Monday, 17 July 2017

University’s first Chair of Precision Medicine joins SCS

Professor Melissa Southey
Internationally renowned Molecular Geneticist Professor Melissa Southey has joined the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) as Monash University’s first Chair of Precision Medicine.

With a track record in both molecular diagnostic pathology and molecular genetic research, Professor Southey has focused on characterizing the genetic and epigenetic factors responsible for cancer predisposition and progression, including familial aggregation of cancers. She has amassed 450 publications since her first publication in 1990, including 420 peer-reviewed journal papers. Professor Southey, a founding scientific fellow of The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, is also a fellow of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia.  Since 2000, she has headed the Genetic Epidemiology Laboratory in the Department of Pathology, University of Melbourne.

Based on level 7 of the Translational Research Facility, Professor Southey and her team will continue and extend their international research program in Precision Medicine at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP).

Professor Southey and her diverse and dynamic team of researchers will extend the reach of MHTP research programs into Precision Medicine through targeting health interventions to those who are most likely to benefit, underpinned by a better understanding of molecular diversity.
“This is an immensely exciting phase for my team and for the discipline of Precision Medicine," Professor Southey said. 

"Our vision is to integrate evidence, including “big” data (not exclusively genomic data), health economics and behavioral and social sciences to deliver Precision Medicine."

Professor Southey will also be available to train, mentor and supervise Honours, Masters and PhD students at SCS.

Monash researchers’ landmark research into pre-eclampsia highlighted at world congress in fetal medicine

Dr Rolnik presenting at the FMF World Congress
Monash University’s Associate Professor Fabricio Costa and Monash Health maternal-fetal medicine fellow Dr Daniel Rolnik presented ground-breaking research into pre-eclampsia at the Fetal Medicine Foundation’s World Congress in Slovenia last month.

Attended by over 2000 delegates from around the world, Dr Rolnik and Associate Professor Costa, a consultant sonologist at Monash Health, presented their research findings about screening for and predicting pre-eclampsia.

Dr Rolnik, first author of a landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that administering low-dose aspirin (150mg) led to a 62 per cent reduction in the rate of pre-term pre-eclampsia, resulting in delivery before 37 weeks.

“Our study found an 82 per cent reduction in the rate of early pre-eclampsia, resulting in delivery before 34 weeks,” Dr Rolnik said.

“The ASPRE study was a European trial involving 13 hospitals in which we screened almost 27,000 women for pre-eclampsia at 11-13 weeks by a combination of detailed maternal history, blood pressure and ultrasound measurements, and blood test. We have shown that it is possible to accurately screen pregnant women for preeclampsia at the time of the first trimester ultrasound, and that aspirin is highly effective in preventing early and severe forms of the disease.”

The double blind, placebo-controlled trial of 1,776 women at high risk for pre-term pre-eclampsia found a lower incidence of developing the disease in women taking aspirin than those taking a placebo. Pre-term pre-eclampsia occurred in 13 participants (1.6%) in the aspirin group, compared to 35 (4.3%) in the placebo group.

The pregnant women were given a dose of 150mg per day from between 11 to 14 weeks of pregnancy, after deemed to be high risk for PE using a multiparametric screening involving maternal history, mean arterial blood pressure, uterine artery Doppler and checking two blood biomarkers called PAPP-A and PlGF, up until 36 weeks.

Dr Rolnik said the results prompted calls for low-dose aspirin to be routinely prescribed to women at risk of the disease.

The ASPRE study was designed and led by Professor Kypros Nicolaides, a world renowned Fetal Medicine specialist, and conducted with the support of the Fetal Medicine Foundation (London, UK).
Also at the conference, considered to be the major world congress in fetal medicine, Associate Professor Costa gave two presentations about his research using novel biomarkers to predict preterm and term pre-eclampsia and the accuracy of second trimester prediction of preterm pre-eclampsia by three different screening methods.
Associate Professor Fabricio Costa

“In partnership with Dr Guiying Nie from Hudson Institute, we found that a cardiac biomarker, GDF15, was significantly reduced in the third trimester in women presenting with pre-eclampsia, especially in late-onset cases, and that HtrA3 has potential utility for first trimester prediction of pre-eclampsia,” Associate Professor Costa said.

In another study, Associate Professor Costa compared the performance of three difference screening methods (NICE guidelines, ACOG recommendations and FMF algorithm) for second trimester prediction of pre-eclampsia.

