Tuesday, 19 December 2017

SCS Superheroes & Villains Christmas Lunch 2017

The annual SCS Christmas (and trivia quiz) lunch was overtaken by superheroes.   Thank you to Eugene, our trivia master.  See full photo gallery HERE.

Monash haematology leading new investigator research in Australia

Dr Danielle Oh, Dr Olga Motorna, Dr Allison Mo
Monash haematologists have been recognised by the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ), with the award of three competitive New Investigator Scholarships.

Monash Health haematology trainees Dr Olga Motorna, Dr Danielle Oh and Dr Allison Mo each received prestigious scholarships worth $60,000 to support their PhD projects at Monash University and Melbourne University.   Only seven scholarships are awarded across Australia and New Zealand.

Under the supervision of Professor Erica Wood,  Dr Zoe McQuilten and Associate Professor Jake Shortt, Dr Mo will undertake epidemiological and clinical studies investigate anaemia in the elderly Australian population.

“Although anaemia is common in the elderly (and rising with an ageing population), and the elderly receive more blood transfusions for treatment of anaemia than younger patients, we currently don’t have detailed epidemiological data describing the burden of anaemia in the elderly Australian community, risk factors or the consequences of anaemia on health outcomes,” Dr Mo said.

Consequently there is a lack of data to guide treatment of anaemia and provide guidance on the appropriate use of blood transfusions in the elderly.

Former SCS student receives Bryan Hudson Medal

Dr Kathryn Connelly
Monash University medical graduate Dr Kathryn Connelly has been recognised for her outstanding achievement, receiving the prestigious Bryan Hudson Medal for the best overall performance in the RACP written and clinical examinations in adult medicine.

Dr Connelly completed her BMedSc(Hons) at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) in 2012 under the supervision of Professor Eric Morand and undertook some of her rotations in years 4 and 5 at Monash Health.

Dr Connelly said she was humbled to be the recipient of such a prestigious award and sees it as a special acknowledgement of the hard work and sacrifices that go into a rollercoaster 18 months combining full-time work and study.

“I hope it is seen as a reflection of the fantastic teaching and mentorship I have received throughout my medical training from experienced, dedicated and enthusiastic teachers and the tremendous support from my study group, other colleagues, family and friends,” Dr Connelly said. 

Currently a medical registrar at Alfred Health, Dr Connelly will return to Monash Health next year as a trainee rheumatologist.

“I'm excited to begin advanced training in Rheumatology next year, having had great experiences in the specialty at both Monash and Alfred Health,” Dr Connelly said.

I'm looking forward to the breadth of clinical exposure Monash Health offers in rheumatology and working in a unit with such a strong reputation for teaching and research.”

Novartis pharmaceuticals exchange program success

Novartis ANZ Chief Scientific Officer Dr Simon Fisher,
Novartis ANZ Clinical Research Medical Advisor Dr Mathew Cox,
Novartis ANZ National Commercial Manager Mr Brett Roberts,
Ms Paris Papagiannis, Mr Lachlan McMillan, Ms Kim O'Sullivan,
Dr Genevieve Pepin, Professor Eric Morand
Three PhD students and an early career researcher from the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) and the Hudson Institute were competitively selected to participate in an exchange program at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Sydney last month.

Supported by the Department of Medicine, the second annual researcher exchange program provided an opportunity for participants to gain insight into possible career options in the pharmaceutical industry after completing a PhD.

Professor Peter Ebeling AO, Head, Department of Medicine, SCS, said that the researcher exchange program is an example of the Monash University-Monash Health-Hudson Institute and Novartis memorandum of understanding in action.

“The program is highly competitive and uniformly popular with our research stars of the future, who greatly value the experience obtained from their detailed insights into the pharmaceutical industry,” Professor Ebeling said.

Dr Genevieve Pepin, Lachlan McMillan, Paris Papagianis and Kim O’Sullivan spent a week at Novartis in Sydney learning about their operations and becoming immersed in the Novartis culture to learn what drives a global leader in developing improved health care.

SCS researcher aims to improve bone health in India

Dr Ayse Zengin
SCS researcher Dr Ayse Zengin has been awarded an Australia-India Early/Mid-Career Fellowship from the Australian Academy of Sciences to further her research into the ethnic differences in musculoskeletal health in the ageing population.  

A Research Fellow in the Bone and Muscle Health Research Group, Department of Medicine, Dr Zengin will spend five months in India researching sarcopenia and osteoporosis.

“With the current social, economic, and environmental transition in India, sarcopenia prevalence is estimated to rise,” Dr Zengin said.

