Monday, 23 April 2018

Outstanding PhD students from The Ritchie Centre receive recognition

Tayla Penny, Madison Paton, Aidan Kashyap, Annie Cox

Graduate research students from The Ritchie Centre at the Monash Health Translation Precinct took the lion’s share of awards at the recent Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) annual scientific meeting.

PhD students Aidan Kashyap, Madison Paton, Tayla Penny and Annie Cox were all recognised for their outstanding research at the premier perinatology event in Auckland, New Zealand last month.

Aidan Kashyap received the PSANZ-PRS Mont Liggins Early Career Award and the New Investigator Award for Best Oral Presentation in Basic Science for his research into congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a devastating cause of impaired lung development which affects 1 in 3000 babies.

Babies with CDH are born with a hole in the diaphragm, which allows abdominal organs to enter the chest and prevents the lungs from growing appropriately.

“My research is investigating promising new therapies that could be used to treat these babies before they are even born,” Aidan said.
“The first therapy involves performing keyhole-surgery called “FETO” to place a small balloon in the developing baby’s throat. This balloon traps naturally-secreted liquid within the airways that promotes lung growth, to give even the most severely affected babies a better chance of survival after birth.”
“Unfortunately, some babies do not respond to FETO therapy, and our research is showing that this may be because even though their lungs grow bigger, there is still not enough blood flowing through them to collect oxygen for the rest of the body.”
“To further improve survival, we are also investigating giving a medication called sildenafil to pregnant mothers carrying a baby diagnosed with CDH.”
“Sildenafil allows blood vessels within the fetal lungs to grow normally again, so when these babies are born, enough blood can flow through the lungs to collect life-sustaining oxygen,” Aidan said.
Aidan said he was honoured to receive the Mont Liggins Early Career Award, the most prestigious award for an oral presentation at the PSANZ Annual Scientific Congress which includes an invitation to speak at the US-based Perinatal Research Society (PRS) Annual Meeting later this year.
PhD and medical student Annie Cox was awarded Best Oral Presentation in Obstetrics and Gynaecology for her bench side analysis of the use of broccoli sprout extract as an adjuvant therapy for preeclampsia.
“Broccoli sprout extract is high in sulforaphane, and I’ve developed laboratory evidence supporting sulforaphane’s ability to act as an antioxidant and improve cellular resilience to oxidative and inflammatory stress,” Annie said.
Annie will conduct a clinical trial assessing broccoli sprout extract as an adjuvant therapy for women diagnosed with preeclampsia.
“I hope to improve maternal vascular health, thereby allowing for safe prolongation of pregnancy to enable fetal maturation,” Annie said.
Third year PhD student Madison Paton’s stem cell research was recognised with the PSANZ Ritchie Centre Award for Translational Research. Madison was also awarded the Senior Investigator Prize for Best Oral Presentation at the accompanying Fetal and Neonatal Workshop of Australia and New Zealand.
Madison is investigating the benefit of stem cells from human umbilical cord tissue to reduce white matter brain injury.
“We are assessing the efficacy of stem cells as a therapy to protect the brain of babies born preterm after exposure to inflammation while developing in the womb,” Madison said.  “This will help contribute to finding a therapy to protect against cerebral palsy.”
Tayla Penny was awarded the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Award (first place) and the Early Career Researcher Travel Award for her work in hypoxic ishcemic brain injury.
“My research compares dose and delivery method of Umbilical Cord Blood (UCB) in a neonatal rat model of hypoxic ishcemic brain injury, and I’ve shown that UCB administration improves brain weight and behavioural outcomes,” Tayla said.

“I hope my research will elude to the long term effects of neonatal hypoxic ischemic brain injury, and determine if UCB cell therapy has a sustained effect and is able to reduce brain injury and improve behavioural and motor outcomes.”

All students acknowledged the ongoing support of their lab teams and supervisors, including: Associate Professor Ryan Hodges, Professor Stuart Hooper, Associate Professor Suzie Miller, Professor Graham Jenkin, Professor Euan Wallace, Dr Courtney McDonald, Dr Kirsten Palmer, Dr Sarah Marshall, Dr Seshini Gurusinghe, Dr Kelly Crossley, Dr Philip Dekoninck, Dr Beth Allison and Associate Professor Michael Fahey.

