Monday, 12 December 2016

3MT: Harriet Fitzgerald presents her research into infertility

Monash doctors give back life

Monash Health patient Grace Day
Until July this year, Grace Day had never had a sick day in her life.  The 85-year-old swam 3km three times a week and regularly won gold medals in her age group at Masters swimming competitions.

It came as a total shock when Grace was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.  A non-smoker and teetotaller, Grace’s cancer was caused by passive smoking—she had worked at Australia Post her entire life surrounded by colleagues who smoked.
After several months of chemotherapy at Monash Health, Grace’s lung cancer was contained and stabilised, however, as is often the case for many cancer patients, the cancer spread into her bones.

“I’d been mowing the lawns, doing all the gardening and housework, and then out of the blue I had intense and sudden pain in my back,” said Grace.  “Until then I’d had absolutely no pain at all.”

Grace said the pain was so severe she couldn’t walk or see properly.
“I couldn’t put two sentences together because of the pain,” said Grace.

Dr William, Dr Yoong and
A/Prof Chandra at McCulloch House
Due to the severity of her pain, oncologist Dr Peter Briggs referred Grace to McCulloch House, the specialist inpatient unit of the Supportive and Palliative Care service of Monash Health. However, less severe symptoms may have led Grace to the OncoPain clinic, also run by the palliative care service. 

“Monash Health provides a unique cancer pain clinic, not available at other
health services,” said palliative care physician Dr Leeroy William.

“Moreover, patients with cancer pain can also rapidly access procedures to reduce pain though a recently developed multidisciplinary clinical collaboration.”  

The multidisciplinary team includes the palliative care physicians, interventional radiologists and neurosurgeons.

“We aim to get patients into palliative care as early as possible—not because they’re dying but rather to manage their pain and prevent them having treatment breaks,” said Dr William.

Dr William said that evidence shows patients who start palliative care earlier have a significantly improved quality of life and also live longer.

In order to best manage her pain, Grace was referred to Associate Professor Ronil Chandra, an interventional neuroradiologist with expertise in the minimally invasive procedures of vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.

“When I heard about Grace, the back pain from her fractures was so severe that it was causing her to become virtually bed-bound,” said Associate Professor Chandra.

“I organised further imaging and reviewed Grace at McCulloch House, which confirmed that her fractures were amenable to treatment by kyphoplasty.”

“Kyphoplasty is an interventional radiological procedure where we navigate a small needle through the skin of the back under x-ray guidance directly into the bone, inflate a balloon to create a small space and inject medical cement to stabilise the fracture which reduces the pain.”

New evidence shows that patients with severe pain from a recent spinal fracture have significantly less pain after vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty.  

Associate Professor Chandra said the procedure takes under an hour to perform and is generally done under conscious sedation.

“Until the procedure, I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t walk, and the pain just stopped me dead in my tracks,” said Grace. 

“Immediately after the operation, I felt no pain—for the first time in two months I had no pain and I could walk straight away.”

“What Associate Professor Chandra did is unbelievable—he gave me back my legs and also my life.   I can drive again, and am living independently and doing everything I used to.”

“I’m so grateful to all the staff at Monash Health and I just want to tell everybody what a positive and wonderful experience I’ve had at Dandenong Hospital, Moorabbin Hospital and Monash Medical Centre.  McCulloch House was just the icing on the cake,” said Grace.

Grace plans to be back in the pool early in the New Year.

A Monash University case report highlighting the benefits of sacroplasty (another type of vertebroplasty) for cancer pain, was published last week in Pain Practice.  The lead author is palliative care physician Dr Jaclyn Yoong, in collaboration with Associate Professor Ronil Chandra, Dr Leeroy William, Associate Professor Michael Franco, Associate Professor Tony Goldschlager, Dr Fiona Runacres and Associate Professor Peter Poon.

NHMRC scholarships will benefit research into prostate cancer and lupus

Dr Melissa Northcott
Two Monash Health doctors have received competitive National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) scholarships to undertake postgraduate research at Monash University.

