Category: News

Honouring career excellence

Biomedical Research Victoria is delighted to announce the recipient of the 2018 BioMedVic Clinician Researcher Career Recognition Award – Professor Rinaldo Bellomo AO.

Professor Rinaldo Bellomo has an internationally outstanding track record in conducting patient-based research and a three-decade long influence on peers, colleagues, the healthcare sector, patients and the next generation of clinician researchers.

He has published over 1200 peer reviewed publications and is the most cited critical care researcher in the world. Prof Bellomo is also the most cited biomedical investigator in the history of Australian medicine. His research has resulted in the Medical Emergency Team (MET) concept, which is now the standard of care throughout Australian hospitals, all Scandinavian countries, and dozens more.

Prof Bellomo is Director of Intensive Care Research (Austin Hospital), Professor of Intensive Care Medicine (The University of Melbourne) and Senior Research Advisor (Melbourne Health).

When talking about Prof Bellomo mentorship, his nominator, A/Prof Adam Deane, identifies as “one of the many fortunate mid-career clinician researchers to whom he tirelessly provides ongoing support and mentorship”.

The Award will be presented by BioMedVic CEO Prof Jan Tennent at an event to be hosted by Austin Health later in the month.


You can find more information about past recipients of the award here.

The 2019 BioMedVic Communicators Forum gathers 70 professionals to debate ‘Change’

On May 30th the fourth annual BioMedVic Communicators Forum took place in the RMIT Storey Hall. The event attracted about 70 communication professionals to network and discuss the role and impact of change in the medical and health sectors. The concept of “Change” acted as the leitmotiv of the event and unified the individual sessions.

The program design was influenced by feedback received from attendees at last year’s Forum who gave suggestions about speakers, case studies, and professional development topics.

The Forum started with a warm welcome note by Núria Saladié (BioMedVic), who set the tone by reflecting on the role of science communication and its responsibilities. In his keynote address, award-winning science journalist Jason Gale (Bloomberg News) shared some inspiring stories about how shining a light on global health issues can be a catalyst for change. No matter whether it was writing about the lack of toilets perpetuating disease cycles, or the unregulated use of antibiotics in chicken and pig farming underlying the spread of multi-resistant pathogenic bacteria, Jason clearly articulated how science and health communicators can drive positive change and shape new policies.

An expert panel comprising Tony Abbenante (DHHS), Megan Prictor (Melbourne Law School) and John Carlin (MCRI) tackled the opportunities and challenges of the ‘big data’ revolution and explored the relevance of e-health information and how it should be communicated.

In the case study session, we heard how Lauren Love implemented the social media tool ‘Workplace’ at Ambulance Victoria with great success. Imogen Crump (The University of Melbourne), spoke about how platforms like ‘Pursuit’ fill a gap in the media landscape of the specialist science journalist. And Rachel Mitisano (APR.Intern) unpacked the value of using multiple media channels when implementing a marketing strategy.

Through role-playing with actors and lots of laughter, Leadership Victoria confronted attendees with sector-relevant workplace scenarios during the “Courageous conversations” training session. It proved a great opportunity to discuss how commonly-encountered challenges in the science communication sector can be approached and managed practically for positive outcomes.

The Communicators Forum is an annual event supported by BioMedVic and organised by and for communications professionals working in health and biomedical organisations. The buzz at the Closing Networking reception confirmed that this year’s Forum had once again “hit the mark” to foster collaborations and forge a sense of community between the communication specialists from organisations across Victoria.

See the program of the event here.

Photo gallery of the event:

Catherine Granger: “The BioMedVic Early Career Clinician Researcher Award really made a difference to my career”

Dr Catherine Granger is Head of Physiotherapy Research and Chair of the Allied Health Research and Quality Committee at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physiotherapy at The University of Melbourne. In 2017, Catherine won a BioMedVic VCRN Early Career Clinician Researcher Award in recognition of her achievements and commitment to clinical research. In 2018, she was selected by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) as one of the “Top 5 scientists” for the year. For the first time, the 5 scientists were all women, and were identified by ABC as “ambassadors for their fields and role models for future scientists”.

Catherine’s research has been praised because of its relevance. Her work brings insight into the role of exercise and physiotherapy in the treatment of patients with lung cancer; more specifically, Catherine is researching how being physically active can improve outcomes for patients with cancer, such as quality of life and daily functioning. She is also interested in the current models of care within the health system, and how they can be improved to ensure that patients with cancer are advised regarding the benefits of physical activity.

BioMedVic spoke to Catherine about her career and scientific endeavours some months after receiving the BioMedVic VCRN Early Career Clinician Researcher Award and her selection as a “Top 5 scientists for 2018”. Read on to find out how these recent recognitions have impacted her career.


Yours was not a traditional pathway into research. As practicing physiotherapist you got into research after finding some gaps in the literature regarding exercise and lung cancer patients. How did this shape your approach to research?

I had been working for four years in public hospitals in Melbourne as a physiotherapist before starting my PhD, so my academic research has truly complemented my practicing experience. These double skills help me to easily translate research into practice and therefore my studies are clinically meaningful.

