Archive of ACBD achievements, news and events

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Justin received the ASTH Medal from ASTH President, Jenny Curnow

Hamilton Award

Justin Hamilton was awarded the 2014 ASTH Scientific Medal in November. The Medal is awarded to the best oral presentation at the Annual Scientific Meeting by an investigator under the age of 45. The winner receives a $2000 prize and the ASTH medal. Justin was also awarded the John Lloyd travel grant from ASTH to attend the meeting. The John Lloyd travel grant is awarded to the top ranked abstract submitted to the meeting, and provides a further $2000. Posted 25/11/2014


Justin Hamilton's Research Profile by the Heart Foundation

Heart Foundation

Dr. Justin Hamilton is a senior researcher at the ACBD who has received significant research support from the Heart Foundation over the past decade. Listen to his account of the current research he is undertaking, why he got into cardiovascular research and what you can do to help support the Heart Foundation in it's ongoing fight against cardiovascular disease. (Video Courtesy of the Heart Foundation) - Posted 8/9/14

Flash Video (8 MB, 1:51 mins)

Alternative video formats:

Windows media (WMV, 8.39 MB)
Quicktime Video (mp4 8 MB)


Investigating a cause of failure of bypass grafts and stents

Dear

Neointimal hyperplasia, an injury related vascular response, accounts for the occlusion and failure of up to 50% of bypass grafts and stents used in the treatment of coronary artery and peripheral vascular disease and constitutes a considerable health and economic burden to the community. Recent research conducted in Dr Anthony Dear's lab at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases in collaboration with Professor Robert Widdop, Monash Department of Pharmacology, suggests that "epigenetic" mechanisms may be involved in the neointimal hyperplasia response. Identification of a novel agent, able to inhibit neointimal hyperplasia through "epigenetic" mechanisms suggests a potential future treatment for this widespread problem.Reference:Rahmatzadeh M, Liu HB, Krishna SM, Gaspari TA, Welungoda I, Widdop RE, Dear AE. A novel agent with histone deacetylase inhibitory activity attenuates neointimal hyperplasia. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2014 Jul 10. PMID: 25005755 Posted 29/07/2014


Project grant awarded by the International Myeloma Foundation's Black Swan Research Initiative

Andrew Spencer

Professor Andrew Spencer and Dr. Durga Mithraprabhu, from the Myeloma Research Group - ACBD, have been awarded a two year project grant worth $280,000 by the International Myeloma Foundation's Black Swan Research Initiative to study the utility of circulating biomarkers derived from the peripheral blood of multiple myeloma patients for monitoring disease progression and response to treatment. Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable bone marrow cancer characterised by multi-focal tumour deposits throughout the bone marrow (BM). Sequential BM biopsies are invasive and the genetic information obtained is confounded by the known clonal heterogeneity of the tumour(s). An alternative approach to providing a more comprehensive picture of the genetic profile of MM tumour cells in the patient is to analyse circulating cell-free nucleic acids (cfDNA and cfRNA) present in the peripheral blood (PB) of MM patients. This grant will be utilised to identify specific mutational and transcriptional alterations in cfDNA and cfRNA derived from PB of MM patients and correlated to disease progression and response to treatment.


University of Birmingham Distinguished Fellow


Elizabeth Gardiner

Dr Elizabeth Gardiner (Australian Centre for Blood Diseases) is the recipient of a Distinguished Visiting Fellowship from the University of Birmingham, UK. She will take up this 1-month visiting fellowship in May, 2014 at the Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, Institute of Biomedical Research, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, UK. Her host is Professor Steve Watson, an international leader in the field of platelet biology.

Liz will establish specific assays at the University of Birmingham to measure levels of soluble platelet receptors in plasma samples. Together with Assoc. Prof Robert Andrews, and the Systems Haematology group at ACBD, they have developed specialist tools and reagents to study platelet receptor regulation and function, and have demonstrated that platelet collagen receptor GPVI is lost from the platelet surface on activation and is elevated in conditions such as heart attack, stroke, trauma and sepsis. GPVI is only expressed on platelets and so is a unique biomarker of platelet activation. The research from the ACBD Systems Haematology lab on the mechanisms of platelet shedding is of direct relevance to the current work of the Birmingham group on a related platelet receptor that was identified in Birmingham, CLEC-2.

