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!”

A picture paints a thousand words

Paediatric surgeon Dr Amiria Lynch from Monash Children's Hospital is featured in the latest issue of Surgical News.

Having recently returned to work from maternity leave, Dr Lynch talks about balancing motherhood and her career as a surgeon.

Read article HERE (turn to pp10-11).

Renowned Monash medical graduate and haematologist retires

Professor Don Bowden
After over 45 years of devotion and service to the academic and medical fields Professor Don Bowden has announced his retirement. Don has had a stellar academic and clinical career during which he was a pioneer in the management and molecular diagnosis of haemoglobinopathies in the Asia-Pacific.

Don commenced his medical training at Monash University in 1962 and graduated with first class honours in 1968. His academic excellence is evidenced by him being awarded the Prince Henry’s Hospital medal for the graduate with highest marks as well as the Sophie Davis Memorial medal for the graduate with the highest aggregate marks in all Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth year examinations.

Don undertook his residency at the Alfred Hospital in 1969. In 1971 he set sail for the New Hebrides now known as Vanuatu, where he was appointed as Medical Officer in the British National Service. Here he provided care in all disciplines of medicine, including paediatric and adult medicine, surgery, anaesthesia, obstetrics and emergency neurosurgery. He was also responsible for developing laboratory services. Don’s observations of an iron replete anaemia that was prevalent in the local indigenous communities led to his interest in haemoglobinopathies. This would later become his clinical and research passion and would in many ways define and shape his future career.

Monash Medical Centre celebrates 30 years

Dr Chris Pappas
Meet Dr Chris Pappas, Consultant Paediatrician at Monash Children’s Hospital and Senior Paediatrics Lecturer at Monash University.
Dr Pappas started working in paediatrics at Monash Medical Centre in 1987, when the Queen Victoria Medical Centre, Prince Henry’s Hospital and Moorabbin Hospital merged to become one health service.
Dr Pappas said he was very keen to be part of the merge and work on the expansion of paediatric services in Victoria’s south east.
“The clinical case-load became varied, interesting, challenging: perfect for a young Paediatric Clinician at the start of his career,” he said.
“The opening of the new Monash Children’s Hospital this year, co-located next to Monash Medical Centre epitomises the changes over the last 30 years.”
“Monash Medical Centre has been able to develop world class clinical care, research and teaching across many sites and disciplines, with the Monash Children’s Hospital being the most recent example of this evolution.”
Dr Pappas said Monash Children’s Hospital’s Foundation Professor, Arthur Clark inspired him throughout his career as a clinician and teacher. Professor Clark has been a great role model to a generation of paediatricians.

This Thursday 14 September, we will celebrate 30 years since the opening of Monash Medical Centre. 

Lecture Theatre 1, MMC
12 - 12.30pm  Light Lunch
12.30 - 1.30pm  Celebration Event

Please RSVP to:

SCS Staff Meeting, this Friday 15 September. Lunch provided!!

Please find link HERE to Quiet Achiever nomination form.

R U OK? Day, 14 September

Registrations essential:

Geoff Toogood is a cardiologist in private practice and works at both The Alfred and Peninsula Health. He also works for the ACHS and the Cardiac Leadership group.

He is a volunteer speaker for beyondblue, a national organisation that works to raise awareness about anxiety and depression, reduce the associated stigma and encourage people to get help.

Geoff Toogood became a beyondblue speaker because of his own experiences of mental health conditions and he wishes to share this and offer hope and recovery to people touched directly and indirectly by these conditions.

Geoff’s interests include staying physically fit by swimming in the pool and open water, cooking, watching sport and spending time with his children.

A lesser known fact about Geoff is he’s planning to swim the English Channel and competes in Masters swimming at a national level.

An Invitation to Monash Medical Orchestra's Spring Concert, 24 September

The Monash Medical Orchestra proudly presents our annual spring concert Starbound. This will be our last concert of the year, and we are pleased to invite you to attend. The details of the concert are as follows:
Spring Concert - "Starbound"
Date: Sunday 24th September, 5pm
Venue: James Tatoulis Auditorium, Methodist Ladies' College, 207 Barkers Rd, Kew

During this concert, the MMO will be playing the iconic soundtrack of Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon by John Powell, and Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical Jesus Christ Superstar. We are also excited to be performing Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 with talented soloists Thomas DeVries and Andrew Pang.

