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Congratulations to Richard Berry

Our very own Group leader, Richard has been awarded a 5 year Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellowship.  This is richly deserved recognition for his sustained high level contributions to biomedical science.

Richard will receive $1.25 million ($250,000 per year for five years) to support his research into how viruses and tumours escape cellular immunity.

According to Richard, the immune system is uniquely equipped to detect foreign invaders and abnormal cells. However, viral infections and cancer remain extremely prevalent within the human population, where they create significant burden to the health and wellbeing of society due to their remarkable ability to hide from our immune system.

Understanding the process of immune escape has been critical to the recent breakthrough success of cancer immunotherapy. Richard aims to build on this body of work by studying how cancers and a certain group of viruses, known as cytomegaloviruses (CMV) avoid immune recognition.

“I became interested in CMVs because they are a group of widespread and potentially deadly pathogens that are the undisputed masters of immune escape,” said Richard.

CMVs are able to hide, undetected within our bodies because they have evolved an arsenal of ‘immunoevasins’, which are molecules that function to dampen or otherwise subvert our immune system.

“Identifying the mechanisms by which CMV mediates immune escape will lead to the development of novel strategies to boost the ability of the immune system to combat human diseases,” Richard explained.

This year, the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation* brought together the Viertel funding with additional funds from two other charitable trusts to make a third fellowship, which was awarded to Richard Berry.

“I’m very grateful to the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation, Cross Family Trust and Frank Alexander Charitable Trust for the opportunity to explore this area of research. With the support of this fellowship, I hope to identify new mechanisms of immune escape and translate this knowledge into innovative therapies that will benefit the human population” Richard said.

“Medical research, and many innovations to advance our community our community, social, economic and health wellbeing, rely on philanthropy. For nearly 25 years, Sylvia and Charles Viertel’s legacy has been honoured through the fellowships and the establishment of an impressive alumni of medical researchers,” said Jodi Kennedy, General Manager of Charitable Trusts and Philanthropy, Equity Trustees.

Professor Peter Leedman, Chairman of the Viertel Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board, revealed that the 2019 applications for the Fellowships were of an extremely high standard.

“Each year we are impressed by the quality of the candidates and the incredible work they are doing in pursuit of new diagnostics, treatments and preventative strategies for some of our most intractable medical problems,” said Professor Leedman.

Two other Australian researchers were announced 2019 Senior Medical Research Fellows: Professor Andrew Steer from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Dr Tracy Putoczki from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

This article is based on a media release originally published by Equity Trustees. Read the full media release.

Click the link for more about the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation.

*The Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation is managed by Equity Trustees in partnership with co-trustees Justice Debra Mullins AO (Chair), Rex Freudenberg and Paul de Silva.

Original article

Erica on Channel 10 News First promoting Extrasensory

The 10 News First weather is coming to you from the Legislative Assembly chamber today, where Mike Larkan is talking to Dr Renee Beale fromRoyal Society of Victoria and Dr Erica Tandori from Rossjohn Lab about Extrasensory, the National Science Week special event being held at Parliament House this Saturday 10 August from 6pm-10pm. Go to www.facebook.com/events/1611275639004559 for details.
(Photo: Dr Renee Beale, Mike Larkan, Erica Tandori)

(Skip to 22:56mins)

 

Join us at Extrasensory on August 10th

See, hear, smell, taste, feel, more at this cornucopia for the senses.

Augment your reality. AI, bionics and smart devices are here to extend and enhance your senses. So what are the possible futures of human perception? At this event combining performance, storytelling, and experimentation, make sense of the world of the senses, and find the limits to your own.

See the unseen, and walk on the surface of a cell. Find your way with your fingers, and collaborate with an AI to create a musical masterpiece.

Tell a story about the patterns hidden in the night sky, and imagine what trees might have to say. Ponder the concept of common sense, and what animals can perceive that humans can’t. Listen to the music of the elephants, the last moments of the Mars Rover, and the unfolding of the evolution of species.

Parliament of VictoriaChallenge your senses to work together, and become aware of senses such as kinaesthesia. Learn about how our senses mingle in synesthetic experiences, and sometimes fool us with hallucinations.

Can you maintain your appetite in the face of distinctly un-appetising pictures? Or avoid being tricked in our food sensory testing lab? Congratulate yourself with a drink from our bar, and discover why champagne is so bubblicious.

The world is full of new phenomena to explore, hiding just beyond the reach of your senses. So tune your ears, engage your nose, ready your tastebuds, and flex your fingers in preparation for an evening sure to be extra sensory at the beautiful Parliament of Victoria.

This event is recommended for a 16+ audience.
Food and beverages will be available for purchase at the event.

Extrasensory is presented by the Victorian Coordinating Committee for National Science Week, The Royal Society of Victoria, and the Parliament of Victoria.