Associate Professor Costa said his research showed that second trimester combined screening for preterm preeclampsia by maternal history, mean arterial pressure and mean uterine artery Doppler pulsatility index (FMF algorithm) was superior than screening by maternal factors alone (NICE guidelines and ACOG recommendations).

As well as his NEJM paper, Dr Rolnik presented his research findings on the reliability of sonographers in measuring ultrasound parameters (uterine artery Doppler) to screen for pre-eclampsia.

“Having analysed more than 25,000 pregnancies in Australia, we found that about 90 per cent of operators measured accurately when well trained,” Dr Rolnik said.

Monash gastroenterology research showcased at world’s largest scientific meeting

Dr Ray Boyapati
Monash research into inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and acute variceal bleeding was presented in two oral presentations recently at the American Gastroenterological Association’s annual scientific meeting in Chicago—the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the field.

Monash Health gastroenterologist Dr Ray Boyapati presented his research investigating the role of mitochondrial DNA as a damage associated molecular pattern (DAMP) in IBD. DAMPs are host molecules released from injured cells that can initiate an inflammatory response by binding to targets such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs) that activate immune cells.

In a world-first, Dr Boyapati and his team implicated mitochondrial damage and resultant mitochondrial DAMPs in IBD-related inflammation using multiple lines of evidence.

“We found elevated circulating mitochondrial DAMPs in human IBD and mouse models of colitis,” Dr Boyapati said.

Dr Boyapati’s other findings include the gut being a potential source of these mitochondrial genome fragments and that the cellular targets of mtDNA, such as TLR-9, are present in IBD.  He also found that genetic deletion of TLR-9 is protective in an animal model of colitis.

“Overall, these novel findings suggest a potential new avenue of investigation in IBD pathogenesis,” he said.
Dr Marcus Robertson

Also at the scientific meeting, Monash University’s Dr Marcus Robertson presented research relating to risk stratification of patients presenting with acute variceal bleeding.

A common emergency in patients with liver cirrhosis and portal hypertension, acute variceal bleeding has a published inpatient mortality risk of 14-43% despite current standards of care and remains a common cause of death in patients with cirrhosis.

Dr Robertson investigated whether patients presenting with acute variceal bleeding could be accurately risk assessed by a risk stratification score in the emergency department which may facilitate intensive treatment in those patients at highest risk and ultimately improve patient survival.

“By examining over 160 patients presenting to Monash Health and Austin Health with variceal bleeding, we found that the AIMS65 risk stratification score (a simple score which assigns 1 point for each of the following: albumin level < 30g/L, INR > 1.5, altered mental status, systolic blood pressure < 90mmHg and age > 65 years) very accurately predicts inpatient mortality,” Dr Robertson said.

“No patient with an AIMS65 score of 0 passed away, while patients with an AIMS65 score of 3 or 4 had a mortality rate of 34% and 57% respectively."

Monash University's Foundation Professor of Paediatrics visits Monash Children's Hospital

Monash Children’s Hospital Medical Director, Professor Nick Freezer hosted a very special guest this month with the visit of Emeritus Professor Arthur Clark to the new hospital.
Professor Clark was the Foundation Professor of Monash University’s Department of Paediatrics, and one of the most influential figures in developing our world-class children’s services.
Professor Clark was appointed in 1965, and in the decades following cared for thousands of Victorian children.
Professor Clark recalled that when he began studying oncology it was a very challenging specialty, with low cure rates. But by the time he retired many children survived their cancer.
He also made an enormous contribution to the training of several generations of paediatricians, many of whom have gone on to important roles throughout the world.
It is a tribute to the high regard he is held, that during the tour of Monash Children’s many long-serving staff and senior clinicians stopped him to pay their respects and reminisce.
As one senior clinician recalled that as a young trainee, Professor Clark had been ahead of his time in putting the child at the centre of care. “He told me that a child’s bed was one place they felt safe in hospital, and that I should always ask a child if it was OK before I sat on it.”
Professor Clark said he was very impressed with the enthusiastic staff he met, and when asked what he thought about the facilities said: “I’m jealous.”

BMedSc(Hons) Information Night 18 July at MMC

2017 BMedSc(Hons) cohort at SCS
Enhance your MBBS experience and get into research! Give yourself career options with Honours in the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS).

