News & Events

Institute News
The 11th International Symp​o​sium​​ on Pneumococci and Pneumococc​al Diseases (ISPPD) has begun! Over 1100 researchers from all around the world have gathered in Melbourne for the event, which aims to bring together professionals in the field to raise global awareness and improve standards of diagnosis, prevention and treatment of pneumococci and pneumococc​al diseases. The Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, officially opened the symposium last night at the opening ceremony (pictured). The ISPPD is a non-profit, non-governmental association and has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Initiated in 1998 at the 1st meeting in Denmark, ISPPD conferences have been organized every 2 years in different countries with local sponsors. MCRI's very own Professor Kim Mulholland is the Robert Austrian Lecturer for ISPDD-11, and he will deliver his keynote speech on Wednesday 16th April. The researchers will also take part in workshops, networking events, poster sessions and much more. In their...
Research News
New research has shown evidence that anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) reduce bone density in children and therefore lead to an increase in the number of fractures, if used for more than a year. The study by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), in conjunction with the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH), has prompted experts to highlight the importance of considering side effects when prescribing these drugs. One in 150 children are diagnosed with epilepsy in the first decade of life in Australia however there is currently very little paediatric data relating to the impact of AEDs on the health of the bones. Researchers, including Professor John Wark from The RMH who has led many adult studies in this area, undertook a case controlled study using 23 pairs of twins, non-twin siblings and first cousins – one with epilepsy and one without. Those who were taking AEDs had an increased prevalence of bone...
Institute News
Rapid genomic sequencing for babies and children with suspected genetic conditions improves health outcomes and saves healthcare dollars – transforming rare disease diagnosis in paediatric and neonatal intensive care. A nationally-leading Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance study, undertaken by a team of experts from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, The Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Children’s Hospital, has demonstrated the usefulness of rapid genomic sequencing for intensive care patients with suspected genetic conditions. More than half the children in the study received a diagnosis; care changed for more than half of those diagnosed. Parents received their children’s results in a median of 16 days (as little as 9 days in some cases): up to 10 times faster than the time usually taken for this kind of test. ‘Our study shows good reasons for children in intensive care to receive genomic sequencing results more quickly than the typical four months. Even though the...
Research News
New research has shown that a new ‘high-flow’ oxygen therapy can be safely delivered in emergency departments and general paediatrics wards in both large tertiary children’s hospitals and smaller regional centres. The outcome of the study showed that high-flow therapy reduced the need for higher level of care from 23% to 12% in the standard oxygen therapy group. This is the first study in the world to demonstrate a change in practice that can impact patient outcome and reduce the need to escalate care for infants with bronchiolitis, which would also reduce the cost and burden on hospital care. The study, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, involved 17 hospitals across Australia and New Zealand, including researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, the Paediatric Critical Care Research Group (PCCRG) located at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital...
Research News
A test to diagnose cerebral palsy at birth, which could allow infants access to critical early interventions, is one step closer thanks to research from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). The research, recently published in the journal Clinical Epigenetics, has taken the first step to identify a biological early warning signal that a child might develop cerebral palsy – a physical disorder that affects one in 500 Australians. Supervising researcher Associate Professor Jeffrey Craig, now at Deakin University’s School of Medicine, said that although cerebral palsy mostly originated inside the womb, children may not get a diagnosis until one to two years of age, or even later in some mild cases. “But by studying ‘epigenetic’ marks influenced by the early environment in the womb, we can predict which babies will develop cerebral palsy, enabling early intervention to help lessen the symptoms of this condition,” Associate Professor Craig said. “This...
Institute News
A/Prof Adam Scheinberg is an Honorary Fellow Manager in Developmental Disability and Rehabilitation Research Tell us about your work Our team of researchers from MCRI, Swinburne University, The University of Melbourne, Data61 and The Royal Children’s Hospital have been designing and developing a socially assistive robot, the NAO, for paediatric rehabilitation. We were initially approached in 2014 by The Brainery, who were looking for researchers interested in using the NAO. NAO is a humanoid robot, which weighs 5.4 kg and can fall over and get up by itself. It has over 50 sensors with facial recognition using two HD cameras and four directional microphones. The latest version is expected to also have depth perception. What is the latest exciting update on your project? We have adapted the NAO to deliver a series of post-surgery rehabilitation exercises as prescribed by the child’s physiotherapist. This has involved the clinicians working with data...
Research News
Researchers from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI), University of Melbourne and Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) in The Netherlands have made an important step towards making human kidneys from stem cells that they one day hope can be used to treat kidney disease. The research is part of a regenerative medicine project in which human stem cells are used to develop kidneys with functioning tissue as an alternative for renal replacement. In 2015, Professor Melissa Little and her team grew kidney tissue from stem cells that can be used in drug screening and disease. Researchers across the globe now use this method. “The mini-kidney we have grown in the laboratory has all the different cell types and structures found in a ‘real’ kidney, but so far we haven’t managed to properly attach the blood vessel system in a culture dish and achieve sufficient maturation of this kidney tissue”, explains...