Monday, 5 March 2018

Familial breast cancer not only inherited genetically, finds new study

Professor Melissa Southey
Doctors will be better able to predict breast cancer risk thanks to pioneering work led by Professor Melissa Southey, now Chair of Precision Medicine at Monash University. The study has identified heritable but non-genetic markers for breast cancer susceptibility.

Mutations in known breast cancer genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 are identified in only approximately 20 per cent of women who are offered genetic testing for familial breast cancer.

Professor Southey led a team of researchers who studied 210 people from 25 multiple case breast cancer families. They identified 24 previously unknown epigenetic changes that alter a woman’s risk of breast cancer and can be passed down through generations without involving changes in the DNA sequence of genes.

“For the majority of women who undergo genetic testing, there is no explanation for their breast cancer predisposition,” said Professor Southey, also from the Department of Clinical Pathology at the University of Melbourne.

“This ground-breaking work is not only helpful for women from families with many cases of breast cancer, it will improve breast cancer risk prediction for all women, and pave the way for the development of epigenetic therapeutics for breast cancer.”

The study, published in Nature Communications, looks at epigenetic changes called DNA methylation, where methyl group chemicals modify DNA without changing its sequence. DNA methylation can mimic genetic variation, predisposing a family to breast cancer. The study is one of the first to systematically scan the genome for places where DNA methylation is heritable, and is the first to apply this to familial breast cancer.

University of Melbourne statistician Dr James Dowty said: “Our methods were very successful when applied to breast cancer, and the exciting thing is that they can be applied to many other hereditary diseases. This work was the result of a very fruitful collaboration between molecular biologists and statisticians, like a lot of work in modern medical research.”

Monash University and University of Melbourne research fellow Dr Eric Joo said: “Some individuals know they come from a family with a lot of breast cancer but do not have a mutation in a known breast cancer gene. This study should help answer why some of those families have a lot of cancer. It’s very exciting to be unlocking part of a big puzzle.”

Researchers from the Cancer Council Victoria’s Division Cancer Epidemiology & Intelligence Division and The University of Utah also contributed to the work.

High-level mobility training benefits people with neurological impairment

Ms Tanja Spencer
A world-first study at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) evaluating high-level mobility training in people with a neurological impairment has revealed the benefits of interventions.

Led by Monash Children’s Hospital physiotherapist Ms Tanja Spencer and Associate Professor Michael Fahey from Monash University’s Department of Paediatrics, the study was published last month in Brain Injury.

Neurological impairments such as acquired brain injury, spinal cord injury and cerebral palsy are a leading cause of disability worldwide.

Although many people with a neurological impairment can walk unaided, they still identify difficulty with high-level mobility skills.

“High-level mobility skills include activities beyond independent walking, such as running and jumping,” Ms Spencer said.

“Importantly, these skills facilitate participation in community life, sports and employment, and are therefore worthy of targeted intervention.”

Ms Spencer said the study is the very first systematic review to evaluate the emerging literature regarding high-level mobility interventions in people with a neurological impairment.

“Our findings provide evidence to support the role of various interventions in safely improving high-level mobility skills for a wide range of neurological diagnoses and participant ages,” Ms Spencer said.

Associate Professor Fahey said people with neurological impairment are often discharged from rehabilitation once they have achieved safe, independent ambulation and face challenges such as lack of funding for, and access to appropriate programs that address high-level mobility. 

“This study shows that clinicians can reasonably implement high-level mobility interventions in ambulant people with a neurological impairment, who have goals to do more than walk over level surfaces,” Associate Professor Fahey said. 

The research team is hopeful the systematic review will encourage physiotherapists to support their clients with a neurological impairment in pursuing their goals of returning to or improving their running, and sports participation. 

Ms Spencer has recently completed her Masters of Philosophy through Monash University’s Department of Paediatrics.

This research was initiated after a Running Group offered through the Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service at Monash Children’s Hospital yielded positive results for children with neurological impairments.  An Emerging Researcher Fellowship from Monash Health allowed Tanja to finalise this systematic review and undertake a randomised controlled trial comparing the Running Group to usual care.  The results of that study have been widely presented at national and international childhood disability conferences and are currently being reviewed for publication.

Welcome BMedSc(Hons) cohort 2018

We extend a warm welcome to our 2018 BMedSc(Hons) cohort.

This year, the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health has enrolled 34 BMedSc(Hons) students, most of whom have completed Year 4.

Five students will undertake their project overseas (the UK and Denmark) and another two are interstate (Tasmania and NSW).

Projects span basic science to clinical translational research, and include medicine, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, oncology, surgery, psychiatry, opthamology and gastroenterology.

