Monday, 10 October 2016

Video of the week: 3MT presentation - Dr Jonathan Dick

Dr Jonathan Dick compares kidney disease to a house-party that gets out of control.

Monash discovery links gut bacteria and stroke

Dr Connie Wong
Monash University research has found that gut bacteria are the culprit in deadly post-stroke infections such as pneumonia, heralding a new approach to stroke patient management.
Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers affecting one in six people, with the condition killing more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer. In addition to brain injury, bacterial pneumonia infections are common in stroke patients, often leading to death.
Monash research has found gut bacteria are the major cause of post stroke infections, with bacteria able to take advantage of a stroke patient’s weakened immune system to travel through the body causing infection.
Published last week in Nature Medicine, the research was led by Dr Connie Wong from the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health.
 Dr Wong said the research explained why current treatments in fighting post-stroke infections were ineffective and provided stroke doctors with evidence that antibiotics were unhelpful. 
“We’ve known for a long time that stroke patients are highly susceptible to infections but we didn’t really understand why,” Dr Wong said.
“Our research has shown for the first time that stroke compromises the immune system, enabling bacteria to take an opportunistic journey from the gut into other organs, including the lungs.”
“We’ve shown that stroke injury can cause cellular changes which leads to barrier dysfunctions in the gut. This allows gut bacteria to spread throughout the body.”
“This is a huge concern when the gut bacteria are antibiotic-resistant, and especially when they get into other organs such as the lungs, which can lead to pneumonia and other dangerous infections,” Dr Wong said.
Head of Stroke at Monash Health, Associate Professor Henry Ma, said the research had the potential to change clinical practice in managing stroke patients. 
“We know that patients are susceptible to infection after a stroke, but this particular pathway for infection is not something we’d seen before. We often prescribe antibiotics for patients after a stroke but sometimes this is not effective at preventing or treating infection.”
Dr Wong said our hugely-diverse gut bacteria outnumbered our own cells ten-to-one, and had 100 times more genes than the human genome and contained many pathogens.
“Usually our immune system keeps these gut bacteria under control. However a shock to the system, such as in a stroke, can compromise immunity, enabling bacteria to travel from the gut into organs including the lung, liver and spleen,” Dr Wong said.
This discovery may change the management of stroke patients, reducing the use of unnecessary and ineffective antibiotics.

This pivotal research has been supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC), National Heart Foundation and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Renowned IVF specialist promoted to Professor

Professor Beverley Vollenhoven
Congratulations Professor Beverley Vollenhoven who received an academic promotion last week.

Head of Gynaecology at Monash Health and Deputy Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Monash University, Professor Vollenhoven is a specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.

Professor Vollenhoven’s early research focussed on the cause and treatment of uterine fibroids, and she discovered factors that contribute to their growth and development.   Her more recent research centres on fertility and menopause.

“One of the main reasons why IVF fails is that embryos fails to implant, and some of my basic research is looking at implantation—why some embryos implant and others don’t,” said Professor Vollenhoven.

“I’m also investigating how we can improve the quality and quantity of eggs produced by older women.”

Professor Vollenhoven’s other research interests include looking at women using alternative therapies in menopause and IVF.

Professor Vollenhoven has more than 100 publications in journals and books. She has previously been a Chairperson of the Victorian Regional Committee of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and is a member of the Examinations Committee.
She is currently an examiner for both the specialist and sub specialist exams and a senior examiner for the Australian Medical Council.  She is on the Advisory Committee for Prescription Medicines (a subcommittee of the Therapeutic Goods Administration) and is a member of 11 national and international societies.
She is chair on the Women in Medicine and Science committee at SCS and is the Faculty representative of the Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team (SAT).

“Personally and professionally, this promotion recognises effort and hard work not only by me but by those who have worked with and supported me, including my family,” she said.

Professor Vollenhoven acknowledges the tremendous support of Professors Euan Wallace and Eric Morand. 

Peter Ebeling appointed new Editor-in Chief of JBMR Plus, 2017-2021

Professor Ebeling
Congratulations Professor Peter Ebeling AO on his appointment as Editor-in Chief for JBMR Plus.

The new online open access journal JBMR Plus will be launched by the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) next year.

Professor Ebeling is Head of the Department of Medicine, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health and Chair of the Division of Medicine, Monash Health.

He has served as Associate Editor of JBMR and on the Editorial Boards of Osteoporosis International, Clinical Endocrinology and Bone, and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Bone Reports.

