over the last three years.”

Prof Shultz has published over 130 peer-reviewed articles, the majority of which are in his field’s leading journals. He has been invited to write review articles and editorials to many leading scientific journals, including Lancet Neurology, reflecting his standing internationally in his field. Based on expertscape.com, he is already ranked 14th in the world (1st in Australia) in terms of traumatic brain injury experts. 

He is engaged with community and sporting organisations relevant to his research, including the Victorian Amateur Football Association, and is a board member for the Australian Football League Players’ Association Health and Safety Steering Committee. He also participates on organising committees within the national and international scientific communities, including the Australian Neurotrauma and International Neurotrauma Society conferences. He also works closely with commercial pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including Incannex Health Care and Hit-IQ, in an expert advisory capacity regarding the development of new therapies for brain injury and other neurological diseases, and also assisting with contract research with his research group.


Congratulations to Eric Chow on his promotion to professor

Dr Eric Chow
Central Clinical School is delighted to announce that epidemiologist and biostatistician Dr Eric Chow has been promoted to Professor.

Dr Eric Chow heads the Health Data Management and Biostatistics Unit and is co-head of the Clinical Evaluation Unit at the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre. He is a leading researcher in the treatment, prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections (STI). He has a particular focus on gonorrhoea and human papillomavirus (HPV), two of the most important and fastest-growing global health problems.

His research has changed clinical practice regarding control of STIs, including informing HPV guidelines worldwide, which has been successful in reducing transmission.

“Professor Chow is an outstanding epidemiologist and biostatistician who is an internationally-recognised expert in the transmission of STIs,” said Professor Terence O’Brien, Head of Central Clinical School. “In addition to his substantial research contributions in this important area, he is also an active research supervisor for students at all levels and has been very successful in securing competitive research grants. He is a highly valued leader and a real asset to the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre.”

Prof Chow has won multiple awards including a NHMRC Research Excellence award (top-ranked NHMRC grant applicant), the Commonwealth Health Minister's Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research, and the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases, one of Australia’s most prestigious science awards. He was also named one of the 40 Under 40: Most influential Asian-Australians in 2021.

He is a prolific publisher, being regularly and widely published in community and medical media, and is currently an Associate Editor and a member of the Editorial Board for 6 medical journals.

He’s a member of 11 national/international working groups and committees, including WHO guideline committees and Victorian Department of Health Advisory Committees. He is the Vice-President of the Sexual Health Society of Victoria, and a former Board Member-in-Training at the International Papillomavirus Society (2021).

Prof Chow has supervised more than 50 students, including students undertaking undergraduate and master’s studies, PhD students, postdoctoral research fellows and general practitioner (GP) and sexual health registrars.

He’s an active social media user, using it to spread awareness about sexual health issues, and communicates closely with the government and community-based organisations in order to improve the health and wellbeing of the Australian population.

Congratulations to Dr Edwina Wright AM on her promotion to Professor

Prof Edwina Wright AM
Central Clinical School is delighted to announce that infectious diseases physician Dr Edwina Wright AM has been promoted to professor.

Prof Wright has worked at the Alfred Hospital as an infectious disease specialist since 1996, and is currently a senior specialist and lead of the HIV Prevention Service at the Alfred Hospital and Central Clinical School’s Department of Infectious Diseases.

With more than 35 years’ experience caring for people living with HIV, Prof Wright is considered one of Australia's leading HIV clinicians and HIV clinical researchers. Her HIV research expertise lies in the area of the benefits of HIV prevention, notably HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), early HIV treatment, HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders and HIV cure.

In 2021 she was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for her work in HIV Medicine and Research and was inducted into the Queen’s Birthday COVID-19 Honour Roll for her work as Chair of the ASHM COVID Taskforce.

“Central Clinical School is fortunate to have someone of Professor Wright’s calibre on staff, and this promotion is well-deserved recognition for the depth of experience and expertise she brings to the School,” said Professor Terence O’Brien, Head of Central Clinical School. “She is a highly-valued clinical researcher who has secured more than $9 million in research funding and is a dedicated mentor for scientists and clinicians interested in this area.”

