2011 CCS Headlines

2011 CCS Headlines

See current CCS Headlines

See Central Clinical School news archive at http://www.med.monash.edu.au/cecs/headlines/ccs-news.html

Professor Sharon Lewin

Professor Sharon Lewin to co-chair AIDS 2014 conference

Prof Sharon Lewin, Head, Department of Infectious Diseases, will be the local co-chair for the largest medical conference ever to be held in Australia, AIDS 2014. Organised by the International AIDS Society (IAS) in partnership with the United Nations and various government and civil organisations, AIDS 2014 is expected to bring more than 25,000 researchers, clinicians and other stakeholders to Melbourne in July 2014. The International co-chair will be Nobel Laureate Francoise Barre Sinousi, president elect of the IAS. For detail, see Monash researcher to chair historic AIDS conference.

Dr Charbel Darido wins inaugural VCA Clare Oliver Fellowship

DaridoClare Oliver

Dr Charbel Darido was granted the newly established and prestigious Clare Oliver Memorial Fellowship ($200,000 over two years) in skin cancer research from the Victorian Cancer Agency to trial novel therapeutic approaches to SCC. His group's research, based on recent compelling results,
examines a new paradigm in the treatment of SCC. Loss of the tumour suppressor leads to SCC development in skin and also head and neck. The group has defined the growth signals that trigger the cancer in this setting. As a consequence of their findings, they are now building upon this work and investigating different inhibitors and chemical compounds to inhibit tumour growth.Ultimately they hope to define specific drugs that will serve as therapies in the clinic to address well-recognized inefficiencies in the treatment of these malignancies. Outcomes are also predicted to translate into preventive intervention for SCC. For detail about the Fellowship, see VCA Clare Oliver Fellowship.
Photo: Clare Oliver ©AAP

Stop signal discovered for skin cancer cells


Squamous cell cancer (SCC) is an extremely virulent cancer with high mortality rates. Prof Steve Jane's and Dr Charbel Darido's laboratory together with international collaborators has discovered the gene in humans and mice which acts as a tumour suppressor. When this gene is damaged, it leads to the development of SCC. The team discovered that this gene, which plays an important role in skin development in the foetus, is missing in adult SCC tumour cells. Loss of this particular gene knocks out the signal to stop skin cells from growing which means the cells can keep increasing in number and eventually form a cancer. The breakthrough will provide new targets for therapies in these malignancies, and also strategies for prevention of SCC. For further detail see

Picture: Top: Developing SCC on the skin. Cells grow in an uncontrolled fashion after damage to the tumour suppressor. Bottom: Epidermal Development research group. L-R: Dr Charbel Darido, Ms Seema Srivastava, Mr Michael Cangkrama, Prof Steve Jane, Dr Smith Georgy, Dr Seb Dworkin, Ms Alana Auden.


MIASMA Halloween Costume Party goes outside the square

The recent MIASMA Halloween Costume Party was held on Friday 28 October. The night was a great success and attendees really got into the spirit of dressing up. The winners of the best dressed costume prizes were awarded by the three guest judges Profs Steve Jane (an undead pirate? Splendidly unrecognisable in any case), Fabienne Mackay (toss up between her and Penelope Cruz as Capt Jack Sparrow's next partner in supernatural crime) and Jenny Wilkinson-Berka (with a distinctly early 70s retro look). Cindy Lin (ACBD) as a Rubik's Cube was awarded first prize, Craig Nicholls (Immunology) as a Zombie 80's Rockstar won second, and third prize went to A/Prof Mark Wright (Immunology) as The Green Lantern.


NHMRC grant successes for CCS

CCS researchers in ACBD, Van Cleef/Roet Centre for Nervous Diseases, NTRI, and the Departments of AIRMed, Immunology, Infectious Diseases and Medicine were successful in obtaining grants for 11 projects or Fellowships. Prof Steve Jane, Medicine, received two grants. The total funding for CCS of this NHMRC round starting in 2012 is about $6.3M across the time spans of the grants.  Many of these projects are widely collaborative. For details of NHMRC grants see Monash NHMRC grants starting 2012. For current and completed CCS grants see CCS grants.