Monash haematologist presents latest findings at Annual Blood Cancer Conference

Associate Professor Stephen Opat
Monash University’s Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor Stephen Opat was an invited keynote speaker at the Leukaemia Foundation’s Annual Blood Cancer Conference last month, presenting latest research on blood cancers.                                                                                                                                                      
Associate Professor Opat spoke to more than 600 delegates about clinical and research developments at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP), including the Clinical Trials Centre, understanding Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) and cancer immunotherapy.

“While outcomes of patients with B cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia have improved, approximately 20 per cent are still destined to die from their disease within five years of diagnosis,” said Associate Professor Opat, who is Head of Clinical Haematology at Monash Health.  

“Intense immunochemotherapy has particularly benefitted younger patients, however older patients often do not derive benefit as they tolerate aggressive chemotherapy poorly, and those with relapsed disease are often resistant to chemotherapy.”

Over the past decade there has been an explosion in more targeted therapies, although many cause unacceptable side effects including rashes, bleeding, infections, nausea and fatigue.

Associate Professor Opat said there is a pressing need for effective treatments in older CLL patients and those with adverse biological features. 

“Monash Health were major participants in the recent CLL 11 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showing the superiority of a novel type of monoclonal antibody (Obinutizumab) over Rituximab, another monoclonal antibody.

The Monash Haematology Clinical Research unit has been actively involved in the development of numerous therapies for patients with blood cancer as well as the non-malignant blood diseases.

“We currently have 21 studies open for patient recruitment,” said Associate Professor Opat.

Highlights of research studies at Monash include the phase I study of BGB3111 in patients with various indolent B cell malignancies.

“This is a well-tolerated oral therapy that appears to be highly efficacious in patients with indolent B cell neoplasms.”

Associate Professor Opat said the results of the study in CLL and Waldenstroms Macroglobulinemia have just be awarded oral presentations at the American Society of Hematology Annual meeting in December.

“Together with the Monash University Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, we have established an Australasian lymphoma and related disease registry which will enable us to recognise variations in patterns of care and outcome, benchmark outcomes with standards, and identify factors that influence adverse outcomes.”

Associate Professor Opat has also just returned from Manila where he was an invited speaker for the 4th ASEAN Federation of Hematology Congress, and delivering lectures on chronic lymphocytic lymphoma, diffuse large B cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma.

MHTP welcomes biostatistician StellaMay Gwini

StellaMay Gwini
We are pleased to announce the appointment of StellaMay Gwini, a full-time biostatistician based at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP).

StellaMay will provide biostatistical support for Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences affiliated staff and students based at the precinct.

StellaMay is a Research Fellow (Biostatistician) with the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University. She has a background in applied medical research having commenced her career with the Lincolnshire National Health Service in the UK. Her main interests are in the appropriate use of both statistical methods and research techniques for health service/technology use, epidemiology and clinical research.

A qualified biostatistician, StellaMay can provide the following support for your clinical research project:
1. Advice on study design and aims/hypothesis
2. Sample size calculations
3. Advice on data collection and database design
4. Data analysis
5. Randomisation

StellaMay's office is on level 4, Translational Research Facility (TRF). You can contact StellaMay at to make an appointment to discuss your research project.

CID weekly seminar: Dissecting the evolution of immune responses to infection in lymphoid organs, 11 October

Tuesday 11 October, 12-1pm, Seminar Room 1, TRF
Presented by Associate Professor Scott Mueller, ARC Future Fellow

Lab Head in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne, located in the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.

The initiation of immune responses to pathogens involves a complex series of interactions between lymphocytes and dendritic cell (DC) subsets. These events occur within the lymphoid tissues, which are highly structurally and functionally organised to support the orchestration of adaptive immunity. Subsets of stromal cells provide critical signals for immune cell migration and homeostasis, as well as controlling the hypertrophy of lymphoid tissues in response to inflammation. Using advanced imaging, transgenic and molecular tools we are dissecting the generation of T cell responses to virus infection and the roles of stromal cells in lymph nodes and spleen.

Associate Professor Scott Mueller is an ARC Future Fellow and Lab head in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne, located in the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. He completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne, before working as a post-doc in the USA with Prof. Rafi Ahmed, and then Dr Ronald Germain, before returning to start his own group. He has contributed fundamental insight into the dynamics of T cell activation and the roles of dendritic cell subsets, the generation and functions of tissue-resident memory T cells, and the roles of stromal cells in lymphoid organs. His laboratory is continuing work on these areas, as well as examining neural regulation of T cell responses and developing new methods for the imaging and quantification.