Prof Wright is a past President of the Australasian Society of HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM). Her current appointments include serving as the Chair of the ASHM National PrEP Guidelines Panel and the ASHM COVID Taskforce, a member of the Victorian Department of Health’s Blood Borne Viruses and STI Committee, and she is the Chair of the HIV Working Group of this Committee, where she has overseen the working group’s two most recent Victorian HIV Strategies.

Her work has also been recognised internationally, as she has been invited to speak at or convene numerous international conferences and been interviewed by international media outlets such as the New York Times. She has published more than 100 papers including articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA.

Congratulations to Joseph Doyle on his promotion to Professor

Dr Joseph Doyle
Central Clinical School is delighted to announce that infectious disease expert Dr Joseph Doyle has been promoted to Professor.

Prof Doyle is a national and international leader in the field of public health and epidemiology of infectious diseases, with a particular focus on blood borne viruses - viral hepatitis and HIV.

He leads a large, multi-disciplinary research group within the Department of Infectious Diseases that is focused on viral hepatitis and includes postdoctoral fellows, PhD students, research nurses, public health registrars, and other public health practitioners.

He has an impressive record of securing research funding, totalling $36.8M in competitive, philanthropic, public sector and industry income. He has designed, secured funding for, and leads several large clinical trials and cohort studies.

“Professor Doyle is an outstanding clinician-scientist in the Department of Infectious Diseases who is establishing a substantial leadership position nationally and internationally in his field,” said Professor Terence O’Brien, Head of Central Clinical School. “Professor Doyle demonstrates a stellar engagement within and external to the University, as is evidenced by his leadership in government advisory bodies and guidelines development groups, and as an executive of the new Monash University Clinical Trials Centre.”

Prof Doyle has received multiple invitations to speak at major international scientific meetings, including plenary presentations at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, reflecting his international profile in the field. He has been awarded multiple prizes for his team’s research, including the International AIDS Society Prize for HIV Prevention, a Young Tall Poppy Science Award from the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, Club Melbourne Fellow, and the Gust-MacKenzie Medal from the Burnet Institute.

He has advised governments at a state and national level, and also internationally for the World Health Organization and other bodies on public health policy regarding Infectious diseases. He is President-elect of the Austalasian Society for Infectious Diseases; technical advisor to the WHO and TGA; and appointed by government to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and Communicable Diseases Network of Australia. He also collaborates with industry in particular global hepatitis drug and diagnostic manufacturers who have supported eight investigator-initiated models of care and implementation projects that he has led.

In addition to his role at Central Clinical School, Prof Doyle is also senior specialist infectious diseases physician at Alfred Health and jointly appointed as Deputy Director of Disease Elimination Program and Head of Infectious Diseases Clinical Research at Burnet Institute.

26 Jun 2023

NAIDOC Week 2023 (2-9 July 2023)

By Lenka Vodstrcil and Zhoujie Ding (on behalf of CCS EDI committee)

NAIDOC Week is held annually to celebrate the incredible achievements made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to recognise their history and culture. It is a chance for everyone to celebrate the oldest continuous living cultures on earth, and recognise their connection to and care of the land and waters. It also emphasises the role  of non-Indigenous people to take time to learn and reflect upon the detrimental impact colonisation has had on the lives of First Nations peoples, and raises the awareness of the non-Indigenous people’s privilege that has occurred since colonisation. 

This year's theme is ‘For Our Elders’, and artist Bobbi Lockier has created a beautiful poster that can be printed and shared. Bobbi shared these words when reflecting on what this year's theme means to her: “Where there is knowledge there are our Elders. Our Elders paved the pathways for us, taught us our knowledge, our history, they passed down their art, stories and wisdom. Our Elders are the foundation of our communities and role models for our children. With this poster I wanted to showcase how important our Elders are in passing down traditions and culture to our children and future.”

There are several different events being held locally and nationally for NAIDOC Week. We encourage you to find a local event and take time to honour the deep and rich culture that we have the honour of being able to celebrate.

