Monday, 11 June 2018

World-first discovery reveals another piece in the puzzle of how inflammation is controlled

Dr Jim Harris
In a world-first, Monash University researchers have discovered a new role that a specific protein plays in the control of inflammation, potentially paving the way for improved treatments for a range of conditions, including gout and arthritis.
Published in Nature Communications, the research shows how macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF)—a protein that effects the behaviour of cells—could specifically control a wide variety of immune and inflammatory responses.

Study author Dr Jim Harris said the discovery shows that MIF plays a very specific role in regulating particular interleukins, a group of proteins expressed by white blood cells.

“We’ve known for some time that MIF is involved in  a number of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease and some cancers,” said Dr Harris from the Rheumatology Research Group, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health.

“Yet, despite over 50 years of research, exactly how MIF exerts its many reported effects has been something of a mystery.”

“Our research suggests MIF regulates specific interleukins that are highly inflammatory and are known to contribute to many inflammatory diseases including gout, inflammatory bowel disease, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and some rare cryopyrin-associated autoinflammatory syndromes.”

Dr Harris said this discovery has the potential to not only help us understand how MIF controls inflammation, but also enables us to reliably test potential MIF-targeting therapies, an issue that has previously hampered attempts to develop effective and safe MIF-targeting drugs.

The study also demonstrates the effectiveness of a novel small molecule MIF inhibitor developed by Professor Eric Morand through previous Monash spinoff company Cortical Pty Ltd.

The work was a collaborative effort involving researchers from Monash, the Hudson Institute of Medical Research and the University of Melbourne.

Older women who want children are better off with younger men

Fabrizzio Horta
Monash University research reveals older women may have a better chance of a successful pregnancy with a younger partner.

Andrologist, Clinical Embryologist and Monash University PhD candidate Fabrizzio Horta is investigating the significance of sperm with DNA damage, and how DNA repair is affected by female age. 

“Many reproductive studies examine the woman’s oocytes—more commonly known as eggs,” Fabrizzio said.

“After fertilisation of the egg by a sperm and before an embryo is totally formed, the oocytes have the capacity to repair the DNA damage coming from either maternal or paternal origin.”

“It’s thought that this capacity decreases with age, however we don't currently have a way to measure it, especially in IVF treatments.”

Fabrizzio said this could be significantly important in infertility cases of unknown cause or when the male partner has sperm with DNA damage.

“In our study we were able to recreate experimentally controlled DNA damage in sperm cells and predict the potential effect of female age in IVF cycles,” Fabrizzio said.

“Our results indicate that the capacity to repair DNA damage in sperm diminishes as female age increases.”

“Interestingly, we have also identified some particular genes involved in modulating this egg capacity and how they change with age.”

The study shows that as women age, the results in IVF treatments could be significantly affected by their male partner if their sperm cells had DNA damage.

“There are several factors associated with sperm DNA damage such as varicocele, smoking, stress, use of drugs, and most importantly male age—especially in men over 45 years old,” Fabrizzio said.

“The take-home message is that women wanting children when they are older have a better chance with healthier and/or younger men!” 

Fabrizzio will present his research into the effect of sperm DNA damage on fertility outcomes at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Barcelona next month.

Fabrizzio has had two abstracts accepted at the leading scientific meeting, one of which as an oral presentation.  He was also recently awarded “Best free communication presentation” at the Scientists In Reproductive Technology (SIRT) conference last month, worth $2000 to cover conference traveling expenses.

Fabrizzio acknowledges his supervisors Associate Professor Peter Temple-Smith, Dr Sally Catt and Professor Beverley Vollenhoven for their tremendous support, as well as Dr Selva Ramasubramanian and Dr Christian Nefzger for their help in genetic analyses and Dr Prabhakar Ramachandran and the radiotherapy staff at Moorabin hospital for their help in the radiation experiments.


Monash research into CDH gives hope to families

Ms Tara Gallo, Mr Ram Nataraja, Mr Aidan Kashyap
Research leading to improved outcomes for babies with congenital diaphragmatic hernia was the focus of a community forum last month in Melbourne.

Led by Associate Professor Ryan Hodges, the Fetal Therapy Research Group at The Ritchie Centre (Monash University and Hudson Institute of Medical Research) is working towards improving outcomes for babies who have difficulty breathing at birth due to a condition called congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH).

