Monday, 15 August 2016

First patient overnight stay at MHTP Clinial Trials Centre

Mr Rudy Van Ekeren with
Ms Cheryl Coleman
The Clinical Trials Centre at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) welcomed their first overnight patient earlier this month.

Mr Rudy Van Ekeren is the second aggressive B-cell lymphoma patient in Australia—and only third in the world—to receive a novel epigenetic therapy as part of an anti-lymphoma clinical trial.  The study is being led by Monash University researcher and Monash Health haematologist Dr Gareth Gregory.

“I’ve been in hospitals around the world and have never seen facilities like this,” said Rudy.

For the first cycle of his trial, Rudy needed to have ten hours of pre-hydration before starting his treatment.

“We needed him here overnight so we could start his treatment in the morning,” said MHTP Clinical Trials Centre (CTC) Manager Ms Cheryl Coleman.  

“Once Rudy started his treatment, we began our observations and a series of blood tests looking for tumour lysis syndrome to make sure the tumour wasn’t breaking down in a dangerous manner.”

Rudy stayed for a second night in the CTC for further observations.

According to Early Phase Drug Trials Operations Manager Ms Cheryl-Ann Hawkins, the first overnight patient in the CTC marks the beginning of a new service and a new era.

“While there are other healthy volunteer clinical trials units in Australia, our CTC is unique in that it offers services across all diseases and phases in unhealthy patients,” said Ms Hawkins.

Ms Coleman said that one of the biggest advantages of the CTC is the Trial Units no longer have to negotiate for a public hospital bed.

“When following a clinical trial protocol, we may only have 28 days for a screening period, and patients must be treated at Day 0 or Day 1,” said Ms Coleman.

“When you’re competing for a public hospital bed in a busy ward, there can often be a delay of a day or two and there’s a chance of losing the patient to the trial.”

“When patients come to our dedicated Centre we can guarantee they’re looked after according to the protocol requirements. Data is collected and recorded at the required time points.”

Ms Coleman said the CTC is not only more attractive to sponsors by providing timely and accurate data but also allows trial units to participate in new trials they would not have been able to consider previously.

For patient Rudy, he was happy to have all the attention of the night shift staff.
“I couldn’t wish for any better treatment, and I was very happy having my wife stay overnight in the room to support me,” he said.

The unique and dedicated Clinical Trials Centre is an Australian first in the public sector, supporting clinical trials from Phase 1 to Phase 4—from ‘first in human’ to primary health trials.

Monash study will lead improvements in sedation practice for intensive care patients

Professor Yahya Shehabi
Better patient outcomes through improved sedation practices in intensive care is the aim of Monash research that has received significant industry funding.

Head of Critical Care at Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) Professor Yahya Shehabi has received a $658,000 grant from Orion Pharma to conduct a sub-study of the Sedation Practice in Intensive Care Evaluation (SPICE III) multi-national trial.

Over the last decade, clinical practice has moved towards using lighter levels of sedation whenever clinically safe, better pain management, and recognition of delirium as occurring commonly in patients with critical illness,” said Professor Shehabi, who is Program Director of Critical Care at Monash Health and leads the critical care research program at the School of Clinical Sciences, Monash University.

“While we’ve seen a steady improvement in outcomes for patients treated in intensive care units (ICU), survivors of critical illness still suffer significant long-term effects after their ICU treatment.”

These effects can include physical, neurocognitive and psychosocial conditions such as impaired memory, executive function and depression.

“Accumulating evidence suggests that the use of specific sedative and analgesic medications could be associated with delirium and long-term neuropsychological and cognitive impairment,” said Professor Shehabi.

“My research will investigate whether the use of a particular sedative protocol, Early Goal Directed Sedation (EGDS) will improve the functional capacity and neurocognitive function of critically ill survivors.”

“Lighter sedation and adequate pain management seem to shorten ventilation time and reduce the risk of delirium,” said Professor Shehabi.

Cognitive impairment is significantly linked to delirium and the duration of delirium—as many as 30% of patients suffer from some sort of cognitive impairment up to a year after leaving ICU.