Some links to events are below:

  • Special event hosted by the Baker Institute and Central Clinical School (7 July): Guest speaker N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM will speak about the responsible rights of being a strong elder. Boon Wurrung elder N’Arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM is the chairperson and founder of the Boon Wurrung Foundation and has been involved in developing and supporting opportunities for Indigenous youth and Boon Wurrung culture for over 50 years.
  • Art show in Kingston (23 June): Reflecting on the 2023 NAIDOC Week theme, For our Elders, Kingston Arts presents a group exhibition of esteemed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists that encourages conversation between traditional practices and contemporary approaches. 
  • Monash University hosts the 2023 Indigenous Nationals (26-30 June): Monash’s Clayton campus will host the 27th Indigenous Nationals, a week-long multi-sport competition for Indigenous students.
  • Tree planting (2 July)
  • For Kin and Country: First Peoples have combined modern military and traditional skills to serve in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) from the Boer War to the present day. This Shrine special exhibition explores the extraordinary history of First Peoples’ service in the ADF.
  • Bring the kids to Family Day at Collingwood Children's Farm (5 July)
  • The Voice to Parliament Handbook Book Tour Event (6 July)
  • Writing Blak Legacies: A First Nations Literature Gala. This year, the University of Queensland Press released the first instalment of its First Nations Classics series, recognising the brilliant and vital literary contributions made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers across the decades. To mark the publication of this landmark series, the Wheeler Centre and Blak & Bright present a vibrant evening of reflections, readings and performance featuring many of the series authors and contributors.
  • Why not join a 'virtual' run or walk held by Clothing the Gaps Foundation: 
  • The City of Melbourne is hosting several events and encourages us to participate in these activities with the Aboriginal community. 
  • You can also check if there are any events being hosted by your own local council.
  • The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra are also running several exciting events, including a celebration of the music by Archie Roach, and a collaborative event with Electric Fields.
  • You also might like to visit the Koorie Heritage Trust, a First Nations managed and led organisation that supports and promotes art and artists.

Indigenous Health Equity and Cultural Safety in Research seminar

By Lenka Vodstrcil1 and Zhoujie Ding on behalf of CCS EDI committee, with Danielle Clarke on behalf of SPHPM ED&I committee.

On Tuesday 20 June, the Central Clinical School (CCS) Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee joined forces with the School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine (SPHPM) Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the first time to deliver a sub-faculty seminar on Indigenous Health Equity and Cultural Safety in Research. We had a great turnout at the Alfred Hub and online via zoom, and afterwards shared food from Indigenous catering company, Bunji.

In what we hope becomes an annual event around Reconciliation Week, we heard two incredible talks from Dr Jessica O’Brien, ‘The paradigmatic clash: Indigenous vs biomedical research’ and Dr Julia McCartan, ‘Holding the mirror up: Examining power inequities for non-Indigenous people operating in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contexts’.

Dr O’Brien is an Aboriginal woman from central west New South Wales and imaging cardiologist working at Alfred Health. She is undertaking her PhD at CCS, investigating the role of cardiac MRI in diagnosing acute rheumatic fever and predicting who is at highest risk of developing rheumatic heart disease. Through her project, Dr O’Brien learnt about how Indigenous methodologies can be incorporated into biomedical research undertaken in institutional settings. Dr O’Brien shared the “pivots” she had to make to ensure that the research was culturally safe for Indigenous staff, participants and other stakeholders. She also detailed her experiences in undertaking a project in remote settings.

Our second speaker, Dr McCartan, joined us from the Monash Centre for Scholarship in Health Education. Dr McCartan spoke about how she applied critical methodology to examine non-Indigenous people's roles in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs in her PhD. She provided examples of how we can practise critical reflexivity, critical consciousness and be anti-racist in our roles as health professionals and students. Using the 'coin model' of privilege and critical allyship, Dr McCartan pointed out that in order to enact change for people who face inequity, we need to disrupt the barriers and social structures that at the same time afford us privilege and unearned advantage. 

A recording of the presentation will be available at the CCS EDI webpage.

15 Jun 2023

Li Transformative Hub for Research in Eating Disorders (THRED)

On Sunday night the Her Centre Australia and Monash University celebrated the launch of the Li Transformative Hub for Research in Eating Disorders (THRED). This research program will target biological causes and possible new treatments including novel drugs, brain stimulation and hormones.

