Monday, 18 September 2017

3MT video: Aidan Kashyap talks about his research into diaphragmatic hernia

"The cry of a newborn baby is a symbol of hope", says Aidan Kashyap, PhD candidate in the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS).  Aidan who won the Junior category of the 2017 SCS 3MT competition, talks about his research into diaphragmatic hernia in newborn babies.

SCS researcher—and first woman—receives Excellence in Stroke Award

Professor Thrift
Professor Amanda Thrift from the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health has been recognised for her lifetime contribution to stroke research and overall contribution to the field, receiving the Stroke Society of Australasia’s (SSA) Excellence in Stroke Award.

As part of the Award, Professor Thrift delivered the Excellence in Stroke Oration at the SSA annual scientific meeting in Queenstown, New Zealand last month.

During Professor Thrift’s post-doctoral work, she undertook a large incidence study of stroke in the northern suburbs of Melbourne (the North East Melbourne Stroke Incidence Study: NEMESIS).

“This work resulted in more than 50 publications, contributed to 7 PhD completions and also led to a number of international collaborations, including further work in Iran and Viet Nam, as well as some data pooling studies of individual patient data, one of which included 13 studies in 11 countries,” Professor Thrift said. 

In her Stroke Oration, Professor Thrift presented an overview of the work she has led, including the NEMISIS and STANDFIRM (Shared Team-Approach Between Nurses and Doctors For Improved Risk Factor Management) studies.

One of the key focuses of Professor Thrift’s research is stroke and other chronic diseases in under-privileged settings.

“The study I conducted in Iran was a replica of NEMESIS, and demonstrated the enormous burden in that country, with people having their strokes about a decade earlier than in Australia,” Professor Thrift said.

“Aboriginal Australia also suffers a disproportionate burden of stroke—some of the messages from the Aboriginal people we interviewed for our early research studies were very powerful.”

“One man who lived in a remote community, had no access to rehabilitation, and so he devised his own program which involved riding his bicycle about 120 km per week. His resilience, innovation, and determination was truly remarkable.”

Professor Thrift’s oration also included an overview of how improvements in health can be made in settings where resources are limited.

“In India we taught health workers about hypertension (and other risk factors), and provided them with the skills to teach their local communities how to manage their hypertension—to reduce their chances of having stroke or heart disease,” Professor Thrift said.

Professor Thrift said she was overwhelmed by the honour and recognition of the Award. All prior four awardees have been neurologists.

“I’m particularly honoured to be the first woman to receive the Award, and the first epidemiologist!”

“I’ve been very fortunate to have great colleagues, collaborators and PhD students,” she added. “I would like to acknowledge their enormous contribution as, in reality, this award is not mine alone, but is recognition of our combined research efforts.”

SCS staff recognised in 2017 Dean’s Awards for Excellence

Dr Simone Gibson
Two staff from the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health were recognised recently with Dean’s Awards for Excellence.

Dr Simone Gibson from the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Education (Quality of Teaching) while Ms Ruth Fantozzi, from the Department of Medicine received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Administration.

Dr Gibson, a senior lecturer in the Nutrition and Dietetics courses said of her teaching, she optimises clinical and professional skill development to equip nutrition and dietetic students for work-integrated learning and employment after graduation.

“This award is great in that it recognises the importance of quality teaching at Monash University,” Dr Gibson said.  “I am very humbled as I know there are fantastic educators in our Faculty.”

Ms Ruth Fantozzi
“Achieving this award would not have been possible without the amazing and supportive team in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food,” she added.

Ms Fantozzi provides high-level Executive Assistant support to Professor Peter Ebeling in his role as the Head of the Department of Medicine, as well as for his role as Chair of the Division of Medicine at Monash Health.

Ms Fantozzi said winning this award would not have been possible without the inspiration she’s received from her seniors and colleagues, for whom she has the deepest respect.

“In particular, I would like to thank my boss, Professor Peter Ebeling and our School Manager Dr Eugene Fredericks who have enabled me to challenge myself and perform better at each stage,” Ms Fantozzi said.

