Archived News for Research Sector Professionals - March, 2012
Sydney doctor and philanthropist Tom Wenkart has donated $4 million to endow the University of Sydney Wenkart Chair in Endothelium Medicine at the Centenary Institute.
The inaugural Chair is Jennifer Gamble, Professor of Vascular Biology and one of the pioneers of endothelium research.
Professor Gamble's work has already transformed our understanding of the role of endothelial cells.
"Fifty years ago we just regarded blood vessels as simple pipes," she said. "Today we know that they're much more complex - a living, changing organ that rapidly reacts to threats.
"You prick your finger on a rose thorn - within the hour the wound is inflamed and itching as your body mobilises to fight infection. That's the endothelium in action," says Professor Gamble.
These same endothelial cells are implicated when things go wrong in atherosclerosis and auto-immune disease. And tumours need endothelial cells to form blood vessels - without new blood vessels, tumours won't grow.
We each have within us some 80,000 kilometres of pipelines, that carry the essential supplies needed to all parts of our body. The endothelial cells that form this network of blood vessels are essentially a hidden organ weighing about one kilogram.
The endothelial cells maintain these perfect, smooth pipelines year after year but then, when there's an accident they turn into traffic police within minutes, allowing white blood cells to pass through the wall of the blood vessels, and giving emergency services access to the scene.
In 1985, working in Seattle and Adelaide, Professor Gamble showed that if endothelial cells are stimulated then white blood cells bind to them - the start of inflammation.
Now we know much more about the role of these cells in immunity, heart disease, cancer and other conditions. But Professor Gamble says it's still early days in this field of study.
"I hope that, over the next decade or two we'll be able to understand and control the endothelium in diseases — especially inflammation and those associated with ageing such as atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's."
Tom Wenkart says that's what excites him about this field of research. "These endothelial cells play a critical role throughout the body. I believe they're the key to understanding heart disease, for example. What is happening in my body today that could lead to a heart attack in 20 years?"
The Centenary Institute, University of Sydney is an independent leader in medical research seeking improved treatments and cures for cancer, cardiovascular and infectious diseases.
The Dow Chemical Company and The University of Queensland have unveiled a strategic partnership that will establish the Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation.
Funded through a Dow contribution worth $10 million over the next six years, the newl Centre will pursue a program of research and collaboration aimed at harnessing solutions to the sustainability challenges of the 21st Century.
“This is a lighthouse initiative - hot-housing innovation at the urban energy, water and carbon nexus, which will attract international attention to the issues of sustainability and position Dow and UQ as leaders, achievers and contributors to society,” Dow Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Liveris said.
Dr Bates Gill, formerly Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.
The Federal and Victorian Governments have announced nearly $100 million in joint funding initiative to keep the Melbourne based Australian Synchrotron running for the next four years.
The Federal Government has announced $3.5 million in funding for 14 adaptation research projects to help governments, industry and communities further prepare for the impacts of climate change.
Researchers at Monash University will lead Victoria’s largest study of prostate cancer.
Led by Associate Professor Mark Frydenberg at Monash University, the Cancer of Prostate Translational Research in Victoria (CAPTIV) project has been awarded a $2 million Victorian Cancer Agency research grant.
Experts from Monash University and other institutions, including Melbourne University, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Epworth Health and Ludwig Institute, will investigate the genetic basis of prostate cancer with the aim of developing new pharmaceutical treatments. They will also look at the treatment options for men with low-risk prostate cancer.
Associate Professor Frydenberg said the scale of the CAPTIV project will mean a rapid translation of promising research to viable treatments.
"Being part of the largest collaborative prostate cancer research and trials program undertaken in Victoria to date, our clinicians and researchers will have unique access to clinical specimens. This will allow us to perform better pre-clinical studies of promising drug treatments for early and advanced prostate cancer," Associate Professor Frydenberg said.
"Another benefit is that the CAPTIV project will encourage researchers and clinicians to work together more closely, meaning better outcomes for patients in a shorter timeframe."
Professor Gail Risbridger, CAPTIV project researcher and Research Director of the Monash Comprehensive Cancer Consortium, which supported the CAPTIV project application, said strategic collaboration was vital to effectively combat disease.
“Monash University is invested in providing better outcomes for patients with prostate cancer and that requires the input of Victoria's best people, both in the laboratory and the clinic," Professor Risbridger said.