HER Centre Australia Director Professor Jayashri Kulkarni AM said: “Over the past 60 years there has not been any real change in how treatments for eating disorders, which cover a spectrum ranging from various disordered patterns of eating to anorexia nervosa, have been delivered.

“We need a new approach. We want to provide a better understanding of why eating disorders occur and how to treat them from a biological perspective. We will do this by conducting clinical trials that will investigate possible treatments. These trials will be informed by investigation into the biological abnormalities that underpin eating disorders.”

Researchers from the HER Centre and the Department of Neuroscience in Monash’s Central Clinical School will work collaboratively to conduct clinical trials of new treatment approaches for serious eating disorders, and hopefully deliver more effective treatment options.

1 Jun 2023

PhD student presents at European obesity symposium

PhD student Alyssa Budin’s research on outcome measures for patients post-bariatric surgery led to the opportunity to speak at an international symposium held as part of the European Congress on Obesity last month.

The symposium, organised by the Standardising Quality of life measures in Obesity Treatment (SQOT initiative), was titled ‘Integrating the patients’ perspective in obesity care: using patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) in clinical practices, research and registries’.

31 May 2023

Congratulations to Dr Mastura Monif on her promotion to Associate Professor

The Central Clinical School is delighted to announce that Dr Mastura Monif has been promoted to Associate Professor.

Associate Professor Mastura Monif is a uniquely dual qualified neurological clinician-scientist, with a strong focus on translational research in neuroinflammation. She is an exceptionally kind clinician with a passion for improving care through research. 

She established her own highly successful and rapidly expanding Neuroimmunology, Neuroinflammation and Neurological Diseases Laboratory at the Central Clinical School. Her research has already made important contributions to the field of neuroimmunology and neuro-oncology, particularly with regard to the role of P2X7 receptor and innate immune responses in three key neurological diseases: Autoimmune Encephalitis, Glioblastoma and Multiple Sclerosis. 

Congratulations to Associate Professor Vilija Jokubaitis on her promotion

The Central Clinical School is delighted to announce the promotion of Dr Vilija Jokubaitis to Associate Professor.

Associate Professor Jokubaitis is an outstanding research-focused academic and internationally recognised expert in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and neuroimmunology research. 

A/Prof Jokubaitis leads the neuroimmunology genomics and prognostics research group at the Central Clinical School. Her research aims to improve the long-term outcomes of people living with MS by deriving evidence for treatment personalisation, and tackling progressive MS, with an additional focus on women’s health. To achieve this goal, her team takes a multidisciplinary approach integrating clinical, genomic, cellular and molecular evidence.

29 May 2023

National Reconciliation Week: 27 May to 3 June

By Lenka Vodstrcil, Vaughan Macefield and Zhoujie Ding on behalf of the Gender Equity Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI) Committee

National Reconciliation Week is a time for all of us to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements, and a time to reflect on how we can contribute to reconciliation between First Nations people and the wider community.

These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey: the successful 1967 referendum, which acknowledged the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as citizens, and the High Court's Mabo decision, in which First Nations peoples were acknowledged as the rightful owners of the lands on which we live. These two dates mark the beginning and end of National Reconciliation Week, respectively.

This year's theme, 'Be a Voice for Generations, spurs us all to be an active voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives – where we live, work and socialise. We are encouraged to use our power, words and actions to promote reconciliation and foster respectful relationships between ourselves and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on whose lands we share our lives.

Perhaps this week especially, and the next time you are travelling around different parts of Australia, you can research more about the Traditional custodians of the lands on where you are, and reflect on the generations that walked on these lands prior to invasion/colonisation. 

The traditional custodians of the lands from the Wirribi-yaluk (Werribee River) to Wamoon (also known as Yirik, Woomom or Wilson’s promontory), which is where the main Central Clinical School campus sits, are the Boon Wurrung/Bunurong peoples. The Wurundjeri are the traditional people and custodians of the land from the Birrarung (Yarra River) to Werribee and the Great Dividing Range, the land on which the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre sits. The Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri peoples form part of the East Kulin Nations group of people, which includes many different language groups. 