Original article

A touch of Extrasensory

Art meets science at Parliament House on Saturday 10 August for Extrasensory, Victoria’s major National Science Week event. Among the many fascinating sensory experiences, Dr Erica Tandori from Rossjohn Lab at Monash University will be showing how science can be accessible to all. Presented by the Royal Society of Victoria and the Victorian Parliament, event and ticket information is at www.facebook.com/events/1611275639004559

Posted by Parliament of Victoria on Friday, 2 August 2019

Art meets science at Parliament House on Saturday 10 August for Extrasensory, Victoria’s major National Science Week event. Among the many fascinating sensory experiences, Dr Erica Tandori from Rossjohn Lab at Monash University will be showing how science can be accessible to all. Presented by the Royal Society of Victoria and the Victorian Parliament, event and ticket information is at www.facebook.com/events/1611275639004559

Congrats to Jamie, Gabby, Erica & David -Finalists of Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion

Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers have been announced as finalists in three separate 2019 Eureka Prize award categories! Congratulations to Professor Mariapia Degli-Esposti and her team, Professor Jamie Rossjohn and his team, and Professor Paul Wood AO on this incredible achievement.

ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor Jamie Rossjohn, and his team are finalists for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion. The team, including Dr Gabby Watson and Dr Erica Tandori from the Monash BDI and Dr David Jacques from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), developed an innovative program that aims to engage members of the blind and low vision community with science.

Often when science is conveyed to the public, the audience is assumed to be able-bodied. Members of the community with disabilities are frequently overlooked when the method to communicate the scientific discovery is not specifically tailored to their needs. A prime example is the blind and low vision community of more than half a million Australians.

Conceiving the idea for the Sensory Scientific Exhibition and Discovery Day, Professor Rossjohn joined forces with project leader Dr Watson, and legally-blind artist-in-residence Dr Tandori, who transformed scientific concepts into tactile models and artistic displays that were specifically tailored to this community.

“As the artist working with this amazing team, I can open up a world of scientific discovery to the low vision and blind communities – finally, we can all be part of the wonder of science, and share  this  in a way that is accessible to everybody,” Dr Tandori said.

Following the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the first exhibition held at Monash in May 2018, the team engaged with Dr Jacques at UNSW, who spearheaded the second Sensory Scientific Exhibition held in Sydney in December the same year.

The winners will be announced on Wednesday 28 August at Sydney Town Hall. For more information on the Eureka Prize, visit the Australian Museum website.

Original article

Photo: Professor Jamie Rossjohn, Dr Erica Tandori and Dr Gabby Watson. Absent: Dr David Jacques.

Day of Immunology at the Monash BDI with lab tours and mini sensory science art exhibition

The International Day of Immunology offers an opportunity to celebrate the immune system and share our love of science with the general public. This year, the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) invited more than 50 Year 11 students from Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School and John Monash Science School to celebrate the Day of Immunology with us on Wednesday 8 May.

The students were introduced to the Monash BDI by Associate Professor Stephanie Gras, who offered insight into the work her lab does and the importance of the immune system. Associate Professor Gras explained the importance and role of the immune cells that help us remain healthy and fight off infections on a daily basis, using references from The Avengers and Game of Thrones to explain the immune system.

“Cancer cells are like the White Walkers. They refuse to die and multiply to take over,” Associate Professor Gras said.

The group also visited Monash Micro Imaging, exploring the latest advances in microscopy. The students were shown how these technologies provide biomedical researchers with an unprecedented level of detail within cells and tissues.

The Sensory Science Interactive Art Exhibition was put on display in the foyer of the Monash BDI. Led by our artist-in-residence, Dr Erica Tandori, the activity was designed for students to learn about the immune system and to raise awareness of how members of the blind and low vision community have limited access to science. The students created their own posters of immune cells to be showcased at future sensory science exhibitions.

After morning tea, the students were broken into groups for tours of several Monash BDI labs. Students had the chance to put on lab coats and perform various lab experiments including: running DNA gels, counting cells under the microscope, growing microbes on plates and fishing crystals. They also heard from their lab tour guides about the work done in their labs and how they got into science.

The Day of Immunology event was wrapped up with a round of immunology trivia. The students were highly engaged in the game, with the winning four teams taking home giant toy microbes as prizes.

Thank you to the following labs for organising the lab tours and talks: Gras lab, Rossjohn lab, O’Keeffe lab, Jacobson lab, La Gruta lab and Turner lab. Also thank you to the volunteers that presented at the sensory scientific art exhibition.

The international Day of Immunology is celebrated annually on 29 April to raise public awareness of the immune system. In Australia, events are organised by the Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology (ASI) including laboratory discovery tours hosted by research institutes. We’d like to acknowledge the support from the ASI and the Victoria/Tasmania ASI branch’s Day of Immunology organising committee.

Original article