How did the BioMedVic Early Career Clinician Researcher Award impact your work?

It has made a very deep difference. As an early career researcher, my biggest challenge is funding. Regardless of your ideas or team, without financial support you can’t continue your career. The BioMedVic Early Career Clinician Researcher (ECCR) Award allowed me to travel to two amazing conferences, the Australian Lung Cancer Conference in Sydney and the World Lung Cancer Conference in Canada. Participating in these events was extremely important for subsequent funding, because publicly presenting my research at conferences, networking with other researchers and health professionals… it all helps to build up a track record, improve my CV and raise my profile, which collectively make my grant applications more competitive.

And the results are already visible: this year I have received the biggest project grants of my career from the Cancer Council Victoria, which will enable me to continue my research on lung cancer and exercise. I want to highlight that the BioMedVic ECCR Award really made a difference to my career. I’m very grateful to BioMedVic!

In 2018, you also got selected by the ABC as one of the “Top 5 scientists” for the year. How did that recognition impact your career?

Well, the recognition came with a science communication training that was extremely valuable. We were working alongside science journalists who helped us a lot in the process. We wrote an online media article for the general public, produced a radio segment and podcast for a more specific audience, and filmed engaging social media videos. The whole experience was very rewarding and changed the way I think about communicating science. Now I understand the crucial role that good communication can play for my research, not only in the form of academic papers but also in the way my research findings reach and inform clinical practice and thus can have a positive impact on patients.

Nowadays I’m always looking for new ways to communicate my research. Besides articles, I speak on the radio, present at consumer groups, reach patients and the public via Twitter… I’m trying to get my message out in as many ways as I can!


ABC’s Top 5 scientists 2018. Dr Granger on the right.

What’s the next steps for your career?  

Now it’s time for me to increase my research capacity and grow my team so that we can have a bigger and better impact on clinical practice with patients. My career aspiration is to be a leader of clinical-based cancer exercise research and to generate high-quality research to improve treatment for people with cancer and their outcomes. Particularly, I would like to focus on developing strong skills in randomised control trial best practice.


We wish Catherine all the best in her research career! If you want to learn more, connect with Catherine here.

BioMedVic members at the MRFF Frontier of medical research

The grants from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Frontiers initiative have been announced. Of the $9,490,429 million awarded, Victoria has secured $6,744,102 million (71.1%). This result highlights the strength of Victoria in medical research nationwide.

Awarded research projects led by or involving as project partners BioMedVic members are:

  • “The Cortical Frontiers: Commercialising Brain Machine Interfaces project” (Monash University). Grant: $924,100
  • “The Innovative Public Health Program Against Mosquito-Borne Diseases” (Monash University). Grant: $964,700
  • “The EVE-M – Enhancing the Vaginal Environment and Microbiome – Initiative” (Swinburne University of Technology and Deakin University as project partners; the project is led by the Burnet Institute). Grant: $895,346
  • “The multidisciplinary research Alliance on pre-hospital care for stroke” (The University of Melbourne). Grant: $1 million

Three other members of Victoria’s medical research community secured funding for the following projects:

  • “The Precision Medicine for Epilepsy project” (The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health). Grant: $999,956
  • “The Australian Lung Health Initiative” (4Dx Limited). Grant: $960,000
  • “The c-FIND: CRISPR Frontier Infection Diagnostics to Detect Infection project” (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research). Grant: $1 million

BioMedVic congratulates all funding recipients!

The MRFF Frontiers initiative fosters the development of cutting-edge research projects and, as stated in the official announcement, it can “transform healthcare and stimulate growth in the Australian medical technologies, biomedical and pharmaceutical sector, a vital part of the innovation economy”.

You can find the Health Minister announcement here.

BioMedVic CEO Jan Tennent features in expert innovation panel at Melbourne Knowledge Week 2019

This year’s Melbourne Knowledge Week, organised by City of Melbourne, has revolved around the many topics that shape the future of the city. Together with issues of sustainability, diversity, democracy and innovative design, the week-long event explored the role that technology and innovation play in making Melbourne a better place.

Jan Tennent participated in the “Health research and technology in the Melbourne Innovation District” panel discussion held in the fabulous surrounds of the heritage-listed Meat Market in North Melbourne. Moderated by Siegi Schmidmaier (Silver Chain), the panel also gathered Sabeen Shaikh (COO, Medtech Actuator) and Roanne Innes (CEO, Somatrack) to discuss the role of innovation districts in forming, influencing and sustaining a positive city culture towards research and innovation. Jan highlighted the importance of networks such as Biomedical Research Victoria for linking researchers and clinicians with industry, which collectively enhances research translation and innovation, and for lobbying the sectors’ views on science policy and priorities with government.

For more information on the event, please visit this page.

L-R: Roanne Innes, Jan Tennent, Sabeen Shaikh and Siegi Schmidmaier
Photo by Melbourne Knowledge Week (@knowledgemelb)

BioMedVic signs a joint statement on Health R&D

BioMedVic’s CEO, Prof Jan Tennent, has signed a joint industry pre-election statement on health research and development (R&D). The statement defends the need for industry-driven R&D and urges that the R&D Tax Incentive be preserved for the sector in order to reverse the declining trend of R&D investment in Australia.