Tickets are available here for $20 ($15 concession), and are also available at the event.

We hope to see you at the concert!

2017 Orchestra Update

The MMO has made a tremendously successful return to the Monash School of Rural Health in Churchill for the third consecutive year! We were also pleased to perform side-by-side with La Trobe University's medical choral group, the Vocal Chords for their very first public performance. It is always a delight working with the School of Rural Health to share our music with the rural community, and we hope to continue this tradition into future years.

Chamber Groups

The MMO has been involved in supplying chamber groups for events throughout the year, most recently performing at Mirboo North Aged Care and Benetas Hazelwood House in Gippsland. If you are looking to hire live chamber music for an occasion, please contact us at

Mailing List

If you are changing your contact details, or would like to stop receiving updates from the MMO, please let us know at If you know of somebody who would like to receive news of the MMO, they can join our mailing list here!

Women in Science, Discovery & Medicine (WiSDoM) Afternoon Tea - 21 September

Register here:

Women in Leadership Program, 17-18 October

Online Nutrition, Dietetics and Food short courses available for health professionals

The Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food is dedicated to assisting healthcare professionals be up to date with the latest information on food, nutrition and health; assisting them to answer questions from patients and also provide simple food based advice to help improve a patients’ health.  

Our suite of online courses are suitable for healthcare professionals looking to upskill their knowledge on a range of nutrition and health topics.
Available this month:
These courses will include practical scenarios to assist healthcare professionals in implementing evidenced based nutrition information into their practice.  Healthcare professionals may be able to collect CPD points for these courses, depending on their discipline and professional associations.

Pilot Program to Trial Blind Peer Reviews for Grant Applications

(For applications previously assessed as NFFC with the intention of re-submitting in early 2018 or new applications to be submitted early 2018)

NHMRC review panels have diverse expertise and are unlikely to know your area better than you do. Therefore, it is essential that your project is appealing and shown to be feasible beyond your immediate peers.

It is also essential that you do not wait until current results are known before preparing for the next round.

As such, the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences (MICCN), the Hudson Institute, and SCS are offering blind peer review matching for draft NHMRC Project Grant applications this October. This is a pilot program that does not clash with the existing SCS-Hudson grant review scheme that runs in NOV-DEC each year.

To receive a peer-review, your draft of a previously unsuccessful application (including, at minimum, a draft of your nine-page research proposal and one-page team quality and capability statement) will be due on Monday 9th October 2017, with anonymous review comments due back to you by Monday 27th October 2017.

To assist with our planning, we are now calling for Applicants as well as Reviewers, to register their interest with the SCS School Manager by COB Monday 18th September.

(1) To participate as an Applicant, please advise the SCS School Manager ( of your project title.

· Please also nominate an indicative panel to review your project, including but not restricted to, the following disciplines (if there is sufficient interest, new discipline groups for review can be created):

-       Psychiatry
-       Psychology
-       Mental Health
-       Paediatrics/Reproduction
-       Developmental Imaging
-       Sleep
-       Neuroscience

Please also confirm:
· Your agreement to review the exchange grants, up to one for each application you submit to the external reviewer for review
· Notice of any restrictions on your availability in October, which we will endeavour to work around.

(2) To participate only as a Reviewer, please provide an indication to the SCS School Manager ( of the panel/s in which you would be prepared to participate.
· Please also confirm if you have any restrictions on your availability in October.

CID Seminars present: Mr. Raymond Shim, "Immunosuppression and infection after stroke - size does matter", 12 September

All staff and students are invited to this week's CID seminar and Raymond Shim's PhD milestone presentation: "Imunosuppression and infection after stroke - size does matter".

12-1pm, 12 September, Seminar room 1, Level 2, TRF

Synopsis: Infection is a common complication after stroke and contributes to worsening of stroke patient outcome. While antibiotics are the go-to treatment for post-stroke infections, antibiotics have been found to be ineffective in recent clinical trials. Major clinical trials that explored preventive antibiotic therapy do not recommend the use of prophylactic antibiotics as it does not improve stroke patient outcome. Also, with the rise of antibiotic resistance, there is a clear need for better targeted therapeutics to reduce infection, which can be revealed by exploring the mechanisms of post-stroke infection. Evidence over the past two decades allude to the phenomenon of stroke-induced immunosuppression. The talk will describe the changes to the hosts' immune system following stroke that leave it susceptible to infection and discusses some recently acquired experimental data on the impact of stroke severity on immunosuppression and infection.

