Monday, 7 December 2015

New National Innovation and Science Agenda announcement

The Federal Governmment launched its new $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda today.

Some key points that are likely to affect medical research:

- New research funding arrangements for universities, with research block grants replaced with two new programs, including:
  • a Research Support Scheme that will provide around $885 million in 2017 to Australian universities as a flexible funding stream to support the systemic costs of research.
- A $200 million innovation fund to co-invest in businesses that develop technology from the CSIRO and Australian universities.

- An enhanced permanent visa pathway for international STEM postgraduate research graduates, to be implemented in December 2016.

- A new $250 million Biomedical Translational Fund, funded by reducing capital contributions to the Medical Research Future Fund by $125 million in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

- $520 million for the Australian Synchotron.

- $13 million to support women in STEM

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Australia is falling behind on measures of commercialisation and collaboration in research, something this initiative will aim to address.

More detail is available at: The press release from the Prime Minister's office is available here.

A review of research policy and funding (which helped to inform the new innovation agenda) was released on Friday. Here is the report.

Congratulations Dr Graeme Polglase for his NHMRC fellowship

Congratulations Dr Graeme Polglase from The Ritchie Centre, recipient of an NHMRC Career Development Level 2 Fellowship.

This fellowship will support his work on "Reducing perinatal lung, heart and brain injury in preterm infants – from bench to the clinic."

Dr Polglase also recently received a Heart Foundation fellowship and innovation award to support similar projects.

Vale Jack Hansky AM

Associate Professor Jack Hansky
 in 2013 at the Melburnian,
former site of Prince Henry’s Hospital
The Monash University community was saddened to hear of the passing of Associate Professor Jack Hansky AM last week.
A physician and gastroenterologist, Associate Professor Hansky had been involved with Monash from when he joined the Department of Medicine at Prince Henry’s Hospital in 1963. Until his retirement from Monash Medical Centre in 2002, he had had some contact with every Monash medical student graduate since 1963.  He became a member of the Monash University Medical Foundation board in 2004.
Associate Professor Hansky and his wife Paula had a long history of generosity to various causes, including medical research.  Through the Monash Medical Foundation, they chose to support Professor Michael Cowley’s research at the Monash Obesity and Diabetes Institute.
In 2008, Associate Professor Hansky was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for service to medicine in the field of gastroenterology, particularly through research and clinical practice in the treatment of gastric bleeding, to medical education and to the community. 
Colleague and former Head, Department of Medicine Professor Stephen Holdsworth said Associate Professor Hansky was a wise and senior clinician who was very supportive of his younger colleagues and a mentor to emerging academics.
“Associate Professor Hansky was a pioneer in the development of radioimmunoassays, particularly in the discovery of the role of gut hormones in disease,” said Professor Holdsworth.  “At one stage, he was the highest cited academic at Monash University.”
Throughout his career, Associate Professor Hansky made a number of significant contributions to his field including serving as President of the Gastroenterological Society of Australia and Chairman, Senior Medical Staff Prince Henrys Hospital.  He was also Chairman Senior Medical Staff, Medical Advisory Committee Monash Medical Centre and a Member of the Board of Management MMC.  He co-authored over 300 scientific publications.


Inaugural critical care research forum at MMC

Head of Critical Care at MHTP Professor Yahya Shehabi hosted the inaugural Monash Critical Care Research Forum last week at Monash Medical Centre.

Professor Shehabi led the forum with a presentation about ‘Making research simple and sexy’, highlighting the differences between high and low impact research.  He also identified some common problems in clinical research as well as strategies for clinicians interested in starting a research project.

More than forty critical care staff attended the event, which included ‘new research proposal’ presentations by clinician/researchers. 

Nutrition and Dietetics researchers present at Nutrition Society ASM

Dr Tracy McCaffrey
Department of Nutrition and Dietetics lecturer Dr Tracy McCaffrey presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand and the Nutrition Society of Australia last week in Wellington.