Whilst in Birmingham Liz will closely observe and have access to an operational bio repository of clinical samples established at the University of Birmingham servicing a 6 million population (10% of the UK) catchment area for the Queen Elizabeth (biggest teaching hospital in Europe) and will be able to learn about best practice procedures. A long-term goal of the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases is to establish a similar asset for haematology researchers through Monash University, the Alfred hospital, and AMREP, Melbourne. Posted 10/04/2014


Leukaemia Foundation Poster Prize

Cedric Tremblay Nhu-Y Nguyen


At the recent New Directions in Leukaemia Research (NDLR) conference held in Noosa, Dr Nhu-Y Nguyen and Dr Cedric Tremblay (both Research Officers in the ACBD) each received a Leukaemia Foundation Poster Prize (worth $1000). With close to 200 attendees, this niche meeting discussed new strategies for treating leukaemia and other blood-related cancers. Posted 08/04/2014


Justin Hamilton Awarded an ARC Future Fellowship

Justin Hamilton

Dr Justin Hamilton, Head of the Platelet & Megakaryocyte Cell Biology Lab, has become the first member of the ACBD to be awarded a prestigious Future Fellowship from the Australian Research Council. This four year Fellowship and research grant follows on from his previous Fellowship from the National Heart Foundation, and will support Dr Hamilton's ongoing research into platelet activation mechanisms for the development of novel agents for the prevention of arterial thrombosis.. Posted 27/11/2013.


Grant Awarded to Justin Hamilton

Justin Hamilton

Dr Justin Hamilton has been awarded a CASS Foundation Medicine/Science Grant for 2014. The CASS Foundation supports short term, ‘proof of concept’ research into promising topic areas. Dr Hamilton and his team will use this grant to develop novel anti-platelet agents for the prevention of arterial thrombosis. Posted 15/01/2014


Justin Hamilton Awarded an ARC Future Fellowship

Justin Hamilton

Dr Justin Hamilton, Head of the Platelet & Megakaryocyte Cell Biology Lab, has become the first member of the ACBD to be awarded a prestigious Future Fellowship from the Australian Research Council. This four year Fellowship and research grant follows on from his previous Fellowship from the National Heart Foundation, and will support Dr Hamilton's ongoing research into platelet activation mechanisms for the development of novel agents for the prevention of arterial thrombosis.. Posted 27/11/2013.


Best Basic Research Presentation

Ioanna Savvidou

Ioanna Savvidou, PhD student in the Myeloma Research Group, won the award for the best presentation in basic research in myeloma at the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand Annual Meeting 2013. Posted 27/11/2013.


Best Clinical Research Award

Anna Kalff

Anna Kalff won the award for the best presentation in clinical research in myeloma at the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand Annual Meeting 2013.. Posted 27/11/2013.


Andrew Guirguis wins Baikie Medal at Australian Haematology Conference

Andrew Guirguis

Andrew Guirguis was awarded The Albert Baikie Award on the 23rd October 2013. The Albert Baikie Award is given to recognise the best oral presentation at the Annual Scientific Meeting by a new investigator who is a financial member of the Society. The winner receives a $3000 prize and is presented with the Baikie Memorial Medal.. Posted 04/11/2013.


Prime Minister Tony Abbott tours the ACBD laboratories


Prior to announcing grants for the NHMRC on 23/10/2013, Prime Minister Tony Abbott attended the ACBD labs. Click here to see photos. This visit was also presented on late line. This video can be seen here. Posted 23/10/2013.


Professor Hatem Salem 2013 Festschrift

Prof Hatem Salem

Prof Salem was the founder of the ACBD, and retired as its Director at the end of 2012. A highly successful festschrift attended by over 200 people was held for him on 26 April 2013. Presenters included distinguished colleagues, friends and former students with currently active research programs in haematology. For more, see Program, photo gallery and video gallery of presenters. Posted 05/09/2013.


