Bosch Institute News 2013
Dr Michael Lovelace and colleagues, The University of Sydney
Image source: Zeiss META 510 confocal laser scanning microscope (Bosch Institute Advanced Microscope Facility).
Description: Laser therapy is currently used to treat chronic pain in patients worldwide. This study aimed to elucidate the cellular mechanisms involved in the response of neurons to laser irradiation. This image depicts a monolayer of cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRGs), Schwann and satellite cells, used in modelling the response of neurons to laser irradiation. Dye labeling of the cell membranes allows fine processes extending between DRGs to be visualized, while separately we investigated changes in mitochondrial membrane potential. Collectively, these experiments have allowed us to broaden our understanding of the cellular mechanisms involved in pain relief through laser therapy.
4TH OF NOVEMBER 2013
1st Row, from left : Brent McParland, Janette Burgess, Danuta Kalinowski, Des Richardson, Luke Henderson, Jonathan Arnold, Katie Dixon and Kay Double.
2nd Row, from left : Matthew Naylor, Nicholas Hunt, Nicholas King, Paul Pilowsky, Paul Witting, Rachel Codd, Rebecca Mason, Tailoi Chan-Ling and Zaklina Kovacevic.
Please visit the NHMRC website for more information.
24TH OF OCTOBER 2013
The winner of the 5th edition of the Nencki Award is Prof. Bogdan Dreher from the University of Sydney (Australia). Prof. Malgorzata Kossut, the chairmen of Award Council, presented the biography of the laureate. The award was given by Prof. Adam Szewczyk, Nencki Institute Director, during the 1st Nencki Symposium on: Jerzy Konorski contribution to modern neuroscience.
Professor Dreher prepared and defended his PhD thesis in Neurophysiology Department in Nencki Institute under supervision of Prof. Boguslaw Zernicki and followed up his postdoctoral training with Peter Bishop in the Department of Physiology in at Australian National University in Canberra. From 1968 he works on the University of Sydney and in 1995 he was nominated a Professor of Visual Neuroscience in the Department of Anatomy and Histology in Bosch Institute, where he leads the Laboratory of Functional Organization of Mammalian Visual System. His research is focused on the structural and functional aspects of the developing and mature mammalian visual system, mechanisms of cortical plasticity following retinal injury, and interaction of thalamic and cortical activity in the primate visual system. Professor Bogdan Dreher is a coauthor of more than 100 of journal articles and book chapters. Despite of long distance between Poland and Australia, Professor Dreher maintains close connections with the Nencki Institute hosting postdocs from the Institute and working in the board of Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis.
5TH OF SEPTEMBER 2013
Professor Des Richardson from the Sydney Medical School has a potent anti-cancer drug on the cusp of commercialisation, a major career milestone for anyone working in the field of cancer research. Yet he believes teaching his PhD students is just as important a contribution to society.
"I strongly believe one of the greatest contributions of my career has been through teaching PhD students who then go on and make their own discoveries and subsequently mentor others," Professor Richardson said.
"I'm just one individual, so my research and contribution is finite, whereas my students will generate their own thoughts, expand the research into new areas and go on to do groundbreaking work."
Professor Richardson has worked in some of Australia's major research institutes, including the Heart Research Institute, yet it is his passion for teaching that has kept him at the University of Sydney for the last eight years years.
"At research institutes there are far fewer opportunities to mentor and supervise students. Without my PhD students my research would have faltered, they are the lifeblood of my research. I provide the basic structure and ideas and my students help to bring out those ideas and generate even more."
Since he recruited his first PhD student in 1998, Professor Richardson has trained 36 PhD students. Many of his students have gone on to receive prestigious research fellowships, including Dr Zaklina Kovacevic.
Dr Kovacevic started with Professor Richardson as an Honours student. She went on to complete her PhD with him and is now undertaking her joint NHMRC and CINSW Early Career Fellowships in the same lab.
"Zaklina's research examines how a protein called NDRG1 blocks cancer cells from spreading. She is building on my previous research and has extensively added her own thoughts and ideas," Professor Richardson said.