“Many studies demonstrate that sarcopenia is an important predictor of poor functional ability and frailty, which in turn, are risk factors for falls and fractures.”

The most common musculoskeletal injury in India is fracture, with 15% of those incurring an open fracture. 

Dr Zengin said the aim of her project is to determine the prevalence of sarcopenia and investigate the effects on frailty, fall risk, and bone health in ageing Indian men and women. 

“The escalating burden of chronic non-communicable diseases in low-middle income countries and disadvantaged populations requires the focus of national health agendas,” Dr Zengin said.

“Determining the prevalence of sarcopenia and its subsequent effects on bone health will encourage the formulation of public health strategies to prevent these diseases.” 

Dr Zengin will visit Professor Nikhil Tandon (All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi), Dr Baharati Kulkarni (National Institute of Nutrition India, Hyderabad) and Dr P S Reddy (Society for Health Allied Research and Education (SHARE) India, Telangana).  

Monash wins national awards for teaching excellence

Professor Zlatko Skrbiš, Professor Christina Mitchell,
Associate Professor Claire Palermo, Professor Margaret Gardner
Monash staff took home three awards in this year’s prestigious Australian Awards for University Teaching.

Monash President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AO gave the keynote address at last week’s awards, at which the University was recognised with awards for teaching excellence.
Associate Professor Claire Palermo and Associate Professor Simon Angus received Awards for Teaching Excellence, which were presented by Federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham.

Claire leads the teaching and learning research theme in the Department Nutrition, Dietetics and Food, is a Monash Education Academy Fellow, and received at National government citation award for her contributions to teaching in 2016.

An accredited dietician, Claire’s research is dedicated to developing a workforce that’s equipped to address the complex nutrition issues facing our populations.

Professor Rosemary Horne awarded Doctor of Science

Professor Rosemary Horne
Professor Rosemary Horne has been awarded a Doctor of Science from Monash University for more than three decades of research that has shaped the understanding of sleep in children and infants.

The Doctor of Science (DSc) is of a higher standing than a PhD and is awarded for work that makes an original, substantial and distinguished contribution to knowledge in a field with which the faculty is concerned. The degree provides the recipient with authoritative standing in their field and recognition by their academic peers.

Rosemary’s thesis incorporates 143 research publications, from her PhD studies into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in the early 1980s until studies published in sleep disorders in infants and children up to 2015.

“The unifying theme throughout this Doctorate of Science thesis is the development, refinement and utilisation of physiological recordings during sleep, initially in preclinical models then subsequently in infants and children,” Rosemary said.

Simple blood test could decrease risk of stroke, heart attack

Dr Jun Yang
Australia’s largest study of a common yet underdiagnosed cause of high blood pressure is starting at Hudson Institute, with the aim of preventing heart attack and stroke.

Primary aldosteronism (PA) is a potentially curable cause of high blood pressure (hypertension) caused by the over-production of the hormone aldosterone from the adrenal glands. If left undiagnosed, it can get worse over time, leaving sufferers prone to stroke and heart attack at a young age.

Dr Jun Yang, a Hudson Institute Research Fellow, School of Clinical Sciences Early Career Research Fellow, and Consultant Endocrinologist at Monash Health, has been awarded three new grants for research that could change clinical management of Primary aldosteronism.

·        A Heart Foundation Vanguard grant, $74,336, to fund the clinical component of the project, primarily patient recruitment and assessment, over 2 years.

·        A Foundation for High Blood Pressure Research grant (Early Career Research Transition Grant), $20,000, to fund the laboratory-based component of the project, in particular, biomarker identification.

·        A Collier Charitable Fund grant, $26,000, for the purchase of specialised equipment.
“This project will be the largest study of PA in Australia and aims to find out exactly how common this condition is in our community by asking GPs to screen their hypertensive patients for PA using a simple blood test,” Dr Yang said.

Monash Infectious diseases research recognised at national conference

Dr Carly Hughes
Dr Carly Hughes has been recognised for her outstanding research, winning best oral presentation in theme B (Trials, Treatment and Toxicity) at the Australasian HIV&AIDS conference in Canberra last month.

An Infectious Disease and Microbiology registrar at Monash Health, Dr Carly Hughes’ research aims to improve support and education for youth attending HIV services.

“My project compared adolescents and young adults living with HIV in Australia to older adults and found they had higher CD4 counts and lower viral loads at diagnosis, and were more likely to be lost to follow up and interrupt treatment,” Dr Hughes said. 

