Monday, 27 February 2017

3MT presentation - Sarah Meiklejohn talks about adolescent obesity

Lung cancer patients to benefit from clinical trials at Monash Health Translation Precinct

CTC Manager Ms Cheryl Coleman, Professor Eva Segelov
and oncology patient Ms Marnie Dalton
Monash Health lung cancer patients are set to benefit from the relocation of clinical trials to the state-of-the-art Clinical Trials Centre at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) in Clayton.

Lung cancer is the fifth most common cancer in Australia but the leading cause of cancer related deaths.  Monash Health receives over 250 new referrals of lung cancer each year, one of the highest patient loads in Victoria, as our area serves a population equivalent to the size of the Adelaide.

“All lung cancer clinical trials are being moved from the Monash Cancer Centre, Moorabbin to the MHTP Clinical Trials Centre, the ‘home base’ for Monash Health and Monash University clinician-scientists to conduct early, mid and late phase clinical trials,” said Dr Muhammad Alamgeer, medical oncologist and lung trials clinical lead at MHTP.

“Currently there are eight clinical trials are being conducted in various subtypes of lung cancer—of these, two trials are phase 2 and the rest are phase 3.  

A number of other patients with lung cancer are also participating in phase 1 clinical trials, which are already running at MHTP.

Dr Alamgeer said the Monash team of motivated and world-class clinicians and researchers strive to ensure patients have access to the latest and most effective treatments, and that further early and late phase clinical trials are planned to start in the coming months.

 “Participation in clinical trials gives our patients the opportunity to receive novel and cutting-edge treatment options,” said Monash University’s Associate Professor Arun Azad, oncologist and Head of Oncology Clinical Trials at MHTP.

“Every cancer patient at Monash Health who is either newly diagnosed or is requiring a change in their treatment is considered for participation in a clinical trial,” said Associate Professor Azad.
Associate Professor Azad said that due to stringent entry criteria, not all patients are eligible to participate in a clinical trial.

Director of Oncology at Monash Health, Professor Eva Segelov said recent advances in medical research have led to the discovery of novel and more effective treatments, resulting in improvements in overall survival and quality of life for lung cancer patients.

“We are very fortunate to have the Clinical Trials Centre, a purpose-built facility supported by dedicated staff with expertise in clinical trials, ranging from pharmacy to nursing, data management and medical care, to our translational scientists who work alongside us to better understand cancer biology,” said Professor Segelov from the Department of Medicine, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health.

“Collaborative initiatives at the MHTP bring together information and leading opinion from clinicians and scientists on cancer treatment, prevention, diagnosis and cure.”

“We have planned to move all cancer clinical trials to the MHTP, optimising translational research opportunities, which will result in better outcomes for our patients,” said Professor Segelov.

Monash Health acknowledged internationally as Myelodysplasia Center of Excellence

Associate Professor Jake Shortt
Monash Health in affiliation with Monash University has been approved as a "Myelodysplasia (MDS) Center of Excellence" by the International MDS Foundation.

Associate Professor Jake Shortt said the application was supported by publications from the Grigoriadis/Banerjee lab and from several papers by Dr Zoe McQuilten and Associate Professor Erica Wood using data linkage to ascertain patterns of MDS in Australia.

“We are also a frequent lead Australian site in recruitment to MDS clinical trials, several of which are currently recruiting at the MHTP,” said Associate Professor Shortt, Head of Haematology Research and clinical lead for MDS and Leukaemia at the Monash Health Translation Precinct.

The Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation was established by an international group of physicians and researchers to provide an ongoing exchange of information relating to MDS. 

To be recognized as an MDS Center of Excellence, an institution must have:
  • An established university (or equivalent) program
  • Recognized morphologic expertise in MDS
  • Available cytogenetics and/or molecular genetics
  • Ongoing research, including Institutional Review Board-approved clinical trials
  • Documentation of peer-reviewed publications in the field
Associate Professor Shortt said he looks forward to progressing the acute leukaemia strategy as the next goal in the MDS and Leukaemia program at MHTP.