Tuesday 18 July, 5.30pm-7.30pm

Seminar Rooms 1 & 2, Translational Research Facility (TRF), Monash Medical Centre

More information: HERE.
Please register: HERE

SOBR Professional Development Dinner, 27 July

Students of Brain Research, or SOBR, is a social and academic network designed to facilitate knowledge transfer to students and between students with an interest in brain research Victoria wide. 

Our first event for 2017 is almost here! We will host a Q&A session with leaders in industry and academia over a fine 2-course meal at the Windsor Hotel on Thursday 27th of July.  

Guest panelists for our Q&A (where YOU will get the opportunity to ask any burning questions) include:
Dr. Nicole Den Elzen- Executive GM, Research Strategy and Ops, Baker Institute Dr. Lesley Braun- Director of Blackmores Prof. Daniel Hoyer- Chairman/Head of Pharm. and Therapeutics at University of Melbourne

This is definitely an opportunity you do not want to miss!
Members $50,
Non-members $65 (memberships is free at

Tickets at:   More information HERE:

TR Symposium speaker spotlight: Dr Sarah Zaman

Dr Sarah Zaman
Monash University's 3rd annual Translational Research Symposium is being hosted by its three metropolitan clinical schools on 31 July 2017. The symposium will host a diverse group of medical researchers presenting their work into translational research. RSVP here.

Dr Sarah Zaman is a cardiologist at Monash Heart and Monash Health.

CID weekly seminar series: "Clostridium difficile infection compromises epithelial integrity and colonic stem-cell function", 18 July

Tuesday 18 July, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Seminar Room 1, TRF Building

A/Prof Dena Lyras
Deputy Head, Department of Microbiology
Vice-President (Scientific Affairs) The Australian Society for Microbiology (ASM)

Professor Dena Lyras is located in the Department of Microbiology at Monash University. Her research team has developed new and innovative ways by which disease-causing clostridial species can be genetically manipulated and they have used these tools to understand the role played by regulatory and virulence factors encoded by this group of bacteria. Her studies are focussed on gut pathogens, particularly those involved in antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, and examine how these pathogens interact with the host and cause disease through the use of animal infection models. Using these research outcomes, her team is developing specific immunotherapeutic products for the prevention and treatment of these infections. Antibiotic resistance and DNA mobility are also studied in her laboratory, in the context of gut pathogens and antibiotic-associated diarrhoeal disease.
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 []

Monash Haematology Journal Club, 19 July

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

‘2c on Mantle cell lymphoma’

Presenter: Dr Kimberley Wong  

Hudson Seminar: Delivering Morphogens and Immunomodulators to Promote Tissue Regeneration, 20 July

This week's Hudson Seminar will be held Thursday 20th July 12pm-1pm in Seminar Rooms 1 & 2, Level 2, TRF Building. 
The speaker will be Associate Professor Mikael Martino, EMBL Australia Group Leader, Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University. He will be presenting "Delivering Morphogens and Immunomodulators to Promote Tissue Regeneration"

Assoc Prof Mikaël Martino, PhD
Group Leader, EMBL Australia Partner Laboratory,
Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University

Mikaël Martino obtained his PhD in Biotechnology and Bioengineering at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), in 2011. During his PhD thesis, he
principally focused on how the extracellular matrix regulates the activities of growth factors. Notably, he developed novel growth factor delivery systems that are currently in clinical development for regenerative medicine applications such as chronic wounds and bone regeneration. Then, he received fellowships from the Swiss National Science foundation to perform research in Immunology at Osaka University (Japan) where he concentrated on how the innate immune system influences tissue regeneration. Pursuing research at the interface between immunity and regenerative medicine, he became Assistant Professor in Osaka University in 2015. In 2016 Mikaël became an EMBL Australia group leader at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute in Monash University. His long-term goal is to work at the interface between bioengineering and immunology for designing efficient regenerative medicine strategies.

Commercial Funding Opportunities Workshop, 25 July

Animal Ethics Information Sessions – “Animal Use in Research and Teaching”

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: Tuesday 18 July 2017
Time: 10am - 12:30pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre S2, 16 Rainforest Walk, Clayton Campus

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

Register at:

Louise van Herwerden PhD 12-month Confirmation, 7 August

All staff and students are invited to Louise van Herwerden's PhD 12 month confirmation.

Monday August 7th at 12 noon
Paramedics Board Room, Ground Floor, 32 / 270 Ferntree Gully Road, Notting Hill. 

Thesis title:  How is capacity building measured and evaluated in community-level prevention interventions?