Her studies have added to the body of knowledge into cancer treatment that Professor Richardson has been building over the past two decades. The treatment he has developed involves a new anti-cancer agent called DpC.
"DpC attacks cancer cells and prevents them from spreading. This is important as it is the spread of the cancer cells through the body that is the major cause of death. We believe they have the potential to be the 'next generation' of drugs to treat cancer," Professor Richardson said.
Since 2011, Professor Richardson has been collaborating with Jiao Tong University in Shanghai. Three surgeons from Shanghai have joined Professor Richardson's lab to receive research training for their PhD studies.
"The students are outstanding, they are 'the top of the top'. They arrive with no training in scientific research and within one year they are able to conduct their own research and write a paper for a top journal," he said.
"They then go back to China, train others to do research and become supervisors themselves."
"I want to teach my students about the love of science and how to do things properly. I'm always telling them to do one more experiment and to have another control. I'm pretty fussy about that, I want their studies to be done correctly.
"I hope my students say that they were taught well and the research they undertook was important and remains true today."
Professor Richardson's outstanding teaching was recently recognised by the Office of Learning and Teaching when they awarded him a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. He will be presented his awarded along with the eight other award recipients from the University on Tuesday 17 September. He was also the recipient of the 2013 Vice Chancellor's Award for Research Higher Degree Supervision.
9TH OF AUGUST 2013
Scientists make good bakers! The Great Microscopy Bake-off held recently (Friday 9th August 2013) at the Bosch Institute Advanced Microscopy Facility, School of Medical Sciences proved this. A chocolate mud brain cake with ventricles hollowed out and filled with chocolate mousse. The gyri, skull and eye ball made out of white fondant icing. Black food dye used for cross hatching to make the structure somewhat reminiscent of the famous woodcut illustrations in Gray's Anatomy. A raspberry coulis oozing out of the skull like blood...The Anatomists were impressed at this representation of the brain whilst others were too squirmish to look at it. This brain cake was made by Dr Haydn Allbutt, who has a passion for baking that runs in his family. Haydn researches Parkinson's disease and as a neuroscientist is all too familar with the anatomy of the brain. "This is the organ that I work on - I may be cutting it into slices and looking at it under a microscope or homogenising the tissue and examining its proteins or injecting things into it to see how that affects its structure and function". Haydn was delighted to win first prize - a cake-decorating class by Sydney's finest cake decorator Anthea Leonard (founder and owner of SweetArt). Other winning bakes included a microscope stage (MiNaScope) and gingerbread Petri dishes with perfectly streaked bacterial colonies and authentic looking microscope slides made out of transparent toffee that sat gracefully on a slide tray of thin wafer and white chocolate. Microscopists pay attention to detail and so are often creative in the kitchen.
Bosch Distinguished Seminar Series, October 2013
Professor Mark Febbraio
Heat Shock Protein 72: a Panacea for Disease Prevention?
Thursday 31 October, 2013
1.00pm - 2.00pm
Education Lecture Theatre 351, Education Building Manning Road, University of Sydney
Please click to read more (PDF 30KB).
7TH OF AUGUST 2013
Over 180 scientists gathered for the Institute's Annual Scientific Meeting - Visual Neuroscience: Australian Pioneers and Modern Challenges, at the end of June.
It was a special gathering in many ways, according to Institute Director (and convenor of the ASM's Organising Committee), Professor Jonathan Stone. The past was a strong presence, as the Meeting included tributes to a founding figure in Australian neuroscience, Professor Peter Bishop - Professor of Physiology at the University of Sydney (1955-67) and at the Australian National University (1967 -83). Many of his colleagues , men and women whom he mentored and appointed and encouraged were there, some presenting current research. Invited guests, many from North America and Europe, presented cutting-edge work in the fields which Bishop had pioneered - parallel processing in the visual system, cortical processing, the optics of the eye and the neural basis of stereopsis (three-dimensional vision). This last field of Bishop's work was recognised by award of the Australia Prize, in 1993.