The Central Clinical School GEDI and School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine EDI committees will be joining forces to host an event in coming weeks that will raise awareness of the roles we each need to play in understanding cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander co-workers, students and patients, and decolonising our research practices. Details to come!

If you would like to attend a Monash University Reconciliation Week event at the main campus, including an event that celebrates Indigenous Perspectives in Science, details are available here.

We also encourage you to complete the Cultural Foundations: Building your knowledge of Australia's First Peoples training on My Development.

Where we live and work always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land and we offer our deep respect to the traditional custodians of the lands and waterways we all share.

Alfred Alliance Event:

The  Baker Institute will have two speakers for our National Reconciliation Week talk on 2 June at 12:30 – 1:30pm. The event is both in person and via Zoom. Please see this flyer for more details. Attendees who wish to join on Zoom, please email reception@baker.edu.au.

22 May 2023

Congratulations to the ‘Find a Friend’ seed grant recipients

Congratulations to the latest ‘Find a Friend’ grant recipients, Drs Matt Hudon and Joshua Allen (‘Psilocybin as a treatment for traumatic brain injury’), and Drs Muhammad Shahid Javaid and Antonia Reale (‘Extracellular vesicles from epilepsy patient-derived neurons promote epileptogenesis and drug resistance: uncovering new drug targets’). Each partnership received a seed grant of $25,000 from the Department of Neuroscience to complete their projects.

The Department of Neuroscience launched their inaugural ‘Find a Friend’ initiative in 2021 to provide funding for two Early Career Researchers or late stage (final year) PhD students to undertake a small (pilot) research project over 12 months. The successful awardees will not only gain skills in developing collaborative partnerships, but also will build their careers as expert researchers in their field, and use the findings from their projects to enable larger funding opportunities.

Learn more about this round’s successful projects below.

19 May 2023

Dr Lodge wins prestigious Career Investigator Award

Congratulations to Dr Margot Lodge, a geriatrician and PhD student at Central Clinical School's Peninsula Clinical School, who has won the prestigious Australian and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine (ANZSGM) Career Investigator Award.  

Dr Lodge presented part of her PhD work on improving perioperative care systems in older people (POPS) at the Australia and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine (ANZGSM) Annual Scientific Meeting in Brisbane.

“This research forms part of a mixed-methods approach to closing the implementation gap in the perioperative care of older people and improving the outcomes of older people undergoing surgery,” Dr Lodge said.

“Implementation science is an exciting next step to improving outcomes for older people undergoing surgery and as a clinician-researcher I look forward to advancing this approach.”

IDAHOBIT: The International Day Against LGBTQIA+ Discrimination!

By Zhoujie Ding and Lenka Vodstrcil, Co-Chairs of the CCS Gender, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Pride Week coincides with the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). Acknowledged worldwide since 2004, this day of global awareness takes place each year on 17 May, a significant date in the ongoing fight for equality. At Monash, we honour IDAHOBIT within Pride Week (15-19 May).

As part of the event, an in-person Pronoun Pro Training for Monash staff and students at the Alfred Precinct was organised by the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine Diversity & Inclusion committee. This interactive training session was led by Natalie Charlotte Sist from the Respectful Communities Team at Monash. 

8 May 2023

The Pitch: Round 1 winner, applications open for Round 2

Congratulations to Dr Julia Boehme (Immunology), Erskine Chu (Neuroscience) and Marissa Sgro (Neuroscience) for being awarded funding in Round 1 of The Pitch for their project Exploring the Brain-Bladder-Immune Axis.

Around 69 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, representing a significant economical and healthcare burden. Brain injuries increase susceptibility to infections, with urinary tract infections (UTIs) among the most common bacterial infections after TBI.

1 May 2023

US funding support to open the doors on neonatal traumatic brain injury research

Dr Sabrina Salberg, a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Neuroscience, has received a Young Investigator research grant (US$35,000) from the Society for Pediatric Pathology (USA) – one of the first for Monash University and an Australian university. The award was announced at the society’s spring meeting held on 22 March in Baltimore.

