Bosch Institute News 2011
14TH OF DECEMBER, 2011
Professor Cristobal dos Remedios (of the Muscle Research Unit) has won a Health award at the Australian Innovation Challenge out of a field of 300 entries.
He is part of a cross-discipline team of 3
Professor Marcela Bilek and Professor David McKenzie - School of Physics
Professor Tony Weiss - School of Molecular Bioscience
Professor Cristobal dos Remedios - Discipline of Anatomy and Histology, School of Medical Sciences at the Sydney Medical School
"We're really pleased to have won the Health category of the Australian Innovation Challenge, as it recognises the widespread applicability of our new technique of attaching biomolecules to surfaces," said Professor Bilek.
"There is a vast range of sensing and diagnostic devices that use biomolecules, like proteins, attached to surfaces. Our new technology will enhance the performance of these devices, as it provides a more effective way of attaching biomolecules to surfaces," explained Professor Bilek.
"The technology will also enable implantable biomedical devices that are not only biocompatible, but can stimulate optimal tissue responses in the person who has the implant. This will help reduce the problem of implants - like hip and knee replacements or stents in the heart - being rejected by the body."
Their innovation will also impact on industries such as chemical, food and biofuel manufacturing, as it will allow continuous flow enzymatic processing.
22ND OF NOVEMBER 2011
Dr Denise Donlon has been accepted as a Founding Fellow of the Faculty of Science with the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia.
The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) is responsible for the training and professional development of pathologists and for the promotion of the science and practice of Pathology.
"To promote the study of the science and practice of Pathology in relation to medicine; to encourage research in pathology and ancillary sciences, to bring together pathologists for their common benefit and for scientific discussions and demonstrations; and to disseminate knowledge of the principles and practice of pathology in relation to medicine by such means as may be thought fit."
More information is available at http://www.rcpa.edu.au/
2ND OF NOVEMBER 2011
Bosch Institute congratulates the recipients of the latest round of NHMRC funding:
1st Row, from left : Frank Lovicu, Luke Henderson, Nicholas Cole, Bogdan Dreher, Sam Solomon, Roland Stocker and Nicholas Hunt.
2nd Row, from left : Jillian Kril, Nicholas King, Paul Martin, Roger Pamphlette, Robert Vandenberg, Valery Combes and Des Richardson.
Please visit the NHMRC website for more information.
1ST OF NOVEMBER 2011
TODAY Sydney medical scientist Brian Morris can celebrate the climax of his 40-year hunt to uncover a secret central to the cause of high blood pressure.
In a scientific advance of importance to the quarter of adults in the Western world who suffer potentially lethal high blood pressure, Professor Morris and his Sydney University team will publish research today revealing the hitherto mysterious role of the enzyme renin in triggering the condition.
The research is the first of its kind to use human kidneys. It opens the way for more targeted drugs which could transform treatment of high blood pressure, a very strong risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
Professor Morris, one of Australia's leading genetic scientists, first began studying renin as a young student in the early 1970s. Now another young scientist, his PhD student, Brazilian Francine Marques, has performed the laboratory work, under his supervision, which helped clinch these new findings that may have international significance.
While renin was thought to play a significant role in high blood pressure, how it worked to achieve this was something that had eluded researchers for many years, Professor Morris said. He is professor of molecular medical sciences at the university.
His team identified the decisive role of two micro-RNAs - novel genetic material which has a destabilising effect on the production of renin from its gene.
Their research showed that in hypertensive kidneys the renin gene was six times more active while the micro-RNAs were six times less so.
''That is the key. These two micro-RNAs are very much lower in hypertensive people. So if you lose those, the renin goes up, thus raising blood pressure,'' Professor Morris said.
''This is a totally new concept Š tremendously exciting. No one has ever found anything like this to do with renin.''
The discovery of the role of the two micro-RNAs could lead to the development of hypertension drugs which could be designed to ''knock down renin expression at its source''.
Ms Marques said the finding is ''a huge breakthrough'' made possible by the donation of 42 kidneys from Polish cancer patients who had had the organs removed for medical reasons.
''The kidney has been suspected as being the culprit [of high blood pressure]. But human kidneys are hard to come by,'' Ms Marques said.
''As a result, no one had ever before studied human kidneys from hypertensive patients and no one has used the latest genomics technology to probe [the] kidney to discover the dynamics of expression of the entire genome in human hypertension.''
She is continuing her work at the University of Ballarat alongside the geneticist Dr Fadi Charchar, who helped arrange the donated kidneys.
The research is published today in the online version of Hypertension, the journal of the American Heart Association.
The news article can be read here.
10TH OF MAY 2011
Associate Professor Brett Hambly from the School of Medical Sciences has been awarded the 2011 Professor J A Young Medal for excellence in research and exemplary service to Sydney Medical School and the University, in particular in the area of postgraduate scholarships and student recruitment, and the community at large.
Brett’s research has focussed in the area of cardiovascular disease, with two broad strands. In the basic science strand, he has focussed on understanding contractile protein structure and molecular interactions, utilizing spectroscopic techniques such as spin resonance and fluorescence. In this way, a significant body of his work has progressively been able to demonstrate dynamically the conformational changes that occur in myosin that result in force generation in muscle. This earlier work has proven to be fundamental to the second strand of his research that is oriented towards the pathology of cardiac disease. He has examined a number of disease processes, in particular, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where are he has focussed on understanding protein structure and molecular interactions in the causative mutant contractile proteins. In addition, his more recent work over the last decade has included studies on cardiac ischaemia reperfusion injury as well as various vasculopathies, particularly atherosclerosis and transplant arteriosclerosis.