World-first discovery in placental research receives Ferring Innovation Grant

Dr Padma Murthi
School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) researcher Dr Padma Murthi has been awarded a highly competitive Ferring Innovation Grant for her research investigating therapeutics to treat placental function in preeclampsia.

The Ferring Pharmaceuticals grant worth US$96,000 will enable Dr Murthi to investigate the role of novel peptides as an effective target to improve placental function.

Often seen in first-time pregnancies and in women over forty, preeclampia (PE) affects 5% to 10% of all pregnancies globally.

“PE is caused by a functionally insufficient placenta, and severe PE is associated with a placenta that doesn’t develop properly, preventing the developing fetus from receiving enough oxygen, blood and nutrients,” said Dr Murthi, senior research fellow in the Department of Medicine.

“There are no therapies to improve placental function and fetal growth in utero, and advances in the prevention of PE have been hampered by our inadequate understanding of the critical regulators of placental function largely due to the lack of appropriate model systems.”

Led by Dr Murthi, the Monash research group is the first in the world to discover a placental growth control receptor (known as FPR2) is involved in improving placental blood flow to the developing fetus.

Dr Murthi said her group has developed innovative tools, including appropriate in vitro, ex-vivo and in-vivo model systems to demonstrate the usefulness of FPR2 as a therapeutic target to improve placental vascular functions in preeclampsia.

“FPR2 has significant therapeutic implications given that clinical trials for drugs targeting FPR2 in inflammatory diseases have already been tested for safety and tolerability in humans,” said Dr Murthi.

“The outcomes of this study have the potential to improve placental growth and function in preeclampsia, one of the major clinical disorders of contemporary perinatal medicine.” 

Monash Ophthalmology’s Head of Department receives academic promotion

Associate Professor Chen
Head of Ophthalmology Department at Monash Health, Christine Chen has been promoted to Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS).

Since joining Monash Ophthalmology as only the second female head of a surgical unit at Monash Health, Associate Professor Chen has established a dedicated trial clinic and made significant contributions to public eye health care delivery and research.

Associate Professor Chen’s research interests include new modalities of ocular imaging such as spectral domain ocular coherence tomography (OCT) and OCT angiography, and how these advances further our understanding of age-related macular degeneration and enable personalised treatment regimes.

She also has an interest in ocular genetics, particularly in how the breakthroughs with CRISPR/Cas-based editing could be applied to ophthalmic diseases as well as the consent process and ethical implications for its therapeutic application.

Associate Professor Chen established a number of subspecialty clinics, including Paediatrics, Cornea, Oculoplastics, Medical and Surgical Retina clinics and increased elective surgical throughput by 50%, cementing Monash Ophthalmology as the second largest ophthalmology service provider in Victoria and Monash’s commitment to deliver accessible tertiary public eye health care.

Associate Professor Chen said she is very honoured and proud to have her achievements recognised.

“Surgery is a selfish practice and requires generous support personally, professionally and beyond,” said Associate Professor Chen.

“My generation is extremely fortunate to have the choice of education and career, however, there is a price associated with these choices that is not often talked about.”

“The ‘have it all’ image for the modern woman is unrealistic and places women in an unsustainable position. Just as men have wives, women need to enlist the assistance of their life partner,1 accept some difficult sacrifices particularly at the home front and as a society, allow men to break the nursery ceiling,” said Associate Professor Chen.

“The Monash environment has allowed me to pursue a surgical and academic career as well as starting a family. Whilst I struggle to find a balance between a 17-month-old, marriage and work, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and am determined to lean in to sit at the table.2

Associate Professor Chen acknowledges the entire Monash Ophthalmology team, particularly Linda Santamaria, for her support both personally and professionally, and Professor Julian Smith for being a ‘fantastic mentor’. And last but not least, her husband.

1     Annabel Crabb. The Wife Drought: Why women need wives and men need lives. Random House; 2014.

2      Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook). Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead. Random House; 2013.

SCS social club welcome lunch, 10 March

The School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) social club welcomes new staff and student for 2017!

