Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Monash-led clinical trial shows promise for prostate cancer patients

Associate Professor Arun Azad
A world-first clinical trial aimed at improving immunotherapy responses in patients with advanced prostate cancer has started at the Monash HealthTranslation Precinct.

The trial, which has already seen positive results, is being led by Monash Health oncologist AssociateProfessor Arun Azad from the Prostate Cancer Therapeutics laboratory, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS). 

“The first patient on trial has responded to therapy after just six weeks, which is pretty remarkable,” Associate Professor Azad said. 

The investigator-initiated trial is known as ICE-PAC (Immune checkpoint inhibition + stereotactic radiation in advanced prostate cancer), and is supported with funding from Merck Serono, the manufacturer of Avelumab—the drug being used in the trial.

Associate Professor Azad said immunotherapy has transformed the management of many malignancies—although not prostate cancer (yet)—by re-activating anti-tumour immune responses against cancer cells.

“However, these drugs do not work in all patients and in particular in advanced prostate cancer, seem to have limited activity at best,” Associate Professor Azad said.

“One way to boost their efficacy might be pre-treating with high-dose, precision radiotherapy (also known as stereotactic radiation) to metastatic disease.”

“This stereotactic radiation causes death of cancer cells, which releases tumour antigens (proteins) that stimulate immunity and can enhance the effect of immunotherapy drugs such as Avelumab.”  ​

​Associate Professor Azad said the patients being recruited to this study are heavily pre-treated having progressed on standard chemotherapy and hormonal therapy.

“They have limited treatment options and sadly in some cases limited prognosis. So we badly need effective new treatment options for them,” Associate Professor Azad said.

Collaborators on the study include Associate Professor Shankar Siva and Dr Ben Tran from Peter MacCullum Cancer Centre and Dr Carmel Pezaro, Eastern Health.
The researcher team will recruit a total of 25 patients. Three patients are on the trial now with another two about to commence. ​

VCA grant enables research into lymphoma

Dr Zahra Sabouri-Thompson
Patients diagnosed with lymphoma are set to benefit from new research at Monash University thanks to a Victorian Cancer Agency grant.

Research fellow Dr Zahra Sabouri-Thompson, Blood Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory at the Monash Health Translation Precinct was awarded the highly competitive Early Career Seed grant worth $150,000 to improve outcomes for patients with T-cell lymphoma.

Lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer in Australia, and the most common blood cancer. Every year more than 7000 new cases are diagnosed, the incidence having more than doubled in the last 20 years.

Lymphoma is a cancer that develops from either B-cell or T-cells—different types of blood cells of the immune system.

“Unlike B-cell lymphoma, T-cell lymphoma is much harder to treat and often becomes resistant to conventional chemotherapy,” Dr Sabouri-Thompson said.

“Our team has previously noticed that some of the genes that are mutated in T-cell lymphoma are also seen in another disease, myelodysplasia, a bone marrow cancer.”

“This grant enables us to now test an exciting new myelodysplasia drug, Guadecitabine in T-cell lymphoma.”

Dr Sabouri-Thompson said this project will lead to a better understanding of how Guadecitabine works in T-cell lymphoma, translating to improved outcomes for patients with the disease.

The Blood Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory is headed by Associate Professor Jake Shortt, who is also consultant Haematologist at Monash Health.

Cutting edge genome editing toolbox for precision medicine now available at SCS

Associate Professor Ron Firestein
A cutting-edge CRISPR library containing more than 36,000 molecular scissors targeting every known gene in the human genome is realising the clinical potential of precision medicine research at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP).

School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) scientists now have access to the award-winning Merck/Sanger Arrayed Whole Genome CRISPR Library on-site at MHTP.

What is CRISPR?
Discovered by scientists in the US and Europe in 2012, CRISPR technology is a tool for editing the genome (an organism's complete set of DNA, like an instruction manual for all of our genes).
It enables scientists to easily alter DNA sequences to uncover the role of specific genes in diseases - such as identifying mutations driving resistance to cancer treatment in patients.

