Monday, 11 December 2017

Monash researcher receives VicHealth Award for alcohol harm in emergency departments research

Associate Professor Diana Egerton-Warburton
Associate Professor Diana Egerton-Warburton was recognised for her significant work in the prevention of alcohol related harm, winning a prestigious VicHealth Award last week.
Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton’s research project, Preventing harm from alcohol, measured the number of emergency department visits caused by alcohol harm.
Emergency departments (EDs) in Australia and New Zealand are at the forefront of dealing with the harmful effects of alcohol consumption. However, ED alcohol-related presentation data is not routinely collected in patient data sets in Australasia.
Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton said the primary objective of the project was to provide an evidence base to advocate for alcohol harm reduction measures in our communities, by quantifying the level of alcohol harm presenting to Australasian emergency departments.
The Hon. Jill Hennessy MP and
Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton
“This survey quantifies that on weekends, one in eight patients in emergency departments in Australia is there because of alcohol,” Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton said.

“This is the third such snapshot survey which has demonstrated the impact of alcohol on ED presentations.”

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine President Dr Simon Judkins said the Award is recognition of the hard work Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton and her team have done with The Alcohol Harm Snapshot Survey, exposing the true extent of alcohol abuse and its effect on our communities and healthworkers – particularly in Australian EDs.

Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton said the award was a credit to the many clinicians who had compiled the data in EDs across the country.

The fourth Alcohol Harm Snapshot Survey in Australian and New Zealand EDs will take place at 2am (local time), on 16 December 2017.

“This goes to all the ED clinicians who completed those 2am surveys and we are looking forward to a record response in this December’s Snapshot Survey,” Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton said.

“I’d like to acknowledge the incredible efforts of the emergency departments over the past four years to do these surveys at a busy time.”

“These surveys do lead directly to advocacy around the issue and an attempt to influence culture, so I think it’s a very powerful thing for emergency clinicians to do.”
The awards were announced last week at VicHealth’s 30th anniversary event at Melbourne Museum by Health Minister Jill Hennessy, Shadow Health Minister Mary Wooldridge, Leader of the Victorian Greens Samantha Ratnam and VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter.

Information about the research project is HERE.

Prestigious Heart Foundation Fellowship awarded to Dr Sarah Zaman

Dr Sarah Zaman
Dr Sarah Zaman has been awarded a highly competitive Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue her research into the prevention of sudden cardiac death.

An interventional consultant cardiologist at MonashHeart and Post-doctoral Early Career Research Fellow in the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, Dr Zaman was awarded the fellowship (worth $75,000 per annum for two years) from 376 applicants, all of extremely high standard.

Sudden cardiac death is the cause of approximately 20,000 deaths in Australia every year and the majority of deaths occur in heart attack survivors with impaired heart function.

Dr Zaman’s research is trying to identify patients at risk of sudden death.

“I’m one of the lead researchers on the PROTECT-ICD Trial, an Australian-led, international, multi-centre study targeting prevention of sudden death in patients who have suffered a heart attack,” Dr Zaman said.

The PROTECT-ICD Trial targets the important issue of prevention of sudden death after a heart attack through the use of an electrophysiology study, a type of electrical test of the heart.

“In particular, the trial is focused on identifying patients early (within a month) after a heart attack, as the risk of sudden death is much higher during this time period,” Dr Zaman said.

Over 1,000 patients with impaired heart function following a heart attack will be recruited and randomly assigned to either early electrophysiology study with a defibrillator implanted if fast abnormal heart rhythms are seen, or standard care.

“Standard care involves waiting 1-3 months for the heart to recover, with a defibrillator implanted only if there is persistent severe heart function impairment,” Dr Zaman said.

Dr Zaman said this study has the potential to change national and international guidelines for selection of patients for a defibrillator for sudden death prevention.

“Importantly, it has the potential to save lives both in Australia and globally through prevention of sudden death in heart attack survivors.” 

Dr Zaman is grateful for the support and mentorship of Associate Professor Pramesh Kovoor, (University of Sydney) and Professor James Cameron (Monash University).  She also acknowledges the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) for the Early Career Practitioner Fellowship that has supported her research until this time.  