Researchers discover an Achilles' heel of childhood leukaemia

Leukaemia cells

Research led by Associate Professor David Curtis at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD) has identified a protein essential for the development and growth of a type of childhood leukaemia (ETP-ALL) that responds poorly to current treatments. See more >> story link; Journal abstract and reference ; Curtis research profile. Posted 26/08/2013.


Arrival of Haigh Lab


My name is Jody Jonathan Haigh and I have just started as an Associate Professor at the ACBD, Monash University. I'm Canadian and I recently moved my research group here from the Department for Molecular Biomedical Research (DMBR) in Flanders, Belgium that is affiliated with Ghent University and the VIB.  I was a group leader/assistant professor there for 9 years.  I received my undergraduate training in Life Sciences as well as M.Sc. degree in Biochemistry at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.  My Ph.D. in Biochemistry followed this in the lab of Professor Erwin F. Wagner at the Research Institute for Molecular Pathology (IMP) at the University of Vienna in Austria as part of their International Ph.D. Student Program.  I then did four years of postdoctoral training in the lab of Professor Andras Nagy at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada. Throughout my career I have been interested in the role of VEGF signalling in organ development and disease processes. We use and have developed novel mouse ES/iPS cell transgenic technologies based on the Cre/loxP and rtTA-tet(o) systems to investigate gene function in the mouse. More recently our work centres on the role of transcription factors of the Zeb and Snai family in normal haematopoiesis and haematopoietic malignancies such as T-ALL and will be the main area of focus initially at the ACBD.  I have moved to Melbourne with my wife Katharina (who is also one of my Research Assistants) and two sons Jonathan (11) and Alexander (2). Recently my lab has been joined by Dr. Thao Nguen (Research Assistant) and Dr. Maggie Costa (Senior Research Officer).  Although I have only been here at the ACBD for a week or so, I am impressed by the scientific quality of the research and the friendliness of people here.  I have already attended a top quality lecture, contributed to a scientific lab meeting discussion and been invited to the pub for Belgium beers. Not too back for a first week at work. I am looking forward to getting my lab operational and contributing to the scientific excellence and friendly atmosphere at the ACBD. See detail of Jody's lab at Mammalian Functional Genetics Laboratory


Spencer Group News


Award for best presentation at The XIVth International Myeloma Workshop


Anna Kalff received the best abstract presentation for Durable survival benefit for thalidomoide consolidation post ASCT: extended analysis of the ALLG and MM6 trials"" at the XIV International Myeloma Workshop held at Kyoto, Japan.


Myeloma Clinical


A new myeloma clinic has been established at the Alfred Hospital, in addition to the existing haematology outpatient clinics, for the management of patients with multiple myeloma and related disorders.


Cindy Lin – Award of PhD


Cindy Lin was recently awarded the Doctor of Philosophy for her thesis entitled "Investigating multiple myeloma disease progression through the characterisation of CD45+/- cells" with excellent reviews from the examiners.


Myeloma Foundation Best Young Scientific Investigator Award – Cindy Lin


Cindy was the recipient of the Myeloma Foundation's Best Young Scientific Investigator Award at the annual HAA meeting last year.


Recent Publications at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases


Medcalf Lab Publication
From Andre Samson


Neuronal degeneration, in particular damage to the "Purkinje neurons", occurs in many human disorders including Huntington's disease. Purkinje damage causes abnormal movement. Interestingly, we repeatedly observe high levels of the enzyme "tPA" in the brain during Purkinje damage. As tPA is an enzyme normally responsible for breaking down blood clots, the effect of such high tPA levels in the brain was unknown. Our paper in Experimental Neurology shows, for the first time, that mice which naturally produce high levels of tPA in the brain experience Purkinje damage. This observation suggests that "tPA" is, at least in part, responsible for Purkinje damage. Future research should now be aimed at reducing "tPA" in the brain and thereby preserving Purkinje health across an array of human neurological disorders such as Huntington's disease.