Medical Oncology Fellow Dr Edmond Kwan and Rheumatology Registrar Dr Melissa Northcott will start their PhD programs at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) next year, with the support of the scholarships each valued at $125,000 over three years.

Currently a Medical Oncology Clinical Fellow at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Dr Kwan will commence at Monash Health and Monash University in February.

Dr Edmond Kwan
Dr Kwan hopes his research project will pave the way for the future development of new effective drug therapies to improve the outcomes of prostate cancer

“In men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, we have previously identified an association between treatment outcomes with the androgen receptor inhibitor enzalutamide and aberrations detectable in plasma cell-free DNA and whole-blood RNA,,” said Dr Kwan.

“Using serial blood samples, we aim to identify genomic and molecular changes linked to treatment outcomes on enzalutamide, and identify potential mechanisms and predictors of drug resistance.”

Dr Kwan said he is very excited about coming to the Monash Health Translation Precinct to undertake his PhD, and believes the MHTP will provide an amazing opportunity to produce high quality clinical translational research.

Dr Kwan’s PhD will be supervised by Associate Professor Arun Azad from the Department of Medicine at SCS and Consultant Medical Oncologist at Monash Health.

Under the supervision of Dr Sarah Jones and Head of SCS and Director of Rheumatology at Monash Health Professor Eric Morand, Dr Northcott will investigate the role of a protein named GILZ in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

“Lupus is an autoimmune condition which causes inflammation in many different organs and can lead to considerable suffering and even death in some patients, many of whom are young,” said Dr Northcott.

“Currently there is inadequate treatments for many patients with this condition and GILZ is thought to reduce inflammation and may be a future treatment target.”

Dr Northcott thanks Professor Eric Morand and Dr Sarah Jones for their help with her NHMRC application while Dr Kwan is grateful for the significant support of Associate Professor Azad.

Outstanding teaching recognised at SCS

Associate Professor Bruce Jackson
Outstanding teaching and student supervision at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) was celebrated at the annual Monash Health Senior Medical Staff dinner last week at the Kooyong Tennis Club.

Chaired by Professor Barbara Workman, the dinner is an annual highlight for Monash Heath senior doctors who were entertained on the night by comedian Dave Hughes.   

The event was also an opportunity for SCS to celebrate the outstanding teaching at the School by awarding excellence in teaching and student supervision.

The winners of the SCS teaching awards 2016 are:

Dr Han Mei Pan and Professor Julian Smith
Student Choice award - Dr Wendy Lim.  Voted by third year students, Dr Lim is an emergency physician and CBT tutor at Dandenong who has gone above and beyond with teaching this year.
Teaching Service Award – Associate Professor Bruce Jackson, who has been a dedicated teacher and student mentor as Clinical Dean at Casey Hospital for many years.
Final Year Supervisor award - Dr Han Mei Pan, a geriatrician at Kingston who is very generous with her time and extremely dedicated to teaching and supporting all students.

Monash Physiotherapist recognised for research to help balance exercise training in older patients

Director, Allied Health Research Unit 
Professor Terry Haines and Melanie Farlie
Congratulations Monash Health physiotherapist and Monash University PhD candidate Melanie Farlie, who was awarded Best Student Oral Presentation at the 7th Biennial Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Conference in Melbourne last week.

A Maxwell King PhD scholar at Monash University, Melanie is developing and validating a scale to rate the intensity of exercises that challenge balance in older adults.

“Currently, there is no validated scale available to measure the intensity of balance exercise training, unlike strength training and aerobic exercise which have well established validated intensity measures,” said Melanie.

“The implication of this is that clinicians do not have an accurate measure of how hard patients are working, and patients are unable to reliably self-monitor how hard they are working during balance exercise training.” 

Melanie said that a validated measure of balance exercise intensity could potentially improve exercise prescription efficacy—informing how hard people need to exercise to improve their balance ability without undue risk.
“We don’t know if people need to work to the level that they are just short of falling over to improve their balance ability (currently the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines),” said Melanie.  