Supported by CDH Australia—a charity that supports families along their CDH journey—the research team is investigating new therapies that could help these babies’ lungs develop better during pregnancy.

On Friday 25th May 2018, President of CDH Australia, Ms Tara Gallo, and board member Ms Courtney Vodopic, visited the Monash Health Translational Precinct (MHTP) to gain a better understanding of the bench-to-bedside research being undertaken at The Ritchie Centre and Monash Children's Hospital (MCH).

“Tara and Courtney were really impressed with the care taken in every aspect of the MCH design to ensure that it is a safe and comfortable environment for young children and their families, and couldn't believe the incredible scope of research being undertaken at The Ritchie Centre to improve outcomes for future babies born with CDH,” said Monash University medical student and PhD candidate at The Ritchie Centre Mr Aidan Kashyap. 

On Saturday 26th May 2018, CDH Australia held their Annual Forum - an event designed to provide the CDH community with an opportunity to come together to connect, support, and learn.

Guest speakers at the event included MCH paediatric surgeon Mr Ram Nataraja and Aidan Kashyap, who gave presentations on the current management of CDH babies at MCH, and some of the exciting new research on the horizon. 

“In CDH, a hole in the diaphragm allows abdominal organs to enter the chest and prevent the lungs from growing appropriately during fetal development,” Aidan said.

“As a consultant paediatric surgeon at MCH, Mr Nataraja is an expert in repairing these hernias after birth.”

“However, many of these babies continue to face difficulties breathing even once the hole is repaired, and some don’t make it to the operating room at all.”

Aidan’s research focuses on improving lung development in these babies before they are born, so that one day all babies with CDH, and their parents, can breathe a little easier.

If you, your extended family, or your patients have been affected by CDH, please get in touch with CDH Australia at

SOBR Professional Development Dinner - Brains of the Future!, 20 June

The dinner aims to connect the future brain research community in Australia with leaders in industry and academia.

Date: Wednesday 20 June 2018 at 6:00pm
Location: The Pavilion, Arts Centre Melbourne 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne, VIC 3004
Dress code: Business Casual 

Invitation to Jeffrey Modell Immunodeficiencies Centre launch – 14 June 2018

You are invited to the opening symposium for the Jeffrey Modell Foundation (JMF) Immunodeficiencies Centre, hosted by Monash University at the Alfred Centre.

To register, follow the link and enter the code JMF18. See more detail below.

NHMRC Investigator Grant submissions in 2019 – Expressions of Interest

We are now seeking information regarding those individuals who intend on submitting an NHMRC Investigator Grant application in the 2019 grant round. The Faculty aims to use this information to assist applicants with their Case Study and Profile.

Please fill out the form no later than Friday 29 June 2018 using the following link:

A summary of the new NHMRC Investigator Grants can be found here:

Important research news updates

Further to last week's Faculty Research Committee, the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences is urging all research active staff to:

i)                    Set up a Google Scholar profile, setting it to public. Google Scholar is increasingly used as an investigative tool by assessors reviewing grants and applicants, and the Faculty would like this to be in place as soon as possible to enable external reviewers to easily find and confirm information on you, and support on grant reviews in the coming months.
ii)                   Register for an ORCID ID ( ORCID provides you with a unique identifier that enables accurate attribution of all of your publications to you, avoiding incorrect attribution of publications by authors e.g. on PubMed, who share the same name and initials as you. ORCID IDs are being used increasingly, both internally within the University and externally, to track publication data.

iii)                 Be thinking within your lab teams and with collaborators about strategies in regards to applying for NHMRC funding in the new NHMRC Funding scheme, due to commence in 2019. The Faculty will be providing further input on this in coming weeks.

iv)          RGMS (the NHMRC Grant Management System) is being superseded by a new Grant Management System (GMS), with the change being scheduled for September 2018. All data currently held within RGMS will be automatically migrated across to the new GMS. Having an ORCID ID is likely to be a new field within this system. Therefore, researchers are encouraged to have an ORCID ID in place soon.

Please contact Michael Hickey, the SCS representative on the Faculty's Research Committee if you have any questions.