Synopsis: This research will explore how capacity is measured and evaluated in community-level interventions that aim to improve population health. Using a food literacy program case study conducted by a not for profit organisation the research will also measure capacity building longitudinally, over the course of the implementation of the program and evaluate the role of capacity building in program success.

Dr Claire Palermo, main supervisor
Dr Dianne Reidlinger, associate supervisor

Inaugural National Centre for Infections in Cancer , 11 August

You are invited to attend the Inaugural National Centre for Infections in Cancer (NCIC) launch and symposium.

Full program and registration

“An integrated program for reducing Infections in Cancer”

AAHMS Victorian Clinical Science Symposium: Life as a Clinician-Scientist, 29 July

Who is a Clinician-Scientist and what skills do they need? 

Join medical students, junior doctors and consultants interested in research at Life as a Clinician-Scientist 2017 on Saturday 29 July at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre to hear from outstanding Clinician-Scientists, network with world-class research institutes, and enjoy a gourmet plated lunch! Still not convinced? View the full program @ watch highlights from last year @ and buy your ticket @

The conference aims to foster an interest in research amongst the medical community, and it is targeted to all levels - from medical student to established consultant, or even biomedical students applying for postgraduate medicine.

Tickets have been massively subsidised to only $20 (full-price $59) thanks to the generous support of our sponsors - and use promo code "SCS" to receive a further $5 off!

2017 IgV Annual Scientific Meeting, 24-25 August

The IgV Committee is pleased to announce that registrations and abstract submissions are now open for the 2017 IgV Annual Scientific Meeting to be held at Balgownie Estate Winery in the Yarra Valley to be held on the 24th and 25th of August.

This year, IgV is pleased to offer significantly subsidised registration for ASI members and students.  Registration fees cover all meals (including the conference dinner), accommodation and conference registration.

Travel bursaries to attend the ASI Annual Meeting will be awarded to Students and Post-docs (ASI members) for the best presentation at the IgV Meeting.

Please refer to the attached poster for further details, but pay particular attention to our unprecedented line-up of invited speakers (including 3 international and 4 interstate speakers).

Register early to avoid disappointment, as registrations will be capped due to the capacity of the venue.

Spread the word: Accelerator applications now open!

The Office of the Vice-Provost (Research & Research Infrastructure) has launched a call for applications for the Accelerator Program to grow the next generation of Monash startups through an intensive three-month program and $20,000 seed funding for each selected team (~5 teams). This is run by The Generator - the centrally supported initiative for entrepreneurship at Monash and is open to all students, staff and alumni.

Accelerator Program Details:

What do startups and rockstars have in common?

Apart from rocking the sneakers and hoodies look whilst dominating social media, there is in fact quite a lot. Startups disrupt, create, innovate and work tirelessly to build new things. The startup rockstars of today are riding new frontiers and shaping the way society works for the better.

Are you this kind of rockstar? Does this sounds like someone you know?

At the Generator we enable and accelerate the next generation of startups. Our flagship ACCELERATOR program is on the search for Monash affiliated startup teams (a.k.a students, staff and alumni) to apply.

Applications are now open
The program offers the opportunity to grow your startup exponentially in an intensively supported environment and surrounded by a diverse cohort of fellow startups. Over three months you will have access to:

-  $20,000 in seed funding (no equity taken)
-  Daily ‘on tap’ support from the Generator’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence
-  Mentoring by a successful startup founder
-  Legal, IP and tax advice
-  A dedicated desk in the GENERATOR co-working space
-  Investor demo day

Applications close midnight 31 July 2017. Head to the ACCELERATOR page to find out how you can apply.


For any enquiries please contact:
Office of the Vice-Provost (Research & Research Infrastructure)

Call for applications - 2017 Faculty Travel Grant

Under the Faculty Travel Grant Scheme 2017, the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health has been allocated funds sufficient for 11 travel grants of $1000 each.  This grant is to be used to support early to mid-career researchers (Levels A-C) for their international conference travel, and allocation is contingent upon abstract acceptance.  We now wish to invite applications from eligible SCS staff via the attached form.   Please read the attached guidelines HERE, and submit your application HERE by 31 July 2017 to

Applications will be jointly assessed by the SCS Executive and you will be notified of the result of your application.

Note: Only salaried staff of School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health are eligible to apply.

Funding Opportunity: Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation Project Grants, 25 July


Tuesday July 25th, Monash Clayton, 8:45am-1:00pm

Overview: The major metrics of an ECRs success are their publication output and ability to attract funding. This workshop will showcase ECR targeted grants, and to provide strategies for increasing both quantity and quality of publications.