Please join us for a free pizza lunch on Friday 10 March, 12.30pm - 1.30pm in the Medicine Seminar Room.

CID Weekly Seminar: "Toll-like receptors and their function in mycobacterial infections -a longitudinal translational study examining infected patients" Tuesday 28 February

Tuesday 28 February, 12:00 - 1:00pm, Seminar Room 1, Level 2, TRF Building

Dr Sabine de Silva
Infectious Diseases Physician, Department of Infectious Diseases, Monash Health
Postgraduate Student, Centre for Inflammatory Diseases

Thesis Pre-submission seminar 

Tuberculosis infections affect a third of the world's population.  Many challenges are faced in the diagnosis, treatment and vaccination against TB.  Results from a  pilot study at Monash Health conducted to examine affects of treatment on innate immune markers will be presented, including toll-like receptor (TLRs) expression and their functional effects through anti-tuberculous therapy.  TLR 2, 4 & 7 expression varies significantly on different cell types through treatment, as do their effects on cytokine production.  I will discuss the changes which occur in TNF, IL6 and MCP1 levels following specific TLR-ligand stimulation in these patients.  Comparison will be made between those with active TB infection and those with latent TB infection (LTBI).   The correlation with low vitamin D levels and TLR expression will also be discussed.  Further research into the changes found between the two cohorts may potentially enable these changes to be incorporated into a platform to differentiate between the two groups- a crucial and currently unavailable entity.
Dr Sabine de Silva graduated from Monash University in 2000, having completed MBBS (H) and BMedSci (H). Completed Infectious Diseases training at Monash, Austin and Barwon Health and currently an Infectious Diseases Physician at Monash Health.  Interests include clinical research, particularly in TB. 

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 []

Diabetes Unit Educational Meeting: “Optimizing Self-Management In Adults With Comorbid Diabetes And Renal Disease”, 2 March

All interested staff are invited to the weekly Diabetes Unit Educational Meeting.

Thursday 2 March, 8am-9am, at the Diabetes Centre of the Special Medicine Building, MMC

Presenter:  Edward Zimbudzi, Nurse Unit Manager and PhD candidate, Monash University

PhD mid-candidature review, Dilys Leung, 1 March

All staff and students are invited to Dilys Leung's PhD pre-submission/final review.

1 March at 3pm, seminar room, level 4, Block E, Monash Medical Centre

Thesis title: Characterisation of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein in ovarian granulosa cell tumours

Synopsis: Granulosa cell tumours (GCT) represent a large subset of sex-cord stromal tumours which contribute to ~8% of all ovarian malignancies. The aim of my PhD project is to investigate PPAR gamma and XIAP as potential targets for combination treatment of GCT. I will also identify and manipulate the unusual and distinctive patterns of expression of key genes involved in cell survival, which will provide us with both prognostic information and potential new and novel therapeutic targets for treatment of these tumours.

Supervisors: Prof. Peter J Fuller and Dr Simon Chu

Panel chair: Dr Peter Stanton

Independent assessors: A/Prof Tim Cole and Prof Vincent Harley

Bioinformatics: Core Service and Clinical Pipelines at Peter MacCallumCancer Centre, 15 March

Wednesday 15 March, 11am-12pm
Seminar Room 2, TRF building, level 2

Presenter: Jason Li, PhD
Bioinformatics Core Manager, Cancer Research
Peter MacCallumCancer Centre

There has been a growing demand for bioinformatics as a service in genomics research and clinical sequencing. In this seminar, I will talk about some of the current activities at the Peter Mac Bioinformatics Core, including the development of whole-genome sequencing pipelines, clinical pipelines and variant call validation workflow. I will also discuss the challenges and opportunities in running a Core Facility, and talk about how our services and business models have evolved over the last ten years.



A position as postdoctoral researcher is available to study the mechanisms of cell divisions in mouse oocytes and embryos at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM). Our lab uses live imaging approaches, along with genetic interventions and micromanipulation approaches to study the mechanisms of chromosome segregation in the oocyte and early mammalian embryo, in order to understand the cellular basis of fertility. Previous experience in any of the following would be a benefit for the role: cell and molecular biology approaches, cell division, live cell imaging, oocyte and embryo handling, micro-manipulation and microinjection. The position is available for three years in the first instance. CRCHUM is a new state of the art research facility located in the heart of downtown Montreal, close to the Old Port.

