Monday, 21 May 2018

Monash recognised as leader in lupus research

Dr Champa Nataraja, Dr Fabien Vincent,
Dr Kathryn Connelly
Monash confirmed its position as a national leader in research at the recent Australian Rheumatology Association (ARA) Annual Scientific Meeting. 

Monash University and Monash Health researchers scooped the basic science free paper, poster, and trainee awards at the Meeting, representing 100 per cent of the annual basic science awards given by the ARA nationally.

Monash Health Rheumatology Fellow and Monash University PhD student Dr Champa Nataraja received the basic science poster award for 2018, and was also nominated for the new investigator award.

Dr Nataraja is investigating a protein called glucocorticoid induced leucine zipper (GILZ) as a potential treatment option for lupus.

“Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) or lupus is a multi-system autoimmune disease that predominantly affects younger women,” Dr Nataraja said. 

“The treatment of lupus has scarcely changed over the last six decades—glucocorticoids or steroids remain the most prescribed treatment in lupus.”

“As a ‘double edged sword’, the use of these drugs is accompanied by litany of adverse effects that contribute to morbidity and mortality in these patients,” Dr Nataraja said.

Dr Nataraja said there is an urgent need for a drug that mimics the anti-inflammatory effects of steroids but without the negative metabolic effects.

“GILZ may represent such an alternative, potentially leading to improved outcomes for lupus patients,” she said. 

Monash Health colleague, rheumatology registrar Dr Kathryn Connelly, received the prestigious Roche Travelling Scholarship for best Basic Science Presentation by a trainee at the conference.

The former BMedSc(Hons) student at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) is investigating how levels of different biological markers vary between patients with lupus, and how these variations relate to changes in their disease activity over time.

“This research will be a platform for better understanding biological pathways in patients with lupus, with the ultimate future goal being the ability to personalise disease monitoring and treatment,” Dr Connelly said.       

Meanwhile, Dr Fabien Vincent, a research fellow in the Rheumatology Research Group, Centre for Inflammatory Diseases, was awarded the Best Basic Science Free Paper for 2018.

“My research focuses on a protein called BAFF, which we showed predicts the presence of kidney disease in some patients suffering from lupus,” Dr Vincent said.

“Unfortunately, no tool is currently available that enables physicians to select patients who could benefit from anti-BAFF therapy”.
Dr Vincent said future research would evaluate whether patients with lupus nephritis might benefit from a drug targeting BAFF.

In further recognition, the Australian Scleroderma Interest Group (ASIG)—whose Monash Health members include Dr Joanne Sahhar, Ms. Kathleen Elford, Dr Gene-Siew Ngian, and Dr Lucy Croyle was awarded the ARA President’s Collaborative Research Prize.

“This highly prestigious prize, awarded triennially, is in recognition of national and international collaborative research efforts spanning not only our own discipline but also those of several other disciplines in medicine,” said Professor Eric Morand, Head of the Monash University Rheumatology Research Group.

“It’s also noteworthy that in the Basic Science award category, three of the six shortlisted papers were from Monash, including that of SCS PhD candidate Dr Melissa Northcott.”

“All these lean to some extent on the Monash Lupus research framework lead by Dr Alberta Hoi and supported by Dr Rangi Kandane and Monash Health nurse Ms Sue Morton,” Professor Morand said.

Professor Morand extends his sincere congratulations to all on this national level achievement.

“This is a very proud achievement for the team, and a proud day for me,” he said. 

NHMRC grant will support paediatric research into high-flow oxygen therapy

Professor Simon Craig

Monash Health Paediatric Emergency Physician and Monash University Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor Dr Simon Craig is one of a team of chief investigators who were awarded NHMRC funding to undertake a new multi-centre study on the use of nasal high-flow oxygen for children with acute respiratory illnesses.

Acute hypoxic respiratory failure is one of the most common reasons children are admitted to hospital, and leads to hundreds of intensive care admissions each year. 

Associate Professor Craig and colleagues recently published a randomised multi-centre trial of nasal high-flow oxygen in over 1400 infants with bronchiolitis in the New England Journal of Medicine. This study showed reduced treatment escalation in the high-flow group, but no difference in any other outcomes such as hospital length of stay or ICU admission. The new study will apply similar methods to children older than 12 months with hypoxic respiratory failure of any cause.

“High-flow nasal oxygen (HFNO) therapy has been rapidly adopted in acute paediatric care. However, we are still trying to identify whether or not it has any impact on patient-centred outcomes,” Dr Craig said. 

“Studies of HFNO appear to show short-term benefits relating to work of breathing. However, it is yet to be shown whether or not adoption of this technology improves outcomes important to patients and families, such as hospital length of stay.”