Professor Shehabi’s hypothesis is that EGDS will improve performance on cognitive, executive and memory function tests and reduce post-traumatic stress disorder 90 days after admission to ICU.

“This unrestricted research grant will allow us to test our hypothesis in a sub-group of the current SPICE III randomised controlled trial,” he said.  

The sub-study is being conducted with collaborators at the University of Cambridge.

A randomised trial, the SPICE III study is the largest ICU sedation trial ever to be conducted and is currently recruiting patients in more than 60 ICUs worldwide, including Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the UK and Switzerland. It is expected to conclude by the end of 2017.

GPs need to become champions for osteoporosis treatment

Professor Peter Ebeling
OSTEOPOROSIS treatment represents a missed opportunity for medical practitioners, according to the authors of a narrative review published in yesterday’s Medical Journal of Australia.

Only a small percentage of patients presenting to the health care system with minimal trauma fractures are being investigated or treated for osteoporosis, despite it affecting 1.2 million Australians.

Associate Professor Frances Milat and Professor Peter Ebeling from Monash University and Monash Health wrote that “there is a major gap between evidence and treatment in secondary fracture prevention, with fewer than 20% of patients presenting with a minimal trauma fracture being treated or investigated for osteoporosis”.
Associate Professor Fran Milat

Osteoporosis treatment is recommended in patients with a high absolute fracture risk.

“This includes older Australians (post-menopausal women and men aged over 60 years) with T scores £ -2.5 at the lumbar spine, femoral neck or total hip, and patients with a history of a minimal trauma fracture,” the authors wrote.

There are a growing number of effective therapies for osteoporosis for which the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Two are antiresorptive drugs, which decrease the number, activity and lifespan of osteoclasts, and teriparatide, which stimulates osteoblast recruitment and activity. There are also newer anti-osteoporosis drugs in clinical development.

In addition, non-pharmacological therapies such as calcium and vitamin D, exercise and fall reduction strategies can help prevent osteoporosis.

The authors wrote that the time to close the gap between evidence and treatment is well overdue.

They concluded: “General practitioners also need to take up the challenge imposed by osteoporosis and become the champions of change, working with the support of specialists and government to reduce the burden of fractures caused by osteoporosis in Australia.”

Monash welcomes ARWU ranking: 79th globally

Monash University has welcomed the 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) report, with Monash ranked 79th in the world (up from 114 in 2015).

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, acknowledged the 2016 ARWU rankings in the context of the University’s long-term strategy for academic excellence.

“Monash University’s increasingly strong international standing is a result of a culture that supports excellence including our long standing commitment to the development and recruitment of world-class talent, sustained investment in long-term research infrastructure, focused international collaboration for high impact and deep partnerships with industry and governments.”

“Most importantly, to be ranked at 79 in the world reflects the contributions, commitment and quality of Monash staff, measured against the highest international standards.  It is this quality that means we can meet and set the challenges that will benefit our future,” Professor Gardner said.

ARWU has been presenting the world top 500 universities annually since 2003, based on a set of objective indicators and third-party data.  ARWU uses six indicators to rank universities, including the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, number of Highly Cited researchers, number of articles published in the journals of Nature and Science, number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index - Expanded and Social Science Citation Index, and per capita performance.

Vale Julian Thomas “Bill” Parer

Julian Thomas "Bill" Parer
Renowned Professor of Obstetrics Julian Thomas “Bill” Parer died early this month in Marin, California.  

Born in Melbourne, Bill obtained a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree from Melbourne University, a Master of Rural Science degree from University of New England, a PhD from Oregon State University, and an MD from the University of Washington in Seattle. After completing a Residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center, he joined the Faculty at the University of California San Francisco in 1974.  He was a Professor of Obstetrics, and continued clinical care, teaching and research at that institution.

“Bill was a respected and valued member of the perinatal research community,” said Associate Professor Tim Moss, head of the Perinatal Inflammation Research Group at The Ritchie Centre, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Monash University.

