Early Career Research Publication Award

This Award recognises excellence in research publication, for researchers with up to 5 years of experience post-PhD.

2022 Enyuan Cao

Enyuan was awarded for the following publication:

Mesenteric lymphatic dysfunction promotes insulin resistance and represents a potential treatment target in obesity, Nature Metabolism, 3, pages 1175–1188 (2021)

Cites = 18 (including Nat Metab, Nat Rev Endocrinol, Immunity, J Control Release etc.).

Journal IF 19.98. FWCI = 4.75 (Scopus 4/2022), > 4k accesses. Altmetric 274.

This study for the first time sets the conceptual foundation for a mesenteric lymphatic vessel-centred pathophysiological mechanism that contributes to visceral obesity and insulin resistance. It also identifies a lymph-specific prodrug strategy as a potential treatment to reverse visceral adiposity and reset glycaemic control.

Enyuan co-led and conceptualised this research theme and co-led the research program. She established mouse models and developed novel methodologies to examine the crosstalk between lymphatics and adipose tissue. This publication represents a multi-disciplinary program that involved international, national, industry and clinical collaborations. Enyuan engaged in academic and clinical collaborations and consulted on human mesenteric lymphangiography to confirm her finding in humans with obesity. The IP generated from this program has been filed as a patent with PureTech Health Ltd in 2021 on which Enyuan is an inventor.

2021 Yaping Chen

Yaping was awarded for the following publication where she contributed to 75% of the figures, 50% design and 80% manuscript writing and revision: Chen, Y., Aslanoglou, S., Murayama, T., Gervinskas, G., Fitzgerald, L. I., Sriram, S., Tian, J., Johnston, A. P. R., Morikawa, Y., Suu, K., Elnathan, R., Voelcker, N. H., Silicon-Nanotube-Mediated Intracellular Delivery Enables Ex Vivo Gene Editing. Adv. Mater. 2020, 32, 2000036. https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.202000036

The publication demonstrated the development of vertically aligned silicon nanotubes as a novel platform to mediate intracellular cargo delivery, which enables the use in gene editing as well as answering fundamental biological questions at the engineered nano–bio cellular interfaces.

With strong background in molecular biology and accumulated experience in nanobiotechnololgy during post-doc training with Prof. Nicolas Voelcker and Dr. Roey Elnathan, Yaping has initiated and led the research project on establishing a new method, which is not dependent on conventional viral vectors, to deliver genes into a variety of cells, especially T lymphocytes that are key players for immunotherapies. Yaping successfully optimised the procedure using silicon nanotubes for quantitative cargo delivery and CRISPR gene editing ex vivo. The publication is a great achievement of inter-disciplinary research, involving collaborative work with Assoc. Prof. Angus Johnston (D4, CNBS) and support from industrial partner (ULVAC Ltd, Japan).

2021 Darnel Prakoso

Darnel was awarded for the following publication where he conceived and designed the study, performed experiments (In-vivo and experimental assays), designed and prepared AAV vectors, analysed data, interpreted results, prepared figures, drafted, edited and revised the manuscript: PRAKOSO D, Lim S, Erickson J, Wallace R, Lees J, Tate M, Kiriazis H, Donner D, Henstridge D, Davey JR, Qian H, Deo M, Parry LJ, Davidoff AJ, Gregorevic P, Chatham JC, De Blasio MJ, Ritchie RH. Fine-tuning the cardiac O-GlcNAcylation regulatory enzymes governs the functional and structural phenotype of the diabetic heart, Cardiovascular Research, 2021; cvab043.

There remains a lack of effective clinical management of diabetes-induced cardiac dysfunction, even via conventional intensive glucose-lowering approaches. Here we reveal that the modification of myocardial proteins by O-GlcNAc, a glucose-driven process, is not only increased in human diabetic myocardium, but correlates with reduced cardiac function in affected patients. Moreover, manipulation of the two regulatory enzymes of this process exert opposing influences on the heart, whereby increasing O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) is sufficient to replicate the cardiac phenotype of diabetes (in the absence of this disease), while increasing O-GlcNAc-ase (OGA) rescues diabetes-induced impairments in both cardiac dysfunction and remodelling. Cardiac O-GlcNAcylation thus represents a novel therapeutic target for diabetes-induced heart failure. This primary research article is a collaborative research effort from multiple different institute and researchers around the world. It is also the basis of recently funded Diabetes Australia Project Grant to CIA-Prakoso in 2021. The manuscript is also recently featured in Monash Insider and Diabetes Australia Circle Magazine.

2020 Paulina Ramirez-Garcia

Paulina was awarded for the following publication where she contributed to more than 70% of the figures: Ramírez-García, P.D., Retamal, J.S., Shenoy, P. et al. A pH-responsive nanoparticle targets the neurokinin 1 receptor in endosomes to prevent chronic pain. Nat. Nanotechnol. 14, 1150–1159 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-019-0568-x

This work demonstrates how information on receptor trafficking and signalling can be utilised to design drug delivery systems to direct drugs to the appropriate location that may improve clinical success, and in the case of aprepitant, improve pain relief.

The publication was the culmination of more than 3 years of multi-disciplinary research, performed entirely during Paulina's PhD. With co-supervision of Dr Nicholas Veldhuis, Prof Tom Davis (D4, CBNS) and Prog Nigel Bunnett (DDB) it is a great example of a MIPS cross-theme collaborative study and involved international partners from Australia, Chile and the USA.