The grant, for over $2 million, will allow the study to be conducted at multiple centres across Australia and New Zealand, including Monash Children’s Hospital. It builds on previous successful multi centre research conducted by the Paediatric Research in Emergency Departments International Collaborative (PREDICT) network, and the Paediatric Critical Care Research Group.

2017 3MT presentations now on YouTube

You can view our talented 3 Minute Thesis participants from 2017 on the SCS YouTube channel.

CID seminar: A high salt diet promotes atherosclerosis by altering haematopoiesis, 22 May

12-1pm, 22 May, TRF seminar room 1

Presented by Associate Professor Andrew J Murphy, CSL Centenary Fellow, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute

Western diets typically contain high levels of salt (NaCl), which is linked to an increase in all-cause mortality1, primarily due to cardiovascular disease (CVD). The relationship between a high salt diet (HSD) and CVD has generally been attributed to hypertension, however this association remains controversial and is not necessarily exclusive. Here we show that HSD can promote an unstable atherosclerotic lesion due to effects on haematopoiesis that enhances lipid-loaded macrophages in the plaque. Indeed, increased circulating monocytes are a causal and independent risk-factor for CVD. Mechanistically, mice fed a HSD displayed monocytosis, driven by haematopoietic stem and progenitor cell (HSPC) mobilisation and extramedullary myelopoiesis in the spleen. This process was initiated by enhanced TH17 maturation, which promoted osteoclastogenesis in the bone marrow. The enhanced osteoclasts degraded the HSPC endosteal niche and decreased osteoblast-lineage cells, the combined effects of which liberated HSPCs into the circulation. Targeting TH17 maturation or preserving the endosteal niche, prevented HSPC mobilisation and monocytosis, resulting in smaller atherosclerotic lesions. Our results reveal an immune-driven mechanism for HSD-accelerated CVD, independent of hypertension.

Associate Professor Andrew Murphy heads of the Haematopoiesis and Leukocyte Biology laboratory and the Division of Immunometabolism at the Baker Heart Research Institute. He is a NHMRC Career Development Fellow and National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow, recipient of a CSL Centenary Award. Andrew completed is PhD in 2008 in Prof Jaye Chin-Dusting’s laboratory at the Baker and postdoc’d in Prof. Alan Tall’s group at Columbia University. In 2013 he returned to Australia to begin his own group. His work largely focuses on how inflammatory diseases associated with cardiovascular disease, including diabetes, obesity and rheumatoid arthritis cause the overproduction of innate immune cells and how this contributes to atherogenesis or impaired lesion regression. Furthermore, his laboratory studies fundamental biological process regulating haematopoiesis. He has published a number of manuscripts in leading journals including Nature Medicine, Cell Stem Cell, Cell Metabolism and the JCI. He currently holds 2 NHMRC project grants and an ASTAR-NHMRC obesity grant.

Grand Rounds, "“Current landscape of immunotherapy in Oncology", 23 May

Oncology - Chaired by Dr Edmond Kwan, Medical Oncologist

PRESENTS Dr Caroline Lum Dr Sid Menon

23 May, 12.30-1.30pm, Lecture Theatre 1, MMC

'Tumour-host signalling pathways: identification of novel ovarian cancer biomarkers and therapeutic targets', 24 May

This week's Hudson seminar will be held in Seminar Rooms 1 & 2, Level 2, TRF Building on Thursday 24th May, 12pm-1pm.

Our speaker will be Dr Carmela Ricciardelli PhD
Research Fellow, Adelaide Medical School, The University of Adelaide

She will be presenting 'Tumour-host signalling pathways: identification of novel ovarian cancer biomarkers and therapeutic targets'.
Dr Ricciardelli postdoctoral studies were undertaken in the Department of Surgery, Flinders Medical Centre, South Australia and Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories, Hanson Institute, South Australia (1996-2003). In 2004 she was awarded a Fellowship with Cancer Council SA and in 2005 she moved to the Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the University of Adelaide which has enabled her to build a Reproductive Cancer research group in the Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Adelaide. Dr Ricciardelli is currently funded by the inaugural Lin Huddleston Ovarian Cancer Research Fellowship, Adelaide Medical School, Robinson Research Institute, the University of Adelaide for the next 5 years (2016-2020). Dr Ricciardelli’s laboratory has recently explored ovarian cancer–peritoneal cell interaction using proteomics technology. These studies have led to the identification of several extracellular matrix proteins that are mechanistically involved in implantation and peritoneal spread of ovarian cancer and may serve as novel ovarian cancer biomarkers and/or therapeutic targets.

A light lunch and refreshments will follow this presentation. 

