News and Events in Physiology



Faculty of Medicine Awards
At the recent Faculty of Medicine dinner, Dr Daniel Johnstone was officially congratulated for receiving a Young Tall Poppy Award from the Australian Institute of Policy and Science and for his nomination as President-Elect of the Australian Society for Medical Research. Under International Awards, it was noted that Professor John Hearn had been awarded a prestigious degree - an Honorary Doctorate of Science by University College Dublin. Senior Technical Officer Adel Mitry received a richly deserved award for "Exceptional performance by professional staff". We join the Faculty in congratulating Dr Daniel Johnstone, Professor John Hearn and Mr Adel Mitry


Educational Innovation Grants for Physiology

Prof Philip Poronnik awarded a Large Educational Innovation Grant

Philip Poronnik together with grant partners Margot Day and Tina Hinton were awarded $25,000 for the project: "Creative coding tools for immersive engagement and learning of statistical analysis" Statistical analysis and thinking forms the basis of all scientific endeavour, yet in the biosciences we continue to battle with students whose grasp of statistics is less than optimal for dealing with the kinds of data that we are generating in our practical classes and research activites. This project aims to use a creative coding framework to develop a suite of statistical tools to allow a new level of creativity and hence student engagement in the learning of statistics and the analysis and representation of data. This project is in collaboration with Dr Oliver Bown, a world expert in coding and multimedia in Design UNSW.

Dr Dario Protti awarded Small Educational Innovation Grant

Dario Protti together with grant partners Rebecca Mason, Bill Phillips and Tina Hinton who were awarded a $9,975 for the project “Deeper learning engagement through hands-on experience with equipment assembly and collection of electrophysiological data.” The project aims to develop a new set of practical classes for Advanced Neuroscience students (NEUR3906) designed to enhance their hands-on experience and assembly of do-it-yourself equipment for electrophysiological recordings. Students will learn about alternative ways of collecting data from electrophysiological experiments using off-the-shelf electronics. The new practical classes will allow students to gain an understanding of the process and constraints involved in electrophysiological experiments and data acquisition.


Sydney Medical School Awards
Congratulations to the intermediate Physiology team: Dane King, Sharon Herkes, Isabel Arnaiz, Clare Gordon-Thomson and Nick Randall (now at MEU), on receiving a Sydney Medical School Award for Support of the Student Experience for "Introducing a blended learning program for practical classes". The award includes $5000 to be spent on consumables or equipment. The award will be announced by the Dean at the Sydney Medical School Faculty meeting on December 3rd. An enormous amount of effort, teamwork and ideas has been put in by the awardees to build up experience with the LabTutor and associated programs for prac classes. The outcomes have been very positive and able to be translated to other student learning experiences. A richly deserved award!


Congratulations to Dr Dan Johnstone
Dr Dan Johnstone received a prestigious Young Tall Poppy Science Award at a ceremony held at the Museum of Applied Arts and Science in Sydney on the 22nd October. The Young Tall Poppy program, run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS), aims to promote awareness and recognition of Australia’s outstanding intellectual achievers and to encourage younger generations to follow in their footsteps through undertaking further study and careers in the sciences. Applicants are assessed on both “excellence in research achievement in the sciences” and “excellence and passion in communication and community engagement to promote understanding and engagement in science”. Dan, as many may know, has served on the ASMR Council for some time. Dan was nominated for the award by A/Prof Kay Double from the Discipline of Biomedical Sciences.


Honours Boards for Physiology Prize-winners
A function was held on 23 July 2015 in the Common Room of the Anderson Stuary building, for the unveiling of Honours Boards (see picture below), that list the names of former winners of the major undergraduate Physiology prizes: the Colin Dunlop Prize, Frank Cotton Prize, PO Bishop Medal and the Claude Bernard Prize. The function was attended by approximately 40 former winners of these prizes, and members of their families. The Honours Boards will be hung in the Anderson Stuart Common Room. The Honours Boards project was initiated by the Heritage Committee of the Anderson Stuart building, and was funded by the Discipline of Physiology. Photographs of people attending the unveiling function were taken by Clive Jeffery, and can be seen here.


University to launch Brain and Mind Centre
The BMRI has received the wonderful accolade of being chosen by the University Executive to be a Strategic Priority Area for Collaboration (SPARC) in the future strategic planning of the University. The BMRI is about to transition to become the hub of a Brain and Mind Centre of the University. The Brain and Mind Centre will bring together all of the University’s various disciplines in health and medical research, science, psychology, engineering, and information technology, and also its expertise in ethics, law, philosophy, economics, education, workplace structure and social organisation. Now, as the Brain and Mind Centre, it will significantly expand the breadth and depth of our multidisciplinary research to set new standards in brain and mind sciences both in Australia and internationally.

