Around the universities and research institutes

Cate Swannell
Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja16.0509C2
Published online: 5 September 2016

Monash University’s Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences has presented the David de Kretser Medal and Lifetime Achievement Award to two distinguished medical scientists and educators. Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor David de Kretser, was this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Professor Leon Piterman received the David de Kretser Medal. The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution – nationally and internationally – to human health and wellbeing, while the Medal is awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to any area of the Faculty’s operation over a significant period of his or her working life. Professor de Kretser’s links with the Faculty date back to 1969 when he received his MD from Monash. As a reproductive endocrinologist, his academic career at Monash University has included appointments as Professor of Anatomy, the founding Director of the Monash Institute of Medical Research and the Associate Dean for Biotechnology Development. In 2003, he was named a Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor. He served as the 28th Governor of Victoria from 2006 to 2011 and is a Companion of the Order of Australia. He resumed his research career at Monash University in April 2011. Professor Piterman is a Professor of General Practice at Monash University and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Monash’s Berwick and Peninsula campuses. He is also a past member of the Board of Examiners of the Australian Medical Council, the RACGP, and sits on various university, professional and government expert committees. He is a Board Member/Director of the Royal District Nursing Service, Berwick Health Care and the Insight School for Visually Handicapped Children.

James Cook University is one step closer to expanding its tropical health and medicine research, with the announcement of the successful tenderer to build the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) facilities on JCU’s Cairns campus. Hutchinson Builders has won the construction contract for the development. The Head of JCU’s Cairns campus, Professor Robyn McGuiggan said research facilities at the campus will be enhanced with the $24.5 million project, which includes the construction of the new AITHM building and a refit of some existing research facilities. The new site, adjacent to existing AITHM space, will include two floors of research and office spaces including a Physical Containment Level 2 (PC2) laboratory that will expand the AITHM’s capacity to conduct research and training in virology, viral diseases and vector control, and the development of new treatments and vaccines for tropical diseases. The project is jointly funded by the Federal and Queensland governments. The Federal Government has contributed $18 million to the project via the Australian Research Council’s Special Research Initiative Scheme. The Queensland Government has provided funding of $6.5 million. Construction is expected to be completed by late 2017. Jackson Architecture and Fisher & Buttrose Architects are the project’s architects.

Research and medical teaching will be boosted at the Lyell McEwin Hospital with the University of Adelaide’s first Chair of Medicine based at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, in a joint appointment with the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network (NALHN). Professor Mark Boyd will provide leadership in teaching and research, promoting a culture of research and teaching excellence, as well as undertaking clinical duties and supervision of junior medical staff. Professor Boyd is an internationally recognised infectious disease expert. He has led project teams in HIV research in Thailand, as well as at the Kirby Institute for infection and immunity at the University of New South Wales. He has had a key role in two major, multicentre, international randomised clinical trials (SECOND-LINE and Encore1) sponsored by the Kirby Institute, which have brought changes to the WHO guidelines on the antiretroviral management of HIV infection in adults and adolescents. Until recently Professor Boyd was an Associate Professor at the Kirby Institute, a consultant physician in HIV Medicine and Infectious Diseases and a Visiting Medical Officer in inner Sydney as well as regional NSW. In 2014 he was awarded the Frank Fenner Award for Advanced Research in Infectious Diseases by the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases. He has published more than 100 papers, book chapters, reviews and commentaries and been an investigator on grants worth in excess of $17 million.

University of NSW’s Professor Minoti Apte has been honoured at the NSW Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research for her work on pancreatic cancer. Professor Apte received the Professor Rob Sutherland AO Make a Difference Award, which recognises highly successful research that is actively changing cancer treatment and improving patient survival. Professor Apte also received a $20 000 cash prize to support her research endeavours. Professor Apte, from UNSW Medicine’s South Western Sydney Clinical School, is internationally renowned for her research into pancreatic pathophysiology and cancer. As the Director of the Pancreatic Research Group at the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, Professor Apte and her team were the first to show that cells surrounding pancreatic cancer cells, called pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs), actively help cancer cells to grow and spread. They are now working towards developing novel treatments for pancreatic cancer using pre-clinical models.

Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences (MICCN) Research Fellow, Dr Nigel Rogasch, has been awarded the 2016 Early Career Researcher (ECR) Award at this year’s Australasian Brain Stimulation Meeting. The ABSMeet ECR Award recognises outstanding achievement in the field of Brain Stimulation by an individual researcher within the first 5 years of their post-doctoral work. Dr Rogasch’s research focuses on combining non-invasive brain stimulation techniques with neuroimaging methods to investigate brain function. He is particularly focused on which neural mechanisms are important for short-term memory, how these mechanisms are disrupted in people with schizophrenia, and how brain stimulation can be used to alter these mechanisms. At ABSMeet 2016, Dr Rogasch introduced the transcranial magnetic stimulation electroencephalography (TMS-EEG) signal analyser (TESA); open-source software that he has developed for analysing combined brain stimulation/neuroimaging data. This software is the first of its kind internationally, and was developed in collaboration with researchers in Australia, Finland and Canada.

Monash University has announced its 2016 Dean’s Awards for Excellence which were presented by Professor Ross Coppel, Deputy Dean and Director of Research at the Faculty Executive meeting on Monday 1 August. The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research Impact (Economic and Social Impact) was won by Professor Peter Gibson, Dr Jane Muir and the FODMAP team from the Department of Gastroenterology, Central Clinical School. The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Education (Innovation in Teaching) was given to Ms Kristal Lee, from Department of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences. Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Administration went to Ms Leanne Sultana, from the School of Biomedical Sciences, and Ms Melissa Edwards, from the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health.

  • Cate Swannell



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