Melbourne Immunotherapy Network Winter Retreat, 31 August - 1 September

The Inaugural Melbourne Immunotherapy Network Winter Retreat

Friday 31st August (afternoon) - Saturday 1st September

Location: Marysville (Vibe Hotel) ~90 minutes from Melbourne

The Melbourne Immunotherapy Network (MIN) was launched in 2016 and includes researchers from many Institutes/Universities/Hospitals in and around Melbourne (Peter Doherty Institute, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, St Vincent’s Institute, Olivia Newton John Cancer Research Institute, Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne, Monash University and Federation University). MIN aims to bring together basic and clinical researchers and showcase some of the Immunotherapy-related research being conducted at the various research Institutes/Universities/Hospitals in and around Melbourne.

The MIN Winter Retreat will include a series of presentations from clinical and basic science researchers studying immunotherapy. As an overnight retreat, there will also be opportunities to discuss your work in a more relaxed setting during or following dinner, in the beautiful location at Marysville in Melbourne’s Yarra Valley. We have a great list of invited speakers so far, and there will be opportunities for registered delegates to also present their research at this meeting – this is a chance to hear about the cutting-edge immunotherapy studies going on in Melbourne. Perhaps bring family/friends and make it a full weekend. We are also endeavouring to also bring in an international journal editor and an international invited speaker (stay tuned).

Current invited speakers:

Keynote: Prof. Grant McArthur, Executive Director VCCC

Prof. Sharon Lewin, Director, PDI
Dr. Laura Mackay (PDI/UOM)
Prof. Miles Prince (PMCC)
Dr. Nick Huntington (WEHI)
Dr. Irene Caminschi (Monash)
Dr. Oliver Klein (ONJCRI)
Dr. Maryann Anderson (WEHI)
Dr. Shahneen Sandhu (PMCC)
Prof. Tony Tiganis (Monash)

Registration and further information:Please stay tuned for a registration web page to be sent (within the next two weeks). NB. The registration will be subsidised as much as possible and will include one night’s accommodation at Vibe hotel, meals, plus tea and coffee breaks. Earlybird and discounted student registration will also be available.

MIN Winter Retreat Organising Committee members:
Dale Godfrey (PDI) (chair); Paul Beavis (PMCC); Andreas Behren (ONJCRI); Beatriz Garcillan (PDI); Fernando Souza-Fonseca-Guimaraes (WEHI).

MCHRI hosts talks by Warwick University colleagues, 1 June

Register here:

“Genetics of irritable bowel syndrome of sex and carbs and peppermint”, presented by Prof Mauro D'Amato, 28 May

Monday 28 May, 3.00pm - 4.00pm, E2 Lecture Theatre, 21 College Walk, Clayton campus

“Genetics of irritable bowel syndrome of sex and carbs and peppermint”

Presented by Professor Mauro D’Amato, BioDonostia Health Research, Institute in San Sebastian, Spain

Mauro D’Amato is an IKERBASQUE Research Professor, and Head of the Gastrointestinal Genetics Unit at the BioDonostia Health Research Institute in San Sebastian, Spain. He formed in Rome at the University “La Sapienza” and the National Research Council.  Later, first as a postdoctoral fellow and then as senior researcher, Mauro worked at the Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics
in Oxford UK, and the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm Sweden, where he now holds a Visiting Professor chair in Gastrointestinal Genetics and clinical researchers.

Mauro D’Amato investigates how genetic variations predispose to gastrointestinal (GI) disease. Through computational and genetic approaches, his team strive to identify causative genes and the mechanisms by which they affect risk to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other GI conditions.

For more information or to meet the speaker please contact the Seminar Committee (Dr Carly Cook,
Dr Michelle Henstridge and Dr Matt McGee) at

Anselm Wong's PhD final review: Management and Risk prediction of paracetamol overdose, 7 June

All staff and students are invited to Anselm Wong's PhD final review:

10.30am-12pm, 7 June, Lecture Theatre 2, Monash Medical Centre

Anselm's PhD concentrates on improving the management of risk prediction in paracetamol overdose patients, a common overdose presenting to emergency departments.

Supervisors: Prof. Andis Graudins (main), Prof. David Taylor, Prof. Marco Sivilotti
Panel Chair: A/Prof Dominique Cadhilhac
Independent assessors: A/Prof Lisa Kuhn, Prof Wayne Hodgson

Online ARC Linkage Project (LP18) Certification Form Now Available

The MRO has developed an online version of the ARC Linkage Project (LP18) Certification Form to help Lead CIs secure the necessary certifications more easily and quickly.   The online LP18 Certification Form can be accessed here.

Should you have questions, please contact

31 May - Deadline and Important info for Postgrad Research Scholarship applications for Domestic students

Attn: Postgraduate Research Supervisors,

This is a reminder that 31 May 2018 is the deadline for scholarship applications from domestic students for Round 2/ 2018 of Postgraduate Research Scholarships. 