Supervisors: Dr Connie Wong, Dr Shu Wen Wen, Prof. Christopher Sobey

After completing his honours at the SCS in 2015, Ray began his PhD in mid-2016 under the supervision of Dr. Connie Wong, Dr. Shu Wen and Prof. Chris Sobey. Over the past few years of his research, Ray has developed an interest in the ability of the brain and central nervous system in influencing immunity. Ray will be presenting at the CID seminar as part of his first PhD milestone.

Lunch will be served from 11.45am.

Grand Rounds "Solving the Mysteries of Reduced Conscious State" 13 September

Neurology / Stroke presents Associate Professor Udaya Seneviratne

"Solving the mysteries of the reduced conscious state"

12.30 - 1.30pm, Wednesday 13 September, Main Lecture Theatre, MMC
Light lunch from 12.15pm.

"Allied Health getting smarter with data - Technologies for Clinical Handover", 13 September

Monash Ageing Research Centre (MONARC) presents:   
Ben Smith, Speech Pathologist, Monash Health

Wednesday 13 September, 12.30-1.30pm
Education Centre Room A, Kingston Centre, Warrigal Road, Cheltenham

ALL welcome

For more information and RSVP:
Dr Rosa Gualano, Acting MONARC Manager
tel t: 9265 1268 e:

Mikee Inocencio's PhD mid-candidature review: Investigating sildenafil as a antenatal and neonatal therapy for cardiovascular dysfunction in fetal growth restricted lambs, 14 September

All staff and students are invited to Ishmael (Mikee) Inocencio's PhD Mid-Candidature review.

1 -3pm, 14 September, Level 5 break out room, TRF

Synopsis: Fetal growth restriction occurs when a fetus does not reach its genetic growth potential. These individuals often suffer from  cardiovascular dysfunction in early life into adulthood. We are investigating if sildenafil is able to rescue and support cardiovascular function. 

Graeme Polglase and Beth Allison

Monash Haematology Journal Club, "‘Targeting BCL2 and Friends in Multiple Myeloma’, 13 September

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

‘Targeting BCL2 and Friends in Multiple Myeloma’

Presenter: A/Prof Simon Harrison

ARC DE19 Workshop - Tips, Timetables and 'To Do' lists for Applicants, 10 October

The Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (MNHS) invites researchers intending to apply in the upcoming ARC DECRA (DE19) round to attend a practical, experience-based workshop on the preparation for, application to, and assessment of the FT scheme. The workshop will be chaired by Professor Matthew Gillespie, Associate Dean (Research Strategy).

Successful applicants, assessors from the ARC College of Experts, and staff from the Monash Research Office (MRO) will discuss ARC policies and compliance, and share Tips, Timetables and ‘To Do’ lists with intending applicants.

Pre-workshop reading material will include FT18 information from the ARC and updated documentation from the Faculty Research Office (FRO). Participants are invited to prepare targeted questions and specific scenarios for comment and discussion.

Date: Tuesday 10 October 2017
Time: 2.00 - 4.00pm
Venue: Green View Room, Monash Sports, 42 Scenic Boulevard, Clayton
Afternoon Tea will be served

RSVP: by 5 October 2017 to

"Unravelling the Genetics of Atypical Femur Fractures", 14 September

The next Department of Medicine Scientific Seminar, scheduled for Thursday 14 September from 12pm - 1pm in MMC-TRF Level 2 Seminar Room 3

A light lunch will be served from 11.45am.

Professor Ebeling will be presenting :  "Unravelling the Genetics of Atypical Femur Fractures"

“Next generation sequencing at the coalface: triumphs, trials and tribulations:, 14 September

This week's Hudson seminar will be held Thursday 14 September 12pm-1pm in Seminar Rooms 1 & 2, Level 2, TRF Building. 
Our speaker will be Professor John Christodoulou, Chair of Genomic Medicine, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, and the Head of the Neurodevelopmental Genomics Research Group at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

He will be presenting “Next generation sequencing at the coalface: triumphs, trials and tribulations

A light lunch and refreshments will follow this presentation.

Visit our website for further information.