Call for applications - 2018 Faculty Travel Grant - for eligible SCS Early Career Researchers (applications due 2 Feb)

Under the Faculty Travel Grant Scheme 2018, the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) is offering 14 travel grants, each valued at $1000.  These grants are to support early to mid-career researchers (Levels A-C) for their international conference travel, and allocation is contingent upon abstract acceptance.  

We now invite applications from eligible SCS staff.  Application form is HERE.  Guidelines are HERE.   Please submit your application by Friday 2nd February 2018 to jinleng.graham@monash.edu

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.

NHMRC CDF & Partnershp Project Applications are open in RGMS

Two additional NHMRC schemes are now open for applications in RGMS:
  • Career Development Fellowships (CDFs)
  • Partnership Projects PRC1 for funding commencing in 2018.
Please contact the Monash Research Office MHS team for details on the submission process if you are intending on applying for either of these schemes. We will be updating our relevant intranet pages with information about these schemes in the coming days.

Career Development Fellowships (CDFs) Key Dates:
Applications Open
17 January 2018
MRO Development Support
31 January 2018 (by email to mro.researchdevelopment@monash.edu)
MRO Compliance Date Close
21 February 2018  (via Pure*)
CI Certification in RGMS
5 March 2018 (by midday AEDT)
NHMRC External Deadline
7 March 2018 (by 5pm AEDT; submitted by MRO)

Partnership Project PRC1 Key Dates:
Applications Open
17 January 2018
Minimum Data Due
28 March 2018
MRO Compliance Date Close
28 March 2018  (via Pure*)
CI Certification in RGMS
9 April 2018 (by midday AEDT)
NHMRC External Deadline
11 April 2018 (by 5pm AEDT; submitted by MRO)

Please contact us if you have any queries or concerns and keep in touch with us to let us know how you are progressing with your applications.


If you wish to submit a 'Request Not to Assess' for your ARC Proposal, please note: 
  • You do not need to list individuals in an RNTA who will be excluded in virtue of the ARC's Conflict of Interest policy. In particular: 
    • Individuals who have or have had a contractual or employment arrangement with a university, or any organisation that is named in the Proposal; or, 
    • Individuals who have published with, held research funding with, or has been in a supervisory relationship with an individual named in the Proposal; or,
    • Individuals who own shares in, or exercises control in a company or other organisation named in the Proposal, or in which he/she has direct involvement.
  • Only one request can be submitted per proposal.

If you list more than three individuals on your RNTA, or if you list someone on the ARC College of Experts, you will need to provide a justification. In which case, please note:
  • If you believe that a genuine reason exists as to why an individual should be excluded from assessing the proposal, a statement must be submitted which clearly states why this is the case. The statement should detail how the relationship/situation constitutes a valid reason the named individual should not assess the proposal. Some examples include previous and current professional relationships and partnerships, personal relationships, and instances where a material interest exists.
  • Your justification statement must take the form of a letter, which will need to be signed by Pauline Nestor (Monash DVCR). The MRO has a letter template available for this purpose, available upon request.
No justification is required for an RNTA which lists three or fewer individuals (and no one on the ARC's College of Experts). 

Important Dates:
RNTAs must be received by the MRO <mro-applications@monash.edu> by the following dates: 
  • DP19: Feb 1
  • DE19: Feb 21
  • IN19:  March 6
  • LE19: March 7

Where to find the RNTA form?

The RNTA form (.xlsx) can be downloaded from here

Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellowship & Bellberry-Viertel Fellowship - APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN

Bellberry is collaborating with the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation, which will increase the number of available Research Fellowships from two to three.

The Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellowship and the Bellberry-Viertel Fellowship are intended to be amongst the most prestigious awards available to those who wish to continue a career in medical research in Australia. The Fellowship is an integral part of a scheme that is intended to provide both salary and project grant support for outstanding Australian medical researchers.