Professor Graham Jenkin from the Ritchie Centre knew Bill as “a close colleague of many of us in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and The Ritchie Centre. He was a frequent visitor. His challenging clinical workshops and lectures here always drew large crowds.”

Bill served as President (2002-4) and Scribe (2005-7) of the Fetal and Neonatal Physiological Society (FNPS). He was one of the longest-standing contributors to the FNPS conference. Associate Professor Moss said Bill was always in the front row (with abstract book in hand), by the bar (with glass in hand) or on the dance floor (with dancing partner in hand)—Bill was unmissable.

“This year’s 43rd annual meeting of the FNPS in Cambridge will be poorer for Bill’s absence, said Associate Professor Moss.

Colleague and friend Associate Professor David Walker from the Ritchie Centre, who knew Bill for many years, said he was the most excellent of friends.

3MT success at SCS and Hudson

3MT winners at SCS and Hudson
Congratulations to all PhD students who participated in the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) and Hudson Institute of Medical Research Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition last week.

The following students won places and will proceed to the Faculty 3MT competition on 19 August.

1st place - Jonathan Dick
2nd place - Douglas Blank
3rd place - William Berry

Gregory Ong was the People's Choice winner.

Winners of the junior category were:

1st place: Kelli Sorby
2nd place: Shreya Rana

Farewell for Professor Velandai Srikanth, 17 August at 3pm

Please RSVP here.

CiiiD seminar 16 August: Dr Genevieve Pepin and Dr Jonathan Ferrand

Dr Genevieve Pepin
This week's CiiiD Tuesday seminar, 16th August, will feature two speakers, both from Michael Gantier's lab. 

Dr Jonathan Ferrand will speak on the "Role of TLR7/8 in bacterial infections".

Dr Genevieve Pepin will present a talk titled "Activation of cGas-dependant antiviral response by DNA intercalating agents".

Dr Le Son Tran will chair the seminar.  In will be held 1-2pm in the TRF Level 6 meeting room R02.

At 12-1pm, the Faculty's Early Career Researcher Showcase will held in the Department of Surgery Seminar Room, Level 5 Block E.  More information available here, along with the CID seminar schedule for the coming weeks:

Grand Round Presentation - Diagnostic Imaging -17 August

Unit: Diagnostic Imaging        
Presenters: Associate Professor Ronil V. Chandra
Topic:  “Emergency Neuroimaging: pushing the boundaries to improve patient care”
Date: Wednesday 17 August 2016
Time: 12.30pm to 1.30pm

Venue: Main Lecture Theatre, Monash Medical Centre, Clayton.

“Sex reversal in dragons: the rapid evolutions of new sex determining modes", 18 August

Dr Clare Holleley
This week's (Thurs 18 August) Hudson Seminar will be held from 12-1 pm, Lecture Theatre 1, Monash Medical Centre.

The speaker will be Dr Clare E. Holleley, Senior Research Scientist, Australian National Wildlife Collection, Adjunct Associate Professor, Institute for Applied Ecology. 

There will be 2 events associated with her visit:
  • Morning Tea: 11-11.30am, level 6 meeting room, MHTP (all students welcome)
  • Seminar: 12-1pm, Lecture Theatre 1, Monash Medical Centre
Talk title: “Sex reversal in dragons: the rapid evolutions of new sex determining modes".

Light refreshments to follow presentation outside the Lecture Theatre.

Seminar flyer attached here.

Scholarships for Women in the Higher Education Sector

Women and Leadership Australia would like to acknowledge the tremendous response to the recent announcement regarding $4,000 scholarships for Leadership Development in the Higher Education Sector.

For those who missed the announcement, the scholarship initiative is administered by Women & Leadership Australia (WLA) to support the nationwide launch of Executive Ready – WLA’s new flagship development program for mid to senior level managers.
About the Executive Ready program
Informed by the experiences of hundreds of talented and respected women across all industries, Executive Ready is a leadership accelerator designed to stretch participants and propel them towards executive level performance, behaviours and mindsets. Developed by the country’s foremost authority on women leaders and their unique needs, Executive Ready is for women who want to lead more confidently, transform the performance of their team and fully realise their future career/life potential.

