Monday, 12 March 2018

High-dose steroids don’t prevent asthma flare-ups

Professor Phil Bardin

High-doses of glucocorticoids are not effective in preventing life-threatening asthma exacerbations, according to a landmark study published in The New England Journal of Medicine last week.

Monash University’s Professor Phil Bardin was specially invited by the NEJM to assess the evidence for this therapy based on two recent asthma clinical trials.

“Inhaled glucocorticoids are pivotal to achieve asthma control in both children and adults but despite their use, many patients with asthma have flare-ups,” said Professor Bardin, Director Monash Lung & Sleep.

“Acute flares of asthma are detrimental because they adversely affect quality of life, lung function, and health care costs and have the potential to end in death.”

“Everyone agrees that preventing exacerbations is a priority in asthma care,” Professor Bardin said.

Professor Bardin said asthma specialists have long thought that more aggressive use of inhaled glucocorticoids can prevent exacerbations if initiated at the first signs of deterioration.

Professor Bardin found good evidence that children, in particular, receive no significant benefit from high-dose inhaled glucocorticoids in terms of their likelihood of having an asthma attack.

“The evidence indicates that substantial escalation of regularly used inhaled glucocorticoids, even by a factor of 4 or 5, fails to prevent most asthma exacerbations,” Professor Bardin said.

The editorial invitation by the prestigious journal is due to Professor Bardin and his team’s significant research into asthma at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP).

“The invitation to contribute to the NEJM on this topic is a testament to our global reputation built upon the outstanding clinical research done at Monash over many years,” Professor Bardin said.

“In particular, the Clinical Trials Unit in Monash Lung and Sleep, Monash Health under the leadership of Ms Joanne McKenzie has recently conducted ground-breaking research on monoclonal antibodies in asthma.”

This new treatment has had dramatic benefits for many patients with crippling severe asthma.

Monash emergency physician and researcher inducted onto Victorian Honour Roll of Women

Mr Andrew Stripp,
Assoc Prof Diana Egerton-Warburton,
Ms Barbara Yeoh

Monash University’s Associate Professor Diana Egerton-Warburton was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women for 2018 last week, in recognition of her remarkable achievements and commitment to the field of emergency medicine.

Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton is Director Emergency Medicine Research, Monash Medical Centre ED and an Emergency Physician with a passion for patient and community advocacy.   She is an Associate Professor at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash health (SCS) and the National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University.

Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton has led and participated in a number of multi-site clinical trials and clinical research projects, with an emphasis on focused on pragmatic, patient-centered research, to influence practice and policy. She has received numerous research grants including NHMRC, AMA and VicHealth.

Minister for Women, the Hon Ms Natalie Hutchins,
Assoc Prof Egerton-Warburton
“Throughout my career I’ve endeavoured to ‘make a difference’ for patients and the healthcare system with which they interact,” Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton said.

“I use an investigate, innovate, evaluate and propagate model to produce effective, sustainable, cost-effective transformational change and knowledge translation to improve patient care at Monash Health and Victoria.”

“Using this model alongside public health advocacy and my college role I have broadened the impact of my work nationally and internationally,” she said.

Associate Professor Egerton-Warburton was the president of the Australasian Society for Emergency Medicine from 1997 to 2000. She was chair of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine Public Health Committee for almost a decade and has led an international project to highlight and reduce the harmful effects of alcohol.

She has been awarded numerous prizes including VicHealth and Australian Medical Associations (AMA), Women in Medicine Award 2016 for an “outstanding contribution to emergency medicine with a strong passion for public health”. She is a member of the Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and other Drugs (ANACAD) providing policy advice to the Commonwealth Government. She has provided policy advice to the Victorian minister for Health. As a supporter of #foamED (Free Open Access Medical Education) she believes in the use of social media as an education, research and advocacy tool.
Twitter: #First_do_noharm

Renowned nephrologist receives Monash University promotion

Professor John Kanellis
Head of Transplantation and Deputy Director of Nephrology at Monash Medical Centre John Kanellis has been recognised for his outstanding clinical work and research, receiving an academic promotion at Monash University.

Adjunct Clinical Professor Kanellis’ early research focused on the role of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) in renal disease as well as various other inflammatory pathways and their role in renal and cardiovascular disease and in hypertension.

In more recent years, Professor Kanellis’ basic and clinical research has focussed on transplantation.