For representative examples of the labs recent work please see: Vazquez-Diez et al., 2016. PNAS 13(3):626-31. Tsichlaki and FitzHarris, 2016. Scientific Reports 6:28040. Shomper et al., Cell Cycle, 2014. 13(7):1171-9.

For more on the lab see
Interested candidates are encouraged to send a current CV and cover letter to Dr Greg FitzHarris at before March 31st 2017.


A graduate studentship is available to study the mechanisms of cell divisions in mouse oocytes and embryos at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM). Our lab uses live imaging approaches, along with genetic interventions and micromanipulation approaches to study the mechanisms of chromosome segregation in the oocyte and early mammalian embryo, in order to understand the cellular basis of fertility. The studentship would particularly suit someone with a strong background in cell/molecular/developmental biology, who has an interest in cell division and/or reproductive biology, and is available either for a masters or a PhD student. CRCHUM is a new state of the art research facility located in the heart of downtown Montreal, close to the Old Port.

For representative examples of the labs recent work please see: Vazquez Diez et al., 2016. PNAS 13(3):626-31. Tsichlaki and FitzHarris, 2016. Scientific Reports 6:28040. Shomper et al., Cell Cycle, 2014. 13(7):1171-9.

For more on the lab see
Interested candidates are encouraged to send a current CV and cover letter to Dr Greg FitzHarris at before March 31st 2017.

myDevelopment: Now available for graduate research students

Monash Graduate Education is excited to enhance the graduate research student experience of the Monash Doctoral Program through the launch of the myDevelopment system. 

Visit the myDevelopment web page for information, user guides, and support for students and staff. A link to GRAMs has been provided on the myDevelopment webpage, to allow students who commenced prior to 2017 to cross check against their GRAMS training record.

Postgraduate Publications Award (PPA)

Nominations for Round 2 due 1st April, 2017.

Student due to submit their thesis for examination between 1 April - 30 June are encouraged to apply for the PPA. Recipients of the PPA receive a living allowance for up to 8 weeks. More information about this award can be found at this website

Training the gut to cope with food during exercise boosts performance

Ricardo Da Costa's article about gut-training in The Herald Sun.

Read article here.

A chemical probe toolbox for dissecting the cancer epigenome

Jake Shortt et al. published in Nature Reviews Cancer.

Read article here.

Macrophage-to-Myofibroblast Transition Contributes to Interstitial Fibrosis in Chronic Renal Allograft Injury

David Nikolic-Paterson et al. published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Read article here.

Why do children present to emergency departments? Exploring motivators and measures of presentation appropriateness for children presenting to a paediatric emergency department

John Cheek et al. published in the Journal of Paediatric Child Health.

Read article here.

Treatment of preeclampsia with hydroxychloroquine: a review

Rahana Rahman et al. published in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine.

Read article here.

Under-resourced and under-developed family-centred care within palliative medicine

David Kissane published in Palliative Medicine.

Read article here.

Variable DAXX gene methylation is a common feature of placental trophoblast differentiation, preeclampsia, and response to hypoxia

Padma Murthi et al. published in The FASEB Journal.

Read article here.

RNA-Seq analysis of chikungunya virus infection and identification of granzyme A as a major promoter of arthritic inflammation

Paul Hertzog et al. published in PLoS Pathology.

Read article here.

Seizures in Children With Cerebral Palsy and White Matter Injury

Michael Fahey et al. published in Pediatrics.

Read article here.

Imaging Leukocyte Responses in the Kidney

Michaela Finsterbusch et al. published in Transplantation.

Read article here.

Changing epidemiology of candidaemia in Australia

Tony Korman et al. published in the Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy.

Read article here.

Altered placental tryptophan metabolic pathway in human fetal growth restriction

Padma Murthi et al. published in Placenta.

Read article here.