Monday, 26 February 2018

Monash study reveals how kidney disease happens

Professor Michael Hickey
Monash researchers have solved a mystery—revealing how certain immune cells work together to instigate autoimmune kidney disease.

The study, led by Professor Michael Hickey and Professor Richard Kitching from Monash University’s Centre for Inflammatory Diseases, was published in Nature Communications last week.

“We've known for some time that in glomerulonephritis, an immune disease of the kidney, rogue immune cells damage the kidney via a misdirected inflammatory attack,” Professor Hickey said. 

“However we did not understand the processes that cause these rogue immune cells to become switched on and start causing damage in the delicate blood vessels of the small filters of the kidney (known as glomeruli).”

Professor Hickey said that special cells called monocytes continuously patrol the glomeruli by crawling within its blood vessels.

“We know that monocytes are very good at ‘picking up and removing rubbish’ and being on the lookout for signs of infection and tissue injury, and that this is usually quite beneficial,” Professor Hickey said. 

“However in autoimmunity, some immune cells in the circulation are highly reactive to molecules picked up in the kidney. Using advanced microscopes, we were able to show that under these circumstances, patrolling monocytes can display these molecules to the reactive immune cells in the bloodstream, resulting in the rogue cells remaining in the kidney and turning on an unnecessary and damaging inflammatory attack. This autoimmune damage to the kidney can severely impact on the normal function of the kidney, particularly if left untreated.”

 “Mercifully this is not a very common process; as a number of dominoes have to fall for glomerulonephritis to occur, including development of the rogue immune cells” Professor Hickey said. 

Co-author and Monash Health nephrologist Professor Kitching said this damage occurs while the cells are moving around in the kidney blood vessels themselves.

“Significantly, this process, known as intravascular antigen recognition, has never been described before for the key helper T cells that direct and control the immune response,” Professor Kitching said.

Professor Kitching said the discovery will serve as a platform for further investigations of these processes, with the ultimate aim of discovering more specific treatments for patients with kidney disease.

Cutting-edge software at MCH will improve diagnosis and treatment of children with high-risk neurological conditions

Dr Atul Malhotra and Mr Jeff Chen, Monash Children's Hospital 
MRI Supervisor
A $55,000 Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences equipment fund grant will enhance imaging capabilities at the Monash Children’s Hospital, enabling further research into developmental brain injuries.

Dr Atul Malhotra from the Monash University Department of Paediatrics has received the funds to install vital research software on the MRI scanner in the Monash Children’s Hospital.

In collaboration with the University of Queensland and his colleagues Professor Michael Ditchfield and Associate Professor Michael Fahey, Dr Malhotra, who is also a consultant neonatologist at Monash Children’s Hospital, has an NHMRC funded project grant worth more than $1.6 million to study preterm neurodevelopment. This includes investigating MRI images of preterm infants using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) technology.

“DTI technology is used to map and characterise the three-dimensional diffusion of water in the brain as a function of spatial location,” Dr Malhotra said.

“Data from this technology provides us with estimates of white matter connectivity patterns in the brain from white matter.”

“This is particularly useful in studying developmental brain injuries, for example, preterm white matter injury.”

Dr Malhotra said he could not have commenced this vital research project without the DTI software.

“While we’ve used this technology in preclinical research at Monash Biomedical Imaging, having this technology on site at Monash Children’s Hospital provides excellent access for our young patients as more applications of this technology become available,” Dr Malhotra said.

“This new technology also opens up more opportunities for the Monash Health Translation Precinct to run innovative projects and studies in vulnerable infants and children in the future, as well as building on collaborative studies with other institutions who use this technology to image the brain.”

“Ultimately, DTI is likely to be embedded in the clinical care of children - especially those with high risk neurological conditions, and will eventually lead to sophisticated diagnosis and access to earlier, targeted treatment,” Dr Malhotra said.

Dr Malhotra is grateful for the Faculty’s support, and in particular Deputy Dean (Research) Professor Ross Coppel for funding this vital imaging software.