Dr Salberg completed her PhD degree only last year, with her thesis entitled, “Pain in the developing brain: Early life adversities that affect the development of chronic pain in adolescence.” Her project found that early life neglect and high fat-high sugar diet consumption increased chronic pain sensitivity following traumatic brain injury (TBI) and surgery in a sex-dependent manner. Dr Salberg said, “Interestingly, females demonstrated more pain behaviourally, while males demonstrated more significant effects at the molecular level.”

31 Mar 2023

GEDI committee statement on World Autism Awareness Day

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. Autism is a developmental condition that affects people throughout their lives and can be characterised by difficulties in social interaction, communication, restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours, and sensory sensitivities. It is estimated that 1 in 70 people and 1 in 100 children are on the autism spectrum (WHO ‘Key facts about Autism’). World Autism Awareness Day is a day of observance that has been sanctioned by the UN “to highlight the need to improve the quality of life of those with autism, so that they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society.”

Within the Central Clinical School, the GEDI committee acknowledges that people living with Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are all unique. Some people with Autism may not require any additional support, but for others who do need support, their needs are not identical. We also recognise that many in the school provide care or support to people (including children) with Autism, and appreciate that there are additional appointments or tasks that you attend to in order to provide that care or support.

PhD student receives Gustav Nossal Postgraduate Scholarship Award

Congratulations to Dr Douglas Tjandra for receiving the Gustav Nossal Postgraduate Scholarship Award from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Dr Tjandra is undertaking a PhD with Prof Alex Boussioutas and Dr Rita Busuttil in the Gastroenterology Department at the Central Clinical School and Alfred Hospital. His PhD has a dual focus on a condition called gastric intestinal metaplasia (a precursor lesion to gastric cancer) and genetic conditions which predispose to both gastric and colorectal cancers.

He will look at the clinical, molecular, genetic and immunological features which affect the level of risk, and how our healthcare systems can be optimised in screening and follow-up to improve outcomes for patients and reduce associated healthcare burdens.

Student awarded MS Australia scholarship to research a new therapeutic approach to brain repair

PhD student Danica Nheu has received a $105,000 scholarship from MS Australia to complete a three-year research project aimed at slowing disease progression and enabling recovery from disability. 

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common neurological diseases, affecting up to 2.8 million people globally. This chronic disease is caused when the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks the central nervous system. These attacks cause active MS lesions, and the nerve cells themselves can also be damaged, leading to life-long disability.

Dr Steven Petratos’ research team has shown that a specific protein is present within active MS lesions when nerve fibres are damaged. Danica’s project aims to propose a new method to block the protein present in the diseased brain during MS, to halt disease progression and provide recovery from disability.

20 Mar 2023

Central Clinical School awarded $7M through MRFF for medical research

The Australian Government has awarded more than $53M through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to 21 Monash researchers for research into cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, dementia, cancer, primary health care, nutrition and more.

Four of these projects, totalling over $7M, were awarded to Central Clinical School researchers.

Professor Terence O’Brien received $3M for a world-first trial of a drug treatment for poorly controlled epilepsy. This new drug is the first potentially curative drug for people with epilepsy who are resistant to control with current anti-seizure drugs.

Associate Professor Natasha Smallwood received $2M for a primary care technology-enabled intervention to improve symptom self-management for people with chronic respiratory illness.

New staff appointments

We are pleased to announce that Dr Michelle Zajac has been appointed as the new School Manager of the Central Clinical School (CCS) and A/Prof Andrew Stewardson has been appointed as the new Director and Associate Professor of Infection Prevention and Hospital Epidemiology at Alfred Health (a joint appointment between Alfred Health and CCS).

Michelle is well known to the School, having done an outstanding job as our Senior Research Manager at CCS since 2019, and Senior Research and Operations Manager at CCS since 2021. During this time, Michelle has successfully executed a broad range of management responsibilities while also overseeing a considerable growth in the research income of the School and the Monash-Alfred Clinical Trials Program.

A/Prof Stewardson has been with the Alfred and Monash University since 2017 and has made stellar contributions across clinical service, quality improvement and research in the area of Infection Prevention and Control. He has emerged as one of the leading national experts in Infection Prevention and Control, including being the immediate past Chair of the Healthcare Infection Control Special Interest Group of the Australasian Society of Infectious Diseases, and member of the national Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG) and the Infection Prevention and Control Panel for the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce.

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