Three Fellowships are available, each for five years tenure at $250,000 p.a. for a researcher from any discipline in medical science to be awarded in 2018 and commencing in 2019.

Outstanding researchers who are medically qualified, or graduates of another scientific discipline with recognised post-doctoral achievements (less than 10 years post-doctorate), seeking to establish a research career in Australia and undertake research in an Australia academic institution are eligible to apply whether or not they are currently working in Australia. Application will be judged on the basis of merit and excellence in competition with other applications.

The following dates apply:
MRO compliance close (via Pure) 16 April 2018

Applications close 30 April 2018

Further information HERE and HERE.

MRO Slides: NHMRC Fellowship eligibility and compliance

In December, Tsharni Zazryn from the Monash Research Office gave a presentation about applying for NHMRC Practitioner or Research Fellowships.

Her slides are HERE.

Department of Medicine Scientific Seminar, 15 February

Thursday 15 February, 12-1pm, Seminar room 3, TRF - light lunch included.

Professor Eric Morand presents “Background to SLE, including the role of IFN in Lupus”

Professor Eric Morand is Head of the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, Monash University's largest clinical school. He is a specialist rheumatologist, and Head of the Monash Health Rheumatology Unit, the largest in Australia. He specalises in research and clinical care of systemic lupus erythematosus, as well as complex rheumatic diseases and rheumatoid arthriitis. He is founder of the Monash Lupus Clinic, Australia's largest Lupus-focused research-grounded clinic for patients with SLE, a founding member of the Australian Lupus Registry & Biobank, and Chair of the AsiaPaciifc Lupus Collaboration.

Dr Champa Nataraja presents “GILZ as a therapeutic target in Lupus”

Dr Champa Nataraja PhD student and Monash Health Rheumatology Fellow Dr Nataraja is the first recipient of the scholarship—her research aiming to improve outcomes for patients with lupus. Lupus is a chronic, multi-system autoimmune disease affecting at least 5 million people worldwide, with the majority being women of childbearing age. Over 70 per cent of patients with lupus are typically treated with glucocorticoids (GC) due to their broad anti-inflammatory effect, however, despite their effectiveness, the use of these drugs is accompanied by a litany of serious adverse effects that contribute to increased morbidity and mortality. Dr Nataraja is researching alternative therapies to GC that have similar anti-inflammatory effects but without the negative metabolic side-effects.

Evidence-based practice short course, 8-9 March

New print service for staff goes live!

The new multi-function printers at MMC are now ready to use.

Faculty of Med Nursing & Health Sciences staff now have FollowMe printing which enables you to use your Monash ID card to print to any printer in our building. The same will apply to staff visiting our building.

FollowMe printing will eventually be available to all staff and students on campus.

You can now set your default printer to the new MonashUniPrintxx option:
        • Windows users: Start menu > Devices and Printers
        • Mac users: System Preferences > Printers and scanners

Staff with SOE computers will find that the MPS queues are already installed and available. It is recommended that all staff make them the default printer. Info on how is noted here - http://etc.usf.edu/techease/win/hardware/how-do-i-change-the-default-printer/

For general information, see the Guide to getting started with MPS and Q&As. - https://sites.google.com/a/monash.edu/cards-print-pay/new-print-service-for-staff

Installation instructions for Non-SOE and personal MACs: https://www.monash.edu/esolutions/print/mac

Installation instructions for Non-SOE and personal Windows devices: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16dLiuNf4OfV0ndXvdwZYLMyzk162XAdr2-QRytRfHhw/edit?ts=5760d101

Installation instructions for non-Monash laptop:  HERE.

For support or print service requests, please contact the Service Desk.