The future was present as well, in two ways. Young scientists from the Bosch Institute, and from the Meeting's co-sponsor, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science, gave oral and poster presentations of their Honours, Masters and doctoral work. And Peter Bishop's son, Dr. Rod Bishop - a medical graduate of the University of Sydney - announced a major bequest from his father. This will go to establish a Fellowship in Neuroscience - the PO and HL Bishop Fellowship - which will be awarded biennially to a member of the Bosch Institute, strengthening the future of Bishop's field.
The scientific program of the Meeting, put together by co-organisers Professors Bogdan Dreher and Paul Martin, can be found here Highlights included a remarkable analysis of Bishop's intellectual legacy in the work of his colleagues and students, presented by Professor David Vaney, from the University of Queensland; a novel study presented by Professor Liam Burke - Bishop's oldest colleague - on lunar influences on visual acuity; and an analysis of the imagery of Aboriginal rock art, presented by Professor J.D. Pettigrew, who as a young student had with Bishop pioneered the phenomenon of binocular disparity, a key observation on the mechanism of stereopsis.
In closing the Meeting, Professor Stone recalled the many colleagues who could not attend through illness or circumstance, and colleagues who died, yet had left their own intellectual legacies.
Those present paused to remember the rich legacy left by these scientists, in a moment of silence.
18TH OF JULY 2013
Associate Professor Kay Double was awarded the 2013 Humboldt Alumni Prize for innovative Initiatives at the annual meeting of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in June in Berlin. The Award is linked to prize money of 25,000 Euros to support a national mentoring scheme for early career researchers established by Assoc Prof Double in Australia.
Receiving the 2013 awards were from left: Professor Randa About-Bakr (University of Cairo, Egypt), Assoc Prof Kay Double (University of Sydney, Australia), Prof Draiton Gonzaga De Souza (Pontificia Universidade Catloica do Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil) from the President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Prof Helmut Schwarz and the Secretary General of the Foundation, Dr Enno Aufderheide.
18TH OF JULY 2013
Dr Bronwen Ackermann gave a Keynote Address at the Musician’s Health & Performance 1st Nordic Conference in Pitea Sweden in June 2013 (MHPNC2013). The topic of her address was "Musicians health – past, present and future”.
Bronwen Ackermann was invited to give an overview of the field of research in musicians health over the past 30 years, including her own research in the field of musicians' health. Delegates attended from all the Scandinavian countries as well as some other European countries such as Switzerland and Germany.
Bronwen Ackermann is Australia’s leading specialist physiotherapist in the area of musicians’ health research, injury prevention and clinical treatment. She is an active clinician and researcher, working in the Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney. She currently leads the Linkage grant, Sound Practice, with all the major Australian orchestras as industry collaborators to address occupational health risks within the orchestral workplace. Bronwen Ackermann’s research interests include investigating better clinical movement analysis protocols for musicians, refining targeted rehabilitation and injury prevention strategies, and investigating physiological characteristics of elite music performers.
18TH OF JULY 2013
Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is held in March every year. This global campaign aims to increase public awareness of the benefits and progress of brain research. Fun activities and seminars happen around the world during BAW. Dr Jin Huang organised a variety of fun and hands-on BAW activities again. This year, on Friday 15/03/13, Dr Huang and her team (see below) celebrated BAW with the Year 8 kids from Condell Park High School. From the positive feedback students provided, it was clear the kids loved to get their hands dirty and lamb brain dissection was their favourite. They also discovered some amazing body sensations and found out how the brain works! Below are some of the written comments the kids provided:
- I had a great time.
- Best thing this year!
- Brilliant, perfect and enjoyable.
- This incursion was Awesome!!! We really enjoyed the activities and the Neuroscientists explained everything really well and we learned a lot. Hope to see you again soon.
- It was really fun and we will love to do this again next year.
We would like to thank Australian Neuroscience Society for funding these activities. These activities are also part of the activities organised by members of the Sydney Chapter of The American Society for Neuroscience.
