News & Events

Research News
Assisted ventilation is crucial to support very preterm babies, however the treatment often leads to chronic lung disease. While the survival of preterm babies has increased over the past 30 years, rates of chronic lung disease have remained static. Now a team of researchers has found the type of injury caused by ventilation depends on the gestational age of the lungs. The findings, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, suggest individualised respiratory support could reduce risks to infants. In the animal study, researchers led by Dr Prue Pereira-Fantini and A/Prof David Tingay of Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in collaboration with researchers from the University of Melbourne and Royal Women’s Hospital mapped protein changes in blood plasma following ventilation of lambs born at term, preterm (less than 32 weeks) and very preterm (less than 26 weeks). Dr Pereira-Fantini said that understanding what happened at a molecular level when lung injury...
Research News
Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, in partnership with Harvard Medical School, has discovered that adolescent health programs across the developing world receive only a tiny share of international aid, even though young people make up 30 per cent of the population of low-income countries. Published in JAMA Network Open, researchers from the US and Australia examined how much international donors spent on youth health projects in 132 low-income countries over the 14 years from 2003 to 2015. (89 per cent of the world’s adolescents live in low and middle income countries.) Co-author University of Melbourne Prof George Patton, from MCRI’s Centre for Adolescent Health, said the research found that only 1.6 per cent of global investments in health over those 14 years were spent on projects for adolescents even though adolescents account for 12 to 13 per cent of disease burden in the developing world. “Of the little invested, most...
Research News
In a world-first project, a Murdoch Children’s Research Institute autism specialist will use brain imaging to better understand toddlers who show typical development before losing skills and being diagnosed with autism. MCRI researchers are running a Loss of Skills project, which seeks to explain why some children develop typically in the first two years of life, but then experience severe and rapid loss of skills, including speech, over just a few weeks. The Loss of Skills project already uses behavioural assessments, biological samples and genetic testing to make sense of this sudden skill loss, but speech pathologist and MCRI post-doctoral research fellow Veronica Rose will help introduce neuroimaging to the project. Melbourne-based autism awareness and fundraising charity BioAutism has awarded Dr Rose an Integrative Fellowship, committing $100,000 over three years so that Dr Rose can gain skills in neuroimaging from another research group led by MCRI developmental neuroscientist Dr Marc...
Research News
Everyone has an opinion on infant colic. But what new parents really need is reassurance and facts. In the latest issue of Australian Prescriber, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute research fellow Dr Valerie Sung discusses the latest thinking on colic, one of the most common conditions experienced by babies under four months of age. While colic is considered benign and self-resolving, it can have significant impacts on the family. “Colic is one of the most common presentations to primary health care in a baby’s first months of life,” says Dr Sung who is also a Royal Children’s Hospital paediatrician. “It has adverse associations including maternal depression, child abuse and early cessation of breastfeeding.” Physiological and psychosocial factors are thought to lie behind the condition, but none are definitive according to the article. Dr Sung discusses the latest management options for colic, such as ruling out organic causes of crying, offering parents...
Institute News
North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network today launched a new campaign hoping to encourage more parents to vaccinate their babies and toddlers to help protect them and others in the community from potentially life-threatening disease. ‘It’s time to immunise Melbourne’ is directly targeted at helping parents to remember that when their babies are aged between 12 to 18-months, it’s still a vital time for them to stay on track with their immunisations. Nearly 95 per cent of parents in Melbourne’s north and west are fully immunising their newborns, but this drops to just over 90 per cent for the vaccines given between 12 to 18 months. Murdoch Children's Research Institute immunisation expert and Royal Children’s Hospital paediatrician, Dr Margie Danchin, said our busy lives make it all too easy to miss vital immunisations. “Vaccination is lower for these age groups because in the second year of life parents may be...
Research News
Recent antibiotic use in young children may be linked to increased cardiovascular risk, according to a joint study between Utrecht Academic Medical Centre in The Netherlands and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne. The researchers found that children who received antibiotics in the six months prior to having vascular measurements taken had thicker arteries than those who had not received recent antibiotics. The increase in artery thickness was greatest in those who had antibiotics most recently. The study, to be presented at the ANZ Developmental Origins of Health and Disease society conference in Sydney today, looked at 775 Dutch children followed from birth. Researchers analysed parent and GP-reported infections and antibiotic use and related these to ultrasound measurements of the child’s carotid artery in the neck at age five. These measures included the thickness of the artery wall, which predicts cardiovascular disease in adults. MCRI's Professor David Burgner, who...
Institute News
Two MCRI researchers have been recognised by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) with prestigious research excellence awards. Professor Melissa Little, Director of MCRI’s Cell Biology theme, was presented with the Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship, Australia’s top award for a woman in biomedical science. The Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship is named after Professor Blackburn, an Australian scientist who received a Nobel Laureate for her groundbreaking work on chromosomes in 2009. Prof Little is internationally-renowned for her research on kidney development and her pioneering studies into renal regeneration, which have the potential to change the lives of people with kidney disease. Prof Little’s acclaimed work includes growing ‘mini kidneys’ from human stem cells in the laboratory. This breakthrough has paved the way for researchers across the globe to use this method for drug screening and disease modelling. With one in 10 Australians living with kidney disease, Prof Little’s ultimate goal is...