New collaborations for stroke, evolutionary development and kidney research

 L-R (Top row): Dr Luca Fiorenza, Dr Brett Paterson, Dr Francine Marques and Dr Brad Broughton. (Front row): Associate Professor Alistair Evans, Professor Kate Denton, Associate Professor Barbara Kemp-Harper and Professor John Bertram. Absent: Dr Justin W Adams.
L-R (Top row): Dr Luca Fiorenza, Dr Brett Paterson, Dr Francine Marques and Dr Brad Broughton. (Front row): Associate Professor Alistair Evans, Professor Kate Denton, Associate Professor Barbara Kemp-Harper and Professor John Bertram. Absent: Dr Justin W Adams.

Researchers from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) are involved in three of the six successful Faculty of Science and Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (MNHS) Interdisciplinary Research Seed Funding grants.

Dr Brad Broughton (Pharmacology), Dr Francine Marques (Biological Sciences) and Associate Professor Barbara Kemp-Harper (Pharmacology) received funding for their research project titled ‘Does a post-stroke high fibre diet improve outcomes and recovery?’

Stroke is Australia’s leading cause of disability and a high proportion of patients will unfortunately suffer a recurrent stroke. Poor eating habits, particularly a lack of foods high in fibre are thought to contribute to poor stroke outcomes.

In fact, according to the research team, a high fibre diet plays a crucial role in regulating the bacteria (microbiome) within the gut, and it is well documented that the gut microbiome of stroke patients is typically much different to healthy patients.

“This project will test whether following a stroke, a diet high in fibre can improve long-term outcomes and recovery,” Dr Broughton said.

Dr Luca Fiorenza (Anatomy and Developmental Biology), Associate Professor Alistair Evans (Biological Sciences), Dr Justin W Adams (Anatomy and Developmental Biology), Dr Renaud Joannes-Boyau (Southern Cross University) and Dr Ottmar Kullmer (Senckenberg Research Institute) have been funded for a project on ‘The impact of climate change on growth and development in marsupial and placental mammals’.

The last three million years have been characterised by strong climatic instability that drove many species to extinction. However, how climate change over this timescale has affected the growth and development of mammals cannot currently be assessed.

“In this project, we will use a highly-innovative approach based on tooth biochemistry. This allows us to accurately measure dietary, physiological and behavioural responses to seasonal fluctuations in food availability,” Dr Fiorenza said.

The team will focus on the early life of marsupial and placental mammals, providing essential data for predicting how the present climate change will affect faunal communities in vulnerable ecosystems.

Dr Brett Paterson (Chemistry), Professor John Bertram (Anatomy and Developmental Biology) and Professor Kate Denton (Physiology) will use their grant for the ‘Generation and validation of PET imaging agents for quantitation of functional nephron mass’.

The team will develop PET tracers for labelling and quantifying glomeruli (the filters of kidney nephrons), and will validate their data with MRI and microscopy. Low nephron numbers is associated with increased risk of developing high blood pressure and kidney disease, yet non-invasive methods for nephron counting in humans are not available.

“Development and validation of PET tracers is a critical step towards translation into humans, where this technology will be used to quantify nephron mass in children at risk of developing high blood pressure and kidney disease, such as with low birth weight babies, and adults with newly-diagnosed disease,” Professor Bertram said.

This joint seed funding scheme supports the development of interdisciplinary research collaborations between the faculties that show significant innovation or novelty, and/or be proof-of-concept for a new collaborative research project.

The funded proposal will be able to lead to external funding applications for nationally and internationally competitive schemes or lead to new industry engagement opportunities that may lead to new or increased funding.


About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.