“Once a validated measure of balance exercise intensity has been developed we can start trials of older adults working at low, medium and high balance intensity levels to determine the optimal training intensity and the optimal frequency and duration of exercise programs, to both improve balance and prevent falls.”

In further good news, Melanie was awarded a Lions John Cockayne Memorial Fellowship Trust Fund Travelling Fellowship last week, which will enable her to attend the World Confederate of Physical Therapy (WCPT) congress in Cape Town, Africa in July 2017. 

Melanie will present her PhD findings at the WCPT congress, and also bring back the most up-to-date practice information to the Physiotherapy and broader rehabilitation teams at Monash Health.

SCS end of year trivia lunch 16 December

Date: Friday 16 December 2016
Time: 12noon
Venue: Dingley International Hotel, 334 Boundary Road, Dingley Village (parking available on site)

Enquiries and dietary requirements by reply email to  Register here:

BMedSc(Hons) student success 2016

BMedSc(Hons) student Masad Alfayadh
Read HERE about our extremely talented cohort of BMedSc(Hons) students who completed projects at the School of Clinical Sciences (SCS) this year.

E block level 1 refurbishment

Refurbishment of the level 1 tutorial rooms begins on Tues 13th Dec. Initially a ‘soft demolition’ to remove the furnishings will take place, for the works in January. An internal wall will be removed and there will be some upgrades to the mechanical and electrical services in that area. The rest will be cosmetic changes to the rooms, and at this stage, the anticipated date of practical completion is the end of February.

We have co-ordinated with the Animal House Manager, Monika Generowicz, and researchers at the Animal House in E block to minimise the impact of the tutorial room refurbishments on animal experiments. Researchers will have ongoing access to the Animal House.
Please comply with any signs or instructions from the builders when accessing the animal facility.

Future updates will be communicated via eNews, or email

Planned refurbishment of teaching spaces on L1 of E Block

We are undertaking exciting improvements to our undergraduate teaching spaces on Level 1 of E Block (MMC Clayton), with a complete refurbishment of the tutorial and meeting rooms.

The following information for staff who use the Animal House in E Block, and also for those who have items stored in the adjacent rooms (Rm 1.AH.124 or Rm 1.AH.125). 

A builder has been appointed to begin the works and would like to commence next week (12th Dec), pending confirmation from Monika Generowicz, Manager of the Animal House. If the works will affect critical animal experiments in the adjacent animal rooms, however, it can be postponed until mid-January.  

The works will be minor, with one internal wall to be removed; there will also be some upgrades to the mechanical and electrical services in that area. The rest of the project will involve cosmetic changes to the rooms, and at this stage, the anticipated date of practical completion is the end of February. 

Staff will still be able to access the Animal House during the refurbishment, however there may be dust curtains containing the work areas. Please comply with any instructions from the builders. 

Dr Clare Westhorpe (SCS Safety and Lab Resources Officer) and I will attend weekly meetings with the Site Manager and we will ensure that all stakeholders are informed about progress and the plans for the following week. 

If you have items stored in rooms 1.AH.124 or 1.AH.125 that you need to keep, please relocate them ASAP. Any remaining items will be given to the Monash Uni furniture recycling unit or will be disposed.
Please click here for pictures of the current content of both rooms:
To access your items from those rooms, please make a time with Janet (Mon or Fri) or Bernadette (Tue, Wed, Thu) at SCS Reception on Level 5 of E Block and they can take you down to the rooms for you to label or remove your things. 

CID Weekly Seminar: 12pm Tuesday 13 December, "New Roles for Complement in ANCA associated Vasculitis"

Dr Jonathan Dick
12:00 - 1:00pm, Seminar Room 1, Level 2, TRF Building

Dr Jonathan Dick
Nephrologist, Department of Nephrology, Monash Health
Postgraduate Student, Centre for Inflammatory Diseases

New Roles for Complement in ANCA associated Vasculitis 

Dr Jonathan Dick is a clinician studying for a PhD supervised by Professors Stephen Holdsworth and Richard Kitching. He read Medicine at the University of Oxford and University College London before training in General Medicine and Nephrology in London. His research interest is in the role of the complement system in ANCA associated vasculitis.