Team: Drs Jin Huang (leader), Alan Freeman, Elizabeth Hegedus, Damian Holsinger, Elaine Wong and Miss Francesca Meliton; Dr Paul Tawadros (Macquarie University).
6TH OF JULY 2013
Calling all bakers, creative scientists and others!
Enter now – the inaugural Great Microscopy Bake-off. A competition to find the best creators and bakers of a Microscopy-themed or science-related cake, cupcakes or cookie decoration.
Fabulous prizes for the most creative bakes: including a complimentary cake-decorating class by one of the judges Anthea Leonard from Sweet Art!
For a bit of fun, we thought we'd host a Great Microscopy Bake-off here at the Bosch Institute AMF. All you have to do is have a go at making a Microscopy-themed or science-related cake, cupcakes or cookie-decoration. There will be prizes for the most creative bakes including a fantastic opportunity (for the budding cake decorator amongst us) to win a cake-decorating class with Anthea Leonard from Sweet Art
To enter please send an email to Dr Louise Cole (Core Facilities Manager, Bosch Institute AMF) at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday August 5th 2013 with notification that you are will be entering the competition. This competition is open to all members of the University of Sydney.
Cakes must be delivered between 9 am and 1 pm Friday August 9th 2013 to Rm S448 Anderson Stuart Building.
Winners will be announced at 3.00 pm, Friday August 9th 2013 in Anderson Stuart Tea-Room, Anderson Stuart Building F13, The University of Sydney.
Tea and coffee will be served from 2.30 pm that afternoon.
All are encouraged to enter
Please click to see a flyer.
Roger Dampney will be leaving for Boston to present 2013 Carl Ludwig Distinguished Lectureship in April
13TH OF APRIL 2013
The Carl Ludwig Distinguished Lectureship of the APS Neural Control & Autonomic Regulation Section this year is to be given by Professor Roger Dampney. Roger will present this lecture at the Meeting of the American Physiological Society on Monday, April 22 in Boston.
The Lecturer is selected by members of the NCAR Section as a representative of the best within the discipline. Roger is the second Australian to be awarded this honour, the previous recipient being Professor Murray Esler of the Baker Heart Research Institute.
Past 5 years recipients:
- 2012 Irving H. Zucker PhD, University of Nebraska College of Medicine “Sympathetic Nerve Activity in Heart Failure: a Critical Role for Central Angiotensin II Receptors”
- 2011 Professor Allyn Mark, University of Iowa College of Medicine Lecture “The Neurobiologic Regulation of Blood Pressure and Activity in Obesity: Insights from Leptin"”.
3RD OF APRIL 2013
Anti-MuSK myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease in which the patient's antibodies interfere with Muscle Specific Kinase (MuSK), a protein involved in making the synapse by which motor nerves control muscle. Patients become weak and can have trouble breathing and swallowing. Dr Marco Morsch from Associate Professor Bill Phillips laboratory, Bosch Institute, used a mouse model of anti-MuSK myasthenia gravis to test potentially useful treatments. He found that pyridostigmine, a drug that is very effective for other forms of myasthenia gravis, was of no benefit. Instead pyridostigmine exacerbated the disease process and caused weakness in mice injected with anti-MuSK patient antibodies. A second drug, 3,4-diaminopyridine offered some benefit without affecting the disease process. These translational drug studies have revealed some important clues about the way in which nerve-to-muscle signalling regulates the health of the nerve muscle connection throughout life.
Pyridostigmine but not 3,4-diaminopyridine exacerbates ACh receptor loss and myasthenia induced in mice by Muscle Specific Kinase autoantibody.
Morsch M, Reddel SW, Ghazanfari N, Toyka KV, *Phillips WD*.
