Autophagy research collaboration seeks answers to cell mystery

L to R: Professor Rodney Devenish, Professor Ana Maria Cuervo and Dr Ioannis Nezis

L to R: Professor Rodney Devenish, Professor Ana Maria Cuervo and Dr Ioannis Nezis

Researchers and students from Monash University and the University of Warwick have come together for the first time to share ideas, knowledge and expertise as part of a Monash Warwick Alliance seed funded autophagy workshop.

The study of autophagy – the recycling and repair process within cells – has been under the microscope for over a decade and has huge potential to aid in fighting the aging process, bacterial infections and diseases including cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The two-day workshop held at Monash’s Clayton campus in late September was headed by Monash University researcher Professor Rodney Devenish and Dr Ioannis Nezis of the University of Warwick.

“The main focus of the workshop was to bring people together to collaborate, build research activity and take advantage of the collective wisdom and expertise of the group to look at ways we can develop ideas and concepts for future joint funding,” Professor Devenish said.

The workshop included formal presentations, an idea-sharing forum, small group interactions and a public lecture with keynote speaker Professor Ana Maria Cuervo, a leading autophagy researcher, from the Einstein Institute in New York.

Professor Cuervo also worked with the team to discover research synergies between the two institutions.

Dr Nezis said the workshops provided collaborative opportunities for all involved:

“I presented and communicated my findings to my colleagues at Monash which led to fruitful and constructive discussions for the future of our collaborative research,” he said.

Professor Devenish said one of the key benefits of the Alliance was the opportunity to forge ongoing collaborations.

“I think the major advantage of the Alliance is the collaborative opportunities: having people interested in the same kind of things you are, who reciprocally interested in working with you.

With the joint PhD, the seed funding and other programs, the opportunities are there. It is up to people to take it up and make things happen,” he said.

“I think that main benefit of the Alliance is that both universities have similar strategic priorities and aims in research and teaching excellence,” said Dr Nezis.

Formed in early 2012, the Monash Warwick Alliance represents an innovation in higher education and research and aims to accelerate the exchange of people, ideas and information between Monash University and the University of Warwick.