Over the past 20 years he has been continuously funded for his research and has during this time supervised five successful PhD students and co-supervised another 11, as well as supervising and co-supervising dozens of Science and Medicine Honours students.
His undergraduate and graduate coursework teaching has attracted outstanding feedback and he is consistently the top-ranked lecturer in Cell Pathology and performs well above average in Sydney Medical program PBL teaching. He has made major contributions to the development and implementation of a number of aspects of the Sydney Medical Program.
Brett has provided exemplary service to Sydney Medical School and the University at large, most notably in his capacity as Associate Dean (Postgraduate Scholarships and Student Recruitment) and his membership of the Postgraduate Awards Sub-Committee (PGASC) of the Academic Board. He joined this committee in 2005 as the Chair of the Health Cluster ranking committee (Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and now including Nursing) and is now the 2nd longest serving person on the PGASC. Over the past six years, Brett has worked tirelessly as an advocate for research students in the health faculties, in particular Medicine, and fought for recognition of their qualifications and professional and research experience in the University’s ranking system for Australian Postgraduate Awards (APAs) and also International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS). In 2010 the proportion of APAs awarded to postgraduate students in Medicine had risen from approximately 15% to 20%.
Brett’s service to the community includes the provision of leadership in professional associations, including as an executive member of the Australian Society for Biophysics for 15 years as NSW State Representative, Treasurer, Vice-President and President (2007-2008).
11TH OF MARCH 2011
The Bosch Institute of the University of Sydney is pleased to announce the first award of a Bosch Translational Fellowship. These awards are designed to facilitate the implementation of scientific discovery arising from Bosch Institute laboratories into clinical practice.
The Fellowship, valued at $25,000 per annum for two years, will enable Dr David Lovejoy, a senior post-doctoral researcher working in Professor Des Richardson’s Iron Metabolism and Chelation Program, Department of Pathology and Bosch Institute (USYD), in collaboration with the Sydney Cancer Centre (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) to work towards carrying out ‘First-in-man’ clinical trials at the Sydney Cancer Centre, RPA hospital.
Professor Chris Murphy, Associate Dean and Head of the School of Medical Sciences of which Pathology and the Bosch Institute are parts said: "As with new drugs, getting scientific discoveries in to the clinic where they can directly benefit the health of the taxpayers who funded them is a difficult step and these Translational Fellowships are an attempt to speed the process. I am very pleased that we have been able to facilitate it"
Professor Jonathan Stone, Executive Director of the Bosch Institute, said: "Our plan is to overcome the difficult step of taking a discovery out of the lab, where the scientist is comfortable, to clinical practice, where scientists cannot be in charge. But it is critical to our mission that biomedical discovery is deployed clinically; these Fellowships are designed to ensure this".
The work which Dr Lovejoy will undertake will greatly facilitate entry into clinical trials of a promising new anti-cancer drug developed in the laboratory of Professor Des Richardson (Pathology), who commented, “I am thrilled at the announcement of this award. This award will greatly accelerate progress towards clinical trial of our promising anticancer drug. We certainly are looking forward to strengthening our relationship with the Sydney Cancer Centre and are hopeful that this award will lead to clinical trials and better treatments for cancer patients.”
Dr Lovejoy is currently a senior post-doctoral researcher in Professor Richardson’s Iron Metabolism and Chelation Program, Department of Pathology and Bosch Institute, University of Sydney.
Professor Des Richardson is a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow and holds the chair of Cancer Cell Biology at the Department of Pathology and Bosch Institute, University of Sydney.
Professor Stone holds a chair of Retinal and Cerebral Neurobiology at the University of Sydney
Professor Chris Murphy holds the Bosch Chair of Histology and Embryology and is also Professor of Female Reproductive Biology in The University of Sydney.
7TH OF MARCH 2011
The Byrne Lab's research was featured in an article in Sydney Morning Herald in an article "Rising ocean temperatures will be devastating for Sea Urchins and Abalone".
The news article can be read here.
Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia
27TH OF JANUARY 2011
Professor Ben Freedman - Professor of Cardiology, Deputy Dean, Sydney Medical School and Bosch Institute Board Member has been awarded the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia for service to medicine as a clinician, educator and researcher. Congratulations Ben!
1ST OF JANUARY 2011
Bosch Institute’s Executive Director, Jonathan Stone, completes the Rolex 2010 Sydney to Hobart in the smallest yacht in the fleet.
Professor Stone is co owner (with Professor Mathew Vadas, Centenary Institute} of Illusion, a Davidson 34, which crossed the finish line in 66th place. Stone was thrilled and proud with the outcome, as it was his first Sydney to Hobart, and Illusion ranked 43rd on handicap, and 5th in her Division.
“It was dangerous but beautiful,” said Stone, describing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s annual 628 nautical mile race. “We loved the last two days of the race, just beautiful sailing, in following winds, calm seas, a welcome from Tasmania’s dolphins and sunsets over the islands. But we had three nights of bedlam”. Illusion and all the fleet of 87 yachts had battled gale conditions during the long southward passage along the NSW and Tasmanian coasts.
Hobart veterans later described race conditions as ‘classic’, with the fleet surviving fierce fronts at sea (17 boats pulled out with damaged gear or injured crew), and then chasing light and shifting winds across Storm Bay, the great harbour which gives access to the Derwent estuary and the finish line, off Constitution Dock.
Line honours in ocean racing epics like the Sydney to Hobart always go to the ‘super-maxis’, three times longer, 30 times bigger than the Division 4 boats. “The maxis are superb machines; awe-inspiring” said Stone. “Our effort was in the old tradition of the race, of mates having a go in a well-prepared little boat with a willing and determined crew”.
Asked if he would consider competing in the race again the reply was “definitely”.