Bioengineering: the new approach for treating pelvic organ prolapse

Professor Gargett
Hudson Institute of Medical Research scientists are combining stem cells from the lining of a woman’s own uterus with nanobiomaterials (biodegradable materials engineered on the nanoscale) in a world-first approach to develop safer, more effective treatments for pelvic organ prolapse.

Professor Caroline Gargett, Head of the Endometrial Stem Cell Biology group that is leading the research, says the ultimate aim is to restore quality of life to women with pelvic organ prolapse, and to prevent the condition from occurring in younger women.

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a lifelong, potentially debilitating condition, predominantly caused by the impact of childbirth. It affects an estimated one in four women, and around one in two women aged over 50.

Prof Gargett has found in preclinical studies that delivering adult stem cells from the highly regenerative womb lining to sites of injury promotes growth of new blood vessels and collagen to repair tissue. Her team is now translating these findings to POP, by developing a new treatment using a bio-construct made of microscopic fibres to deliver endometrial stem cells to areas of damage in the vaginal walls.

SCS staff meeting 16 March (including lunch)

If you would like to nominate a staff member for the Quiet Achiever Award, please use the nomination form HERE.

Calling all women walkers - we want you!

Join the Walk for Chloe - 100 Girls, 100kms, $100k Target

On May 4th & 5th we will be walking 100km from Point Nepean to Federation Square in an effort to raise much needed funds and awareness for Chloe Saxby and other children like her who suffer from Vanishing White Matter Disease.

We are looking for Walkers and Sponsors to join our journey!

Vanishing White Matter Disease (VWM) is an extremely rare, genetic, degenerative, terminal brain disease that affects mostly children. This disease is devastating, with most patients diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 6 years old. In a very short period of time, it causes the inability to walk, talk and eat as well as blindness, deafness, loss of motor skills, mental retardation, spasticity, seizures, and coma and is followed by death often before reaching teenage years. A small bump to
the head, a temperature, a cold or even a fright could end Chloe’s life. There are only 7 known cases in Australia and around 172 living worldwide. There is currently no treatment or cure available.

If you are interested, please send a message to our Facebook page 'Walk for Chloe Saxby',
or contact Emily on 0478089107

For more information, please contact Zoe Davidson, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics ( or visit the sites below. 

World's Greatest Shave 2018 - please support team Monash!

Monash Health Heroes are working hard to raise vital funds for this amazing cause! Arrangements for the shave and bake sale event celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave is well underway.

The event will take place on Friday 16th March, 2018 at the main entrance of Monash Medical Centre Clayton.

We currently have five nurses shaving for the event, Tessy Thomas (Clinical Trials Centre), Gaille Taala (Paediatrics), Renise Teh (Clinical Trial Pharmacist), Monique Pedetti (Clinical Trials Centre) celebrating her fifth shave, and Amanda DuToit (44 South) who is celebrating her tenth shave!!

Please find our team link below so you can support them:  

MIME Affinity Meetings Postponed

On advice from the Dean of Medicine, the scheduled MIME Affinity meetings have been postponed.  

The subsequent launch of the 2018 MIME Seed Fund round will also be postponed to a date to be determined after the first quarter MIME Steering Committee meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday, 13 March 2018. 

Pizza, pizza, pizza and HISS AGM/Elections 2018, 14 March

The Hudson Institute Student Society (HISS) will be kicking off  2018 with a FREE pizza lunch and our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday, March 14th, 1-2.30pm in Seminar Room 3, TRF

This is a great opportunity for new and current students to get together, learn about HISS and what you can get involved in. You'll be hearing from the current committee, as well as electing the new committee for 2018! Nominations are currently open for the following positions:

Vice President
Events and Creative Officer
Centre Representatives
ECR Student Representatives
If you cannot attend feel free to email Kelsee ( or any other member of the HISS committee to nominate for a position. 

All students are encouraged to attend this event. We are looking forward to seeing you all there!

Research and Learning Online

All students are encouraged to access the resources on the Research and Learning Online website at

The site also informs students on Academic Integrity and modules can be integrated into  Moodle quizzes.  If you would like more information about the modules please refer to the online tutorial or contact for more information.

**NEW** HDR Intensive Writing Course for Science Communication

Grand Round: “ Monash Emergency research changing local emergency medicine practice”, 7 March

Monash Emergency Medicine Service presents:

Associate Professor Rob Meek
Dr Gabriel Blecher
Dr Pourya Pouryahya

Wednesday 7 March, 12.30-1.30pm
Lecture Theatre 1, Monash Medical Centre

Monash Haematology Journal Club, “Bath time! Evidence for washing red blood cells”, 7 March

Presenter: Dr Alex Dunn, Laboratory Registrar
Wednesday 7th  March, Breakfast at 7.30am
Dr Alex Dunn will start his 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.

