Biomedical Science News

An interactive multi-modal Anatomy workshop improves academic performance

Anatomy is universally viewed as challenging with syllabi necessarily content-heavy. To succeed in this unit, students often adopt surface approaches to learning, which is not ideal for longer term retention and application of anatomy content into the clinical context. The feedback from past University of Sydney students report that whilst anatomy can be overwhelming at times and need to strategically organise their learning, they greatly enjoyed the challenge and perceived the relevance of the subject to their future professions. In an attempt to better promote deeper learning and application of anatomy to the clinical context, Associate Professor Leslie Nicholson, Dr Darren Reed and Dr Cliffton Chan, investigated a novel method of learning and teaching using a single 4-hour workshop. An interactive anatomy workshop comprising of body painting, clay modelling, quizzes and white-boarding was proposed and implemented during revision week before end-semester examination.

photo of Leslie Nicholson, Darren Reed and Cliffon Chan

All attendees reported an improvement in self-confidence with anatomical knowledge and application following the workshop. Attendees significantly improved their end-semester examination performance compared to non-attendees, accounting for any group differences. Interestingly, 97% of the workshop attendees used a combination of anatomy learning styles, which will guide future student-centred teaching practices. The study can be found in BMC Medical Education journal.

The Discipline of Biomedical Science is committed to maximising student learning experiences and continues to promote innovative approaches to learning and teaching. Associate Professor Leslie Nicholson and Dr Cliffton Chan, together with Ms Anna Janssen and Professor Tim Shaw (Charles Perkins Centre), were awarded a University of Sydney Educational Innovation Grant (2015) to investigate new methods to maximise student engagement with anatomical content. The project is entitled “Anatomically Correct: Using a team based strategy game to support anatomy education for applied sciences students”. Watch this space!

A/Professor Huq gave invited presentation at the 6th International Conference on Food Factors in Seoul S. Korea

thumb image of Nur and awards given to students

Associate Professor Fazlul Huq gave an invited presentation on the combination of targeted therapy and tumour active phytochemicals towards overcoming drug resistance in ovarian and colorectal cancers at the 6th International Conference on Food Factors (ICoFF) held in Seoul South Korea during November 23-25 2015. Four of his students – Muhammad Almoyad, Md Sheikh Anwar, Md Nur Alam and Fahad Al-Onazi also presented at the conference where Md Nur Alam received the Young Investigator Award and Fahad Al-Onazi received the best poster award.

Congratulations Nur and Fahad!

Biomedical Science staff involvement in brain awareness week at Condell Park High School

pictures of BAW activity grouped

As Dr Jin Huang’s “Scientists in Schools’’ partnership continues with the teachers of Condell Park High School (, brain awareness outreach activities were organised again this year. Our outreach program aims to promote public awareness of the benefits and progress of brain research through a variety of fun and hands-on activities. This year, Year 8 kids from Condell Park High School ( obviously enjoyed the day by providing positive feedback (4.6/5). Favourite activities were the battle between their brain waves using a Mindflex Duel machine ( and maintaining balance using massagers. They loved to have a go at lamb brain dissections. They also discovered some amazing body sensations such as how smell and taste work together!

We want to thank Australasian Neuroscience Society ( for funding these activities. Note most scientists are members of the Australasian Neuroscience Society and Sydney Chapter of The American Society for Neuroscience (

Outreach activities occur March (Brain Awareness Week) and August (Science Week). If you have studied Neuroscience, love to talk to kids and are willing to volunteer, please email Jin (). If you are interested in organising a similar event, fell free to contact Jin. She is happy to forward you the program.

Team members:

Discipline of Biomedical Science: Dr Jin Huang (leader), A/Prof Kay Double, Dr Alan Freeman, Dr Damian Holsinger, An Truong, Kathryn Mathews, Gloria Luo-Li
Discipline of Physiology: Dr Dario Protti, Charles Yates
BMC: Dr Eryn Werry
ACU: Dr Paul Tawadros

Permission were obtained from team members and school to publish photos on school bulletin and/or websites.

Brain Awareness Activities Evaluation 07/08/2015 organised by Dr Jin Huang (The University of Sydney)

Class: Year 8 (46/50 in total, 92% response rate), Condell Park High School

BAW evaluation table

Dr Darren Reed's disaster relief voluntary work in Nepal

collage of photos of Darren

Dr Darren Reed from the Discipline of Biomedical Science offered his skills as a physiotherapist in disaster relief work in Nepal. Following the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) conference in Singapore Darren travelled directly to Nepal. He arrived a week after the 7.9 earthquake that devastated the country and has resulted in 10000 deaths, over 20000 injuries and 2.8 million people displaced. Having worked previously in Nepal for 7 years as a physiotherapist and training physios, he returned to Dhulikhel Hospital (40km north east of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal), to help the dedicated team of national physios treat the enormous number of patients and to begin the process of organising the medium to long term rehab response to the disaster under the leadership of the Nepal Ministry of Health.

“I found it quite overwhelming… the sheer number of patients at the hospital. Over the first 4 weeks the hospital saw around 2000 earthquake victims and the physiotherapy team were treating over 200 patients per day with most requiring long term rehab services. Many of these were spinal cord injuries (30+), multiple fractures (100s), amputees, crush injuries, head injuries and neuropraxias. This was many times the ‘usual’ hospital capacity and wards were created in makeshift spaces that had not seen patients before. One ‘new’ orthopaedic ward had 72 beds and it wasn’t even a room before. The Nepali staff were doing a remarkable job under the circumstances and everyone who needed treatment was receiving it. The physio team also provided treatment at a nearby temporary medical camp set up by the Chinese. Besides the number of patients, a recurring problem was the discharge strategy. The hospital provided each patient with food and bedding to take with them but many patients had no home to return to."

"I was also there during the second 7.3 earthquake and we evacuated all the patients again, treating them outside for two days. Everyone is very fearful of further earthquakes and they’re ready to run at the slightest noise. The psychological trauma is immense with most patients having lost close family members. But while the stories of despair are many, there are also stories of hope. Nepalis are helping each other irrespective of caste, crops are being planted, communities are feeding each other and temporary buildings are appearing out of tin and bamboo."

"There is still a long way to go, so if you would like to contribute, the International Nepal Fellowship (INF – the organisation I worked for) has been involved in medical work in Nepal for over 60 years and has been providing immediate relief to the areas near the epicentre. It has also committed to provide 50 beds for medium to long term rehab in their Green Pastures hospital, Pokhara.