"The involvement of groups such as the Monash Comprehensive Cancer Consortium, whose member organisations, in addition to carrying out research, treat around 30 per cent of Melbourne's cancer patients, makes bringing together the right researchers and clinicians a more achievable goal. The CAPTIV project is a great example of this.”
The University of Wollongong (UOW) and Ecotech have announced a partnership to manufacture and distribute a comprehensive greenhouse gas analyser to worldwide markets.
Based on technology developed by researchers at UOW’s School of Chemistry, the new Ecotech instrument, known as the Spectronus analyser, delivers a high precision, real-time analysis of all principal greenhouse gases.
The Spectronus analyser has, according to its researchers, capabilities unmatched by its competitors.
The analyser has applications in background air monitoring and in quantifying the emissions and uptake of greenhouse gases by ecosystems and industries, especially agriculture.
“Policy decisions based on climate change research demand precise, highly accurate and repeatable data for all greenhouse gases, not just CO2,” according to the Head of the UOW Research Team, Professor David Griffith.
Other gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, along with water vapour, are all important in any comprehensive assessment of atmospheric effects on and by climate change.
The Spectronus analyser offers, for the first time, a single high-accuracy instrument which simultaneously measures important greenhouse gases.
“One of the major benefits of the analyser is its long-term performance stability without the need for frequent calibration,” Ecotech’s Managing Director, Nicholas Dal Sasso said.
The Spectronus hardware is complemented by powerful operating software which results in a flexible, fully-automated system that can be controlled remotely.
Ecotech is an Australian-owned company with more than 35 years’ experience providing environmental monitoring solutions. It specialises in ambient air, emissions, dust, process gas, water and blast monitoring solutions, and exports instruments throughout the world.
Legislation amending the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act)to establish an Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development has been referred for inquiry to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications.
Australian and Korean radio telescopes have been linked for the first time, producing a system with 100 times the resolving power of the Hubble Space Telescope.
CSIRO has launched the Organic Geochemistry of Mineral Systems Cluster to bring geochemistry researchers together from across the globe to investigate the organic and inorganic geochemistry of minerals.
Health and medical research organization, Research Australia, has launched a new blog facility, ‘Transmission’ that focus principally on the policy and advocacy area.
Professor Glyn Davis, Chair of Universities Australia and Vice-Chancellor, University of Melbourne, has announced that Universities Australia will develop a comprehensive statement for Australian higher education policy.
A new Asia-Pacific Centre for Neuromodulation (APCN) in Brisbane is to be established as a joint initiative of The University of Queensland and St Andrew's War Memorial.
Monash University Chancellor, Dr Alan Finke, has been appointed as the new President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE).
Dr Finkel, a prominent Australian engineer and technology entrepreneur, will take up the role on 1 January 2013, succeeding former Australian chief scientist Professor Robin Batterham.
Dr Finkel said that as president of ATSE, he would be focusing on improving public discussion and policy on key national issues where applied science and technology can offer solutions.
Dr Finkel currently holds the roles of Chief Technology Officer of Better Place Australia and Chairman of the Australian Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics. He has been the Chancellor of Monash University since January 2008.
The Queensland Institute of Medical Research and The University of Queensland have announced a joint research partnership to tackle global problems in infectious diseases research.
The Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre will bring together researchers from the two organisations to support research into diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and schistosomiasis.
Both organisations have pledged funds to support joint PhD scholarships and to nurture collaborations in infectious diseases research.
The Director of UQ's Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre, Professor Mark Walker, said the new partnership would leverage the research strengths of both organisations, resulting in new opportunities in health research.
"The combination of expertise from UQ and QIMR will ensure rapid progress is made in the detection, understanding, treatment and prevention of a range of infectious diseases problems," Professor Walker said.
"With a child still dying of malaria on average every minute and Australians constantly under threat from tropical diseases such as dengue fever, we still have a lot of work to do," said Professor James McCarthy, Coordinator of QIMR's Infectious Diseases Program.
"For QIMR, infectious diseases have been the cornerstone of our research with the Institute forming in 1945 to tackle tropical diseases affecting Queenslanders.
"This partnership is testament to the great work currently being undertaken in Queensland and will further strengthen existing collaborations between our two great Institutions.
"It will pave the way for even greater synergies and allow us to use our complementary research strengths.
The CSIRO and Cotton Seed Distributors have announced a five-year, $35 million extension to their existing agreement to fund projects through the Cotton Breeding Australia join venture, which has been running since 2007.