Mr Nathan Kuk
Postgraduate Student, Centre for Inflammatory Diseases
Human Amniotic Epithelial Cells in Hepatic and Gastrointestinal Disorders

Human Amniotic Epithelial Cells (hAECs) are an exciting new form of stem cell therapy used extensively in dermatology, ophthalmology and most recently, respiratory medicine. Displaying anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic properties, hAECs possess numerous advantages over more traditional forms of cellular therapy. Their use in hepatic and gastrointestinal disorders however is not as well documented. Overtaking viral hepatitis and alcoholic liver disease as the main causes of chronic liver disease, the incidence and prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is dramatically increasing due to its association with obesity and the metabolic syndrome. A proportion of patients with NAFLD eventually develop steatohepatitis (NASH), increasing their risk of cirrhosis and hepatic carcinoma. Alarmingly, there are no effective therapies for NAFLD and NASH and transplantation remains the only cure in cases of cirrhosis. As such, this posits the question, could hAECs be used to treat NAFLD? 

This is the last seminar for 2016.

CID seminars will commence again in mid February.

A light lunch is served prior to the seminar at 11:45am in the seminar room foyer, level 2, TRF Building.

Further information, including the link to add the seminar series to your google calendar, is available from CID Weekly Seminar Series website []

PhD pre-submission seminar, Nok Srirattana, 19 Dec

All staff and students are invited to Nok Srirattana's pre-submission seminar:
Thesis title: Manipulating the mitochondrial genome to generate more economically viable livestock

9.30 - 11.30am, 19 December, Hudson Board Room, level 3
Supervisors: Justin St John, Matthew McKenzie

The neuroendocrinology of human reproduction, 14 Dec

Hudson seminar, 2-3pm, 14 December 
Lecture Theatre 1, Monash Medical Centre.

Speaker:  Professor Peter Richard Anderson,
Professor of Clinical Reproductive Science, University of Edinburgh    
Consultant in Reproductive Medicine, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh 
Head of Section, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Edinburgh

Light refreshments to follow presentation outside the Lecture Theatre.

Please Note: This will be the last Seminar for the year.

Undergraduate training in medicine and PhD at MRC Brain Metabolism Unit in neuroendocrinology with George Fink. Training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Edinburgh as WHO Research Fellow in Hormonal Male Contraception. Training in Reproductive Medicine at the University of Edinburgh and a year in Sam Yen’s lab in San Diego. Returned to the MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit in 1998 with a Consultant post in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. Appointed Chair of Clinical Reproductive Science at the University in 2005.
Professor Anderson has established a group investigating female reproductive lifespan, with laboratory and clinical aspects particularly related to the adverse effects of cancer treatment on fertility. He has also conducted clinical studies developing our understanding of the novel neuropeptides kisspeptin and neurokinin B in human reproductive function in men and women.

Support for NHMRC and ARC Fellowship Applications 2017

Are you thinking of applying for an ARC or NHMRC Fellowship in 2017 or do you simply want to know about the requirements and processes involved?

If you missed the SCS information session the presentation is attached HERE.

For those applying for ECF and CDF's the SCS will be providing feedback on applications in addition to that provided by the Faculty.

If you are intending on applying for a ECF or CDF in 2017 please contact so this can be arranged for you.

ARC Discovery Projects 2018 (DP18) - Now Open In RMS

Applications for ARC Discovery Projects 2018 are now open in RMS and close 5pm on Wednesday 1 March 2017.

1. Please find attached/linked the Funding Rules, FAQ, ARC Medical Policy and Instructions to Applicants. 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. A Pure Application Record will also need to be started in myResearch/Pure (for guidance refer to: Creating an Application Record)

Key Dates:
DP 2018
MRO close date
ARC close date
Funding Rules 22 Sept 2016
Open in RMS 7 December 2016
Proposal closing date
1 Feb 2017
5pm 1 March 2017
Request Not to Assess
8 Feb 2017
5pm 15 Feb 2017
Rejoinder Process

Oct/Nov 2017

​For queries, please contact the MRO ARC Pre-award Team (​.