Dr McCaffrey gave two presentatations:  ‘Discretionary food consumption in the Victorian Health Monitor survey’ and ‘Nutrition knowledge and estimation of kilojoules: who is getting it right?’.

“The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting discretionary food (DF) choices, i.e. foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol,” said Dr McCaffrey.

“Our study results suggest Victorian adults are not limiting their consumption of DFs in line with guidelines and there is a need for public health strategies to support limiting DF consumption.”

Dr McCaffrey said that continued monitoring of food consumption by comprehensive population dietary surveys are required in order to determine the success of public health approaches to limit the consumption of DFs.

In her study of portion size and kilojoule content of meals, Dr McCaffrey presented her findings suggesting that despite high nutrition knowledge, consumers have difficulty correctly estimating kJ difference between ‘standard’ and ‘large’ serving sizes.

“This suggests there needs to be continued commitment to public health strategies that raise awareness of appropriate portion sizes,” added Dr McCaffrey.

Research Fellow in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics Dr Kate Huggins also presented at the conference last week in New Zealand.

Congratulations Dr Chris Plakiotis on the award of his Doctor of Medicine

The Monash Institute of Graduate Research is pleased to report that Dr Chris Plakiotis has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine.

Dr Plakiotis' thesis titled: "Electroconvulsive therapy research in psychiatry of old age"  was ratified by the Graduate Research Steering Committee on  Tuesday 1st December 2015 and will be conferred upon graduation.

Psychiatrist Dr Plakiotis is Head of the Aged Mental Health Research Unit, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health.  His thesis addresses various aspects of electroconvulsive therapy and its use for the treatment of elderly people, especially this with depression. The thesis represents a valuable addition to knowledge in an important field; the availability of ECT to treat individuals with severe depression, especially those who are aged, is an essential part of the repertoire of therapies available to psychiatrists. Evolution in the application of ECT, improvements in ECT machines and changes to the local mental health act make this work timely.

Sincere thanks to all the academic and professional staff involved in assisting Dr Plakiotis achieve this wonderful result.

Congratulations Domenic Larosa on the award of his PhD

The Monash Institute of Graduate Research is pleased to report that Mr Domenic Larosa has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Domenic's thesis titled: "Studies on the effectiveness of maternal dietary creatine to protect the fetal musculature from birth asphyxia” was ratified by the Graduate Research Steering Committee on  Tuesday 1st December 2015 and will be conferred upon graduation.

Sincere thanks to all the academic and professional staff involved in assisting Domenic achieve this wonderful result.

Grand Rounds- Palliative Care- 9 December 2015

Unit: Palliative  Care                        
Presenter: Dr Leeroy William and Ms Jolene Meinhardt
Topic: "Can Goals of Care Influence Patient Outcomes?"
Date: Wednesday 9 December 2015
Time: 12.30pm to 1.30pm

Venue: Main Lecture Theatre, Monash Medical Centre, Clayton

Clinical Grantsmanship workshop 15 December

Assoc Prof Arul Earnest
15 December 2015: 8.30am-15.30pmMonash Centre for Health Research and Implementation. Monash Medical Centre. Level 1, 43-51 Kanooka Grove, Clayton

This inaugural Clinical Grantsmanship workshop will help researchers improve the chance of success in their grant application by providing relevant talks, pre-review and methodological and biostatistical input for selected proposals. This consists of a series of talks in the morning on important aspects of a successful grant application, including getting the research question right, writing accurate description of the statistical analysis plan and avoiding the pitfalls of a poor grant application. The morning session is open to any interested researcher. Morning tea will be provided.

In the afternoon, three projects (pre-selected from a call for abstract) will be paired with a biostatistician/clinician team, who will then refine the grant proposal together with the researchers. The afternoon session is only applicable for researchers who intend to submit an application for the upcoming NHMRC grant call, and who currently have a draft proposal ready. Projects which are only at the early development stage will not benefit from this workshop and cannot be considered. This workshop is also targeted at clinical research based projects (and not laboratory based projects). To be considered for the afternoon session, you need to submit a 2 page summary (1 page on aims & hypothesis, significance and summary, and another page on CIA track record).  The CIA will need to confirm attendance at the workshop, and agree to include the biostatistician as CI/AI in the grant application if substantial input is provided.