Monash researchers’ rebuttal about PCOS overdiagnosis in MJA

Professor Helena Teede
A recent BMJ commentary proposed that Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a common and distressing condition affected reproductive aged women, is over-diagnosed.

Monash University and Monash Health researchers Dr Melanie Gibson and Professor Helena Teede from the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation published a rebuttal article last week in the Medical Journal of Australia, along with patients affected by the condition, arguing that the commentary ignored the extensive evidence on PCOS prevalence, delayed diagnosis, complications and PCOS related distress. 

“We have demonstrated that there is no direct evidence that PCOS is over-diagnosed, rather there is substantive literature that PCOS is under-recognised,” Professor Teede said.

“We have compelling evidence that delayed diagnosis and inadequate information provision can be distressing for affected women.”

The research team also outlined an international initiative to improve PCOS diagnosis and outcomes, including a new statewide service of excellence starting at Monash Health in the near future.

Latest Ritchie Centre success stories

Dr Courtney McDonald, Professor Alistair Gunn and
Madison Paton in Osaka
PhD student Madison Paton from The Ritchie Centre participated in the prestigious Australian Academy of Science "Falling Walls Lab Australia Program", an innovative forum for young researchers, last week in Canberra.

Established in 2009, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Falling Walls Lab is an international forum that promotes interdisciplinary connections between aspiring academics, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and professionals, known for the excellent work.

Participants are given three minutes to present their work.

Madison presented her research into the use of stem cells to assist brain injury in preterm babies. Watch Madison's presentation HERE (go to 1 hour, 19 mins and 30 seconds).

In further news, Madison Paton and Dr Courtney McDonald took out the two major awards at the 44th Annual Meeting of the Fetal and Neonatal Physiological Society Meeting in Osaka, Japan last week.

Madison received the Tanya Gunn prize for best oral presentation by a PhD Student for her talk entitled “Assessing human umbilical cord blood therapy as an early treatment for preterm brain injury”; while Courtney took out the Tanya Gunn prize for best oral presentation by a Post Doc for her talk entitled “Differential effects of umbilical cord blood cells to reduce neuroinflammation following neonatal Hypoxic-Ischaemic brain injury.

Courtney and Madison were ably supported by other members of The Ritchie Centre who gave excellent oral and poster presentations, including a memorable keynote lecture by Flora Wong, Department of Paediatrics and Ritchie Centre entitled “Cerebral haemodynamic functional response in fetus and neonate”

Get ready for the annual SCS trivia extravaganza

As we gear up for the annual SCS Trivia Extravaganza in December, here are some questions to whet your appetites. The first instalment this week is based on TV characters and their shows.  Answers will be published in e-News next week. Enjoy!

MHTP Student Open Days 19 & 20 September

All prospective research students are invited to explore the postgraduate research opportunities (Honours, Masters and Phd projects for 2018 intake) available to you at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP)

We invite you to two events next month, to discover our research opportunities:

o Tuesday 19 September: MHTP Open Day information session,  4.30pm - 6.30pm, Monash University, Banquet Hall, Campus Centre, Clayton

o Wednesday 20 September: Tour our facilities / meet our supervisors,  4.00 pm - 6.30 pm, Translational Research Facility, (meet at MHRP Building foyer, 43 - 51, Kanooka Grove, Clayton)

For catering purposes, please register for one or both of the events HERE.  

For further information, please contact
o School of Clinical Sciences and Monash Health:
Ms Katherine Marks: E: P: 8572 2595
o Hudson Institute:
Ms Ann Pukallus: E: P: 8572 2699

In the meantime, please take a glance at our available research projects HERE.

And more information about postgraduate studies at MHTP is HERE.

Walk for Monash Children's Hospital: save the date 4 March 2018

Join us on Sunday 4 March 2018 and walk around the beautiful Jells Park, to help sick children and their families receive the best care at Monash Children’s Hospital. 

The Walk for Monash Children’s Hospital is a non-competitive, family friendly and fun day out with loads of activities on the day including an animal farm, kid zone, free massages, delicious food and live entertainment.

Choose between a 10km Walk, 10km Run, 5km Walk, 5km Run and 1km Walk. The event is suitable for all ages!

All fundraisers who raise over $50 will receive a free Monash Children's Hospital t-shirt.