Margaret Murray's PhD pre-submission seminar, "Investigation of the anti-obesity effects of polyphenol-rich extracts", 15 March

All staff and students are invited to Margaret Murray's PhD pre-submission seminar.

15 March, 2pm, BASE (Level 1 264 Ferntree Gully Road, Notting Hill)

Synopsis: This presentation will be a culmination of three years work towards the investigation of whether marine algal polyphenols can modulate obesity-related chronic disease risk factors.
Supervisors: A/Prof Maxine Bonham, Dr Aimee Dordevic, Dr Lisa Ryan
Panel Chair: Dr Rebecca Lim
Independent assessors: Dr Kate Huggins, Dr Paul Lewandowski

Confirmation of candidature, Nicole Free, "The impact of vocal load and voice therapy on benign vocal fold lesions", 14 March

All staff and students are invited to Nicole Free's confirmation of candidature.

14 March, 4.30pm, Office of Professor Julian Smith, Head of Department of Surgery, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, Level 5, Block E, Monash Medical Centre

Synopsis: Once nodules, a polyp or a cyst are established in the vocal folds, do we have the potential to reverse or eliminate them through voice therapy or vocal load reduction? This research investigates how these phonotraumatic vocal fold lesions change over time, and how they respond to vocal load and targeted voice exercise. 

Supervisors: Dr Debra Phyland, Prof Julian Smith and A/Prof Joseph Stemple (University of Kentucky)

'Advances in examining cognitive reserve using neuroimaging', 14 March

Monash Ageing Research Centre (MONARC) Seminar

Date:  Wednesday 14th March 2018. 
Time:  Light Lunch from 12.15 pm, Seminar from 12.30 pm
Venue:  Board Room, Kingston Centre, Warrigal Road, Cheltenham
Presenter:  Dr Sharna Jamadar, Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow, Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences
Title:  'Advances in examining cognitive reserve using neuroimaging'

Please RSVP for catering purposes to Dr Rosa Gualano, Acting MONARC Manager, at or 9265 1268

Heide Fettke's PhD confirmation, "Circulating tumour DNA: identifying markers of therapeutic resistance and response in advanced prostate cancer", 20 March

All staff and students are invited to Heide Fettke's PhD confirmation.

20 March, 11am, Seminar room 3, TRF level 2

Synopsis:  The last several years has seen the approval of multiple new therapies for advanced prostate cancer that target the androgen receptor (AR) axis. Despite improvements in clinical outcomes, resistance to these agents is inevitable. This project aims to design and implement a highly sensitive next-generation sequencing assay capable of identifying prostate-cancer associated mutations in patient circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) in order to understand therapeutic response and resistance.

Supervisors: A/Prof Arun Azad, Prof Melissa Southey

Registration is now open for MMI-MHTP’s FIJI Intermediate Workshop 1, 10 April

Tuesday 10th April,  9am-1pm, including morning tea break
Translational Research Facility (TRF), Level 4, Room 4R.03 (large meeting room)

In 2018 MMI-MHTP is once again running their popular FIJI Image Analysis Workshop Series. This year the FIJI workshops will be split into 3 sessions: Basics, Intermediate and Advanced.

The half day FIJI Intermediate workshop will provide a great follow up to our Basics workshop, moving into more advanced image correction and image analysis techniques. Perfect for those who have previously attended the Basics workshop.

The FIJI Intermediate workshop will run several times throughout 2018 to accommodate as many people as possible. Sessions are open to all staff and students. You do not have to be a registered MMI user to attend.

Cost: $50 – which will be covered by MMI registration fees for users. Non-MMI users must provide a cost centre and fund number when registering.

Topics Covered Include: Working with multi-dimension data (3D, time, 4D), image correction techniques, thresholding and masks, image analysis including area, intensity, counting, tracking, kymographs, morphology and co-localisation.

Required Prior Knowledge: Prior attendance at a FIJI Basics workshop is strongly recommended. At a minimum, a solid knowledge of the use of FIJI to open and display images, image adjustments, scales, ROIs and working with stacks is absolutely necessary.

To Register: Email your details to Please ensure you include full details in your email: full name, department and group, position, best contact email and cost centre if not a registered MMI user.

Registrations are open until Friday 30th March 2018, unless places are filled sooner.

Register now! Places are limited and these workshops filled fast in 2017!
Stayed tuned: More sessions for FIJI Basics, Intermediate & Advanced will be announced throughout the year.

Fundamentals in Obstetric Care - 2 day short course (April and August 2018)

Staff and student wellbeing programs - semester 1

Monash University offers a range of mental health and wellbeing programs for staff and students.

Staff programs for Semester 1 HERE.