Day of Immunology Primary School competition winners

Dr Charles Hardy, Dr Meredith O'Keeffe (Burnet Institute) and Dr Julianne Bayliss (Dept Medicine) coordinated the inaugural Day of Immunology primary school competition, themed "The Body at War". The strong response for a first time competition being offered to an increasingly crowded primary school curriculum was testimony to both the imagination of the coordinators to offer an appealing competition, and primary school teachers' enthusiasm for the subject. Pictured, left, is Wembley 4B class in their role play costumes. Link to DOI competition outcomes and see the winning entry by Wembley Primary School at Wembley Fairy Tale Kingdom

Michael Cangkrama in 3MT thesis Monash finals

Michael Cangkrama 3MT thesis competition

Mr Michael Cangkrama, Dept Medicine, Faculty finalist, won third prize in the Monash University 3 Minute Thesis Final on 16 August. His talk was on "700 Million Years of Gene Evolution in Human Disease". Michael started his PhD this year under Prof Steve Jane's supervision. His thesis topic is "Analysis of the grainyhead-like genes in mammalian development and disease". See Michael's presentation at 2011 Three Minute Thesis Videos. Tanuja Rajah from the Science Faculty came first, and Julia Gilmartin from Pharmacy came second.

July 2011 Global Reconciliation project

Dialogue deepens community health ties

Professor Paul Komesaroff, Director of the Centre for Ethics and Medicine in Society (CEMS), in July helped run an innovative reconciliation project which brought together Israeli and Palestinian health workers and doctors to remote Indigenous communities. He said,"They understand the problem of deep cultural wounds, and that experience really counts here. They are committed to community based health care, where people assume control of their own health care. We have been working together with the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress." Photo: Paul James. L-R: Prof Mohammed Shaheen, public health physician in the West Bank, Palestine, and Prof Zvi Beckerman, cultural anthropologist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, at the Akeyullerre Healing Centre, Central Australia for the recent workshop organised by Global Reconciliation. For details see Monash Memo article.

Professor Jacques Miller

Professor Jacques Miller honoured by CCS

Professor Jacques Miller discovered the role of the thymus 50 years ago. One of his former PhD students, Associate Professor Robyn Slattery in the Department of Immunology, is continuing to collaborate with him on a research project investigating the removal of the MHC class I traffic signal from certain cell types in order to circumvent the trigger for killer T cells becoming activated and licensed to destroy the body’s own insulin-producing beta cells. Robyn has coordinated an event held by the School to honour Professor Miller’s achievements and raise funds for Immunology research and also raise the profile of Immunology research. The artist, Jill Steenhuis, who donated her portrait of Professor Miller for the event, visited from France for the exhibition. For details see www.med.monash.edu/cecs/jaq-miller/

New Medicine Labs

New lab groups in Medicine and ACBD

Professor Steve Jane, CCS’s new Head of School, has brought over his various groups from the University of Melbourne and we are welcoming about 30 new staff. They have moved into the first floor of the AMREP link building. Ashleigh Clarke is the Laboratory Manager and has got the labs all set up. There are six groups, a number of whom already work from the precinct through the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD) as well as people completely new to the precinct. The groups are headed by: Stephen Ting, Andrew Wei, David Curtis, Stephen Jane, Andrew Spencer, Mark Guthridge. Pictured, the Globin Research group, L-R: Dr Yuen Tan, Ms Fiona Brown, Prof Steve Jane, Ms Loretta Cerruti, A/Prof David Curtis.