Early bird registration is $15 for Children (aged 5-15) and $25 for adults and children over 15. Children aged 4 and under are free and don’t need to register.

To register visit:

Victorian Global Health Conference 2017. ChangexUnzipped. 30 Sept-1 Oct

Change X Unzipped is a collaboration between Victorian medical students from Deakin University, Melbourne University and Monash University.

This event is Victoria’s annual global health conference. Run over two days, it is an exceptional opportunity not to be missed. 

Day 1: Unzip it (Saturday 30th September, Geelong Clinical School)
Day 1 will focus on ‘unzipping’ the big ideas in global health. Through our exploration of the global health workforce, preventative medicine, advocacy, the refugee crisis, human rights, law, politics and more - you will be left engaged, inspired (or even somewhat perplexed).
Day 1 will feature an all-star speaker and panelist line-up including (but not limited to):
  • Dr Maithri Goonetilleke (founder of NGO ‘Possible Dreams International’
  • Dr Damien Brown (author of ‘Band-Aid for a Broken Leg’).
  • Dr Fiona Lander (previous Consultant to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)
  • Alanna Maycock (Paediatric nurse and whistleblower of Nauru detention center mistreatment)
  • Prof Paul Komesaroff (executive director of NGO 'Global Reconciliation’)
  • Leigh Matthews (founder of ReThink Orphanages) 
Day 2: Change it (Sunday 1st October, Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne)
After unpacking big (and somewhat lofty) ideas, Day 2 will focus on making tangible ‘change’ both globally and locally. Through intelligent discussions on a diversity of topics from youth empowerment, advocacy, social enterprise, sustainable food systems, environmental choices and Indigenous health you will left motivated to search for local solutions to global issues.
Day 2 will feature speakers including;
For more information: 
See our website (

Only $20 for one day tickets and $30 for 2-day full conference pass. Now that’s a bargain. 

CID Seminars present: A/Prof. Mark Miller from the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Washington University St. Louis, USA, 19 Sept

Tuesday 19th September, 12 - 1pm (Lunch from 11.45am), Venue: Seminar Room 1, Level 2, TRF Building
A/Prof Miller's group uses multi-photon microscopy (MPM) in combination with histological and genetic approaches to study the immune response to bacterial infection in the spleen. He has shown that bacterial challenge in mice induces the rapid redistribution of splenic macrophages and dendritic cells in a bacteria-specific fashion. His hypothesis is that tissue remodelling serves an “antigen transport” function that delivers pathogen-derived antigens to distinct microenvironments for presentation. Because both the antigen presenting cell type and the local environment impact the immune response, this could provide a mechanism to tailor immune responses to a wide-range of pathogens. 

His laboratory focuses on three key stages of infection: 1) the initial capture and fate of bacteria in marginal zone macrophages and dendritic cells, 2) the migration of these cells in response to infection, and 3) bacterial-antigen presentation in tissue microenvironments and its influence on the subsequent adaptive immune response. Moreover, the multi-dimensional cell tracking data from these studies is being used to create in silico models of infection and immunity in the hope of providing fresh mechanistic insight into microbial pathogenesis and guide vaccine development.

Grand Rounds, "“Is my patient ‘competent’? Decision-making capacity in the acute setting” 20 September

Presenter:  Dr Niloufar Kirkwood, Neuropsychology Unit

Topic:  “Is my patient ‘competent’? Decision-making capacity in the acute setting”

Date: Wednesday 20 September 2017

Time: 12.30pm - 1.30pm

Venue: Main Lecture Theatre, Monash Medical Centre, Clayton

Monash Haematology: ‘Melanoma post allogeneic transplantation – What are the risks?’, 20 September

20 September, 7.30am Breakfast & 7.45am Presentation
Monash Medical Centre, Level 2 - Lecture Theatre 3

Melanoma post allogeneic transplantation – What are the risks?’

Presenter: Dr Hannah Stevens

PhD mid-candidature review - Shreya Rana, "Subcortical changes during brain development: clues on drivers of cortical folding", 22 September

All staff and student are invited to attend Shreya Rana's mid-candidature review.

