Monday, 18 June 2018

Monash medical students’ research paves the way for improved treatments for lupus

Rachel Mende
Latest research at Monash University reveals a particular protein found in the blood of lupus patients may be a potential biomarker of kidney disease.

Co-authored by final year Monash medical students Rachel Mende and Emily Lin, both supervised by Dr Tali Lang, the study was published last week in Frontiers in Immunology.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus, is an incurable systemic autoimmune illness, which predominantly affects women of child-bearing age.

“This study is the largest to date which examines clinical associations between SLE disease parameters and two particular blood proteins: IL-18 and IL-1β,” said first author Rachel, who undertook the research as a BMedSc(Hons) student at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS).

Emily Lin
“We measured these two proteins in the blood of lupus patients and found that increased serum IL-18 was associated with the presence of kidney disease and irreversible organ damage while there was no association between serum IL-1β and SLE clinical outcomes.” 

Postdoctoral Research Fellow from the Rheumatology Research Group, Dr Fabien Vincent said the data suggests that serum IL-18 and IL-1β have different clinical implications in lupus.

“Future research investigating whether lupus patients with kidney disease may benefit from a drug targeting IL-18 would be of value,” said Dr Vincent, co-lead author on the paper. 

The research team thanks all the patients involved in the study, and acknowledges the Australian Lupus Registry and Biobank for providing the clinical data sets and patient samples. 

Monash sleep researcher recognised internationally

Professor Rosemary Horne and
Peter Blair, Chair of ISPID

Congratulations to Professor Rosemary Horne, who has received the Distinguished Researcher Award for 2018 at the meeting of the International Society for the Study and Prevention of Infant and Neonatal Death in Glasgow last week.

The award is made for outstanding contributions to research in the area of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy research as evidenced by the awardee’s international reputation in the area and publications in the field over a number of years.

“Personally and professionally this means a tremendous amount to me as it acknowledges my contribution to understanding the mechanisms which make a baby more vulnerable to SIDS,” Professor Horne said.

Professor Horne heads the Infant and Child Health theme within the Ritchie Centre, Department of Paediatrics Monash University and Hudson Institute of Medical Research. Her research focuses on sleep in infants and children.

“My current projects are investigating mechanisms involved in the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), development of cardio-respiratory control in preterm infants and the effects of sleep disordered breathing on daytime performance and the cardiovascular system in children,” she said.

Since 1998, 14 people have been given this award and Professor Horne was the only person awarded the honour this year.

Professor Horne has an international reputation in her field and is the Chair of the Physiology working group of the International Society for the Study and Prevention of Infant Deaths, Secretary of the International Paediatric Sleep Association, immediate past Chair of the National Scientific Advisory Group of Red Nose (formerly SIDS and Kids) and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Sleep Research, Sleep and Sleep Medicine.

Professor Horne said she is extremely proud to be part of the leading paediatric sleep research group in Australasia (and second in the world), in terms of publications.  Prof Horne has published more than 170 papers, and successfully supervised 15 PhD students and over 40 honours students.

“I would like to acknowledge my students and postdoctoral fellows who have worked with me on this research which underpins safe infant sleeping guidelines both in Australia and internationally," she said.

Department of Medicine 3MT competition success

Dr Ai-Ming Wong
The School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) congratulates all 3MT participants who competed in the Department of Medicine heats last Friday.

Dr Ai-Ming Wong took out first place in the Department of Medicine 3MT round, followed by Raymond Shim and Lachlan McMillan in second and third places.

Dr Wong, a Monash Health specialist in respiratory medicine and sleep disorders, is in the second year of her PhD at Monash University.

In her winning 3MT performance, Dr Wong presented her research which aims to enable prediction of which patients with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) will respond to upper airway surgery.

“Currently only one in four patients respond to surgery and there is no easily available clinical assessment or tool to identify who they are,” Dr Wong said.

“In my PhD, I’m measuring the underlying physiology causing OSA for a particular individual, and seeing if that can help us understand and predict which patients will respond to surgery, and which of them don't.”

Ray Shim
Meanwhile, second place winner Ray Shim is trying to understand why infections are so common after brain injury.

“It's becoming more apparent that there is a change to the immune system following brain injury, and in the case of stroke, infections are a leading cause of death in patients,” Ray said.  

“So far in my PhD, I've found there are less patrolling immune cells, which are also unable to combat bacteria that are encountered by the body following brain injury. As a consequence, the body becomes more susceptible to infection.”

In third place and in just three minutes, PhD candidate Lachlan McMillan presented his research which is investigating how physical activity and exercise can positively contribute to bone health.

Lachlan McMillan
We know that the most effective exercise to increase bone health is activity that involves weight-bearing and force, such as hopping and jumping but until recently we haven't been able to say, just how much is enough,” Lachlan said.

“To guide our research we have developed a wearable device that is capable of measuring the forces experienced by the skeleton during exercise, and we hope to use this device to further our research.”

Lachlan said condensing up to three years of research into three minutes was an extremely challenging exercise, however, it's taught him the value of filtering out important information and communicating it in a succinct but also creative manner.

Place winners in the Department competitions proceed to the 3MT School finals on 4 July.   Details HERE.

Monash Emergency and Monash Children’s make significant contribution to new textbook

The recently released 3rd edition of the “Textbook of Paediatric Emergency Medicine” prominently features many staff from Monash Emergency and Monash Children’s.

“The latest edition is much improved, and includes a number of new chapters written by staff from our emergency departments, pharmacy and the various paediatric medical and surgical specialties at Monash Children’s,” said A/Prof Simon Craig, one of the editors of the book.

Contributors included
- Emergency Medicine: Adam West, Erin Mills, Simon Craig, Niki Talic, Bob Seith, Alastair Meyer
- Paediatric Gastroenterology: Rupert Hinds, Ed Giles, Sheena Kaul, Vered Schildkraut
- Paediatric surgery: Rames Nataraja, Damir Ljuhar, Annette Cheng
- Paediatric Respiratory: David Armstrong
- Paediatric Infectious diseases: Jim Buttery
- Paediatric Haematology and Oncology: Kottayam Radhakrishnan, Peter Downie
- Paediatric Intensive Care: Felix Oberender
- Pharmacy: Jacqueline Parkinson
A link to the book is here:

SCS staff meeting 29 June

Nominate a quiet achiever HERE.

New York-based pianist Andrea Lam at Monash Live, 28 June: $15 staff tickets

On Thursday 28 June New York-based pianist Andrea Lam will be performing a concert of classical and contemporary pieces including SchumannGinastera and  and Vivian Fung as part of our popular Wood, Metal and Vibrating Air Piano Recital Series.

To celebrate Andrea's return trip to Australia we are offering all Monash staff exclusive $15 tickets. To redeem the offer, simply enter the code MONASHSTAFF during your online purchase.

A rare and intimate performance that places the audience on stage with Andrea, we think this concert will be immensely insightful and enjoyable for Monash staff with an interest in contemporary and classical piano music. 

3MT competition, 4 July