Please contact Andrea Johannessen ( if you would like to meet with A/Prof Mueller after the seminar.

A light lunch is served prior to the seminar at 11:45am in the seminar room foyer, level 2, TRF Building.
Further information available from CID Weekly Seminar Series website []

The CiiiD Tuesday Meeting is held directly after at 1:00pm.  Hugh Gao and Jesse Balic will be presenting on Tuesday 11 October.

Monash Care Presentation - 12 Oct 2016

Key note speaker: Professor Sidney Dekker
MONASH CARE - The mental health and wellbeing strategy for Monash Doctors
Date: Wednesday 12 October 2016
Time: 12.15pm to 2.00pm

Venue: Main Lecture Theatre, Monash Medical Centre, Clayton.  With video conferencing to Kingston, Dandenong and Casey Hospital boardrooms.

Professor Dekker is a well renowned expert in human factors and safety and the bestselling author of several books including the thought provoking Second Victim, which explores the trauma and experiences of professionals involved and around adverse events. After completing his Masters’ Degree in Organisational Psychology from Nijmegen, Netherlands, Professor Dekker pursued a Masters’ in Experimental Psychology at Leiden University, also in the Netherlands. Four years later, he earned his PhD in Cognitive Systems Engineering, from the Ohio State University in the USA. Since his PhD, Sidney has gained worldwide acclaim for his groundbreaking work on human error and safety. He was previously at Lund University in Sweden as Professor where he founded the Leonardo da Vinci Laboratory for Complexity and Systems Thinking, as well as an MSc in Human Factors and System Safety. He will be talking about his insights into the experience of the Second Victim and Just Culture and how we can create an environment of psychological safety to support second victims and learn from failures.   To know more about Sidney Dekker visit

Genomics and personalised medicine: Have we arrived at our destination - BioBreakfast - 7th November 2016

The personalisation of healthcare is one of the biggest global drivers of innovation in medical technology and pharmaceuticals today. Advances in genomics have created opportunities to deliver patient specific information to tailor treatments to the individual in a way never before possible.

The new ‘omics revolution is set to empower clinicians and patients to make informed decisions on care pathways – but how far have we progressed in terms of delivering on the promises of precise and personalised medicine?

Date: Monday 7th November, 2016
Time: 7:30am for a networking breakfast followed by presentations at until 9.00am
Venue:  The Royal Society of Victoria, 8 La Trobe St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Cost: $50 for Members and Non-Members
Register HERE.

All proceeds from this event go directly to fund Innovation Week 2016
About Innovation Week

Innovation Week is an annual celebration of innovation in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) in Australia led by the Australian Science and Innovation Forum (ASIF) in partnership with the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE).

The goal of the week is to foster an innovation culture that values basic research, features the translation of discoveries, celebrates successful teams as well as emerging entrepreneurs and start-ups.

SOBR Symposium: abstract submission deadline extended to 15 Oct

The 2016 SOBR Committee has received many high-quality abstracts and to give opportunity to those who may have missed Friday's deadline, we have extended our period of accepted abstracts. Please submit by Saturday 15 October (n.b. this will be the final deadline).

To submit an abstract, please complete and submit this form.
Registration remains free and can be done using this form at any time (please note this needs to completed separately from the abstract submission form, and delegates are welcome to attend with or without also submitting an abstract).

Important information: 

Date: Friday 18th November 2016
Venue: Storey Hall, RMIT University, Melbourne

Abstract submissions now close: Saturday 15 October 2016

Come support and meet your fellow students, and get involved in the Victorian neuroscience student community!

Open Forum - 13 October 2016

Please join Kate Loveland at the next Open Forum on:

Thursday 13 October 2016
9.30 am - 10.30 am (with refreshments available)
MMC-TRF Lvl 2_Seminar Room 2, Monash Medical Centre

Topic will be: Tips for Staying Motivated - BYO (Tell us what is working for you).  Morning tea will be provided by the Hudson Institute Student Society.

For Bookings, please register on:

2017 Lorne Infection and Immunity Conference Open for Registration and Abstract Submission

The 2017 Lorne Infection and Immunity conference organising committee invites you to register for the 7th annual conference.