For catering purposes, please RSVP to



Prof’s Helena Teede and Eric Morand
Developing a successful clinical grant application
Professor Sophia Zoungas
Top 10 reasons for a grant rejection
Dr Maree Powell
Getting the research question right. Aims and Hypothesis
A/Professor Arul Earnest
9.30- 9.50

Tea Break

Budgeting- Research office
Ms Tessa Jones*
Writing the statistical section of a grant proposal
Mr Sanjeeva Ranasinha
Common mistakes in presenting pilot data
Mr Eldho Paul
Track record
Prof  Helena Teede

Lunch Break


Biostatisticians and clinical experts refining specific grant proposals with PI (open to 3 project groups, preselected from abstracts submitted)

*MRO Research Development Officer

In order to be considered for the afternoon proposal refinement session, please send your 2-page summary to Associate Professor Arul Earnest at 

Lorne Infection and Immunity Conference 17-19 February

The 2016 Lorne Infection and Immunity conference organising committee invites you to register for the 6th annual conference.

Join infection and immunity scientists from around Australia and overseas for three days of networking and science.

Please forward this email to anyone you think may be interested in being part of a great Australian science tradition.

We look forward to your participation at the Lorne Infection and Immunity Conference. 

Complimentary and Discounted Student Registrations
One of the major aims of the Lorne Infection and Immunity Committee is to foster the development of the next generation. With this in mind, we are pleased to confirm that Complimentary Student Registration (one per registered lab head) will be back in 2016!

We are also excited to announce that all second and subsequent students whose lab head registers will receive $50 off their registration cost. Conditions apply.
More information and registration details here

Research Development Support for NHMRC Research and Practitioner Fellowships - CALL FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST

Please be aware that the Monash Research Office (MRO) Research Development team is again providing additional support for NHMRC Research and Practitioner Fellowship applicants.
There will be a separate announcement of our support for ECF, CDF and TRIP applicants. For intending applicants to those schemes, please view the guidance on the MRO intranet in the meantime.

Support for Research and Practitioner Fellowship applicants consists of:

NHMRC DRC Guidelines Update

The NHMRC has updated its Direct Research Costs
​(DRC) ​Guidelines. The revised guidelines are available from the NHMRC website at the following link.

$50,000 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research - NOW OPEN

The National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia (NSCFA) is pleased to advise that applications are now open for the two $50,000 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research.

The Metcalf Prizes are open to mid-career researchers, five to 10 years past their PhD or MD (research based), working in stem cell research in Australia.

Last year’s winners were Christine Wells of the University of Queensland and Ryan Lister of the University of Western Australia in recognition of their leadership in stem cell research.

Christine has created an online encyclopaedia of detailed scientific information on how our thousands of different genes shape us, which has led to the discovery of a new kind of stem cell.

Ryan has discovered how adult stem cells retain a memory of what they once were. He believes he can make them forget their past lives, so that their history doesn’t limit their new potential.

Applications close Monday 21 March 2016. NSCFA encourage last year’s unsuccessful applicants to apply again this year if they are still eligible.

To apply online, and for a full list of criteria and conditions, head to the Foundation’s website:

If you have any questions about eligibility or the application process, please contact Ellie Michaelides at Science in Public, who are administering the awards for the Foundation:    

Cancer Research UK - Grand Challenge Awards

Cancer Research UK has announced its Grand Challenge Award Scheme that will provide £20m to accelerate research.  These awards for ambitious cancer research grants of interdisciplinary teams, and the global scientific community.  Investigators (principal or co-investigators can be outside the UK), but the teams must have a strong UK component with at least 25% of the grant spent in the UK. Commercial collaboration is encouraged.