Dr Hughes said she appreciated receiving the prize, as she had prepared the majority of the paper and presentation while on maternity leave after having a baby in July.

“Professionally, it is an honour to receive a prize at a national and well respected conference in the HIV field,” Dr Hughes said. 

Dr Hughes acknowledges the ongoing support of Head of Infectious Diseases Professor Tony Korman, her supervisor Associate Professor Ian Woolley and her co-authors Samar Ojaimi, Rainer Puhr, Kathy Petoumenos, Adam Bartlett, David Templeton, Catherine O'Connor and Manoji Gunathilake. She also thanks the participants of AHOD whose data was used for the study.

eSolutions end of year shutdown

As you prepare for your end of year break make sure you turn off your computers, monitors and printers etc. Shutdown your computer via the usual methods (ie. choose shutdown rather than sleep) then turn off the power at the wall.

Remember to set your vacation message too.

Big-hearted investment: $470m funding boost brings Victorian Heart Hospital to life

Read Herald Sun article here.

Should I roll my baby back over if she rolls onto her stomach in her sleep?

Rosemary Horne published in The Conversation.

Read article here.

Resveratrol mitigates trophoblast and endothelial dysfunction partly via activation of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor-2

Euan Wallace et al. published in Placenta.

Read article here.

Elevated peripheral expression of neuregulin-1 (NRG1) mRNA isoforms in clozapine-treated schizophrenia patients

Suresh Sundram et al. published in Translational Psychiatry.

Read article here.

Effect of aorto-ventricular angulation on procedural success in transcatheter aortic valve replacements with the Lotus Valve system

Hashrul Rashid et al. published in Catheterization and cardiovascular interventions.

Read article here.

Adaptive reprogramming of NK cells in X-linked lymphoproliferative syndrome

Stephen Opat, Jake Shortt et al. published in Blood.

Read article here.

C5a receptor 1 promotes autoimmunity, neutrophil dysfunction and injury in experimental anti-myeloperoxidase glomerulonephritis

Jonathan Dick et al. published in Kidney International.

Read article here.

Preeclampsia and Long-term Renal Function in Women Who Underwent Kidney Transplantation

Ryan Hodges et al. published in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Read article here.

Vascular Access Outcomes Reported in Maintenance Hemodialysis Trials: A Systematic Review

Kevan  Polkinghorne et al. published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.

Read article here.

Endovascular Thrombectomy for Ischemic Stroke Increases Disability-Free Survival, Quality of Life, and Life Expectancy and Reduces Cost

Dominique Cadilhac et al. published in Frontiers in Neurology.

Read article here.

Three-dimensional ultrasound cranial imaging and early neurodevelopment in preterm growth-restricted infants

Arvind Sehgal, Suzie Miller et al. published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Read article here.

Diffusion tensor imaging detects ventilation-induced brain injury in preterm lambs

Graeme Polglase et al. published in PLoS One.

Read article here.

Measuring self-rated health status among resettled adult refugee populations to inform practice and policy – a scoping review

Joanne Enticott et al. published in BMC Health Services Research.

Read article here.

Expression of Homeobox Gene HLX and its Downstream Target Genes are Altered in Placentae From Discordant Twin Pregnancies

Padma Murthi et al. published in Twin Research and Human Genetics.

Read article here.

Decidual ACVR2A regulates extravillous trophoblast functions of adhesion, proliferation, migration and invasion in vitro

Padma Murthi et al. published in Pregnancy Hypertension.

Read article here.

An Electrical Impedance-Based Assay to Examine Functions of Various Placental Cell Types In Vitro

Padma Murthi et al. published in Methods in Molecular Biology.

Read article here.

Ex Vivo Dual Perfusion of the Human Placenta: Disease Simulation, Therapeutic Pharmacokinetics and Analysis of Off-Target Effects

Padma Murthi et al. published in Methods in Molecular Biology.

Read article here.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Monash researcher receives VicHealth Award for alcohol harm in emergency departments research

Associate Professor Diana Egerton-Warburton
Associate Professor Diana Egerton-Warburton was recognised for her significant work in the prevention of alcohol related harm, winning a prestigious VicHealth Award last week.
Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton’s research project, Preventing harm from alcohol, measured the number of emergency department visits caused by alcohol harm.
Emergency departments (EDs) in Australia and New Zealand are at the forefront of dealing with the harmful effects of alcohol consumption. However, ED alcohol-related presentation data is not routinely collected in patient data sets in Australasia.
Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton said the primary objective of the project was to provide an evidence base to advocate for alcohol harm reduction measures in our communities, by quantifying the level of alcohol harm presenting to Australasian emergency departments.
The Hon. Jill Hennessy MP and
Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton
“This survey quantifies that on weekends, one in eight patients in emergency departments in Australia is there because of alcohol,” Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton said.