To view the Executive Ready program prospectus click here

Faculty's Research Week THIS WEEK

Please register here

Monash Partners Free Good Clinical Practice Course for Researchers

From August 2016, Monash University will offer TransCelerate accredited ICH Good Clinical Practice Training in clinical research, expected and recognised by pharmaceutical companies in commercially-sponsored clinical trials.

ICH GCP is also increasingly a requirement of human research and ethics committees.

Training is available to all paid employees of the Monash Partners organisations, funded by the Partners at no cost to attendees. It is offered at two sites: the Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct (AMREP) and the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP). Subject to demand, training may also be available at other Monash Partners sites.

The training program is delivered by trained GCP facilitators with extensive experience in clinical research and consists of:

ICH GCP Training: a 5 hour face to face interactive workshop, designed for those involved in pharma or clinical research, including Principal Investigators, Associate Investigator and Clinical Trial Coordinator responsibilities.
The course consists of five modules: The Standards, Study Set Up, Informed Consent, Case Report Form and Data Entry, Safety Reporting.

Refresher ICH GCP: a 2 hour face to face workshop, available from September 2016. Information about eligibility for this program will be available on the website.

Call for Monash EOIs for the Global Innovation Linkages (GIL) programme

The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Greg Hunt MP announced the launch of the $18 million Global Innovation Linkages (GIL) programme, an initiative under the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA).  Beginning in 2016, the programme will be on-going with $18 million allocated to 2020-2021. Applications are open from 8 August 2016 to 20 October 2016. MRO will hold an EOI process to select two projects to proceed to Full Proposal.
Available Funding
Grants of up to AU$1 million (exclusive of GST) per project will be provided over a maximum of four years. The programme will support a small number of projects to assist Australian businesses and researchers to collaborate with global partners on projects with a strategic focus and leading-edge research and developmentMore information can be found in the attached GIL fact sheet and programme guidelines and on
Priority Areas
Your project must include one Australian industry entity, one Australian research organisation, and one global partner from a priority economy and must be in one of the following priority areas:

• Advanced Manufacturing
• Food and Agribusiness
• Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals
• Mining Equipment, Technology and Services
• Oil, Gas and Energy Resources

Global Innovation Linkages (GIL) programme launched

Last week, the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Greg Hunt MP announced the launch of the $18 million Global Innovation Linkages (GIL) programme, an initiative under the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA).

Grants of up to AU$1 million (exclusive of GST) per project will be provided over a maximum of four years. The programme will support a small number of projects to assist Australian businesses and researchers to collaborate with global partners on projects with a strategic focus and leading-edge research and development. 

Applications are open from 8 August 2016 to 20 October 2016.

A series of nation-wide GIL information sessions designed for Australian businesses and researchers will be held between 22 August – 12 September 2016. Places are limited so bookings are essential. Please register for an information session online. Once you have registered, an electronic pack of pertinent documents will be provided to you ahead of your chosen information session.

The GIL fact sheet is attached here for your information. The programme guidelines and the online application form are available on

Cancer research summer vacation studentships 2016-2017

Applications close at 4.30pm on Thursday 22 September 2016

Cancer Council Victoria is an independent volunteer based charity which was established in 1936. Our mission is to lead the fight against cancer. Our core business is cancer control. We conduct and support research as well as delivering state-wide support and prevention programs and advocating regulation and other interventions to reduce the physical and emotional burden of cancer.
Applications are now open for summer vacation studentships for undergraduate students enrolled in relevant disciplines at any Victorian university.

Remuneration: $300 per week
Duration: maximum of six weeks during the summer vacation

The studentship project needs to be part of a cancer research program being conducted at a university or other research organisation. Intending applicants need to contact a cancer researcher and ask if they have a project available that they would be willing to supervise. A list of researchers currently funded by Cancer Council Victoria, and the projects they are working on, is available on our website

The application guidelines and form are available at or contact

Ms Cathy Schapper
Cancer Council Victoria
615 St Kilda Road
Tel: (61 3) 9514 6318

ASMR Awards

The Australian Society for Medical Research invites applications for “The ASMR Research Awards”.  