Student programs for Semester 1 HERE.

Monash Global walk/run

All staff and students are invited to put on their walking shoes and take part in this Monash community event to be held across all Monash campuses and sites.
Participants will have a chance to win great prizes, and enjoy a delicious healthy lunch at the finish line.

The Global Walk/Run is a great opportunity to connect with your colleagues and get involved with our Monash communities at home in a step toward better health!

White Ribbon Australia is launching a new campaign called "Cheese for Change" and we want you to join in!  A gold donation to help raise funds for White Ribbon's vital primary prevention work will be greatly appreciated

The next Global Walk/Run will be held in the week of March 19th with the Clayton event occuring on Thursday 22nd of March.

More information and registration HERE.

Bike cage access at MHTP

Any new requests for the Bike Cage are to be submitted using the attached FORM.   NOTE: Please use your Monash Health ID CARD first 5 digits.

The MHTP Bike Cage is located immediately adjacent to the MHTP Translational Research Facility (TRF) and change facilities are available on Level 4 of the TRF.  

 Should you have any questions about the bike cage, please contact your member of the MHTP Bike User Group below:

Monash Health - Tobias Van Hest
Monash University - Katherine Marks
Hudson Institute - Ann Scott

Note: Use of the MHTP Bike Cage is at the owners own risk. The MHTP and their partners do not accept any responsibility for damage or theft.

Increasing asthma inhaler strength does not prevent serious attacks and may stunt growth, study finds

Phil Bardin reported in The Independent.

Read article here.

CYP3A4 mutation causes vitamin D-dependent rickets type 3

Hanh Nguyen, Peter Ebeling  et al. published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Read article here.

Scope and Consistency of Outcomes Reported in Randomized Trials Conducted in Adults Receiving Hemodialysis: A Systematic Review

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

Read article here.

Report of the Standardized Outcomes in Nephrology-Hemodialysis (SONG-HD) Consensus Workshop on Establishing a Core Outcome Measure for Hemodialysis Vascular Access

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

Read article here.

Enhanced Preoperative Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator Flap Planning with a 3D-Printed Perforasome Template: Technique and Case Report

Michael Chae et al. published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Read article here.

A Consensus Model: Shifting assessment practices in dietetics tertiary education

Claire Palermo et al. published in Nutrition & Dietetics.

Read article here.

Pessary for preterm birth prevention in twin pregnancy with short cervix: 3-year follow-up study

Ben Mol et al. published in Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Read article here.

Effect of exposure to second-hand smoke from husbands on biochemical hyperandrogenism, metabolic syndrome and conception rates in women with polycystic ovary syndrome undergoing ovulation induction

Ben Mol et al. published in Human Reproduction.

Read article here.

Antenatal management of congenital diaphragmatic hernia today and tomorrow

Stuart Hooper et al. published in Minerva Pediatrica.

Read article here.

The psychometric properties, sensitivity and specificity of the geriatric anxiety inventory, hospital anxiety and depression scale, and rating anxiety in dementia scale in aged care residents

David Kissane et al. published in Aging & Mental Health.

Read article here.

Immunohistochemistry testing for mismatch repair deficiency in Stage 2 colon cancer: A cohort study of two cancer centres

Eva Segelov et al. published in the International Journal of Surgery.

Read article here.

Systematic review of clinical practice guidelines to identify recommendations for rehabilitation after stroke and other acquired brain injuries

Dominique Cadilhac et al. published in BMJ Open.

Read article here.

Economic Evaluation of a Pre-Hospital Protocol for Patients with Suspected Acute Stroke

Joosup Kim, Dominique Cadilhac et al. published in Frontiers in Public Health.

Read article here.

Adjuvant therapy for resected colon cancer 2017, including the IDEA analysis

Eva Segelov et al. published in Expert Review of Anticancer Therapy.

Read article here.

Cardiac Function Assessments in Left Bochdalek's Hernia: Clinical Relevance

Arvind Sehgal et al. published in Pediatric Cardiology.

Read article here.

Neurocognitive and behavioural performance of healthy volunteers receiving an increasing analgesic-range infusion of ketamine

Yahya Shehabi et al. published in Psychopharmacology.

Read article here.

Treatment strategies, outcomes and prognostic factors in 291 patients with secondary CNS involvement by diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

Stephen Opat et al. published in the European Journal of Cancer.

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.

Polycystic ovary syndrome and adverse pregnancy outcomes: current state of knowledge, challenges and potential implications for practice

Lisa Moran et al. published in Clinical Endocrinology.

Read article here.

Obesity associated advanced glycation end products within the human uterine cavity adversely impact endometrial function and embryo implantation competence

Lois Salamonsen et al. published in Human Reproduction.

Read article here.