Tissue-type plasminogen activator is an extracellular mediator of Purkinje cell damage and altered gait.
Authors: Cops EJ, Sashindranath M, Daglas M, Short KM, da Fonseca Pereira C, Pang TY, Lijnen RH, Smyth IM, Hannan AJ, Samson AL*, Medcalf RL*.
Journal: Experimental Neurology


Guthridge Lab Publications


In recent studies headed by Dr. Guthridge and Dr. Wei in the Leukemia Research Laboratory at the ACBD, Monash University and published in Blood (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23775716 ) a new and previously unsuspected alliance was identified between phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) and cyclin dependent kinase 9 (Cdk9) in promoting oncogenic survival signals in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. These studies identified a compound, PIK-75, that simultaneously bl ocks the activity of both PI3K and Cdk9 and triggers the rapid onset of apoptosis in AML cells but not normal non-malignant bone marrow progenitors. Furthermore, these findings demonstrate that dual targeting of PI3K and Cdk9 with compounds such as PIK-75 has potent anti-leukemic activity against human AML cells both in vitro and in vivo.


Thomas et. al. Targeting acute myeloid leukemia by dual inhibition of PI3K signalling and Cdk9-mediated Mcl-1 transcription. Blood (2013) 122:738-4


Thomas et. al. Protein Kinase Activity of Phosphoinositide 3-kinase Regulates Cytokine-Dependent Cell Survival. PLoS Biol. (2013) 11:e1001515
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23775716


Lonic et. al. Phosphorylation of Serine 779 in Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 1 and 2 by PKC regulates Ras/MAP kinase signaling and neuronal differentiation. J Biol. Chem. (2013) 288:14874-85.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23564461


Spencer Group Publications


1. Central nervous system multiple myeloma - potential roles for intrathecal therapy and measurement of cerebrospinal fluid light chains.
Lee D, Kalff A, Low M, Gangatharan S, Ho P, Bajel A, Ritchie D, Grigg A, Spencer A.
Br J Haematol. 2013 Aug;162(3):371-5.


2. Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors as single agents induce multiple myeloma cell death principally through the inhibition of class I HDAC.
Mithraprabhu S, Khong T, Jones SS, Spencer A.
Br J Haematol. 2013 Aug;162(4):559-62.


3. MEK inhibitors as a chemotherapeutic intervention in multiple myeloma.
Chang-Yew Leow C, Gerondakis S, Spencer A.
Blood Cancer J. 2013 Mar 22;3:e105.


4. The t(4;14) translocation and FGFR3 overexpression in multiple myeloma: prognostic implications and current clinical strategies.
Kalff A, Spencer A.
Blood Cancer J. 2012 Sep 7;2:e89.


Curtis Lab Publication
From Cedric Tremblay


Our last article, resulting from a collaboration with Dr Matthew McCormack, describing the dependance of leukemic stem cells to Lyl1 in the LMO2 T-ALL mouse model.


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23926305


Professor Hatem Salem awarded 2011 David de Kretser Medal


Professor David de Kretser, former Governor of Victoria, presented the Monash University 2011 David de Kretser Medal to Professor Hatem Salem, Director of the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases on 7 June. The medal is awarded for exceptional contributions to the Faculty and to medical science generally. Posted 7/6/12


Biennial Award for Contributions to Hemostasis for Prof Shaun Jackson


Professor Shaun Jackson has been awarded a Biennial Award for Contributions to Hemostasis (BACH) Investigator Recognition Award by the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH). Professor Jackson was presented with his award at the recent biennial Congress of the Society held in Kyoto, Japan. It is an honour to be recognised by my peers in this way,” said Professor Jackson. “Our laboratory has discovered a new mechanism promoting blood clot formation that may play an important role in promoting disease-causing blood clots. We have also developed a new class of anticlotting therapies that appear to be safer and more effective than existing anticlotting agents, such as aspirin and clopidogrel. These new agents are currently undergoing clinical evaluation and have considerable potential in the treatment of heart disease and stroke.


Member of the Order of Australia Awarded to Professor Hatem Salem


Congratulations to Professor Hatem Salem who has been awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to medicine in the field of haematology as a clinician, educator and researcher and also through the establishment of the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases. For further details about this award please click here