Each award ($5000 international or $2000 domestic) will support a postgraduate student member of the Society nearing completion of their studies or a recently graduated (2 years maximum) postdoctoral member to undertake a short period of research in a laboratory outside their home city.

More information attached here.

Faculty Research Week: ECR Showcase 15-19 August

Monash Research Office Seminar: Should I apply for an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship for 2017?

The Monash Research Office (MRO) will be hold an information session on Friday 19th of August for early career researchers who are considering applying for an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (ECF) in 2017.

This seminar will be of particular interest to early career researchers who will have either held their PhD for no more than two years at 30th June 2017 (unless career disruptions exist) or be submitting their PhD thesis by 31 December 2017.

The topics that will be covered in this seminar include:
  • Funding rules for this scheme including eligibility requirements
  • Bench marking data and examples of what previously successful applicants have included within their application
There will be the opportunity for questions at the end of the presentation.

Date: Friday 19th August 2016
Time: 12noon - 2pm
Location: CL_37 Rainforest Walk, Room M3 - Theatre [L5.14] (Bldg 13A)
  • Dr. Tsharni Zazryn, Manager Medical & Health Sciences Team, Monash Research Office
  • A/Prof Michelle Dunstone, Previous NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellow (ECF), Current NHMRC CDF, Recently awarded ARC Future Fellowship, Previous NHMRC ECF GRP member
MRO staff will also be available in person after this session, so please approach us if you have any questions about your specific circumstances.

Please register your attendance: here

If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us on or 9902 4427.

Call for Applications: 9th JSPS HOPE Meeting in Tokyo, Japan

The Australian Academy of Science (AAS) has released a call for applications from Australian-based early career researchers to attend the 9th JSPS HOPE Meeting with Nobel Laureates, in the areas of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine and related fields, to be held in Tokyo, Japan, from 26 February to 2 March 2016.  For further information including eligibility requirements and how to apply please visit the AAS Website

Internal short-listing process
A limit of two applications per eligible institution applies. Therefore, the Monash Research Office (MRO) will convene a Selection Panel to shortlist two proposals that will be submitted by the University.
Please submit the following documents by 9 am, Wednesday 24 August 2016 to the MRO through Pure:

Postdoctoral Cancer Research Fellowships

Commencing 1 January 2017
Applications close at 4.30 pm, Thursday 13 October 2016

Cancer Council Victoria is an independent volunteer based charity, which was established in 1936. Our mission is to lead the fight against cancer. Our core business is cancer control. We conduct and support research as well as delivering state-wide support and prevention programs and advocating regulation and other interventions to reduce the physical and emotional burden of cancer.
Cancer Council Victoria offers postdoctoral fellowships as a way of providing research assistance to Victorian PhD candidates at the time of thesis submission. There are two rounds each year. In applying, a strong case must be made to continue in the present research group for a further year.


Considerations concerning the definition of sarcopenia: comments

David Scott et al. published in Osteoporosis International.

Read article here.

Low-dose interleukin-2 treatment selectively modulates CD4+ T cell subsets in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus

Di Yu, Eric Morand, et al. published in Nature Medicine.

Read article here.

A call for researchers to join the META-MICROBLEEDS Consortium.

Velandai Srikanth et al. published in The Lancet Neurology.

Read article here.

Activated renal dendritic cells cross present intrarenal antigens after ischemia reperfusion injury

Sarah Snelgrove et al. published in Transplantation.

Read article here.


Ronil Chandra, Stephen Stuckey et al. published in CT and MRI of the Whole Body

Read chapter here.

Development of single and mixed isoform selectivity PI3Kδ inhibitors by targeting Asn836 of PI3Kδ

Jake Shortt et al. published in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters.

Read article here.

B cell-specific depletion of TNFα inhibits atherosclerosis development and plaque vulnerability to rupture by reducing cell death and inflammation

Ban Hock Toh et al. published in Cardiovascular Research.

Read article here.