For more information and the Brain & Mind Research Institute history can be found here.


Professor John Hearn conferred a Doctor of Science (Honoris causa)
In July, 2015, Professor John Hearn was conferred Doctor of Science (Honoris causa) by University College, Dublin, on 16 June 2015. The citation noted his research and teaching in fertility, stem cell science, international policy in regenerative medicine, and in higher education reform. Also cited was his leadership in international universities, agencies and networks. The occasion was also a personal celebration of the 50th anniversary of the meeting of John and his now wife, Margaret, when undergraduates sharing a lab at UCD.

Hearn in Dublin Photo shows UCD Vice Chancellor Andrew Deeks, Professor John Hearn, Professor Thomas Bolger – head of the school of biological and environmental sciences, UCD.


Movember Foundation and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia Grant
An International, multidisciplinary team has been awarded $3.25M over 3 years from the Movember Foundation and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA). Led by A/Prof Lisa Butler in Adelaide and including Dr Andrew Hoy, the project will address one of the most urgent needs in prostate cancer management – the ability to distinguish, at the time of diagnosis, between patients with significant life-threatening cancer, and those with organ-confined cancer that may not need to be treated at all. The project will focus on lipids in prostate tumours as a completely new way of predicting the cancer’s future behaviour. The aim is to identify a specific signature of lipids that can be readily detected in the tumour tissue, using state-of-the-art imaging, to help determine which tumours are more likely to spread aggressively through the body.

Dr Hoy will be leading the investigation into the link between obesity and prostate cancer. Currently, a link exists between obesity and the incidence of prostate cancer. Additionally, obesity influences lipid metabolism in prostate cancer. This project will also help to better understand the role of altered lipid metabolism and prostate cancer biology and disease progression, the role of exogenous fatty acids (dietary and from fat stores), and therefore the potential modifying role of obesity in disease and treatment.

  Movember Foundation
  Movember Revolutionary Team Chief Investigators L to R: Dr Andrew Hoy, Prof Gary Wittert, A/Prof Lisa Butler, Prof Andrew Scott, Prof Wayne Tilley, Prof Johannes Swinnen

Associate Professor Lisa Butler (Team Leader) from the Uni of Adelaide’s Prostate Cancer Research Group, SAHMRI – Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health

Professor Wayne Tilley from the Uni of Adelaide’s Adelaide Prostate Cancer Research Centre, Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories, Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health

Professor Gary Wittert, University of Adelaide, Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health

Professor Andrew Scott, The Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Melbourne

Dr Andrew Hoy, the University of Sydney

Professor Johannes Swinnen, the University of Leuven, Belgium

Arthur V. Everitt, 1924–2014
Arthur Everitt passed away on 30 Dec 2014 at age 90. After his retirement in 1983 Arthur maintained a close association with Physiology. He graduated BSc First Class Honours and University Medal in 1953 and was made a Teaching Fellow, then temporary Lecturer in 1955, Lecturer in 1960 and Associate Professor from 1972. In 2008 he received the Distinguished Achievement award from the American Aging Association.


Brian Morris awarded Irvine Page - Alva Bradley Lifetime Achievement Award
Congratulations to Professor Emeritus Brian Morris who received the prestigious Irvine Page-Alva Bradley Lifetime Achievement Award for 2014 at the American Heart Association Council for High Blood Pressure Research annual scientific meeting in San Francisco held from 8-12 September. The Council noted that this important honour is bestowed only on outstanding cardiovascular investigators and leaders. The accompanying photo shows the President of the Council (left) presenting the plaque to Professor Emeritus Morris (right) following his award Lecture at the conference.

  Brian Morris

Call for Circumcision Gets a Boost
In an important new study published in advance in Mayo Clinic Proceedings on April 2, Professor Emeritus Brian Morris and his colleagues showed that the benefits of infant male circumcision to health exceed the risks by over 100 to 1. The study showed that over their lifetime half of uncircumcised males contract an adverse medical condition caused by their foreskin. Further analyses showed an alarming six percentage points fall in circumcision prevalence in the United States from a high of 83% in the 1960s. Whereas prevalence is currently 91% in whites, it is 76% in blacks and only 44% in Hispanics. The overall fall was mostly due to the rise in the Hispanic population and the lack of Medicaid coverage for circumcision in public hospitals in 18 states. The findings add considerable weight to the latest American Academy of Pediatrics policy that supports education and access for infant male circumcision as a desirable public health policy. The Editor reported that the article attracted unprecedented news media coverage internationally, including the New York Times and American TV broadcasters NBC and CBS. For an overview see the accompanying youtube