New hope for stroke patients using human amniotic cells

Associate Professor Henry Ma
World-first research including collaborators at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP)  has found that injecting human amniotic cells discarded after birth into stroke patients can significantly reduce brain injury and aid recovery.

Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability. Stroke is treatable, however treatments are time critical and currently only a limited number of Australians have access. Some of the most recent advancements in ischemic stroke treatment – strokes caused by a clot – can only be delivered within the first few hours of a stroke.*

The seven-year research project led by La Trobe’s Professor Chris Sobey and with researchers from Monash University and Monash Health found that when human amnion epithelial cells – the cells lining the human amniotic sac during pregnancy and discarded after birth – were injected after stroke, impact was less severe and recovery was significantly improved.

“If we administered human amnion epithelial cells 90 minutes after stroke, the cells quickly homed in on the affected area of the brain, greatly reducing inflammation and nerve cell death,” Professor Sobey said.

“But what is particularly exciting about these new findings is that when the amniotic cells were administered as late as one or three days after stroke, there was accelerated healing and long term functional recovery was still greatly improved.”

Professor Sobey said why human amnion epithelial cells were particularly effective in cell therapy.
“These cells are abundant, they are discarded after birth and they don’t require any treatment before being used,” Professor Sobey said.

“They already contain natural immune-suppressants which means the patient’s body won’t reject them and they don’t form tumours – both issues with other forms of cell therapy,” Professor Sobey said.

A Monash Health team led by Director of Neurology at Monash Health and Associate Professor at Monash University, Dr Henry Ma, will soon commence a first-in-human trial in acute stroke patients to assess its feasibility and safety profile.

“The trial will be a great opportunity to translate this exciting research finding into clinical practice which may benefit stroke patients in the future,” Dr Ma said.

The findings were published in the high impact journal, Stroke.

*Time critical stroke treatments

Support our PhD candidates 'Pitch it Clever'

Madison Paton
PhD candidates Aidan Kashyap and Madison Paton at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) have entered an online video pitching competition, Pitch it Clever.

Aidan Kashyap
The videos are judged by Vice-Chancellors from around Australia, however there is also a People's Choice Award.

Please support Aidan and Madison by watching their videos and voting for them for the People's Choice Award.  Voting is open to anyone (researchers and the general public).

Please support Hiral raise money for cancer

Hiral Raval
For the first time in her life, Hiral Raval (from eSolutions at the School of Clinical Sciences for Monash Health) will cut her hair short - and it's all for charity.

Hiral is donating her hair for wig making, and she's aiming to raise $500 for the Cancer Council before her big day on 9 March.

Please help Hiral help others by donating here:

Invitation to 2018 Walk for Monash Children's Hospital, 4 March

Join us this 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.
If you register before this Wednesday and raise $100 you will also be in the draw to win a $100 2XU voucher and wireless headphones.

Registration is $20 for Children (aged 5-15) and $30 for adults and children over 15. Children aged 4 and under are free and don’t need to register.

To register visit:

Monash research reveals benefits of tissue glue for paediatric circumcision

Amy Martin
A Monash study has shown that circumcisions performed with tissue glue rather than traditional sutures lead to improved patient outcomes.

Final year Monash medical student Amy Martin undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate which method offers improved clinical outcomes in paediatric circumcision.

“The key findings from the study were that tissue glue offers several advantages including reduced post-operative bleeding and pain, as well as superior cosmetic results,” Amy said.

“The reduction in pain and bleeding in particular will make this procedure a less distressing experience for children.”

“When the procedure is performed using glue, it can be done in less time which may also result in less overall cost to the public health system,” Amy said.

Amy undertook the research project during her 4th year at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS).

Amy said the project solidified her understanding of the techniques and approaches to research and statistics.

“It was helpful to see the practical application of the theoretical knowledge gained as a student,” Amy said. 

“The project provided me with an understanding of how research can be used to shape and improve
clinical practice. I also gained an appreciation for the work involved in completing a study and submitting an article for publication.”

“I was fortunate to be involved in this project, and would definitely recommended research during medical school to other students—it was a great opportunity to work with and learn from experienced researchers,” she said.

