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.
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