Important changes to the EoI (Expression of Interest) and Invitation to Apply have been announced:

1. An email is no longer accepted as supervisor statement of willingness to accept a student.  The attached EOI form must be completed and attached by the student to their application.

2. Applicants are no longer required to upload two referee reports as part of their PhD / scholarship application.  In the Faculty of MNHS, it is now the responsibility of the proposed main supervisor to assess the potential PhD applicant quality using the Quality Check Toolkit. This involves contacting referee/s to ascertain suitability for PhD prior to issuing an invitation to apply.  Referees will need to be contacted by the prospective supervisor by phone or email. 

3. The main supervisor completes Sections 8 and 9 of the EOI form(attached) which includes a declaration that they have completed the Quality Check (including referee check) using the Quality Check Toolkit(attached).  
If you have any interested local applicants (or Honours students who will be completing mid-year) please encourage them to apply online at:  

2018 Prizes & Awards Calendar - May to July

Please refer to the attached Prizes & Awards(P&A) Calendar for opportunities closing in May, June, and July 2018.  Please note that Green means we have had winners in this category in the past. Yellow means we have had finalists.

A comprehensive list of world-wide prestigious prizes and awards eligible to Australian researchers is also available at Research Professional.

If you are a Monash member of staff and intend to apply for any of the listed prizes or awards, please contact Mind Your Way, an academic consultancy engaged on the Monash Prizes & Awards Strategy on behalf of the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice-President. Only Monash staff are eligible to access Mind Your Way services paid by the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice-President. Adjuncts and affiliates wishing to engage Mind Your Way will have to enter into a contract and pay directly for services offered by Mind Your Way.

If, as part of the eligibility criteria, there are limits on numbers of applications that can be submitted by Monash, approval must be sought and obtained by the appropriate delegated individual.

MRFF Intranet site

The Faculty has set up an intranet site for MRFF announcements, calls etc. 

The site is part of our work in progress to better communicate MRFF opportunities and news and better prepare our researchers to take advantage of funding calls. Please forward any comments, ideas and feedback to , Director, Research and Graduate Research.

Next School OHS committee meeting, 6 June

SCS OHS Committee meeting: Call for agenda items

The next SCS OHS committee meeting will be held on the 6th June, 2018. 

Please send any items for discussion to

Meeting minutes are available on the intranet here.

OHS Risk Assessments in SARAH

Risk assessments are required to be completed for any work that carries OHS risk, such as laboratory
research. All Monash University staff and students must be able to refer to an online risk assessment for hazardous work.

The University's online SARAH system has now been in place for 3 years, which means that hard copies of risk assessments must be uploaded onto the online system asap. We are requesting this be completed by the end of June.

Information about completing risk assessments is available here

If you need assistance, please email

Logo Developmental Neuroscience Original Paper Intrauterine Growth Restriction Affects Cerebellar Granule Cells in the Developing Guinea Pig Brain

Mary Tolcos et al. published in Developmental Neuroscience.

Latent class analysis differentiation of adjustment disorder and demoralization, more severe depressive and anxiety disorders, and somatic symptoms in patients with cancer

David Kissane et al. published in Psycho-Oncology.

Consensus on best practice standards for Fracture Liaison Service in the Asia-Pacific region

Peter Ebeling et al. published in Archives of Osteoporosis.

Aortic vascular calcification is inversely associated with the trabecular bone score in patients receiving dialysis

Jasna Aleksova et al. published in Bone.

Goodpasture's autoimmune disease — A collagen IV disorder

Richard Kitching et al. published in Matrix Biology.

Bone geometry is correlated with arterial stiffness in overweight older adults with vitamin D insufficiency

Alexander Rodriguez et al. published in Endocrine Abstracts.

Applying a Low-FODMAP Dietary Intervention to a Female Ultra-Endurance Runner With Irritable Bowel Syndrome During a Multi-Stage Ultra-Marathon

Ricardo Costa et al. published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

Concurrent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and nodal marginal zone lymphoma

Stephen Opat et al. published in Pathology.

Consensus on best practice standards for Fracture Liaison Service in the Asia-Pacific region

Peter Ebeling et al. published in Archives of Osteoporosis.

Cardiothoracic surgery training in Australia and New Zealand

Julian Smith et al. published in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

The contested space: The impact of competency-based education and accreditation on dietetic practice in Australia

Claire Palermo et al. published in Nutrition and Dietetics.

Preterm growth restriction and bronchopulmonary dysplasia: The vascular hypothesis and related physiology

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

The FOAM study: is Hysterosalpingo foam sonography (HyFoSy) a cost-effective alternative for hysterosalpingography (HSG) in assessing tubal patency in subfertile women? Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Ben Mol et al. published in BMC Women's Health