“PhD students under our supervision in the renal laboratory (headed by Professor David Nikolic-Paterson) have studied antibody mediated rejection of kidney transplants, and we’ve developed a unique animal model to better study this clinical problem which has very limited therapeutic options,” Professor Kanellis said.

“Given the large size of the transplant unit at Monash Medical Centre—more than 900 patients with current transplants—clinical research has been very collaborative.”

“Over the last decade, our unit has been heavily involved in studies of new immunosuppressive agents and new immunosuppressive regimens.”

“In collaboration with colleagues at the University of Sydney, we’ve undertaken qualitative research involving quality of life improvements from transplantation as well as psychological aspects of living donation,” Professor Kanellis said.

Under Professor Kanellis’ leadership, Monash Transplant has grown immensely in the last decade, seeing more than 100 patients every week with functioning transplants in their clinics.

“We perform approximately 100 new transplants every year, including kidney-only transplants as well as double kidney and pancreas transplants—for type 1 diabetics,” Professor Kanellis said.

Monash Medical Centre is a Nationally Funded Centre (1 of only 2 in Australia) for pancreas transplantation.

“We service Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia with this unique activity, performing 20-25 new double transplants per year, and we also have a very active living kidney donor programme.”

Beyond his clinical and research activities, Professor Kanellis has lectured medical students and supervised several BMedSc(Hons) and PhD students.

He is the current Chair of the National Renal Transplant Advisory Committee, the peak national advisory body for kidney transplantation in Australia.

Professor Kanellis said he feels honoured be recognised for his work through this promotion.

“I owe much credit to my clinical and basic science colleagues, our transplant team (clinicians, surgeons and nurses) and the renal fellows, PhD students and to my wonderful family for their endless support,” Professor Kanellis said.

“I would also like to acknowledge all the patients. Collectively we are all striving to help them through our activities and I am very lucky to have such an interesting and rewarding job.”

Cutting edge bone imaging at Monash University - an Australian first

Ms Barbara Yeoh, Chair Monash Health,
Professor Peter Ebeling and
Dr Ayse Zengin in front of the XtremeCT-II scanner at MHTP
In an Australian-first, Monash University’s Bone and Muscle Health Research Group has acquired a new generation scanner that measures bone density and quantifies three dimensional microarchitecture of bones to assess musculoskeletal diseases.  There are only two such scanners in the world—the other in China.

The XtremeCT-II high resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography was purchased with funds from the National Health and Medical Research Council, Monash University and the Ian Potter Foundation.

Research fellow Dr Ayse Zengin said the XtremeCT-II measures 3D bone microstructure, tendons, cartilage, joints, muscle, fat and vascular calcification at the highest resolution and precision currently available.

“The XtremeCT-II is the only one of its kind in Australia and will allow cutting edge musculoskeletal research both domestically and internationally,” Dr Zengin said.

The XtremeCT-II will be available as a research platform for researchers, clinicians and surgeons—ensuring collaboration amongst health care professionals.

Professor Peter Ebeling, AO who heads the research group at Monash University anticipates that utilising a low-radiation method for high-resolution imaging of bone, muscle and joints will enhance understanding of musculoskeletal conditions, enabling effective preventative and treatment strategies. 

SCS travel award benefits precision medicine research

Dr Tu Nguyen-Dumont

Congratulations Dr Tu Nguyen-Dumont, recipient of the SCS Research Fund Travel Scheme in recognition of her research in personalised medicine.

Dr Nguyen-Dumont, a senior research fellow in the Precision Medicine group will use the $1000 grant to travel to the 7th International Symposium on Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC Symposium) in Montreal, Canada where she will present a poster, ‘BRA-STRAP: Personalized medicine to precision public health’.

BRA-STRAP is the largest, nation-wide, clinically set study of breast cancer susceptibility.

“We are performing targeted-sequencing of 24 genes commonly included on panel tests for breast cancer predisposition in 30,000 Australian women of all ages across the cancer risk spectrum, affected and unaffected with breast cancer, and their families,” Dr Nguyen-Dumont said.  

Data on this scale exemplifies the opportunities and challenges for realising precision medicine and precision public health for breast cancer.”

Dr Nguyen-Dumont said the Symposium’s program this year provides wide clinical and population health relevance and is delivered by leaders in these fields.