1pm, 22 September, Boardrooms, Level 3 MIMR building

Synopsis:  My project is looking at the structural changes that occur with brain folding during fetal development, with the aim of trying to identify processes that are unique to the folding brain.

Supervisors are David Walker, Mary Tolcos and Bryan Leaw. 

Panel chair is Caroline Gargett and independent assessors are Suzie Miller and Roger Pocock.

"Communicating Science: The joint responsibility of researchers and journal editors", 2 October

2 October, MIMR Level 3 Boardrooms A&B

Presented by Sally Darney PhD, Editor-in-Chief, Environmental Health Perspectives, NIEHS, an international expert in Reproductive Toxicology.

  1.   "Communicating Science:  The joint responsibility of researchers and journal editors"            11am - 12pm, MIMR Level 3 Boardrooms A&B.  (This seminar is available to all Hudson Institute and SCS staff and students.)  
      2. "Short course for Postgraduate students and ECRs on how to write and review scientific papers for scholarly journals".  (Open to Hudson Institute and SCS students).  1pm - 3pm. MIMR Level 3 Boardrooms A&B.

Please register to attend these seminars, together with a lunch which will be provided in the de Kretser Concourse outside the Boardrooms from 12pm - 1pm, using the following links:

Seminar 1:  Communicating Science: The joint responsibility of researchers and journal editors

Lunch: Lunch with Postgraduate students and ECRS

Seminar 2
Short course for Postgraduate students and ECRs on how to write and review scientific papers for scholarly journals.  

Annual Ritchie Centre Colloquium 2017, 5-6 October

The Hudson Institute of Medical Research, in collaboration with Monash University is proud to inform you that registrations are now open for the annual Ritchie Centre Colloquium.

The Colloquium, entitled ‘New Directions in Endometriosis & Women’s Health’, will explore innovative research in endometriosis and women’s health, with presentations from leading Australian and international experts in the field.
Thursday, October 5 will focus on world-leading endometriosis research and Friday, October 6 will feature research from scientists in women’s health areas including infertility, pregnancy conditions, gynaecological cancers and pelvic organ prolapse. The Ritchie Centre aims to improve the health of women and children through innovative research that informs better healthcare.

See program information HERE.

Cost: $150 - Thursday & Friday registration
$100 - Thursday only or Friday only registration

​Please contact Caroline Menara for further details 8572 2877 or

Special Edition- Grand Round (World Thrombosis Day) Wednesday 11th October

Haematology is involved in a special edition of grand round for World Thrombosis Day. It will be held on Wednesday 11/10/17, 12:30pm-1:30pm lecture theatre 1, MMC.

There will be 3 speakers each speaking for around 12-15 minutes, as listed below.

Assoc. Prof Sanjeev Chunilal (Monash Haematology)
Introductory comments  about World Thrombosis Day
Presentation title: ‘Rivaroxaban safety pathway’

Prof. Thanh Phan (Stroke unit)
Presentation title: ‘Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis’

Dr. Adam Brown (Monash Heart)
Presentation title: ‘Bioprosthetic aortic valve thrombosis - cause for concern?’


Monash University Animal Ethics Information Session - “Animal Use in Research & Teaching”, 11 October

Monash University requires that:
•    All new research staff and students using live animals complete the
information session “Animal Use in Research and Teaching”.
•    Researchers, Teachers and students must have attended or enrolled
in the next available session to be named on an animal ethics application.

Date: Wednesday 11 October 2017
Time: 10am – 12:30pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre S12, 16 Rainforest Walk, Clayton Campus

Register on-line -

Medicine in the media (1 day course), 25 November

Medicine and the media
Saturday 25 November 2017
9am - 4:30pm
553 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Course fee:  $299 (incl GST)

In this one-day interactive course, participants from both academic and journalism backgrounds will work together to identify important barriers in communication of health research to the general public. The paradigm of evidence-based medicine and how it can be used to enhance reporting will be highlighted, using recent case studies of optimal and imbalanced reporting. Small group sessions will engage journalists in tasks designed to explore evidence based approaches to reporting, while researchers and academics will cover tips for better engagement with media such as how to stay on message, avoid being misquoted and steer away from difficult areas. Mock interviews of academics by a prominent health journalist will be staged to demonstrate useful media techniques, and safe and effective use of social media tools to convey your message will also be discussed.