Objectives: The primary aim of this workshop is to highlight strategies for ECRs to become competitive in external funding opportunities through:
1)      Promoting cross-disciplinary research collaborations
2)      Informing ECRs about non-governmental grant opportunities
3)      Providing strategies for increasing publication output
Target Audience: Early Career Researchers in FNHMS 

The program will include;
· information on what makes applications competitive and how to determine if you will be competitive for a scheme
· information on how to find ECR grant opportunities
· talks from past ECR awardees
· Interactive grant workshop to provide opportunity for collaboration.
Morning tea will be provided.

Please register here if you would like to attend.

MPA Supervisor of the Year 2017 – nominations open

Do you have the best supervisor in the university? The prestigious ‘MPA Supervisor of the Year Award’, now in its 25th year, acknowledges and celebrates excellence in research supervision practice. Supervisors are nominated by their students, and entries judged by an independent subcommittee of research postgraduates drawn from the MPA Executive Committee. Further information and nomination form online HERE.

Nominations close Friday 8 September 2017

Save the date: BioMed Link 2017, 24 November

Wellbeing programs for students, semester 2, 2017

All of our programs are free and can be booked via the health and wellbeing booking system



Upcoming dates

This online program is highly interactive and developed specifically for students. It aims to provide strategies for self care and make you aware of common mental health issues. You'll also learn about support services and programs within Monash and the wider community.

Approx. 1 hour

Anytime, enrol via moodle

Most people with thoughts of suicide invite help, either directly or indirectly. This half-day program helps you identify and work with these opportunities. SafeTALK stresses safety while challenging beliefs that inhibit open talk about suicide.

3.5 hour workshop

Clayton: Wed 5 July Clayton: Wed 30 Aug Caulfield: Tue 26 Sept

A workshop to equip you with resources to help someone developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis until professional help is available. 3 year accreditation.

2 day training

Clayton: Wed 5 & Thur 6 July Clayton: Tue 18th & Wed 19 July Caulfield: Mon 25 & Tues 26 Sept Clayton: Thurs 28 & Fri 29 Sept More to be advised
Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance (online) Over six weeks, explore what mindfulness is and how it
can be applied to reduced stress, improve wellbeing,
enhance communication and relationships and maximise productivity. It includes practical exercises, the research and brain science behind mindfulness, and discussion forum where learners from around the world can ask questions and have a conversation about what they're learning.

Two-hour commitment (minimum) each week over 6 weeks (delivered online).

To be advised

Reduce stress, and improve mental health, wellbeing and resilience using mindfulness. Consists of weekly formal mindfulness meditation practices, cognitive strategies and reflective activities designed to enhance both the professional and personal life of students.

6 x 60 minute weekly sessions

Clayton: Tues 15/8, 22/8, 29/8, 12/9, 19/9 and 26/9 (no session 5/9)

This experiential group program teaches you how to use mindfulness to reduce stress, improve focus and concentration, overcome procrastination and max your academic performance.

5 x 60-minute weekly sessions

Clayton: Mon 14/8, 21/8, 28/8, 4/9, 11/9

Caulfield: Fri 18/8, 25/8, 1/9, 8/9, 15/9

Guided mindfulness meditation sessions. A great way to get started with mindfulness or to deepen your existing practice.

30 minute sessions

Caulfield: Wed 12:30 -1:00pm Clayton: Wed 1:15 1:45pm Parkville: Wed 1:15 1:45pm

Some stress is inevitable and is sometimes good for us, so this session focuses on healthy stress’ and how to ensure general wellbeing during peak periods.

1 hour

Caulfield: Wed 16 Aug

Clayton: Wed 23 Aug

Learn how to deal with pre-exam nerves to stay calm and focused during exams.

1 hour

Caulfield: Wed 4 Oct

Clayton: Wed 11 Oct

Other key dates

R U OK? Day Thursday 14 September

R U OK? Day is a national day of action dedicated to inspiring all Australians to ask family, friends and colleagues, ‘Are you ok?’ By regularly reaching out to one another and having open and honest conversations, we can all help build a more connected community and reduce our country’s high suicide rate.

Monash will be inviting student and staff groups to put on their own activities and get-togethers to mark the day. More info:

Mental Health Week – 8 14 October

Application for the 2018 Mental Health Champions leadership team will open.