“The Symposium covers topics including breast cancer biology, gene variant classification, global perspectives on clinical practice in genetics and oncology, and is an opportunity to meeting with international collaborators to advance our work,” Dr Nguyen-Dumont said.

“Our successful collaborations will contribute greatly to the University’s research quality and performance, provide considerable opportunity for multi- and interdisciplinary research at the international front line, thus enhancing the visibility and reputation of the Faculty and Monash University”.

“My participation to this conference is an excellent strategic fit with the Faculty’s identified research strengths and priorities that include cancer and precision medicine.”

MHTP research grant enables collaborative research into the prevention of gestational diabetes

Ms Aya Mousa and Dr Stacey Ellery

Early career researchers Ms Aya Mousa and Dr Stacey Ellery have won the MHTP Research Week ECR speed networking event, receiving a $10,000 grant to progress their collaborative research idea.

Co-organised by the Hudson Institute and School of Clinical Sciences ECR Committees, the event invited early career researchers from across the precinct to submit a collaborative grant idea.

Aya Mousa (a PhD student/early post-doctoral researcher at MCHRI, SPHPM) and Stacey Ellery (a postdoctoral researcher in The Ritchie Centre) emerged from the event with a novel idea that combines their expertise in pregnancy and metabolic disorders to help women with gestational diabetes.

“Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a common disease developed by 20,000 Australian women during pregnancy each year,” Ms Mousa and Dr Ellery said.

“Not only are women with GDM at higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes including pre-eclampsia, and preterm birth, the disease also predisposes both the mother and infant to developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases later in life.”

Using plasma samples from over 500 pregnant women, stored in clinical biobanks at MCHRI and The Ritchie Centre, the researchers will explore the influence of diet and lifestyle intervention on the development of gestational diabetes and will conduct the first studies to comprehensively assess lipid biomarkers in GDM.

By combining samples from both low- and high-risk pregnancies, they will potentially identify novel metabolic markers (lipids) that could be used to improve risk prediction, prevention, and management of GDM in the future.

Ms Mousa and Dr Ellery said the ECR event was instrumental in forming this new collaboration, as their respective research teams were not previously aware of their joint interests. They said the support of funds pledged by Hudson and SCS also ensured the idea could be made a reality, an opportunity not often afforded to young researchers. 

During Research Week, ECRs met for casual one-on-one conversations to find common interests and unearth potential novel research ideas. The committee reviewed EOIs and then, after an initial round of selection, full applications.

Event co-organiser Dr Aimee Dordevic said ECRs at MHTP are spread across many different centres and departments, and the event provided important opportunities for face-to-face meetings.

“It was fantastic to see how well the event was able to facilitate collaborations between researchers that may not have otherwise come to life. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of the projects, from Aya and Stacey, and all of the other grant applicants,” Dr Aimee Dordevic said.

“Importantly, we would like to thank Hudson and SCS for supporting this event. We plan to run the event again in 2018 so that we can continue to nurture collaborations between ECRs and foster world-class research outcomes.”

About the winners:
Ms Aya Mousa recently completed her PhD at the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI). She has published extensively in diabetes, nutrition and metabolism, developing expertise across the research continuum (mechanistic, epidemiological, clinical, and translational research).

Dr Stacey Ellery is based at The Ritchie Centre, Hudson Institute. She has published extensively in the field of metabolic regulation during pregnancy and the use of dietary interventions to improve pregnancy outcomes.

ARC DECRA (DE19) Applications Closing this Wednesday, 14 March

NOTICE: DE19s closing in RMS 14th of March.  Please note that DECRAs close Wednesday 14 March. 

MRO Checks & Final Submission Process
If you haven't yet forwarded your proposal to the MRO for a 1st or 2nd check, please do so ASAP.

Note the following dates, and the service we will be able to provide at those dates:

Proposals Received by MRO Before
MRO Service
For 1st or 2nd Checks
9am Thurs 8 March
MRO will Check for Eligibility & Compliance Issues
For Last Checks
9am Mon 12 March
MRO will Check for Eligibility Issues only
Final Submission in RMS
9am Wed 14 March
MRO will submit proposal to ARC

Once your proposal has been through a last check and you're happy with the final version of your application, press 'Submit to Research Office' in RMS. Given the high volume of applications, please do so by 9am on Wednesday 14 March to ensure there are no issues with final submission.