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

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

More information and registration here:

ARC Australian Laureate Fellowships (FL17) - Now open in RMS

Applications for ARC Australian Laureate Fellowships 2017 are now open in RMS and close 5pm on Wednesday 30 November 2016.

1. Please find attached the Funding Rules, ARC Medical Policy and Instructions toApplicants. These documents (and any updates) may also be downloaded from the ARC website:

Please start your proposal in RMS as soon as possible so we know that you intend to apply. An Application Record will also need to be started in myResearch/Pure (for guidance refer to: Creating an Application Record)
3. The MRO Research Development Team will assist with application preparation and letter of support. They can be contacted at If you haven't already informed the team of your intention to apply, please do so ASAP.

4. Please direct any other questions that you have to the ARC Pre-award team at

FL17 key dates:
FL 2017
MRO close date
ARC close date
Funding Rules 22 Sept 2016
Open in RMS 5 October 2016
Proposal closing date
16 Nov 2016
5pm 30 Nov 2016
Support Letter
16 Nov 2016
Request Not to Assess
9 Nov 2016
5pm 16 Nov 2016
Rejoinder Process


ARC Future Fellowships (FT17) - Strategic Statements

The ARC have updated their important dates page with 2016/2017 submission dates for the various schemes, including Future Fellowships (FT17).

FRO close date
MRO close date
ARC close date
Funding Rules released 
22 September 2016

Open in RMS
18 October 2016

FRO Strategic Statement guidance document
12 October 2016

Proposal closing date

5pm 7 Dec 2016
Strategic Statement
Request Not to Assess

5pm 23 Nov 2016
Rejoinder Process


Oct/Nov 2017

The Faculty Research Office (FRO) will provide a Strategic Statement guidance document for applicants by 12 October 2016.

Please advise the FRO ( of intending FT17 applicants in your Schools/Departments at the earliest opportunity.

Draft Strategic Statements must be submitted to the FRO ( for review, editing and feedback by no later than Wednesday 26 October 2016.

Chemical waste collection: Friday 14th October (E block)

E block level 5: it's that time again! Clear out your fumehoods and check all your waste containers!

Please place chemical waste in appropriate containers & labelled with the chemical name in the chemical waste cupboards. These are located in the Equipment room and in the Autoclave room. If you're not sure just ask! 

For more info email Clare Westhorpe:  

Planned evacuation drill: Tues Oct 18th (E block)

Staff on E block level 5 will have a planned evacuation drill next Tues 18th Oct, at 9:30am. Please plan your experiments accordingly. Floor wardens will initiate the drill and direct staff where to go. 

Any questions, please email 

Hudson Institute Social Club Mango Fund Raiser

Mango Fundraiser is happening in the near future and orders need to be in by 31st October and should be sent to . Payment is $25 per tray of mangos, and payment can be provided to either Hudson social club members or Shallu at Hudson reception. 

Career advancement: Meeting the challenges confronting the next generation of endocrinologists and endocrine researchers.

Helena Teede, Peter Ebeling Melanie Gibson-Helm et al. published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Read article here.

Obesity and pregnancy outcomes: Do the relationships differ by maternal region of birth? A retrospective cohort study.

Miranda Davies-Tuck et al. published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

Read article here.

From bench to pet shop to bedside? The environment and immune function in mice

Josh Ooi, Richard Kitching published in Kidney International.

Read article here.

Editorial: Focus on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Jim Harris, Eric Morand published in Frontiers in Immunology.

Read article here.

Adolescent deliberate self-poisoning in South-East Melbourne

Andis Graudins, Simon Craig et al. published in Emergency Medicine Australasia.

Read article here.

Ethnic differences in coronary plaque and epicardial fat volume quantified using computed tomography.

Ian Meredith et al. published in The International Journal of Cardiovascular Imaging.

Read article here.

The role of the mtDNA set point in differentiation, development and tumorigenesis.

Justin St John et al. published in The Biochemical Journal.

Read article here.

Sleep Disorders in Newborns and Infants

Rosemary Horne published in Sleep Disorders in Children.

Read chapter here.

Clinical associations of IL-10 and IL-37 in systemic lupus erythematosus

Jim Harris, Eric Morand et al. published in Scientific Reports.

Read article here.

The relationship between cognitive and neuroimaging outcomes in children treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia with chemotherapy only: A systematic review

Peter Downie et al. published in Pediatric Blood & Cancer.

Read article here.