New funding to build capacity for cancer care and research across Monash Partners

Monash Partners’ Cancer and Blood Diseases theme, the Monash Partners Comprehensive Cancer Consortium (MPCCC), will advance collaborative programs outlined in its 2017 – 2021 strategic plan thanks to new funding provided by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The funding was confirmed in mid-April and will include $219,000 to pilot a shared care model for cancer related depression. Aimed at building the capacity of the psych-oncology workforce to better service the needs of patients across Monash Partners health services, this pilot program will train and mentor community based psychologists to treat cancer related depression and will establish a patient referral pathway from the acute hospital setting to community based services, so that cancer patients can access these services close to where they live.

“Clinical depression is the most prevalent psychological condition affecting cancer patients, but many patients do not receive treatment for their depression, due to a chronic shortfall in the hospital based psycho-oncology workforce” said Prof David Kissane, project lead and Head of the Department of Psychiatry at Monash University, Monash Health and Cabrini.

2018 Influenza Immunisation - get your free vaccination at MMC TOMORROW (or on campus)

Flu vaccinations are available for all staff Tuesday 24 April from 7.15am-4pm at Monash Medical Centre outside Lecture Theatre 3.  At all other times the vaccination is available from Infection Control.

For staff based at other campuses (e.g. Notting Hill, Dandenong etc), the flu vaccination program is being coordinated by OH&S, with an external provider engaged to administer the immunisations for Monash University.

Appointments are scheduled to commence shortly.  Please follow the steps below to book your appointment:

Log into the booking system at – Health Watch Australia
Enter the following username and password:
Username: monashuni
Password: fluvax2018

Select our preferred location and enter your details

For Faculty/Division:  Type “School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health

Enter the following details for Area Coordinator:
Name:  Clare Westhorpe

Once submitted, you will receive a confirmation email.


A copy of your confirmation email MUST be taken to your appointment.  You can either print the email or have it available on your phone or tablet.  This will be verification of your booking.

FMNHS Dean's Awards for Excellence 2018 - Now OPEN for Application

Nominations for the FMNHS Dean's Awards for Excellence 2018  are now open for the following categories:

Please submit your application via email to
Closing date for nominations is midnight Sunday 20th May 2018.
For further information, please contact Ms. Dunja Licina on 9905 5169.

Tell us what you think about data!

Monash Partners has been asked to provide training to assist Healthcare workers to improve
healthcare outcomes through better use of data We want to know what you already know, what
training already exists and what you would find useful Please complete the survey using the link below.

It takes between five and eight minutes:  Data Driven Healthcare Improvement Survey

Alison Johnson can help if you have any queries.

2018 Prizes & Awards Calendar - May & June

Please refer to the Prizes & Awards(P&A) Calendar for opportunities closing in May and June 2018

Of particular note are the following P&A opportunities, so please start thinking of suitable candidates now:
  • Eureka Prize: Scientific Research
  • Eureka Prize: Leadership in Innovation and Science
  • Eureka Prize: Infectious Diseases Research,
  • Eureka Prize: Innovation in Medical Research
  • Business and Higher Education Round Table (BHERT) Awards

A comprehensive list of world-wide prestigious prizes and awards eligible to Australian researchers is also available at Research Professional.

If you are a Monash member of staff and intend to apply for any of the listed prizes or awards, please contact Mind Your Way, an academic consultancy engaged on the Monash Prizes & Awards Strategy on behalf of the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice-President. Only Monash staff are eligible to access Mind Your Way services paid by the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice-President. Adjuncts and affiliates wishing to engage Mind Your Way will have to enter into a contract and pay directly for services offered by Mind Your Way.

If, as part of the eligibility criteria, there are limits on numbers of applications that can be submitted by Monash, approval must be sought and obtained by the appropriate delegated individual.

7th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation, November 2018: Call for abstracts now open

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) are pleased to announce the 7th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation. This year, the National Health and Medical Research Council will be partnering with The REWARD Alliance. The theme will be ‘Ensuring Value in Research’ with a particular focus on: 

1. Justifiable research priorities 
2. Robust research design, conduct and analysis
3. Regulation and management of research conduct proportionate to risks
4. Accessible research methods and findings and complete and usable research reports