Around the universities and research institutes

Cate Swannell
Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja16.0404C3
Published online: 4 April 2016

Three leading Queensland breast cancer researchers have joined forces to lead a $6.5 million National Health and Medical Research Council-funded program to investigate who is most susceptible to breast cancer, the role that genes play in tumour development and behaviour, and why some types of breast cancer spread from the breast to other parts of the body. Professor Sunil Lakhani, who has appointments at the University of Queensland and Pathology Queensland, will be in partnership with Professors Georgia Chenevix-Trench and Kum Kum Khanna from QIMR Berghofer. “Our team is strengthened by new and established collaborations with many local, national and international researchers with varied expertise — they will assist us to resolve some of the key questions in our research,” Professor Lakhani said. “We will also have access to samples from the Brisbane Breast Bank, a facility that collects fresh tissue donated by patients having breast surgery at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital; and the Herston Imaging Research Facility for hi-tech medical imaging technologies not available anywhere else in Australia.”

A Queensland researcher’s goal of using smartwatches to combat the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) will see her fly to the US on an MS Research Australia grant. Dr Hannah Gullo of the University of Queensland School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences has received an $8000 Ian Ballard Travel Award. She will spend 4 weeks at the Kessler Foundation in New Jersey, which is renowned for rehabilitation research in MS, spinal cord injury, brain injury and stroke. Dr Gullo plans to use the trip to the US in November to analyse preliminary data from her pilot study MINDfit for MS.

James Cook University has opened a new clinical teaching facility in Longreach in regional Queensland, designed to bring top quality training and telehealth services to the outback. The facility on Longreach hospital campus is a collaboration between JCU’s Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (MICRRH) and the Central West Hospital and Health Service. MICRRH’s director, Professor Sabina Knight, said the building has been fitted with state of the art technology to enable audiovisual teleconferencing and remote training. Central West Health has donated both the relocated building and its site. The new facility is operational only 9 months after receiving a $90 000 grant from the Commonwealth. The new building complements JCU’s ten-bed student accommodation already on the Longreach Hospital campus.

James Cook University’s Professor Peter Leggat, AM, deputy dean of the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, has been selected as a Fulbright Ambassador, a new flagship initiative by the Australian American Fulbright Commission, which awards prestigious Fulbright Scholarships for study in the US. “Fulbright Ambassadors will contribute to enhancing and promoting the Fulbright Scholarship Program, and help to strengthen cultural and academic exchange between Australia and the US,” he said. Professor Leggat is the only Fulbright Ambassador selected based in Queensland and his initial term will run for two years over 2016–2017. Prof Leggat is a former Fulbright Scholar.

A team of leading healthcare researchers has been awarded a $9 578 895 program grant from the NHMRC to help reduce unnecessary testing and treatment, and increase the wise and appropriate use of healthcare, particularly in the areas of musculoskeletal diseases, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The four chief investigators who will lead the study, entitled Using healthcare wisely: Reducing inappropriate use of tests and treatments, are Professor Paul Glasziou from Bond University, Professor Rachelle Buchbinder from Monash University and Cabrini Institute, Professor Chris Maher from the George Institute for Global Health and Professor Kirsten McCaffery from the University of Sydney. The NHMRC grant will fund a series of national research projects across all states, led by the four chief investigators, which will be staggered over a 5-year period from January 2017. The team will partner with relevant organisations engaged in diagnostic and screening policy making to translate and disseminate its findings.

Bond University hosted an Australian-first symposium on improving the quality of medical and health research literature last month, in-line with the launch of the Australasian EQUATOR Centre. The symposium brought together some of Australia’s leading academics in the field to discuss strategies for ensuring research reporting meets the benchmarks of transparency, accuracy, reproducibility and useability, in a bid to reduce ‘research waste’. The international EQUATOR (Enhancing the QUality And Transparency Of Health Research) Centre initiative was founded in the United Kingdom in 2006, with Australasia becoming the fourth centre worldwide, joining existing branches in Canada and France. The Australasian Centre is headed by Professor Paul Glasziou and Associate Professor Elaine Beller, both of Bond University’s Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice (CREBP). Professor Glasziou said the new centre aimed to improve medical reporting in Australasia and Asia, with the aim of establishing collaborating centres in Asia in the next few years.

An $84 million Translational Research Facility has opened at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) in Melbourne. Bringing together the expertise of Monash University, the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, and Monash Health, the MHTP encourages patient-centred research and the sharing of knowledge and learning between researchers. The five-level building houses extensive medical and scientific research laboratories, cutting-edge technological units, as well as clinical trial facilities to bring the latest research directly to patients. Research focuses on six clinical streams: cancer; cardiovascular; diabetes, obesity, men’s health and endocrinology; infectious and inflammatory diseases; neuroscience and psychiatry; and women’s, children’s and reproductive medicine.

  • Cate Swannell



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