Monash Children’s Hospital paediatric surgeon Mr Maurizio Pacilli who led the study said he became involved in research very early on in his career when he was at medical school.

“As a student, research offered me a tangible demonstration of the principles and concepts covered in textbooks and the active learning aspects of research allowed me to make a connection to my own interests, improving my motivation for learning,” Mr Pacilli said.

“I strongly believe that research can assist students on their career path to pursue their individual interests and at the same time, universities benefit when undergraduate studets are involved in research as they bring energy and enthusiasm to research teams.

Amy acknowledges the guidance and support of her supervisors Mr Maurizio Pacilli, Mr Ram Nataraja and Associate Professor Chris Kimber.

ECRs Round Table with Professor Timothy Radstake, 27 February

Molecular classification of immune mediated disease for personalised medicine, hypothesis generation and target identification & validation, 27 February

Integration of transcriptomics and epigenetics data shows that CXCL4 modulates dendritic cell functions, 27 February

Monash Haematology Journal Club, 28 February

Wednesday 28th February 2018
Breakfast at 7.30am

Special guest presenters Danielle Ciofani and Alex Baumann will start their presentations at 7.45am

All of this year’s Journal Club Meeting will be held in the new location of Lecture Theatre 2 which is located on level 2 of MMC.

Transnetyx Trade Display & Morning Tea, 28 February

Grand Rounds, "“Extensive investigation of a rash; sometimes a fruitless exercise”, 28 February

General Medicine present:  “Extensive investigation of a rash; sometimes a fruitless exercise”

Presented by Dr Ralph Junckerstorff and Andrea Elliot.

12.30-1.30pm, 28 February
Lecture Theatre 1, Monash Medical Centre

ARC Future Fellowships (F18) Rejoinders -- Now Open

ARC ​FT18 ​r​ejoinders are now open, and will close at 5pm on Tuesday 6 March​ 2018​

The MRO will be able to provide comments on draft rejoinders. If you would like ​them​ to do so, please send your draft ​(​as a .DOC file​)​ via email to <> ASAP.

​MRO ​also have some guidance material available to help you with your rejoinder -- see the advice here and the FAQ here

​They have​ also attached a one-page summary of key notes HERE

Central Research Initiatives - 2018 Grant/Award Opportunities

The Office of the Senior Vice-Provost and Vice-Provost (Research) would like to inform you of the central research funding opportunities and awards for 2018. A total of eleven grants/awards are available this year under three major initiatives:

Interdisciplinary Research (IDR) Support Program (Now Open - close 26 April 2018)
Vice-Chancellor's Research Awards (requires faculty process)

You can access each initiative via the direct link above (works best in Goggle Chrome) or navigate through the Research Services intranet page.

The attached summary spreadsheet provides grant/award details and key dates.

Please note that the the Vice-Chancello​r​’s Research Awards are restricted to recipients of the relevant Dean's Award (like previous years). 

Cartherics Research Position Vacant

Research Assistant : Position description

Cartherics is a new, privately owned biotechnology company, focussed on developing cutting edge technologies to empower the immune system to specifically target and eradicate cancer. The focus technology is the ground-breaking technology: Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells (CAR-T), which have a profound ability to seek and destroy cancer cells. The company has 10 full-time research staff, an Executive Assistant and several expert advisors and is closely linked to the Hudson Institute of Medical Research. It is supported by strong private investment and two recently awarded, highly prestigious government grants: Victorian Government Medical Research Acceleration Award to promote the implementation of a CAR-T clinical trial and a Commonwealth Government CRC-P grant to develop a next generation immune- cell therapy “as an off the shelf “ product for treating gastric and ovarian cancers. The company’s labs and offices are located in the MHTP Building, next to the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, 27-31 Wright Street, Clayton 3168.

The company is seeking to appoint a Research Assistant to work closely with the company post-docs on the major research themes. The successful applicant will have the appropriate “hands on” skills in one or more of the following technologies:

(i) production, enrichment and cell transduction of lentivirus and general molecular biology methods;
(ii) isolation, activation, expansion and functional analysis of human blood T cells, including use of multi-parameter flow cytometry;
(iii) Experience in production, maintenance and directed differentiation of iPSC, ideally with an understanding of T cell requirements.