Outstanding grant success at Monash University and the MHTP

Professor Marcel Nold and Dr Claudia Nold
Monash University leads Australia in NHMRC Project grant funding this year, receiving over $100M.

Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) researchers from the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) and the Hudson Institute of Medical Research together were awarded 23 NHMRC Project grants, totalling almost $18M.  Our success rate of 25% was well above the national average of 16.4%.

For the first time, MHTP researchers were awarded total funding greater than any other school of Monash University. SCS and Hudson Institute grants together amount to 30% of the Faculty’s total grants in this latest round.

Professor Marcel Nold, recently appointed as Monash University’s inaugural Professor of paediatric immunology, and Dr Claudia Nold received three grants for their team.

Professor Nold has previously found that the immune system molecule interleukin 38 disables several signalling pathways essential for Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) progress.

“This project grant will enable us to explore regulation and function of this molecule in cells from healthy people and SLE patients and in models of the disease,” Professor Nold said.

Head of Rheumatology Research Group in the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases, Professor Eric Morand is a co-investigator on this grant.

Professor Nold’s other project will explore interleukin 37, a powerful anti-inflammatory cytokine. 

Cytokines are messenger proteins that function as master regulators of biological processes, playing central roles in many diseases.

“We will evaluate interleukin 37’s mechanisms of action and its efficacy against several severe diseases, including cancer,” Professor Nold said.

Colleague and partner Dr Claudia Nold is also investigating Interleukin 37 as a novel therapy for necrotising enterocolitis, a disease that develops when the tissue in the inner lining of the intestine becomes damaged and begins to die.

Associate Professor Suzie Miller’s project will investigate new and improved treatment strategies for neonatal seizures.
Associate Professor Miller and Professor Hickey

“Seizures are the most distinctive and frequent indication of neurological abnormalities in newborn infants and are more common in the neonatal period than at any other stage in life,” Associate Professor Miller said.

“Despite evidence of the limited effectiveness and potential neurotoxicity of current anti-seizure medication, treatment has not changed for decades.”

“We will examine novel treatments that are less toxic and more effective, specifically designed and assessed for neonates.”

Meanwhile, Dr Joshua Ooi, Professor Stephen Holdsworth and Professor Michael Hickey received project grants to further their research into kidney disease—affirming MHTP as a world leading precinct in kidney research.

Dr. Ooi's research will investigate targeted therapies for autoimmune kidney disease. 

"I aim to develop treatments that will switch off the part of the immune system that is causing disease while leaving protective immunity intact," Dr Ooi said.

SCS Project grant recipients are:

Grant Title

Professor Marcel Nold
Department of Paediatrics
Interleukin 38: Uncoupling Innate Inflammation from Interferons in lupus
Exploring and Targeting the Anti-Inflammatory Signalling Mechanisms of Interleukin 37
Dr Claudia Nold
Department of Paediatrics
Interleukin 37 – a novel cytokine therapy for Necrotizing Enterocolitis in the preterm.
Professor Michael Hickey
Department of Medicine
Conventional and unconventional T cells in interstitial kidney disease
Amniotic Exosomes - Nanomedicine for Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia
Professor Peter Ebeling
Department of Medicine
Fractures and bisphosphonates: reviving osteoporosis treatment uptake by identifying the genetic, material, and microstructural risk factors of atypical femur fractures
Professor Euan Wallace
A Cell Therapy for Necrotising Enterocolitis
Associate Professor Suzie Miller
Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
New and improved treatment strategies for neonatal seizures
Professor Stephen Holdsworth
DNase I as Treatment for MPO-ANCA Vasculitis
Generating endogenous antigen specific T regulatory cells to treat autoimmune MPO-ANCA GN

Dr Joshua Ooi
Department of Medicine
Treatments for glomerulonephritis that harness antigen specific regulatory cells
Dr Nadine Andrew
Evaluation of enhanced models of primary care in the management of stroke and other chronic diseases

The mental health of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island

Professor Suresh Sundram
Professor Suresh Sundram published in The Lancet.