2011 Queens Birthday Honours

Professor Jeffrey V. Rosenfeld, Head of the Department of Surgery within the CCS, and Professor Suzanne Crowe, Department of Medicine, have been appointed Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours. Professor Rosenfeld's AM is for "service to medicine tbrough clinical leadership and academic roles, particularly in the field of neurosurgery as a researcher and author, and to professional associations." Professor Crowe's AM is for "service to medical research in the area of HIV/AIDS medicine and infectious diseases as an academic, clinician and researcher, and to professional associations".

>Julian Elliott and Sharon Lewin

HealthMap: partnership tool for HIV patients to improve their health and its care

Professor Sharon Lewin and Dr Julian Elliott have been awarded $1.5M for an NHMRC Partnership grant to develop and run a pilot program called 'HealthMap' for HIV patients to better manage their own condition. The Alfred Hospital will be contributing a further $1M, as it sees 80% of Victorian HIV patients. www.monash.edu.au/news/show/healthmap-directing-hiv-patients-to-better-health-outcomes

Research contributes to first lupus therapy in fifty years

Professor Fabienne Mackay

The research of Professor Fabienne Mackay, Head of Department of Immunology, has played a crucial role in the development of the first major lupus treatment breaktbrough for over 50 years. Professor Mackay  was the first to show that the overproduction of something known as BAFF - B cell Activating Factor drives the most common form of lupus, affecting 70% of sufferers. See details at www.monash.edu.au/news/show/monash-research-leads-to-first-lupus-breaktbrough-in-50-year.

New Head of School

Stephen Jane

Central Clinical School has a new Head of School and Head of Medicine. Professor Stephen Jane, (pictured right) will also fill the role of Director of Research at the Alfred Hospital, and be a member of the Clinical Hematology Service. Prof Jane's research group of 30 people will be moving over from the University of Melbourne in early June. Prof Jane has a range of research interests investigating both malignant and non-malignant disorders of the blood using mouse models. At a basic level, this involves the study of gene transcription. He currently holds a number of NH&MRC and other competitive grants.

Professor Nip Thomson AM, stepped down as Head of School in February 2011 and continues to pursue his research interests.

2011 Australia Day Honours

Professor Hatem Salem, Head of the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD) within the CCS has been appointed a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for "service to medicine in the field of haematology as a clinician, educator and researcher and tbrough the establishment of the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases" in the 2011 Australia Day Honours. He is also involved with the Victorian Trauma and Emergency Registry and Early Coagulopathy in Trauma project.

Monash Alliance for eHealth

In a collaboration called the Monash Alliance, Monash faculties, Monash affiliated hospitals, the Division of General Practice, government and various research and health delivery organisations will be translating research in ehealth for practical solutions and better health outcomes.

The Prime Minister and Victorian Premier visited the Alfred Centre late 2010 for a presentation of the eHealth initiative; and the Alliance was invited to appear at the National eHealth Summit in November 2010. A tender has been submitted to the Department of Health and Ageing early in 2011 to perform national studies in telemedicine and ultimately, deliver telehealth programs. Monash Alliance continues with industry engagement (e.g. IBM, Cisco, Macquarie Bank) for which a breakfast was held 24 Feb 2011. Pictured, Professor John Wilson and Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the November launch of the eHealth initiative.

For more information contact John.Wilson@monash.edu.

First time Australian award for Krim Fellowships

Dr Megan Crane in the HIV and Hepatitis Immunopathogenesis Laboratory has been awarded a Krim Fellowship from the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) for her project - LPS, immune activation and liver disease in HIV-HBV co-infection. Megan is the first Australian and only the second international scientist to receive this award. The Krim Fellowship program is an annual research initiative created to support Basic Biomedical Research program to provide funding for exceptional and bright young researchers who are new to the HIV/AIDS field to explore innovative prevention and treatment solutions to HIV/AIDS. Krim Fellowship funding supports the successful applicant's ongoing HIV research and facilitate the transition to a productive and independent long-term career in the HIV/AIDS biomedical research field. The Fellowship is funded for 12 months for a total of US$125,000.