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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...
Research News
Organovo Holdings, Inc., a three-dimensional biology company focused on delivering scientific and medical breakthroughs using its 3D bioprinting technology, today announced a collaboration with Professor Melissa Little and the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, to develop an architecturally correct kidney for potential therapeutic applications.
Institute News
Programs to improve the health and prospects of kids in detention are also more likely to reduce reoffending than “getting tough on crime”, according to Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Senior Research Fellow and the Society for Mental Health Research’s 2018 Rising Star Dr Rohan Borschmann. Dr Borschmann says most young people enter the justice system because of tragic and traumatic life events, and empathic approaches are likely to be more helpful than harsh, punitive measures. Receiving his award this evening, Dr Borschmann says the prize is a humbling recognition of his 18 years working in mental health and, more recently, supporting the health of young people in the justice system. “Right now we’re working on a systematic review of the health of kids in detention and it’s just abysmal; it’s a really sad state of affairs looking at the general health profiles of these young people,” Dr Borschmann says. “If...
Research News
The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has welcomed the news that it is one of the three main partners in a $20-million genetic screening research study. The Mackenzie’s Mission project will screen about 10,000 couples to see if they are carriers of a genetic condition that could be passed on to a child. The national research network Australian Genomics will administer the project in partnership with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the University of NSW and the University of Western Australia. Mackenzie’s Mission is the first project under the Federal Government’s $500 million Genomics Health Futures Mission - part of the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund. Ten thousand volunteer couples who are thinking of having a baby or are in the early stages of pregnancy will be screened for about 500 genetic conditions during the three-year study. Recruitment for those couples will begin towards the end of 2019 and will...
Research News
New research has found that a large percentage of Australian eight to 12 year olds are being bullied and/or experiencing emotional difficulties – and these children are falling behind their peers in numeracy and reading in the classroom. The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s Centre for Adolescent Health has produced the Student Wellbeing, Engagement and Learning across the Middle Years report for the Federal Department of Education and Training. According to the report, a substantial proportion of students in middle primary school (Years 3 to 5) are not tracking well. 20 per cent experience persistent emotional problems (like depression and anxiety), 20 per cent have behavioral problems, and around 10 per cent self-report low wellbeing. More than 20 per cent of children in Years 3 to 5 are also being bullied across two or even three years. The statistics in the report come from a longitudinal study of more than 1200...
Institute News
It is one of the rarest jobs in Australia – with only 230 employed nationwide – but genetic counselling has become a little better known this week as Genetic Counsellor Awareness Day was celebrated on Thursday, November 8. The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has a not-for-profit genetic testing lab and clinical service, Victorian Clinical Genetics Services (VCGS), that carries out tests for hundreds of genetic conditions impacting adults and children. The principal genetic counsellor is Ivan Macciocca. “Genetic counsellors provide information, support and guidance to patients about genetic testing and genetic conditions, including inherited disorders,” Mr Macciocca said. “Genetic counsellors work in many areas of medicine, including paediatrics, prenatal, infertility, neurology, cancer and cardiology. Many counsellors work directly with patients, while others carry out research or work in public education or industry.” Lisette Curnow is one of the longest serving genetic counsellor with Victorian Clinical Genetics Services with 18 years...
Institute News
Lyndon Gallacher is an Associate Genetic Counsellor at VCGS. To mark Genetic Counsellor Awareness Day, held on 8 November, Lyndon has shared his work with us. Tell us about your work as a genetic counsellor I, like many genetic counsellors, have a number of roles. I work in clinic assisting families to understand the nature of genetic conditions or risk. My clinical role involves talking andlistening to people, giving information and helping them make meaning of that information, to facilitate their own decisions, be they medical, lifestyle or reproductive. Sometimes this also involves helping individuals cope with difficult news. I also work in clinical research as project manager for the Victorian Undiagnosed Disease Program, which uses genomic sequencing and overseas collaboration to try make diagnoses for patients and families with unknown genetic syndromes, often through gene discovery. What do you hope to achieve through the work that you’re doing? I...
Research News
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute researchers have linked a rare type of cancer – most prevalent in Asian and Polynesian populations - to a mutation in a protein that is central to immune system regulation. The research, published today in Nature Genetics, is the first to find that an inherited mutation in the HAVCR2 gene leading to a non-functioning T cell immunoglobulin mucin 3 (TIM-3) protein has been associated with a specific disease. Researchers from MCRI, University of Melbourne and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre worked with teams from France and Canada to examine samples from patients with subcutaneous panniculitislike T cell lymphoma (SPTCL), a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that affects the skin. MCRI cancer researcher Dr Dong Anh Khuong Quang said that mutated TIM-3 is associated with cases of SPTCL where hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) - a condition that causes severe immune system dysregulation – is also present. The researchers found...
Institute News
Dr Ken Pang is a Clinician Scientist Fellow in Adolescent Medicine. Tell us about your work. As one of the Melbourne Children’s Clinician Scientist Fellows, I have dual roles. On the one hand, I work as a paediatrician with the Royal Children’s Hospital Gender Service where I care for trans and gender diverse children and adolescents. On the other hand, I work as a basic and clinical researcher. My basic research previously focused on two main areas: first, identifying what the so-called “junk DNA” was actually doing in our bodies and, second, understanding how our immune system fights viral infections. Meanwhile, my clinical research - which has become the main focus of my work since moving to the MCRI - centres on improving health outcomes for trans and gender diverse children and adolescents. What are you hoping to achieve through the work that you’re doing/what is your ideal goal? My...