Monash secures over AUD $2 million for industry Linkage Projects

Monash University’s innovative, world-leading research and its strong engagement with industry have helped secure significant funding in the latest Australian Research Council (ARC) grants for Linkage Projects.

Monash University has been awarded AUD $2,261,074 to support six applied research projects, ranging from development of a wearable blood-pressure monitor and enhanced inhaler design for more efficient drug delivery, to improved security systems and sequencing DNA to identify the genetics of executive function.

Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, announced the ARC grants for Linkage Projects today (Wednesday 31 May).

Monash Vice-Provost (Research), Professor Pauline Nestor said the funding announcement reflects Monash’s high impact research that has the potential to transform lives.

“From gaining deeper insights into our complex immune systems to enhance treatments for diseases, to boosting the global competitiveness of the Australian security industry by applying mathematics to improve detection systems, our research has the power to respond to some of the world’s greatest challenges and make a real difference,” Professor Nestor said.

“This significant funding for six, diverse ARC Linkage Projects demonstrates the quality and breadth of our applied research as well as our strength in building powerful strategic partnerships with industries and other innovators. I am grateful to the ARC for their continued support and congratulate those talented researchers who have secured Linkage Project funding today.”


Unearthing the basis of Autoimmune Disease

Monash University researchers have discovered the mechanism that explains how key genetic risk factors cause or protect people from autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease.

Monash University researchers have discovered the mechanism that explains how key genetic risk factors cause or protect people from autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease.

Published overnight in Nature, Monash researchers have answered the fundamental question: why, and how, does having different immune molecules change a person’s underlying genetic risk of developing an autoimmune disease?

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Image credit: Vanette Tran.

New research exposes an evolutionary arms race – virus vs. host

Australian scientists have solved a 40-year old mystery and shed light on an evolutionary arms race played out between cytomegalovirus (CMV) and the immune system.

Human CMV, also known as human herpesvirus 5, infects more than 50 per cent of adults worldwide and is the leading cause of birth defects in the developed world.

Research undertaken at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI), within the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging, and published in the journal Cell, has unveiled why this particular virus has been so successful at lying dormant and undetected.

Dr Rich Berry, Monash BDI researcher and co-first author, said that while some viruses are loud and brash, announcing themselves with vigor and manifesting as obvious and severe symptoms, CMV is different.

Image credit: Vanette Tran

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Formal collaboration with Cardiff university

Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) and Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will see the two institutes extend their collaborative activities.

The five year mutual agreement recognises highly productive joint projects already being conducted around inflammation and immunity, and provides a mechanism for enabling additional projects in the areas of research collaboration; exchange of materials, scholars and students; and co-operative seminars and workshops.

Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, said: “The signing of the MOU celebrates another step forward in what will continue to be a highly successful exchange programme and transfer of knowledge between the two countries for the benefit of all.”

Professor Dylan Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Cardiff University’s College of Biomedical and Life Sciences, said “We are delighted to sign the MoU on behalf of Cardiff University with the Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash.”

“Cardiff University already takes part in several productive activities with Monash in the area of biomedical research,” Professor Jones added.

Professor John Carroll, Director of the Monash BDI said: “We are bringing together excellence in molecular and systems level immunity in this partnership, and I know it will lead to many more great discoveries.”

Common research interests

Current high profile projects include several on lymphocyte receptor biology and a joint study that has revealed how HIV-I can evade the immune system.

Commenting on the HIV-I study, Professor Jamie Rossjohn, a Welsh-born academic at the Monash BDI, and joint faculty with the Systems Immunity Research Institute, said: “This was an exciting and unexpected find that was only possible as a result of the close collaborative ties between Monash and Cardiff researchers.”

Commenting on a collaborative project that led to over £2m in funding to explore inflammatory mechanisms responsible for promotion of arthritis and cancer, Cardiff University’s Professor Simon Jones said: “Cardiff and Monash share many common research interests, supporting our ambition to improve understanding of chronic disease progression and patient diagnosis and treatment“.

A long history of highly productive collaboration

Joint research between the institutes has also involved visits of several early career investigators, including a prestigious Arthritis Research UK Travelling Fellowship to Dr Gareth Jones who worked for two years in Australia studying severe inflammatory arthritis. Similarly, Drs Claire Greenhill and Tommy Liu moved from Melbourne to Cardiff to complete post-doctoral studies.

In June 2015, Professors Simon Jones and Valerie O’Donnell, Co-Director of the Systems Immunity Research Institute, visited Monash to initiate the MOU on a Cardiff University International Travel Award.

“Cardiff and Monash have a long history of highly productive collaboration,” Professor O’Donnell said.

“Recognising this with an MOU will be transformational in allowing us to continue our work and attract more faculty and projects to participate in this exciting exchange programme,” she said.


About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.

Original article

Understanding how HIV evades the immune system

Monash University and Cardiff University (UK) researchers have come a step further in understanding how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) evades the immune system.

Published today in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, the Monash-Cardiff team have made an important finding in understanding how HIV-I can evade the immune system.

They demonstrated, in molecular detail, how mutations within HIV can lead to differing ways in which key immune molecules, termed the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC), display fragments of the virus and how this results in the HIV remaining “hidden” from the immune system.

Principal author of the study, Dr Julian Vivian, said the team was yet to develop a complete understanding of how HIV outmanoeuvred our immune system.

Original article