Managing your renewal for the mandatory compliance training modules

Many of you will be receiving courtesy e-mails to advise that the Certification function within myDevelopment will automatically manage your training renewal notifications. The e-mails advise that staff will also receive notifications closer to their renewal dates, prompting them to renew.

Checking renewal dates
If you wish to know your renewal date please go to 'myDevelopment', which is located under the HR & Employment title on my.Monash
  • Select 'View My Training' (gray box at the bottom of the page)
  • Uncheck 'Hide certified certifications' (this is located on the right-hand side of your Active view)
  • The due date and the expiry date will be displayed
Need help? Contact Access HR on 03 990 20400, refer to ask.monash or visit the Staff Development intranet site

Renal Dendritic Cells: The Long and Winding Road

Joshua Ooi, Richard Kitching published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Read article here.

Antenatal Medical Therapies to Improve Lung Development in Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia

Aidan Kashyap et al. published in the American Journal of Perinatology.

Read article here.

Development and validation of a written credentialing examination for overseas-educated dietitians

Claire Palermo et al. published in Nutrition and Dietetics.

Read article here.

Five-Year Recurrence Rate and the Predictors Following Stroke in the Mashhad Stroke Incidence Study: A Population-Based Cohort Study of Stroke in the Middle East

Amanda Thrift et al. published in Neuroepidemiology.

Read article here.

Elderly patients with suspected chronic digoxin toxicity: A comparison of clinical characteristics of patients receiving and not receiving digoxin-Fab

Andis Graudins et al. published in Emergency Medicine Australasia.

Read article here.

Don't just do something, stand there! The value and art of deliberate clinical inertia

Diana Egerton-Warburton et al. published in Emergency Medicine Australasia.

Read article here.

The C3aR promotes macrophage infiltration and regulates ANCA production but does not affect glomerular injury in experimental anti-myeloperoxidase glomerulonephritis

Jonathan Dick et al. published in PLoS One.

Read article here.

The utility of DNA extracted from saliva for genome-wide molecular research platforms

Melissa Southey et al. published in BMC Research Notes.

Read article here.

Joint associations of a polygenic risk score and environmental risk factors for breast cancer in the Breast Cancer Association Consortium

Melissa Southey et al. published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Read article here.

Konjac flour noodles associated with gastric outlet obstruction

Gabriel Blecher et al. published in Emergency Medicine Australasia.

Read article here.

Does obesity reduce risk for osteoporosis and fractures in older adults?

David Scott et al. published in Internal Medicine Journal.

Read article here.

Evaluation of AJCC and an Alternative Tumor Classification System for Primary Vulvar Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Beverley Vollenhoven et al. published in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Read article here.

Immune-mediated kidney disease in 2017: Progress in mechanisms and therapy for immunological kidney disease

Stephen Holdsworth, Richard Kitching published in Nature Reviews Nephrology.

Read article here.

Risk Predictors and Causes of Technique Failure Within the First Year of Peritoneal Dialysis: An Australia and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry (ANZDATA) Study

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

Read article here.

The utility of personal activity trackers (Fitbit Charge 2) on exercise capacity in patients post acute coronary syndrome [UP-STEP ACS Trial]: a randomised controlled trial protocol

Arthur Nasis et al. published in BMC Cardiovascular Disorders.

Read article here.

Acceptability of opt-out consent in a hospital patient population

Suong Le et al. published in Internal Medicine Journal.

Read article here.

The impact of melatonin on the sleep patterns of women undergoing IVF: a double blind RCT

Shavi Fernando et al. published in Human Reproduction Open.

Read article here.

Amnion Epithelial Cell-Derived Exosomes Restrict Lung Injury and Enhance Endogenous Lung Repair

Rebecca Lim et al. published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

Read article here.

Maternal gestational weight gain during pregnancy: prioritising the conversation

Ruth Walker et al. published in the Australian Journal of Primary Health.

Read article here.

Cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction in sudden infant death syndrome

Rosemary Horne published in Clinical Autonomic Research.

Read article here.