On October 31, 2017, the Governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea ended support for the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, an Australian immigration detention facility on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.  Instead, currently incomplete and substandard facilities without adequate service provision have been hastily constructed to accommodate people. 379 refugees and asylum seekers refused to leave the centre stating fears for their security.  The physical and mental health of these people is precarious.

Read full article HERE.

Professor Sundram is from the Department of Psychiatry, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, Monash University and Unit Head, Adult Psychiatry at Monash Medical Centre.

SCS lecturer recognised for teaching excellence

Dr Simone Gibson and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner 
Dr Simone Gibson has been recognised for her outstanding teaching, receiving the 2017 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

A senior lecturer in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food, Dr Gibson teaches clinical dietetics, and engages work-based educators and promotes teaching excellence for work-integrated learning.

Dr Gibson said she helps prepare students to reach clinical competency and to gain employment in the fast-paced and often stressful hospital environment.

“My teaching and learning strategies are multi-faceted and include simulation and real-life patient interactions,” Dr Gibson said.

“I use a range of evaluation techniques including student learning and cost-effectiveness measures.”

Dr Gibson has published and presented internationally in clinical educational research and is an Associate Fellow for the Australia and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators. She has received over $70,000 in grants for educational research and initiatives which she uses to improve students and graduate outcomes. 

“It is a great honour to receive this award and I am so pleased that teaching is so valued at Monash,” Dr Gibson said.

Dr Gibson acknowledges the ongoing support of Deputy Dean Education, Professor Wayne Hodgson, Professor Helen Truby, Associate Professor Claire Palermo, Dr Kellie Tuck and the Monash Education Academy.

Medical student Francis Ha recognised for high impact research

Francis Ha
Congratulations to final year medical student Francis Ha, winner of the Stephen Holdsworth Prize for Medical Student Research 2017.

The Stephen Holdsworth Prize is awarded to the most important publication(s) arising from a BMedSc(Hons) undertaken at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS).

During his BMedSc(Hons) year, Francis undertook multiple projects in a collaboration between MonashHeart and the Austin Hospital.

“My thesis focused on psychosocial factors that affect exercise adherence in chronic heart failure, particularly in relation to patient self-efficacy,” Francis said.

“However, I also worked on projects relating to novel coronary stent platforms and various aspects of cardiovascular imaging (intravascular as well as non-invasive).”

Francis said the BMedSc(Hons) degree enabled him to learn about broad aspects of cardiology, to think critically about clinically-relevant questions, and to develop his character in learning from and collaborating with others. He also presented at national and international cardiology conferences, and published in sub-specialty journals of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and Circulation.

“I would like to sincerely thank my supervisors Professor James Cameron and Professor David Hare and the privilege to work under some of Australia’s most esteemed cardiovascular researchers. I would also like to thank Dr Adam Brown for his exceptional supervision and support, as well as Dr Nitesh Nerlekar for his immense support and statistical teaching. I’d finally like to thank Dr Tony White and the School of Clinical Sciences in having our work recognised in the form of an award.”

Francis will receive his prize at the MUMUS Graduation Brunch and Prize Ceremony this week.

Top marks for Dr Hugh Gao

Dr Hugh Gao
Dr Hugh Gao has been awarded the 2017 Shaun Summers Award for Medical Student Research in recognition of his top academic mark in his cohort at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS).

Dr Gao, who undertook his BMedSc(Hons) at in 2016, investigated IFN-epsilon—a type of interferon protein that helps regulate activity of the immune system.

“My research focussed on the potential role of IFN-epsilon in serous ovarian cancer progression using gene expression data from existing serous ovarian cancer cohorts,” Dr Gao said.

“The loss of IFN-epsilon expression is associated with reduced overall survival in serious ovarian tumours, with reduced tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes.”

"Hugh deserves accolades for being brave enough to undertake a project requiring computational and statistical approaches to a research problema task at which he shone," said supervisor Professor Paul Hertzog.

Dr Gao said his award is a testament to the excellent training at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research under the guidance of Professor Paul Hertzog, Dr Helen Cumming, Dr Jamie Gearing and the rest of the Hertzog group.

Dr Gao will receive his award at the MUMUS Graduation Brunch and Prize Ceremony this week.