Around the universities and research institutes

Cate Swannell
Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja16.0703C3
Published online: 7 March 2016

James Cook University has released a statement strongly rejecting suggestions by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) that senior management has been paid, or will be paid, bonuses to make staff redundant, including in the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine. “The NTEU has questioned whether senior managers are seeking to sack staff to receive a performance bonus. This suggestion is utterly false and highly offensive,” the statement read. “The false accusation is included in newspaper reports [recently] detailing financial statements from JCU’s 2014 annual report. JCU’s annual reports are public documents that are tabled in the Queensland Parliament and posted on the University’s website every year. The most recently released report (2014 annual report) provides financial statements for the previous year (2013). Bonuses paid in 2014 are based on University performance in 2013 and are totally unrelated to the current change proposals. It is also worth noting that total executive remuneration reported in the 2014 annual report actually fell by nearly $200 000 compared to the 2013 annual report.”

Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics, in partnership with Germany’s Bremen University, has received $50 000 in funding to begin testing a newly developed chemotherapy drug to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Scientists at the Institute for Glycomics, led by Dr Thomas Haselhorst and Bremen University’s Professor Sørge Kelm, have developed the new drug over the past 3 years and now they are at the point of testing on live blood samples and animal models. The joint grant from the German Academic Exchange Service in collaboration with Universities Australia will fund the exchange of academics, including early career researchers and junior scholars from both countries, on this joint research project. Over the next 2 years, four researchers from Institute for Glycomics and six from Bremen University will visit on exchange to conduct experiments and share technology and skill sets.

An international fertility expert hunting for the building blocks to “good eggs” is bringing his research to a new laboratory at the University of Queensland. Professor Hayden Homer will lead the new UQ Oocyte Biology Laboratory at the Centre for Clinical Research, where he will drive research that could help women in their late thirties have children. Professor Homer has been recognised internationally for his expertise in reproduction and fertility research. Professor Homer is a clinician scientist, meaning he undertakes research alongside practice as a fertility specialist. He holds the Christopher Chen Chair in Reproductive Biology and was previously co-director of the University of New South Wales Oocyte Biology Research Unit. Before moving to Australia in 2014, he was a senior lecturer and consultant sub-specialist in reproductive medicine at University College London, where he was clinical lead for IVF and recurrent miscarriage as well as academic lead for mammalian oocyte research within UCL’s Institute for Women’s Health.

The new director of the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) at Monash University has been announced as Professor Peter Currie. Professor Currie previously held the role of deputy director and he replaces founding director, Professor Nadia Rosenthal, who has moved to The Jackson Laboratory in Maine, USA, as scientific director. Prior to joining ARMI in 2008, Professor Currie was head of the Developmental Biology Program at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney and prior to that was a group leader at the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh, the United Kingdom. Last year Professor Currie, together with PhD student Phong Nguyen from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, and Dr Georgina Hollway from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research won the prestigious Eureka Prize for scientific research.

A senior figure in the public health sector in Australia, Professor Glenn Salkeld, has started his new role as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Wollongong. Professor Salkeld has more than 25 years of experience in public health research and education. Most recently, he held the position of Professor of Public Health and Head of the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney. Professor Salkeld’s research has been in the areas of health decision analysis, citizen preferences and translational health. He has been a member of the Economic Subcommittee of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, a consultant to the World Health Organization on the Essential Medicines Program, a member of the NHMRC Public Health Panel, a member of the Bowel Cancer Implementation Committee and a director of the Board of the Sax Institute.

Two early career researchers in the Flinders University School of Medicine have won Best Research Higher Degree Student Publication awards for 2015. Georgia Kaidonis won for her paper Common sequence variation in the VEGFC gene is associated with diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, which was published in Ophthalmology (2015 Sep; 122(9):1828-36). Karen Patterson’s winning paper — Interpretation of an extended autoantibody profile in a well-characterised Australian systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) cohort using principle components analysis — was published in Arthritis and Rheumatology (2015 5 Aug. doi:10.1002/art.39316).

University of Queensland scientist Dr Matt Fogarty will begin a 2-year research project focusing on breathing at the prestigious Minnesota Mayo Clinic in April. The project will investigate the role of motor neurons in respiration and builds on Dr Fogarty’s research at the School of Biomedical Sciences into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Dr Fogarty’s 2-year project is funded by a CJ Martin Overseas Biomedical Early Career Fellowship awarded by the National Health Medical Research Council. Under the 4-year Fellowship conditions, the overseas research component will be followed by a 2-year research project at UQ’s School of Biomedical Sciences.

  • Cate Swannell



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