J Physiol. 2013 Feb 25. [Epub ahead of print]
22ND OF FEBRUARY 2013
The 7th Annual Bosch Institute Young Investigator’s Retreat was held at the Kioloa ANU Coastal Campus, from the 19th-21st of February 2013. The retreat brought together 31 young researchers from laboratories of the Bosch Institute for 3 days. The 5 academics facilitated discussions and workshops on topics varying from effective presentation skills, academic writing, career-mentoring and fellowship applications. The retreat was the perfect environment to get to know a wide variety of graduate students and post docs from the laboratories of the Bosch Institute. The social schedule underpinned the formal workshops and provided opportunities for the academics to answer more directed career-related questions. The retreats great success is a credit to the hard work and diligence of the Bosch Young Investigator Committee under the leadership of A/Prof. Frank Lovicu. I learnt a great deal from the young investigators and the academics and I would like to take this opportunity thank all the participants.
Report by - Emma Collinson (Research Fellow)
Please click to read more.
11TH OF JANUARY 2013
For Professor Jonathan Stone and Professor Mathew Vadas, scientific collaboration is not new but recently both momentarily hung up their lab coats and collaborated in another endeavor: the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
The Bosch Institute was represented in this year’s Sydney to Hobart yacht race. The race, which starts on Boxing Day each year, has evolved into one of the iconic races in the yachting calendar – because it takes the boats south, across Bass Strait, into the ‘roaring forties’ winds, sought out by old merchant ships and modern round-the-world yachties, for a fast passage.
Bosch’s Executive Director (Jonathan Stone) and the Executive Director of the Centenary Institute (Mat Vadas) headed a campaign, in their co-owned forty-foot boat Breakthrough.
“We needed the right crew, the right boat – then a series of shakedown races, lasting through winter and spring”, says Jon Stone. “We chose the boat carefully, a modern cruiser-racer; then drew on experience and trial-and-error to put together a terrific crew. And we raced her around the Harbour over the winter, then in offshore races as far away as Southport during the spring months leading up to the big race.”
Co-owner and co-skipper Mat Vadas added “Really the first step was the right co-owners. Jon and I were BMedSci students together, in Peter Bishop’s lab (Physiology, University of Sydney) in the 1960’s. Now, at the other end our careers, this adventure was irresistible. An enormous effort, but incredibly worthwhile”.
The name of the boat? “Well, we wanted something that had a meaning in a scientific setting – it’s something we look for in our institutes, and in our own labs, now in the boat”.
The race (JS): “This race has half a dozen stages – the race out of the Harbour, then down the NSW coast to Bass Strait, then across the Strait (a hard, fast segment this time – a powerful westerly blew us across, the boat laid over on its port gunwale for 20 hours); then the race to maintain momentum down the coast of Tasmania, where often the winds fade and the race can be won or lost; then across Storm Bay, then north up the Derwent Estuary.
“Like most boats, our performance was average on some legs (for us, out of the Harbour) and brilliant in others (we were leading our Division after crossing the Strait).
“But every boat is racing hard, and will press any advantage of wind or weather that comes its way. We came in 29/77 overall and 8/16 in our Division – so, a top half finish in a major ocean race. It was Mat’s first Hobart, my second; if I were 20 years younger ………”
The memories (MV): “Always the start, the tension, anticipation, the celebration of the moment; being seasick in lumpy seas on the first afternoon; the westerly blast that drove across ‘the paddock’ (the open seas of the Strait); the cold southerlies at 43°south, where the race turns west into Storm Bay; the warm welcome from the Hobart crowds – every boat was cheered; the buzz on Constitution dock”.
Congratulations to Dr. Katie Dixon and Dr. Zaklina Kovacevic on receiving individual Cancer Institute NSW's Early Career Development Fellowship Program Grants
11TH OF JANUARY 2013
Health and Medical Research Minister Jillian Skinner has awarded $3.4 million in grants to six young researchers who are forging careers to find new treatments and a cure for cancer. Bosch Institute members Dr. Katie Dixon and Dr. Zaklina Kovacevic were two of the lucky six.
Dr. Katie Dixon’s work will focus on examining how vitamin D compounds contribute to protection of skin cells from DNA damage due to sunlight. Katie will also examine whether other newly identified compounds, which act like vitamin D, but which are cheaper and more stable, also protect against UV damage.