If you haven’t pressed ‘Submit to Research Office’ in RMS by Noon on Wednesday 14 March, we will do so and no further edits will be possible.

C3: Statements by the Administering Organisation
Most C3 statements are still being readied for signature by the DVCR. Once your letter has been signed, the MRO will upload the final copy to RMS. We will email you to confirm when this has been completed.

For any further questions, please email the MRO <>.

ARC LIEF (LE19) RNTAs due to MRO

Attn LE19 Lead CIs:

If you wish to submit a 'Request Not to Assess' for your ARC Proposal, please note that RNTAs must be received by the MRO <> ASAP. 
Note that only one RNTA can be submitted per proposal.

Where to find the RNTA form?
The RNTA form (.xlsx) can be downloaded from here

Who to Include/Exclude?
You do not need to list individuals 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.

If you list someone on the ARC College of Experts, you will need to provide a justification. In which case, please note:
  • 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). 

Only in very extraordinary circumstances can you list more than three individuals on your RNTA, and doing so would required a justification letter covering all named individuals. 

ACADEMIC STAFF - 2018 Outside Study Programme (OSP) - Round open (Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences)

The 2018 Outside Study Programme (OSP) round is now open.  Applications will be open from 9.00am Monday 12 March through to 5.00pm Friday 20 April 2018.

OSP is designed to provide academic staff an opportunity to pursue research and other scholarly work to enhance the staff member's development, extend the body of knowledge in their chosen field and improve their research performance.

We are currently inviting interested staff to apply for OSP to be taken in Semester 1 or 2, 2019.

A few points to remember when submitting your application:
  •  Please discuss your application with your performance supervisor and head of school prior to making a submission
  • The application form can be accessed online via the Outside Study Programme web page

Applications must contain the following:
  • 10 days of annual leave (or pro-rata)
  • Previous OSP report (where relevant)
  • Performance Development plans either from PDO or myPlan for the current and previous year.
  • Current CV

For more information about how to apply for OSP, guidelines and reporting requirements, please visit the Outside Study Programme web page. Before you apply, we encourage you to read the revised Procedure.

If you have any questions, please visit for FAQs or contact Access HR on 03 9902 0400.

Health and Wellbeing week at Monash Health, 19-23 March

PhD opportunities with Cartherics

Cartherics in conjunction with Monash University and the Hudson Institute of Medical Research have been awarded a CRC-P Grant which provides for up to 4 PhD students over the next two years.

Students will receive an additional top of $5000 per annum and appropriate conference support.
The PhD project areas are:
  1. Project 1 - Derivation of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) using mRNA (details HERE)
  2. Project 2 - Optimising the function of anti-cancer killer T cells (details HERE)
  3. Project 3 - A novel biosystem for the induction of cytotoxic T cells from induced pluripotential stem cells (details HERE)
If you are interested in any of these opportunities please send your resume and letter of application to before the end of April 2018.

Academic promotion information session, 19 March

As we had recently announced in the Insider, we are holding information sessions for academic staff who wish to apply for academic promotion this year. Please note this does not include adjuncts. We strongly encourage you to attend a faculty information session if you are considering applying for promotion.

All session dates, times and venues are listed on the information sessions web page.

Kindly register your attendance to attend the faculty information session by 13 March (Alfred session) and 19 March (Clayton session).

For more information, visit the Academic Promotion web page or call Access HR on 9902 0400.

Monash Haematology Journal Club, "“A novel therapy for acquired TTP”, 14 March

Wednesday 14th  March,  Breakfast at 7.30am

Dr Ming Sheng Lim Haematology Research Fellow 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.

Grand rounds, “How do we create an EMR research ecosystem at Monash Health?”, 14 March

Dr Suong Le

Electronic Medical Record Team presents:

Dr Suong Le, Dr Ai Li Yeo, Dr Daniel Boulos, A/Prof Michael Franco

“How do we create an EMR research ecosystem at Monash Health?”

Time: 12.30pm to 1.30pm
 Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, Monash Medical Centre

Invitation: Become Data Fluent | Launch of Data Fluency for Research | 23 March

Join us in launching Data Fluency for Research, a cross-disciplinary initiative to develop researcher capability at Monash University. We're building a community of practice made up of like-minded researchers who are passionate about learning, sharing and helping other researchers use digital research tools. The initiative will be launched by Provost and Senior Vice-President, Professor Marc Parlange.