“This is the third such snapshot survey which has demonstrated the impact of alcohol on ED presentations.”

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine President Dr Simon Judkins said the Award is recognition of the hard work Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton and her team have done with The Alcohol Harm Snapshot Survey, exposing the true extent of alcohol abuse and its effect on our communities and healthworkers – particularly in Australian EDs.

Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton said the award was a credit to the many clinicians who had compiled the data in EDs across the country.

The fourth Alcohol Harm Snapshot Survey in Australian and New Zealand EDs will take place at 2am (local time), on 16 December 2017.

“This goes to all the ED clinicians who completed those 2am surveys and we are looking forward to a record response in this December’s Snapshot Survey,” Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton said.

“I’d like to acknowledge the incredible efforts of the emergency departments over the past four years to do these surveys at a busy time.”

“These surveys do lead directly to advocacy around the issue and an attempt to influence culture, so I think it’s a very powerful thing for emergency clinicians to do.”
The awards were announced last week at VicHealth’s 30th anniversary event at Melbourne Museum by Health Minister Jill Hennessy, Shadow Health Minister Mary Wooldridge, Leader of the Victorian Greens Samantha Ratnam and VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter.

Information about the research project is HERE.

Prestigious Heart Foundation Fellowship awarded to Dr Sarah Zaman

Dr Sarah Zaman
Dr Sarah Zaman has been awarded a highly competitive Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue her research into the prevention of sudden cardiac death.

An interventional consultant cardiologist at MonashHeart and Post-doctoral Early Career Research Fellow in the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, Dr Zaman was awarded the fellowship (worth $75,000 per annum for two years) from 376 applicants, all of extremely high standard.

Sudden cardiac death is the cause of approximately 20,000 deaths in Australia every year and the majority of deaths occur in heart attack survivors with impaired heart function.

Dr Zaman’s research is trying to identify patients at risk of sudden death.

“I’m one of the lead researchers on the PROTECT-ICD Trial, an Australian-led, international, multi-centre study targeting prevention of sudden death in patients who have suffered a heart attack,” Dr Zaman said.

The PROTECT-ICD Trial targets the important issue of prevention of sudden death after a heart attack through the use of an electrophysiology study, a type of electrical test of the heart.

“In particular, the trial is focused on identifying patients early (within a month) after a heart attack, as the risk of sudden death is much higher during this time period,” Dr Zaman said.

Over 1,000 patients with impaired heart function following a heart attack will be recruited and randomly assigned to either early electrophysiology study with a defibrillator implanted if fast abnormal heart rhythms are seen, or standard care.

“Standard care involves waiting 1-3 months for the heart to recover, with a defibrillator implanted only if there is persistent severe heart function impairment,” Dr Zaman said.

Dr Zaman said this study has the potential to change national and international guidelines for selection of patients for a defibrillator for sudden death prevention.

“Importantly, it has the potential to save lives both in Australia and globally through prevention of sudden death in heart attack survivors.” 

Dr Zaman is grateful for the support and mentorship of Associate Professor Pramesh Kovoor, (University of Sydney) and Professor James Cameron (Monash University).  She also acknowledges the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) for the Early Career Practitioner Fellowship that has supported her research until this time.  

Outstanding grant success at Monash University and the MHTP

Professor Marcel Nold and Dr Claudia Nold
Monash University leads Australia in NHMRC Project grant funding this year, receiving over $100M.

Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) researchers from the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) and the Hudson Institute of Medical Research together were awarded 23 NHMRC Project grants, totalling almost $18M.  Our success rate of 25% was well above the national average of 16.4%.

For the first time, MHTP researchers were awarded total funding greater than any other school of Monash University. SCS and Hudson Institute grants together amount to 30% of the Faculty’s total grants in this latest round.

Professor Marcel Nold, recently appointed as Monash University’s inaugural Professor of paediatric immunology, and Dr Claudia Nold received three grants for their team.

Professor Nold has previously found that the immune system molecule interleukin 38 disables several signalling pathways essential for Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) progress.

“This project grant will enable us to explore regulation and function of this molecule in cells from healthy people and SLE patients and in models of the disease,” Professor Nold said.

Head of Rheumatology Research Group in the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases, Professor Eric Morand is a co-investigator on this grant.

Professor Nold’s other project will explore interleukin 37, a powerful anti-inflammatory cytokine. 