Dr. Zaklina Kovacevi’s work will focus on the investigation of the novel molecular target NDRG1 to better understand the underlying function of NDRG1 in pancreatic cancer and how it can potentially target this gene with novel therapeutics being developed in the lab.
Health and Medical Research Minister Jillian Skinner has awarded $3.4 million in grants to six young researchers who are forging careers to find new treatments and a cure for cancer.
Mrs Skinner said the three-year grants are part of the Cancer Institute NSW's Early Career Development Fellowship program.
"Few people can say their lives have not been touched by cancer so it is vital that we invest in fighting this terrible disease," Mrs Skinner said.
"I am committed to ensuring our best and brightest researchers have the means to discover new treatments and potentially a cure for cancer to deliver better outcomes for patients here and across the globe.
By 2021 almost 51,000 people in NSW will be told 'you have cancer'. It has never been more important to invest in cures and treatments to reduce the burden of this disease.
"The work of these six researchers will ensure patients benefit from cutting-edge cancer research as their findings are translated into better treatments and care across the NSW health system.
"By 2021 almost 51,000 people in NSW will be told 'you have cancer'. It has never been more important to invest in cures and treatments to reduce the burden of this disease," Mrs Skinner said.
The areas of research include new therapies for the prevention of skin cancer, testing novel therapies for prostate cancer and research into cancer prevention intervention specifically for disadvantaged communities.
"The work these researchers are doing is at the forefront of cancer studies. I commend them on their efforts and look forward to learning about the results of their research," Mrs Skinner said.
Professor David Currow, Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW said that investing in the future of cancer research will have a significant impact on the way we understand and treat cancers.
"I welcome this announcement as it gives certainty to our state's finest and freshest researchers to undertake their important and potentially life-saving work."
10TH OF JANUARY 2013
Congratulations to Associate Professor Kay Double on being awarded the 2013 Humboldt Prize for Innovative Network Initiatives!
The prize is awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany. This is an international prize for former Humboldt Fellows world-wide to develop schemes supportive of research and researchers in all disciplines internationally. Kay had submitted an application for support for the national mentoring program she had set up in Australia for young researchers in 2011. The prize is Euro 25,000 (to support the scheme). It will be presented in June 2013 at the Foundation's national conference in Berlin.
10TH OF JANUARY 2013
Maria Byrne joined a group flown to Antarctica by the US army in a Hercules jet as part a trip organised by 'Antarctica NZ'. She spent 20 days with University of Otago staff and post-graduates. While there, she spent time researching the effects of ocean acidification as a result of global warming on marine life.
Maria's research is focused on sea life vulnerable to climate change. Her experiments had to be continued after she left by others due to the incredibly slow growth rates in cold polar climates.
The trip also had an educational component for New Zealand school children. Students of ages ranging from 6 to 12 years old were able to have phone calls with the researchers where they could ask a variety of questions about the experience of living and researching in Antarctica.
Maria felt privileged to be able to visit Shackleton and Scott's huts'. The well preserved surrounds were a step back in time to the age of the polar expeditions. Though you cannot touch anything in the huts due to the historical and heritage importance of the sites, Maria found the experience to be truly memorable and special.
After the huts, the animals of the antarctic were another memorable part of her journey. Highlights included Adélie penguins and Weddell seals.
1ST OF JANUARY 2013
The Bosch Institute Advanced Microscopy Facility Micrograph of the Year Competition has reached its 5th year. Lots of excellent micrographs were received for this year’s competition making the judging very difficult. Congratulations to all of the prize winners and well done to all the Top 20 entrants whose images can be seen on display in the lobby of the Medical Foundation Building until the end of January.
Thank you to Dr Louise Cole and Dr Yingying Su for organising the competition and to A/Prof. Cedric Shorey (Anatomy & Histology) and Dr Jenny Whiting (ACMM) for judging the competition and to all the sponsors who so generously supported this competition: Bosch Institute, Carl Zeiss Australia, BioStrategy and Molecular Devices, Olympus Australia, Nikon Australia and Coherent Scientific, Perkin Elmer, Leica Microsystems, LasTek and LaVision BioTec. Read more...