Enquiries:  T: +91 03 9903 0693


A fellowship scheme to facilitate the training of potential clinical academic specialist physicians within Monash Health has been established in collaboration with Monash University including the Department Medicine, School of Clinical Sciences (SCS), Monash University (MU) and School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (SPHPM) as well as Monash Health (MH) Division of Medicine.

The program involves supervised training of suitable candidates in three areas relevant to academic physicians:

  1.  Clinical/translational research via a higher degree, preferably PhD.

  1.  Advanced clinical training in internal medicine.

  1. Supervised clinical teaching experience.

Support Package
The total support package includes a Monash Health fellowship for the value of approximately $7,000 with a University support package based on which department the candidate is in and what teaching component is completed. For those in the SCS this is a total package of $21,500 per annum. For those in the SPHPM and includes the MH fellowship and additional support based on teaching and other activities.

The fellowship will be available annually for up to three years depending on satisfactory progress according to the candidate and supervisors’ progress reports. Preference will be given to candidates not engaged in significant remunerated clinical practice (e.g. hospital sessions, private practice).

The candidate must be a current or recently completed advanced trainee in any specialty of internal medicine with a Part 1 FRACP, FRACP or equivalent qualification.

Application form HERE.

NHMRC Fellowship Applications in 2018 - CALL FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST (EOI)

MRO have advised that they are expecting a larger number of NHMRC Fellowship applications in the January to March period given that 2018 is the final year of applications for the fellowship scheme.

They are requesting that academic staff complete the EOI Google Form (link here):

This will greatly assist MRO with planning and resourcing for fellowships for the major round.

Responses due by COB Friday 2​7​ October 2017

REMINDER: 2017 International Networks of Excellence Grant Scheme – CLOSING ON 28 SEPTEMBER

A reminder​  that the ​2017 ​International Networks of Excellence Grant Scheme (NoE) is ​closing soon.

The aim of the scheme is to increase Monash research collaboration with high-quality international research networks and institutions. The scheme offers one year Major, Seed or Facilitation grants to Monash employees’ worth $10K – $200K depending on the scale of activity. Please note, the focus of the scheme is ‘excellence’ and is open to research groups or clusters (rather than individual to individual). Partner institutions should be ranked equal or above Monash in international rankings.

The NoE guidelines and information on how to apply can be found here:
Application is via the online ​S​marty ​G​rants system -

Applications close Thursday 28 September 2017.

Should you have any questions regarding NoE, please contact Kylie Reid 
( or phone 99029467).

Joint Arts-Medicine IDR Seed Funding Scheme now open

The Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences is very pleased to announce that applications for the 2017/8 J​oint ​ Arts-Medicine IDR ​S​eed F​unding scheme are now open.

The total budget for the scheme is $100,000. The maximum available funding for each individual application is $25,000.
​Please find attached ​scheme guidelines HERE, application form HERE and faculty research priorities HERE.  Further information and resources are ​available at

Applications are due by 5pm on Monday ​2 October 2017.

If you have any questions about the scheme or would like to apply, please contact
the Arts Research and Business Development Office (​ or 990 58557).​

We look forward to receiving your applications.

How long do you spend sitting down each day?

Access the tools to check your workstation ergonomics HERE.

MMC/MCH Site Alert UPDATE: Scaffold Removal - Browns Road North Car Park Walkway

What is happening?
·         Scaffolding forming a temporary covering over the walkway between the CRC and the Brown’s Road North Multi-deck car park will be removed.
·         A temporary walkway will be created around the works area
·         The works will be undertaken in two stages, minimising the impact to available parking spaces

How will the works impact me?

·         All pedestrians are to observe the signage and barriers in place during the works indicating the temporary pathway for all foot traffic
·         All pedestrians should take note of the surrounding areas and vehicular traffic flow during the works.
·         All drivers are to drive with additional care around the works area.

When will the works take place?

·         Works are scheduled to commence on Tuesday September 19, 2017 and conclude by Wednesday October 4, 2017
What about safety?