Registration is open for the 2017 IgV Masterclass: Immunotherapies, 13 October

This forum showcases cutting-edge research, techniques and scientific approaches relevant to the field of Immunology for students, postdocs and lab heads alike.

When: 13 October 2017
Where: Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC)

This year’s IgV Masterclass will be held in the new Peter Maccallum Cancer Centre/VCCC building in Parkville and include a fantastic lineup of National and local speakers including:

• Prof. Stuart Tangye (Garvan Institute of Medical Research)
• A/Prof. Irene Caminschi (Monash University)
• Dr. Edwin Hawkins (WEHI)
• Dr. Nick Huntington (WEHI)
• Prof. Stephen Kent (PDI)
• Dr. Bruce Lyons (University of Tasmania)
• A/Prof. Paul Neeson (Peter Mac)
• Prof. Robin O’Hehir (Monash University)

Registrations close Friday September 15th (register below)


Hashrul Rashid's M.Phi confirmation, "Diseases of the Aorto-Ventricular Interface and Valvular Therapeutics", 19 September

All staff and students are invited to Dr Hashrul Rashid's M.Phil confirmation.

9-10am, 19 September, Richard Harper Meeting Room, MonashHeart, Level 2, MMC

Synopsis:  The thesis aims to present the recent advancements in transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and the role of multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) in anatomical assessment and improving clinical outcomes. The project will evaluate the role of MDCT in the pre-workup assessment for TAVR and the assessment of leaflet integrity post-procedurally.

Supervisors:  Prof. James Cameron,  A/Prof. Arthur Nasis

Panel Chair:  Dr Josh Ooi

Hazard Alert - Flammable Gas Release

Attached is an OHS Hazard Alert in regard to a flammable gas release that occurred in a laboratory in July of this year.  

Please read details HERE.

Compulsory OHS training available at MMC

Monash University has several compulsory OHS training modules
  • Managers and supervisors need to complete Essential OHS, Risk Management and Hazard and Incident Investigation.
  • Biosafety and Hazardous Substances training are also compulsory for staff using biologicals or chemicals.
These training modules are available on-site at MMC in the coming weeks. Please see the OHS training page for information on how to register.

Your training records are available in myDevelopment (see the Research tile in the portal). 

NEW! Now available in myDevelopment: Ergonomic Principles - an interactive module that helps you to set up your workstation for optimal comfort. 

For any questions, please email

Ben Markman on Channel 7 News

Ben Markman and clinical trials success at MHTP featured on Channel 7 News.

Watch story HERE.

Helen Truby comments on low carb, high fat diet on MSN News.

Read story HERE.

PREDICT prioritisation study: establishing the research priorities of paediatric emergency medicine physicians in Australia and New Zealand

Simon Craig et al. published in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

Read article here.

Intensity of early correction of hyperglycaemia and outcome of critically ill patients with diabetic ketoacidosis

Yahya Shehabi et al. published in Critical Care and Resuscitation.

Read article here.

Failure to achieve early disease response is associated with inferior survival in patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma

Pasquale Fedele, George Grigoriadis et al. published in the British Journal of Haematology.

Read article here.

Prediction of Breast and Prostate Cancer Risks in Male BRCA1 and BRCA2 Mutation Carriers Using Polygenic Risk Scores

Melissa Southey et al. published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Read article here.

Strategies to Improve Stroke Care Services in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review

Amanda Thrift et al. published in Neuroepidemiology.

Read article here.

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia-associated pulmonary hypertension: clues from placental pathology

Arvind Sehgal et al. published in the Journal of Perinatology.

Read article here.

Finding “hard to find” literature on hard to find groups: A novel technique to search grey literature on refugees and asylum seekers

Joanne Enticott et al. published in International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research.

Read article here.

Does supplementation with carnosine improve cardiometabolic health and cognitive function in patients with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes? study protocol for a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Barbora de Courten et al. published in BMJ Open.

Read article here.

Diagnostic performance of CT derived fractional flow reserve using reduced order modelling and CT stress myocardial perfusion imaging for detection of haemodynamically significant coronary stenosis

Abdul Ihdayhid et al. published in the European Heart Journal.

Read article here.

Creatine Synthesis in Fetal Growth Restriction and Preeclampsia: Potential Implications for Placental Bioenergetics

Stacey Ellery, Hayley Dickinson et al. published in Placenta.

Read article here.