Expressions of interest must be received by 12 February 2016.

Intending participants should consider the Faculty alliance partners such as MIPS, University of Newcastle and Warwick University, in addition to your natural collaborative networks.

1.    Develop vaccines to prevent non-viral cancers
2.    Eradicate EBV-induced cancers from the world
3.    Discover how unusual patterns of mutation are induced by different cancer-causing events
4.    Distinguish between lethal cancers that need treating, and non-lethal cancers that don’t
5.    Find a way of mapping tumours at the molecular and cellular level
6.    Develop innovative approaches to target the cancer super-controller MYC
7.    Deliver biologically active macromolecules to any and all cells in the body

​Information on eligibility and instructions on how to apply are available here.

ARC Centres of Excellence 2017 proposals: arrangements for signing of Letters of Support

This message is for the attention of any researchers intending to participate in a Centres of Excellence 2017 (CE17) proposal, led either by another organisation or by Monash. 

All CE17 proposals require a Letter of Support from your organisation (or statement of support if Monash-led), approved and signed by Professor Pauline Nestor. 
T​he very latest date that Professor Nestor is available for signing these letters
​ is Thursday 10 December.​

By 9am, Wednesday 9 December 2015, please send the following documents to so that we can arrange approval and signing before the CE17 closing date: 
  • Letter of Support
  • Certification of Funding form, signed by the relevant Faculties / Departments / Schools contributing cash to the CE17 proposal. This form is attached here. Please note that the form contains three worksheets that can be activated by double-clicking. Please use MS Word to complete this document. The table in Section 3 has space for relevant signatures. 
Please contact ​ if you have any questions.

Important HR dates for EOY 2015

Print advertisement request by 11am on Friday 4 December
Online advertisement request by 5pm on Friday 11 December
Please liaise with Selda Evci or Nevasha Wood if you have any upcoming recruitment activity for this year to ensure the above advertising deadlines will be met.

Last pay in 2015 - Saturday 19 December
Electronic timesheets must be approved by 5pm on Wednesday 16 December

Second last pay in 2015 - Thursday 10 December
Electronic timesheets must be approved by 5pm on Monday 1 December
Contact Access HR on 990 20400 or for any timesheet related queries.

Last pay in 2015 - Saturday 19 December
All payroll requests must be received by 11am on Thursday 10 December

Second last pay in 2015 - Thursday 10 December
All payroll requests must be received by 11am on Thursday 3 December
Contact Access HR on 990 20400 or for any payroll related queries.

Scheme opens 4 November 2015, opt in by 11 December 2015
Contact Access HR on 990 20400 or for any leave related queries.

 More information attached here.

TRF Building- Emergency Procedures Training

The Rescheduled Monash Health Emergency Procedures Training will now be held on the following dates:

Dec 16th 11am
Dec 17th 11am
Dec 18th 11am

Location Seminar Room 1- TRF

The seminars are open to all staff wishing to refresh their training but is mandatory for all staff that occupy space in the TRF

There is no need to book or register, just show up on any one of those days.

Glucocorticoid-induced leucine zipper (GILZ) inhibits B cell activation in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Sarah Jones et al. published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Read article here.

Management of mental health patients in Victorian emergency departments: A 10 year follow-up study

Andis Graudins et al. published in Emergency Medicine Australasia.

Read article here.

The CDK9 inhibitor dinaciclib exerts potent apoptotic and antitumor effects in preclinical models of MLL-rearranged acute myeloid leukemia

Jake Shortt et al. published in Cancer Research.

Read article here.

Ventilation induced lung injury is not exacerbated by growth restriction in preterm lambs

Graeme Polglase et al. published in the American Journal of Physiology, Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology

Read article here.

Deletion of the complex I subunit NDUFS4 adversely modulates cellular differentiation

Justin St John et al. published in Stem Cells and Development.

Read article here.

The consequences of fetal growth restriction on brain structure and neurodevelopmental outcome

Suzie Miller et al. published in The Journal of Physiology.

Read article here.