·         The contractor will conduct all works in compliance with relevant Safe Work Methods, utilising appropriate tools and PPE for the tasks undertaken
·         Barriers will be installed around the construction zone to block traffic access and pedestrian access.
·         We take this opportunity to remind all staff:
o   to be aware of traffic flow and pedestrian movements, and
o   to be vigilant for your safety and the safety and wellbeing of others

How do I get more information or report a concern?
Please contact the Monash Children’s Hospital Project Team for more information or to report any concerns regarding these works.
·         Project Office Telephone:              03 857 23921
·         Project Team mobile:                     Karen Green 0409 203 949          

·         Email:                                    

Retailer-Led Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Price Increase Reduces Purchases in a Hospital Convenience Store in Melbourne, Australia: A Mixed Methods Evaluation

Claire Palermo et al. published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Read article here.

Achievement of saturation targets in preterm infants 32 weeks' gestational age in the delivery room

Stuart Hooper et al. published in Archives of Disease in Childhood. Fetal and Neonatal Edition.

Read article here.

Urolithiasis is prevalent and associated with reduced bone mineral density in β-thalassaemia major

Kenneth Lau et al. published in the Internal Medicine Journal.

Read article here.

Delayed intranasal infusion of human amnion epithelial cells improves white matter maturation after asphyxia in preterm fetal sheep

Suzie Miller et al. published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism.

Read article here.

Cytoplasmic domain of tissue factor promotes liver fibrosis in mice

William Sievert et al. published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology.

Read article here.

Editorial: Inflammation in the CNS: Advancing the field using intravital imaging

Michael Hickey et al. published in Frontiers in Immunology.

Read article here.

Dysfunctional breathing is more frequent in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than in asthma and in health

Phil Bardin et al. published in Respiratory and Physiology & Neurobiology.

Read article here.

Heart Failure and Exercise: A Narrative Review of the Role of Self-Efficacy

Francis Ha et al. published in Heart, Lung and Circulation.

Read article here.

The Beneficial Effects of Melatonin Administration Following Hypoxia-Ischemia in Preterm Fetal Sheep

Tamara Yawno, Suzie Miller et al. published in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience.

Read article here.

The effect of breathing on ductus arteriosus blood flow directly after birth

Stuart Hooper et al. published in the European Journal of Pediatrics.

Read article here.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Monash research into myeloma receives generous donation

Associate Professor Jake Shortt, Dr Zahra Sabouri-Thompson
and Mr Russell Bode
A generous donation by a former myeloma patient will directly fund research into the disease at the Monash Health TranslationPrecinct.

Mr Laurence ‘Laurie’ Bode sadly passed away from myeloma in July 2016.  Keen to make a difference and improve outcomes for myeloma patients, Laurie’s family identified Monash University’s Associate Professor Jake Shortt as a leader in myeloma research.  The family has recently bequeathed his laboratory $100,000.

Associate Professor Shortt is a Monash Health haematologist and Head of the Blood Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory, Monash University at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP).   

“The Bode family reviewed the work we are doing in myeloma at the MHTP and wanted to fund a 'discovery project' looking for new treatments,” Associate Professor Shortt said.

Laurie Bode with his grandchild
“Their generous donation has enabled us to dedicate a full time scientist, Dr Zahra Sabouri-Thompson, to myeloma research, specifically aiming to discover how to 'drug' new targets in the myeloma cell.”

A former Electronic Warfare practitioner with the Department of Defence, Laurie had always enjoyed solving complex problems and approached his disease in the same way.  

Laurie’s brother and estate executor, Russell Bode, said Laurie hated not being in control of the outcome of his disease and the aim of the donation is to enable research into a curative solution.

“After the birth of his first grandchild in 2015, Laurie was adamant that a cure for cancer would be found, and it need not have the same crippling impact on future generations,” Russell said.

“Laurie’s generosity demonstrates his desire as an engineer to solve problems like myeloma, and not accept the fact the disease doesn’t have a cure.”

“His normal approach to complex issues in his electronic warfare engineering career was to thoroughly research the issue, and apply his no fuss practical innovative problem solving capability to a neat solution,” Russell said.