Hear from our expert panelists including Professor Geoff Webb, Professor Dianne Cook, Associate Professor David Powell and Dr Simon Musgrave.

Friday 23 March 10am - 12pm

Venue:   Sir Louis Matheson Library, 40 Exhibition Walk, Clayton campus

Register to attend the event at Clayton or join the live-streamed event at Caulfield or Peninsula campus. ​
 Build your data fluency through ongoing skill development opportunities. Take advantage of free workshops, weekly drop-in sessions, hackathon events, tech talks, and more. Become part of our growing community of practice.​​ 
Visit the Data Fluency website to find out more.

Make sure you get a spot in the afternoon workshops 1pm - 5pm at Matheson Library:

Workshop 1: Intro to Python - Register here
Workshop 2: Intro to Deep Learning - Register here
Workshop 3: Intro to R - Register here

General enquiries: Linda Kalejs, Peninsula Library Manager

Workshop enquiries: Dr Sonika Tyagi, Monash Bioinformatics Platform Manager

Animal Ethics Information Session – Friday 23 March

Monash University Animal Ethics Information Session - “Animal Use in Research & Teaching”

Friday 23 March, 10am – 12:50m
Lecture Theatre S10, 16 Rainforest Walk, Clayton Campus
- Places are limited to venue capacity. 

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.
To register or to be notified of new sessions is now via mydevelopment - details at

Last call for blood donors - Monash University Clayton campus

Heart implant offers new hope

Emily Kotschet on Channel 9 News.

Watch story HERE.

Developing emergency medicine in Israel

Dr Danny Beneli
Danny Beneli in the Australian Jewish News.

Read article here.

Controlling the Effective Oxygen Tension Experienced by Cells Using a Dynamic Culture Technique for Hematopoietic Ex Vivo Expansion

Abhilasha Tiwari et al. published in Current Protocols in Stem Cell Biology.

Read article here.

Moderate preterm birth impacts right ventricular structure and function and pulmonary artery blood flow in adult sheep

Graeme Polglase et al. published in The Journal of Physiology.

Read article here.

Heritable DNA methylation marks associated with susceptibility to breast cancer

Melissa Southey et al. published in Nature Communications.

Read article here.

Social functioning following pediatric stroke: contribution of neurobehavioral impairment

Michael Ditchfield et al. published in Developmental Neuropsychology.

Read article here.

No effect of saturated fatty acid chain length on meal-induced thermogenesis in overweight men

Kay Nguo et al. published in Nutrition Research.

Read article here.

Delivery of positive end-expiratory pressure to preterm lambs using common resuscitation devices

Stuart Hooper et al. published in Archives of Disease in Childhood.  Fetal and Neonatal Edition.

Read article here.

Exploring staff perceptions and experiences of volunteers and visitors on the hospital ward at mealtimes using an ethnographic approach

Ella Ottrey et al. published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Read article here.

Neonatal intracranial aneurysms: case report and review of the literature

Ronil Chandra et al. published in the Journal of Neurosurgery. Pediatrics.

Read article here.

Caregiver Mental Health, Parenting Practices, and Perceptions of Child Attachment in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Sam Teague et al. published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Read article here.

Escalating Inhaled Glucocorticoids to Prevent Asthma Exacerbations

Phil Bardin published in The New England Journal.

Read article here.

Understanding the barriers to uptake of antenatal vaccination by women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds: a cross-sectional study

Sushena Krishnaswamy et al. published in Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics.

Read article here.

Reply - Aortic Reservoir Pressure - not overstretching but testing

Jim Cameron et al. published in the Journal of Hypertension.

Read article here.

Calf muscle density is independently associated with physical function in overweight and obese older adults

David Scott et al. published in the Journal of Musculoskeletal & neuronal interactions.

Read article here.

Sedation Intensity in the First 48 Hours of Mechanical Ventilation and 180-Day Mortality: A Multinational Prospective Longitudinal Cohort Study

Yahya Shehabi et al. published in Critical Care Medicine.

Read article here.

Don't lose sight: last drinks laws reduce violent assaults

Diana Egerton-Warburton published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Read article here.

The Cranky Thermometers: Visual analogue scales measuring irritability in youth

Glenn Melvin et al. published in the Journal of Adolescence.

Read article here.