Monash research snapshots
Ancient story offers modern lessons
What was Australia like before people? How did humans first adapt to our environment? These questions are at the centre of a new national effort to study the environmental, historic and Indigenous heritage of Australia.
Monash University will play a leading role in the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, a $45.7 million research program to find out what Australia’s ancient story can teach us about ourselves and our environment today.
Helping women give birth safely
Women in developing countries are often at risk of dying from postpartum haemorrhage because access to the lifesaving medicine oxytocin is severely limited. Injectable oxytocin must be stored in a refrigerator to maintain efficacy and must be administered by a healthcare worker trained to give injections.
In an innovation that could save hundreds of thousands of women, Monash researchers have developed a new form of oxytocin, which can be stored at room temperature and is inhaled by the patient. The product can be used with minimal training.
A ripple in the fabric of space-time
Two giant black holes collided 3 billion years ago, forming a wave in the fabric of space-time. The wave had become a tiny ripple by the time it passed Earth in January, when it was detected by a 1000-strong group of international astronomers, including researchers at Monash University.
It was the third time in two years that astronomers, part of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), picked up a gravitational wave, a phenomenon first predicted by Albert Einstein in his theory of general relativity.
Busting myths about pregnancy
University researchers have taken part in the world’s largest study of exercise and diet in pregnancy, which found that excess weight gain puts women at greater risk of preterm birth, caesarean sections and gestational diabetes.
Professor Helena Teede says the study dispelled the myth that “eating for two” is a normal and healthy part of pregnancy
Technology keeps passengers on track
The University is helping countries around the world install the most advanced technologies on their train networks.
In July, the University’s Institute of Railway Technology announced a partnership with the Hong Kong MTR Corporation to install state-of-the-art monitoring technologies on its mass transit passenger network. Real-time monitoring developed by Monash makes trains more efficient and improves the passenger experience.
Power of 3D printing
The University commissioned the world’s largest 3D metal printer, the only one of its kind outside the US and Europe, to print an 11-kilogram door hinge from a Chinese jet airliner.
Professor Xinhua Wu, who leads the Monash 3D printing initiative, says the printer can make large complex shapes that are lighter and less wasteful than their traditional counterparts.
Research and industry join forces on rheumatoid arthritis
Professor Jamie Rossjohn and his team at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute have joined forces with Janssen Biotech for a major research project into rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. The agreement has the potential to deliver significant relief to the millions of people who suffer from the debilitating disease.
Pioneering diabetes department at Alfred
Australia’s only university department dedicated to research into diabetes was launched in August by the federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt.
Monash’s Department of Diabetes, led by Professor Mark Cooper AO, a senior endocrinologist at the Alfred Hospital, will comprise a team of 60 scientists researching strategies to combat diabetes and its complications, including kidney and heart disease, and blindness. Diabetes affects 1.7 million Australians.
Dollars for dementia research
More than 6.4 million Australians will be diagnosed with dementia in the next 40 years, a national health crisis that prompted the federal government’s Boosting Dementia Research Initiative.
On a mission to stop mosquito-borne disease
Dengue fever is a deadly disease spread by mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus that infects millions of people every year. But research by Monash scientists has shown that a naturally occurring bacteria, Wolbachia, can be introduced into mosquito populations to prevent the spread of the virus to people.
Researchers at the World Mosquito Program (formerly the Eliminate Dengue program) are now looking for ways to translate this approach to at-risk communities around the world.
Enhancing Australian security
Another ARC Linkage grant will help Monash researchers address mathematical challenges in security systems, such as developing technology to distinguish between harmless noise and genuine security issues.
The project, led by ARC Australian Laureate Fellow Professor Kate Smith-Miles, will boost the global competitiveness of the Australian security industry.
And now for the weather...
Associate Professor Steven Siems of Monash’s School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment, is leading a project (supported by an ARC Linkage grant) to improve forecasting rainfall and snowfall in complex mountain terrain. The identification of the physical processes that enhance and redistribute rainfall and snowfall over the alpine regions across Tasmania and south-east Australia, will lead to more accurate forecasts, better water management and development of pumped hydro capabilities.