Laurie’s family are hopeful that the BloodCancer Therapeutics laboratory team will help find that solution.

Associate Professor Shortt said he is extremely grateful to the Bode family for helping translate his laboratory’s discoveries to new treatments in the clinic.

Monash study identifies new high-risk group in multiple myeloma, allowing clinicians to intervene early to improve patient outcomes

Dr Pasquale Fedele
Early treatment response of newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients should direct future therapy decisions, according to latest research at Monash University.

Myeloma, also known as multiple myeloma (MM), is a cancer of plasma cells (a type of white blood cell).  Each year in Australia around 1700 people are diagnosed with myeloma—the equivalent of four people every day.

Published last week  in the British Journal of Haematology, the collaborative Monash University and Monash Health study has revealed that the way MM patients respond to treatment after just two cycles of bortezomib, a new class of anti-cancer drug, determines outcomes and should guide future treatment decisions.

Lead researcher Monash Health haematologist Dr Pasquale Fedele said the introduction of two classes of medications, the immunomodulatory drugs and the proteasome inhibitors - collectively referred to as the ‘novel agents’, has dramatically improved the outcomes of patients with multiple myeloma. However, clinicians are still learning how best to utilise these medications.

“Although triplet induction regimens administering both novel agents concurrently are widely considered ‘gold standard’, the costs of such protocols are prohibitive for many healthcare systems,” Dr Fedele said.

“Furthermore, combinational therapy may increase the risk of toxicity, and a greater number of patients appear unable to tolerate these more intensive regimens.”

“It is important therefore that we identify which patients actually need this more intensive treatment versus those who are likely to do well with standard regimens”.  

Dr George Grigoriadis
Study co-author Dr George Grigoriadis, a Monash Health haematologist and Monash University researcher said currently it isn’t known whether stratification, based on patients achieving specific milestones early in their treatment, will identify which patients ‘in real time’ are likely to have poor long-term outcomes and therefore may benefit from early escalation of therapy.

The research team conducted a retrospective review of all newly diagnosed MM patients at Monash Health who were treated with bortezomib, a proteasome inhibitor, between 2012 and 2016.

“Our study results demonstrate that patients who fail to respond after two cycles of bortezomib have poorer survival rates compared to those who do, suggesting that this group of patients may benefit from early treatment escalation,” Dr Grigoriadis said.

Importantly however, current prognostication based on cytogenetics and clinical factors at diagnosis does not identify this poor risk group.”

The study authors are now advocating for early stratification to be incorporated into the design of future clinical trials for MM, to determine if directed treatment escalation results in improved outcomes for this vulnerable group of patients.

Bec Preston reaches 25 year work milestone at Monash

Bec Preston
School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) Finance Manager, Ms Rebecca Preston, recently achieved a milestone, celebrating her 25 year work anniversary at Monash University.

Having started in the Faculty of Law in 1992 as Personal Assistant to then Sub-Dean Professor Lawrie McCredie, Bec worked in a number of positions (including in the Campus Centre and the Faculty of Engineering) before joining the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences 11 years ago.

Bec said that when she started her position at SCS, the Administration was a one-stop-shop for the whole School.

“We had our own Finance and HR Officers, a dedicated HR Manager and other project staff all located where the CTP team are now—it was great!” Bec said. 

Everyone knew they could come to one area, speak to a team of people and have their questions answered. It's a little bit different now with the hubs.”

When asked about reaching her 25 year milestone, Bec said she was shocked.

“I only realised it when I was at a Finance Forum earlier this year, and as part of the ‘meet and greet’, we had to introduce ourselves and state how long we’d been at Monash,” Bec said.

“When I announced I’d been here 25 years, I received applause from the forum team!”

Bec said it doesn’t feel like 25 years as she’s taken maternity leave to have her three daughters, and had held various roles in several faculties.

And why is she still here?

“Monash is a great place to work.  99% of the time I enjoy coming to work, I really like the people I work with and that makes a huge difference,” Bec said.

“When I joined SCS, Gavin Horrigan was my School Manager and he was a wonderful mentor and colleague, and now we are blessed to have Eugene!”