Around the universities and research institutes

Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja17.2108C2
Published online: 21 August 2017

Professor Anton Peleg, a group leader from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and also the Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Alfred Hospital and Monash University, has received a Practitioner Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Professor Peleg’s NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship – the only one received in Victoria this year – will focus on Novel solutions to antimicrobial resistant pathogens. Professor Peleg’s research will focus on four key themes. These include: basic mechanistic studies of antimicrobial resistance to identify new drug targets; the development of a new therapeutic paradigm for highly resistant pathogens - anti-virulence strategies; translational studies on eliminating biofilm infections; and clinical studies to optimise patient outcomes from antibiotic resistant infections. In collaboration with researchers and clinicians across Monash-affiliated hospitals, the university and research institutes, Professor Peleg will co-lead, with Professor Dena Lyras, another group leader at the Monash BDI, the Research Centre for Hospital Infections (RCHI). The RCHI is a Monash-wide initiative to foster innovative research and develop novel solutions to the problem of antimicrobial resistance and hospital infections.

Monash University scientist, Professor Jamie Rossjohn, has been elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences in the UK. The Academy of Medical Sciences Fellows are considered the UK’s leading medical scientists, elected for their contribution to biomedical and health research, the generation of new knowledge in medical sciences and its translation into benefits to society. Professor Rossjohn, Head of the Infection and Immunity Program at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) and also Professor of Structural Immunology at Cardiff University, Wales, was one of 46 researchers to receive this accolade. Professor Rossjohn, ARC Laureate Fellow, is recognised internationally for his contributions to the field of immunology. He has provided the basis of key immune recognition events by T cells. He has shown how T cells recognise polymorphic Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) molecules and unearthed mechanisms of HLA polymorphism impacting on drug and food hypersensitivities. Moreover, he has pioneered our understanding of lipid- and metabolite-based immunity.

Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) biostatistician Dr StellaMay Gwini has received the Professor Damien Jolley Award for excellence in statistics within a doctoral thesis. Dr Gwini’s award was for her PhD research that examined the health of Australian veterans of the 1990–1991 Gulf War. Dr Gwini said that on return from the 1990–1991 Gulf War, veterans complained of many unexplainable symptoms. “My thesis examined how symptom reporting had changed over time among Gulf War veterans. We further investigated the impact high symptomatology had on health service use,” Dr Gwini said. “The research indicated that symptom reporting increased over time and high symptom reporting was associated with increased chronic disease incidence in the longer-term. Health service use by veterans reporting many symptoms (but without chronic diseases) was similar to that of veterans with some chronic disease diagnosis indicating that the high unexplained symptom reporting exerted a sizeable health burden on veterans and the health system.” As a research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Dr Gwini’s role at MHTP and the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health is to assist researchers and students in research design and statistical aspects of their projects.

The Kirby Institute’s Professor Anthony Kelleher has started in the role of Acting Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of New South Wales. Professor Kelleher will be filling the leadership role until the current dean Professor Rodney Phillips returns from extended absence at the end of 2017, UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said. “Professor Kelleher’s stellar research career, his leadership in the strategic review of the Infection, Immunity and Inflammation theme, his important contribution to the Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE), and his extensive clinical experience makes him well placed to lead the Faculty during this critical time,” said Professor Jacobs. Professor Kelleher said he hoped to work with everyone to maintain the momentum initiated by Professor Phillips and senior members of the Faculty. “I am excited and honoured but somewhat daunted by the challenges of this position especially with the substantial recalibrations and realignments required to effectively pursue the 2025 Strategy,” he said. “I am particularly interested in maintaining the high levels of satisfaction among our students and initiating the development of a strategy to most effectively navigate the recent and continuing changes in the research funding landscape.”

University of NSW PhD student Dr Adeniyi Borire has been recognised for a manuscript on the effects of haemodialysis on intraneural blood flow in end-stage kidney disease. Dr Borire has won the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) 2017 Golseth Young Investigator Award. His research with PhD supervisors Professors Arun Krishnan and Matthew Kiernan and Dr Neil Simon and other co-authors was judged on scientific merit, methodology, manuscript form and Dr Borire’s contributions to the project. In the research, neuromuscular ultrasound was used to quantify intraneural blood flow (detectable blood flow within nerves) in 18 patients with end-stage kidney disease. Current ultrasound technology cannot detect blood flow under normal physiological conditions, however blood flow becomes detectable when nerves are diseased, because there is usually an increase in blood flow when tissue injury occurs. The research found even a single session of haemodialysis made significant improvements to blood flow, highlighting the therapeutic effect of dialysis on nerve structure and function. Dr Borire’s PhD is focused on the development of biomarkers for the early detection of axonal neuropathies, using neuromuscular ultrasound. He will formally receive his prize in the US later this year, and his abstract will be published in the journal Muscle and Nerve. The award was established in 1998 to honour Dr James Golseth, a founding member of the AANEM, and is presented annually for original research on neuromuscular and electrodiagnostic medicine.



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