CID seminar: Visualising immune cell fate decisions, blood cancers and tissue remodelling with long-term in vitro and in vivo microscopy, 12 June

Presented by A/Prof. Edwin Hawkins
Research Group Head, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

12 June, 12-1pm, Seminar room 1, TRF

It is widely accepted that complex interactions between blood cells and their surrounding microenvironments contribute to homeostatic cell function and disease development. In light of this interdependency, novel interventions that target specific stromal cell lineages and their interactions with blood cell subsets in disease are being investigated. To investigate this, we are studying mouse and humanised models of autoimmunity, hematological malignancies and protective immunity. We have developed intravital microscopy methods that allow us to monitor the same cells and microenvironments in the bone marrow (BM) and peripheral immune organs long-term including repeated imaging sessions over multiple days. Using this approach, we have observed lineage specific interactions of haematopoetic cells with stroma and microenvironments in the BM. For example, we observed highly dynamic interactions and promiscuous distribution of T-ALL cells throughout the BM, without any preferential association with microenvironments. Unexpectedly, this environment-agnostic behaviour was maintained during development of chemotherapy resistance. Interestingly, this behavior is not a conserved feature of blood cells from other immune cell lineages.

Jennifer Hutchison's PhD confirmation of candidature, "Maternal-fetal interactions: characterising the human adhesome", 12 June

All staff and students are invited to Jennifer Hutchison's confirmation of canditature, 12 June at 12pm, Level 3 boardrooms, MIMR building.

Supervisors: Prof Lois Salamonsen, Dr Jemma Evans

Synopsis: I am investigating the mechanisms which underpin human endometrial receptivity and embryo adhesion. As obese women disproportionately suffer from infertility, I am examining the effects of specific obesity related factors on endometrial receptivity and embryo adhesion. Furthermore, I will be investigating the effects of these same factors on preimplantation embryonic development. Hopefully by normalising the effects of obesity we can improve IVF outcomes for obese women.

Joint Dept of Medicine and Hudson Seminar: 'Extracellular vesicles everywhere - Potential diagnostic tools and therapeutic interventions', 14 June

This week's seminar will be a part of a Joint Seminar Series with the SCS Department of Medicine and the Hudson Institute on Thursday 14 June at 12pm-1pm in Seminar Rooms 1 & 2, Level 2, TRF Building.

Our speaker will be Dr Carlos Salomon, PhD, DMedSc, MSc, Senior Lions Medical Research Foundation Fellow; Head, Exosome Biology Laboratory, Centre for Clinical Diagnostics, UQ Centre of Clinical Research.
He will be presenting 'Extracellular vesicles everywhere - Potential diagnostic tools and therapeutic interventions.'
Dr. Carlos Salomon completed his PhD at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile while also being trained in the regulations of transport systems at the University of Barcelona (2010), placental function during pregnancy at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (2011) and mass spectrometry (MS) at the University of Queensland (2012).
He is a mid-career researcher with a strong track record relative to opportunity. His work is internationally recognized and published in leading journals in his field with 78 journal publications between 2010-2018.
In 2012, he was recruited by the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research as a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Gregory Rice. In 2015, he was awarded a Lions Medical Research Fellowship and appointed as senior research fellow. He has established and now leads an independent research group, Exosome Biology Laboratory, exploring the role of exosomes under normal and pathological conditions. His group applies ISO standards to the isolation, characterization of exosomes and has elucidated their role as to evaluate their clinical utility as biomarkers of disease and therapeutic interventions. He is currently Visiting Professor at the University of Concepcion (Chile) and Texas Tech University HSC School of Medicine.

A light lunch and refreshments will follow this presentation. 

Sepax C-Pro Cell Separation System demonstration this week at MHTP

GE Healthcare ​will ​demonstrate a new piece of hardware the  Sepax C-Pro Cell Separation System at MHTP this week. 

The Sepax C-Pro Cell Processing System is an automated and functionally-closed technology developed for cell processing when manufacturing cell therapy products. It combines exclusively with Sepax C-Pro software protocols and kits to process cellular products. The system allows for versatile combinations of multiple processing steps, including and not limited to enrichment, isolation, washing, concentration, dilution, and splitting.