PhD Scholarship at Monash Lung & Sleep

Monash Lung & Sleep Institute offers three PhD Scholarships for 2017-2018. 
Scholarships are for research into Lung/Respiratory and Sleep Disorders; applications close on December 31, 2016. 

The Scholarships are valued at $30,000 per year and may be renewable. Respiratory and Sleep Physicians wishing to embark on PhD studies will be given preference. Further information can be obtained from Prof Philip Bardin (, A/Prof Garun Hamilton ( or Dr Paul King (

Compulsory OHS training for graduate research students, 23 February

Please find information for OHS training available in early 2017.

OHS Training day: Thurs 23rd Feb 2017

  • 10:00am-1:00pm   Student Project Safety (Risk Management)
  • 2:00-4:00pm         Biosafety level 1 (Microbiologicals)
  • 4:00-5:30pm         Biosafety level 2 (OGTR / AQIS)

Please note:
·  Student Project Safety is compulsory for all research students to complete (once only). 
·  Biosafety level 1 is compulsory for students undertaking clinical or laboratory research
·  Biosafety level 2 is compulsory for students handling genetically modified organisms - they should speak to their supervisor to see if they need to do this.
Registration is via the booking system - the link is here

Students need to register using their Monash student authcate for registration (not a staff account). 

Staff OHS training opportunity, 23 February

Registration is now open for the following OHS training modules:

Student Project Safety (Risk Management) - compulsory for students (once only)
Biosafety level 1 (Microbiologicals) - for clinical and lab researchers
Biosafety level 2 (OGTR / AQIS)

These modules will be held on the 23rd Feb, 2017, in the TRF seminar room 1.

Registration and further information is here. Students - please register via your student authcate account (not a staff account). Places are limited so please register as soon as possible.

Is my OHS training up to date? 
You can check your training portfolio in ESS via My Monash Training Qualifications. 

What training do I need to do?
Please refer to the OHS training guide or email

Further training opportunities will be advertised in 2017, so stay posted! 

Percutaneous Sacroplasty for Painful Bone Metastases: A Case Report.

Jaclyn Yoong et al. published in Pain Practice.

Read article here.

Identifying the barriers and enablers for a triage, treatment, and transfer clinical intervention to manage acute stroke patients in the emergency department: a systematic review using the theoretical domains framework (TDF)

Dominique Cadilhac et al. published in Implementation Science

Read article here.

Five year efficacy and safety of tenofovir-based salvage therapy for patients with chronic hepatitis B who previously failed LAM/ADV therapy.

William Sievert et al. published in Liver International.

Read article here.

Inflammatory macrophages can transdifferentiate into myofibroblasts during renal fibrosis

David Nikolic-Paterson et al. published in Cell Death & Disease.

Read article here.

Experimentally Induced Preterm Birth in Sheep Following a Clinical Course of Antenatal Betamethasone Effects on Growth and Long-Term Survival

Graeme Polglase et al. published in Reproductive Sciences.

Read article here.

Disorders of sex development: insights from targeted gene sequencing of a large international patient cohort

Chris Kimber et al. published in Genome Biology.

Read article here.

Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Using Drug-Eluting Stents Versus Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting for Unprotected Left Main Coronary Artery Stenosis

Adam Brown et al. published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions.

Read article here.

Vagal denervation inhibits the increase in pulmonary blood flow during partial lung aeration at birth

Justin Lang et al. published in The Journal of Physiology.

Read article here.

Associations of Vitamin D with Inter- and Intra-Muscular Adipose Tissue and Insulin Resistance in Women with and without Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

David Scott et al. published in Nutrients.

Read article here.

Vaginal wall weakness in parous ewes: a potential preclinical model of pelvic organ prolapse

Caroline Gargett et al. published in International Urogynecology Journal.

Read article here.