Cytokines are messenger proteins that function as master regulators of biological processes, playing central roles in many diseases.

“We will evaluate interleukin 37’s mechanisms of action and its efficacy against several severe diseases, including cancer,” Professor Nold said.

Colleague and partner Dr Claudia Nold is also investigating Interleukin 37 as a novel therapy for necrotising enterocolitis, a disease that develops when the tissue in the inner lining of the intestine becomes damaged and begins to die.

Associate Professor Suzie Miller’s project will investigate new and improved treatment strategies for neonatal seizures.
Associate Professor Miller and Professor Hickey

“Seizures are the most distinctive and frequent indication of neurological abnormalities in newborn infants and are more common in the neonatal period than at any other stage in life,” Associate Professor Miller said.

“Despite evidence of the limited effectiveness and potential neurotoxicity of current anti-seizure medication, treatment has not changed for decades.”

“We will examine novel treatments that are less toxic and more effective, specifically designed and assessed for neonates.”

Meanwhile, Dr Joshua Ooi, Professor Stephen Holdsworth and Professor Michael Hickey received project grants to further their research into kidney disease—affirming MHTP as a world leading precinct in kidney research.

Dr. Ooi's research will investigate targeted therapies for autoimmune kidney disease. 

"I aim to develop treatments that will switch off the part of the immune system that is causing disease while leaving protective immunity intact," Dr Ooi said.

SCS Project grant recipients are:

Grant Title

Professor Marcel Nold
Department of Paediatrics
Interleukin 38: Uncoupling Innate Inflammation from Interferons in lupus
Exploring and Targeting the Anti-Inflammatory Signalling Mechanisms of Interleukin 37
Dr Claudia Nold
Department of Paediatrics
Interleukin 37 – a novel cytokine therapy for Necrotizing Enterocolitis in the preterm.
Professor Michael Hickey
Department of Medicine
Conventional and unconventional T cells in interstitial kidney disease
Amniotic Exosomes - Nanomedicine for Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia
Professor Peter Ebeling
Department of Medicine
Fractures and bisphosphonates: reviving osteoporosis treatment uptake by identifying the genetic, material, and microstructural risk factors of atypical femur fractures
Professor Euan Wallace
A Cell Therapy for Necrotising Enterocolitis
Associate Professor Suzie Miller
Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
New and improved treatment strategies for neonatal seizures
Professor Stephen Holdsworth
DNase I as Treatment for MPO-ANCA Vasculitis
Generating endogenous antigen specific T regulatory cells to treat autoimmune MPO-ANCA GN

Dr Joshua Ooi
Department of Medicine
Treatments for glomerulonephritis that harness antigen specific regulatory cells
Dr Nadine Andrew
Evaluation of enhanced models of primary care in the management of stroke and other chronic diseases

The mental health of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island

Professor Suresh Sundram
Professor Suresh Sundram published in The Lancet.

On October 31, 2017, the Governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea ended support for the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, an Australian immigration detention facility on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.  Instead, currently incomplete and substandard facilities without adequate service provision have been hastily constructed to accommodate people. 379 refugees and asylum seekers refused to leave the centre stating fears for their security.  The physical and mental health of these people is precarious.

Read full article HERE.

Professor Sundram is from the Department of Psychiatry, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, Monash University and Unit Head, Adult Psychiatry at Monash Medical Centre.

SCS lecturer recognised for teaching excellence

Dr Simone Gibson and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner 
Dr Simone Gibson has been recognised for her outstanding teaching, receiving the 2017 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

A senior lecturer in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food, Dr Gibson teaches clinical dietetics, and engages work-based educators and promotes teaching excellence for work-integrated learning.

Dr Gibson said she helps prepare students to reach clinical competency and to gain employment in the fast-paced and often stressful hospital environment.

“My teaching and learning strategies are multi-faceted and include simulation and real-life patient interactions,” Dr Gibson said.

“I use a range of evaluation techniques including student learning and cost-effectiveness measures.”

Dr Gibson has published and presented internationally in clinical educational research and is an Associate Fellow for the Australia and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators. She has received over $70,000 in grants for educational research and initiatives which she uses to improve students and graduate outcomes. 

“It is a great honour to receive this award and I am so pleased that teaching is so valued at Monash,” Dr Gibson said.

Dr Gibson acknowledges the ongoing support of Deputy Dean Education, Professor Wayne Hodgson, Professor Helen Truby, Associate Professor Claire Palermo, Dr Kellie Tuck and the Monash Education Academy.