Interested parties are welcome to bring their own blood/cell samples to test on the system.

Contact Gordon McPhee for details.

Life science research to tackle societal challenges: EMBL's perspective, 13 June

Grand Round, "“I am allergic to … it might be anaphylaxis”, 13 June

General Medicine  PRESENTS

Dr Sara Barnes  & Dr Leo Kyi:  “I am allergic to … it might be anaphylaxis”

13 June, 12.30pm to 1.30pm
 Lecture Theatre 1, Monash Medical Centre

Haematology Journal Club, ‘Direct targets of JAK-STAT signaling in the blood‘, 13 June

Presented by Professor Andrew Perkins
Australian Centre for Blood Diseases
Perkins Group—Blood Cancer Genomics

 7.30am, 13 June, MHTP, Level 2, Seminar Room 2

Quality of care and outcomes for patients with stroke or transient ischaemic attack in Australia, 13 June

Monash Ageing Research Cengre (MONARC) June seminar:
Wednesday 13th June 2018
12:30-1:30pm (Light lunch provided from 12:15pm)
Kingston Centre, Education Centre Room A
Warrigal Road, Cheltenham

Presented by Dr Monique Kilkenny,
Senior Research Fellow, Translational Public Health and Evaluation Division, Stroke and Ageing Research, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, Monash University

For more information/RSVP:
Ms Rhoda Lai
t: 9265 7610 e:

Animal Ethics Information Session - “Animal Use in Research & Teaching” – new date Tuesday 17 July

Monash University requires that:

    All new research staff and students using live animals complete
this information session
    Researchers, Teachers and students must have attended or enrolled
in the next available session to be named on an animal ethics application.

This session provides attendees with important information regarding their legal obligations in the context of conducting animal-based research.

New Date: Tuesday 17th July 2018
Time: 10am – 12:50pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre S12, 16 Rainforest Walk, Clayton Campus - Places are limited to venue capacity.

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

2018 FMNHS Early Career Researcher (ECR) Publication Prize - APPLY NOW!!!!

The Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (MNHS) is committed to developing Faculty-based Early Career Researcher (ECR) initiatives, to assist our ECRs in the development of their research careers.  In addition to the emphasis placed on a strong track record in research publications and competitive funding, there is also the requirement for ECRs to secure competitive Prizes & Awards.  In support of this, the Faculty Research Office offers the FMNHS ECR Publication Prize.

ECRs are invited to nominate one 2017 research publication for the 2018 FMNHS ECR Publication Prize [EPP 2018]. Six ECR Publication Prizes are awarded per year, with one prize allocated for each Faculty-based broad discipline:
  1. The Robert Porter Prize for Laboratory Based Sciences;
  2. The John McNeil Prize for Public Health Research;
  3. The Henry Krum Prize for Clinical Sciences;
  4. The Jenny Keating Prize for Nursing and Allied Health;
  5. Social and Educational Research; and
  6. The Jenny Redman Prize for Psychological Sciences.

Two Faculty prizes will also be awarded for the best publications from ECRs who hold an externally funded Fellowship. Applicants will be asked to nominate whether their publication should be assessed as:
  • Laboratory Sciences; or
  • Non-Laboratory Sciences.
Recipients of the ECR Publication Prize will each receive $1,000*, and a certificate signed by Professor Ross Coppel, Deputy Dean and Director of Research.

Recipients may also be invited to collect their award and/or present their research at a Faculty ECR event.

Nominees will be asked to indicate if they wish to be considered to present at School and Departmental seminar programs within the Faculty.

Applicants will be notified of the submission outcome in August 2018.

* Funds will be transferred to the recipient’s School/Department for use by the ECR in research-related activities (e.g. contributing to conference accommodation/travel expenses).
Submission Process

Registrations and applications for the EPP 2018 scheme are NOW OPEN via the Faculty Grants, Fellowships and Prizes online portal at:
Please refer to the attached EPP 2018 - Guidelines &Eligibility  and EPP 2018 - Instructions to Applicants documents whilst preparing your submission.

Application Closing Date:  Thursday 14 June 2018 at 5:00PM (AEST)

All queries related to the EPP 2018 scheme and the online application form should be directed to the Faculty Research Office by email to or phone (03) 990 55035.