The successful applicant will have at least a Bachelor degree with Honours in Science or Biomedical Science or equivalent and ideally 3 or more years of appropriate laboratory experience. They will relish working in a challenging, dynamic, interactive and very exciting environment.

Applicants should submit their CV with nominated referees together with a letter outlining their suitability, to Professor Richard Boyd at

Position closes: 15 March 2018.

Fewer alcohol-related visits to inner Sydney emergency room since ‘lockout laws’ introduced

Diana Egerton-Warburton in The Conversation.

Read article here.

Australian researchers develop breakthrough treatment for stroke victims

A collaborative study including researchers from the Monash Health Translation Precinct has found injections of placenta cells can reduce brain injury and aid recovery in stroke victims.  

See story on SBS News HERE.

The prognostic capacity of transvaginal hydrolaparoscopy to predict non-IVF conception

Ben Mol et al. published in Reproductive Biomedicine Online.

Read article here.

Effect of tactile stimulation on termination and prevention of Apnea of Prematurity: a systematic review

Stuart Hooper et al. published in Frontiers in Pediatrics. Neonatology.

Read article here.

ELVO: an operational definition

Ronil Chandra et al. published in the Journal of Neurointerventional Surgery.

Read article here.

Five-Year Case Fatality Following First-Ever Stroke in the Mashhad Stroke Incidence Study: A Population-Based Study of Stroke in the Middle East

Amanda Thrift et al. published in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases.

Read article here.

Six-Month Outcomes After High-Risk Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery and Preoperative Intra-aortic Balloon Counterpulsation Use: An Inception Cohort Study

Julian Smith et al. published in the Journal of Cardiothoracic and vascular anethesia.

Read article here.

Exploring the impact of Aboriginal health placement experiences on the preparation of dietetic graduates for practice with Aboriginal communities

Claire Palermo et al. published in Nutrition and Dietetics.

Read article here.

Longitudinal association of type 1 interferon-induced chemokines with disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus

Eric Morand et al. published in Scientific Reports.

Read article here.

Effector CD4+ T cells recognize intravascular antigen presented by patrolling monocytes

Clare Westhorpe, Michael Hickey et al. published in Nature Communications.

Read article here.

Systemic and transdermal melatonin administration prevents neuropathology in response to perinatal asphyxia in newborn lambs

Suzie Miller et al. published in the Journal of Pineal Research.

Read article here.

Human Neonatal Rotavirus Vaccine (RV3-BB) to Target Rotavirus from Birth

Jim Buttery et al. published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Read article here.

Quality of Life Is Poorer for Patients With Stroke Who Require an Interpreter: An Observational Australian Registry Study

Monique Kilkenny et al. published in Stroke.

Read article here.

School-based social skills training for young people with autism spectrum disorders

Kylie Gray et al. published in the Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability.

Read article here.

Evaluation of learning from Practical Obstetric Multi-Professional Training and its impact on patient outcomes in Australia using Kirkpatrick's framework: a mixed methods study

Arunaz Kumar et al. published in BMJ Open.

Read article here.

Imaging assessment of rounded atelectasis: A pictorial essay

Parm Naidoo et al. published in the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology.

Read article here.

Accuracy of Clinician Practice Compared With Three Head Injury Decision Rules in Children: A Prospective Cohort Study

John Cheek et al. published in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Read article here.

Effects of umbilical cord blood cells, and subtypes, to reduce neuroinflammation following perinatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury

Suzie Miller et al. published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

Read article here.

Causal effect of smoking on DNA methylation in peripheral blood: a twin and family study

Melissa Southey et al. published in Clinical Epigenetics.

Read article here.

The Consequences of Preterm Birth and Chorioamnionitis on Brainstem Respiratory Centers: Implications for Neurochemical Development and Altered Functions by Inflammation and Prostaglandins

Graeme Polglase et al. published in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience.

Read article here.