Men’s Health Week 11-17 June

This week is Men’s Health Week 11-17 June and we are encouraging all men to start a conversation about their health and wellbeing with someone they trust. 

For many different reasons, men often feel they can’t talk about their own physical health or emotions. Men tend to battle through, ignoring warning signs just hoping they will go away, however, it is healthy to talk. Having a chat to someone in your family, or a mate at work, in the men’s shed, at band practise or the local sporting club, can stop a minor problem turning into something bigger. The simple act of sharing a concern can turn someone’s life around. We urge all men to talk about how they are feeling. 

The following seminars are available for you to join to get some more information about Mens health issues and they are free to join via webinar or at the Clayton campus

Beyond Blue Ambassador, Jim Moore will be delivering a presentation on his experiences with depression and what you can do to alleviate the symptoms through social connection. The presentation will be held on Thursday 14th of June at the Clayton campus and via webinar as part of Men's Health Week from the 11-15th of June.  Registration details can be found on the booking system

Men's Health Week: Prostate Cancer Screening (What you need to know)

Andrology Australia ambassador,  Prof Dragan Ilic,Head of Medical Education Research & Quality (MERQ) unit and School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine at Monash University will be delivering a talk about Prostate Cancer. 
The current literature provides conflicting evidence as to whether men should be screened for prostate cancer – and at what age. The presentation will outline the diagnostic test used for prostate cancer screening, benefits and limitations and methods to better inform men about the benefits and risks of prostate cancer screening. 

The presentation will be held on Wednesday 13th of June at the Clayton campus and via webinar. Registration details can be found on the booking system
Any questions on the above events can be sent to

Natural supplement could prevent some chronic diseases

Barbora de Courten reported on Nine News.

Watch story here.

Full story below.

Monash researchers are trialing an over-the-counter supplement, carnosine, as a cheap and safe way to treat a wide range of common age and lifestyle-related diseases.

Instead of using medication to improve a single risk factor or disease pathway, Monash University researchers are taking a different tack to disease prevention, testing whether carnosine can target the actual mechanisms that drive several chronic diseases.

Father defends Victorian medicinal cannabis program as kids drop out

Michael Fahey reported on ABC Online.

Macrophage migration inhibitory factor is required for NLRP3 inflammasome activation

Jim Harris et al. published in Nature Communications.

Formyl peptide receptor activation inhibits the expansion of effector T cells and synovial fibroblasts and attenuates joint injury in models of rheumatoid arthritis

Dragana Odobasic et al. published in International Immunopharmacology.

Respiratory virus detection and co‐infection in children and adults in a large Australian hospital in 2009–2015

Tash Ching et al. published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health

Systematic Review for the Quality of End-of-Life Care for Patients With Dementia in the Hospital Setting

David Kissane et al. published in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Phase 1 Trial of Amnion Cell Therapy for Ischemic Stroke

Thanh Phan et al. published in Frontiers in Neurology.

Determining the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a stroke instructional and educational DVD in a multinational context: a randomized controlled pilot study

Amanda Thrift et al. published in Clinical Rehabilitation.

Hyperglycaemia in early pregnancy: the Treatment of Booking Gestational diabetes Mellitus (TOBOGM) study. A randomised controlled trial

Helena Teede et al. published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Renal immune surveillance and dipeptidase-1 contribute to contrast-induced acute kidney injury

Michael Hickey et al. published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

AHA/ASA 2018 AIS guidelines: impact and opportunity for endovascular stroke care

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

Magnetic resonance imaging based assessment of bone microstructure as a non-invasive alternative to histomorphometry in patients with chronic kidney disease

Peter Ebeling et al. published in Bone.

Motor function daily living skills 5 years after paediatric arterial ischaemic stroke: a prospective longitudinal study

Michael Ditchfield et al. published in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.

Sleeping Well Trial: Increasing the effectiveness of treatment with continuous positive airway pressure using a weight management program in overweight adults with obstructive sleep apnoea-A stepped wedge randomised trial protocol

Helen Truby et al. published in Nutrition and Dietetics.

Pharmacological and surgical treatment of non-reproductive outcomes in polycystic ovary syndrome: an overview of systematic reviews

Lisa Moran et al. published in Clinical Endocrinology.