Development of the joint statement was led by AusBiotech and has been signed, together with BioMedVic, by the CEOs of AusBiotech, Medicines Australia, MTAA, ARCS Australia, BioMelbourne Network and Research Australia.

Read the Media Release here.

BioMedVic and Osaka University collaborate on an innovative PhD program

Established in 2014, the partnership between BioMedVic and Osaka University (OU) continues to strengthen with the recent signing of a MoA to collaborate on OU’s new doctoral program, the “Transdisciplinary Program for Biomedical Entrepreneurship and Innovation” (TPBEI). The first of its kind in Japan, this innovative program involves over 20 organisations including four OU Graduate Schools, Osaka University Hospitals, the Osaka Prefecture Government, the Japanese Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, the Japan Patent Office, and industry partners such as Pfizer, Novartis Pharma and Shionogi.

A delegation from Osaka University visited Melbourne on March 25th to meet with Jan Tennent, BioMedVic’s CEO, and Núria Saladié, BioMedVic’s Engagement Manager, and sign a Memorandum of Agreement. The delegation included Prof Eiichi Morii (Dean, Graduate School of Medicine), Prof Yoshikatsu Kanai (TPBEI coordinator, Graduate School of Medicine), Prof Yasushi Okamura (Graduate School of Medicine), A/Prof Kyoko Hombo (Co-ordinator, TPBEI) and Ms Noriko Inoue (Assistant Director, Partnering Manager Global Health Initiative Graduate School of Medicine and Osaka University Hospital). The meeting was also attended by Ms Shelley Jackson, Assistant General Manager, Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade).

In the afternoon, the delegation was hosted at the Melbourne Town Hall by Mr Shane Mcilroy, Senior Business Development Coordinator, International and Civic Services Branch, who gave a short briefing on the ongoing importance of the sister city relationship between Osaka and Melbourne now in its 41st year!

The TPBEI aims to develop professionals with the dual ability to create innovative solutions to real-life challenges through world-leading academic research and apply those research outcomes to the benefit of society, while also developing their skills as entrepreneurs. BioMedVic is honoured to be the only TPBEI partner from Australia and will contribute to the curriculum and internationalisation of the program, with a focus on how cooperation between industry, academia and government nurtures entrepreneurial “knowledge professionals”.

More information on the “Transdisciplinary Program for Biomedical Entrepreneurship and Innovation” is here.

A delegation from Osaka University last visited BioMedVic in 2016; details about that visit can be found here.

Prof Jan Tennent and Prof Eiichi Morii after the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement

Sam Forster: “I was given the opportunity to discover the field of bioinformatics and see how fascinating it is”

Sam Forster is Head of the Microbiota and Systems Biology Research Group at the Hudson Institute. He finished his UROP placement in 2008 and since then his scientific career has sky-rocketed – and it’s only the beginning. He has published in Nature and other extremely relevant journals about the bacteria living in our body. Read on to discover more about Sam and how his UROP placement shaped his path.

When did you apply for UROP?  

In 2007 I was a student at The University of Melbourne doing a Science and Information Systems double degree when I applied for UROP. I got placed at the Hudson Institute (then called “Monash Institute”) with Paul Hertzog and Shamith Samarajiwa, to work on a bioinformatics-heavy project about innate immunity. As I had never studied immunology before, I felt very fortunate that Paul and Shamith taught me all the Biology content that I needed for my UROP project! I really enjoyed the combination of Biology and Computational Sciences that I explored during my placement.

What did you do after your UROP finished?

I pursued a wet-lab project during my Honours year with Paul Hertzog, and then stayed with him for my PhD working on a combination of bioinformatics and wet-lab based research. After I finished my PhD, I went on to a Postdoc position at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, a major genome sequencing centre in the UK and worked with Trevor Lawley. It was there that I started researching the microbiome. Nowadays I have gone full circle and am back at the Hudson Institute where I have my own research group.

Could you tell us more about your current research?

Most of our current work is focused on the communities bacteria in the gut, also known as the microbiome, composed of between a hundred and a thousand different species. We are studying how bacteria vary within the Australian community and how these different bacteria impact our health. It’s still early days, but some evidence suggests that the microbiome is as important as our immune system in terms of its systemic effect! We anticipate that the next five years is going to be a very important period in understanding how we can intervene and modify our microbiome to improve health outcomes.

This whole area of research creates a fascinating contradiction because often when we think about bacteria it’s pathogens that come to mind. So… is the microbiome a group of bacteria, or potential pathogens that our body is allowing to live inside it? One might think that the body is asking for trouble. But now we realise that these bacteria must be providing significant benefits from an evolutionary perspective to be able to stay in our body. It seems we’ve been unfairly thinking of bacteria as the bad guys all this time.  We still don’t know what these benefits are, though, but we are working on it.

Meeting Paul was a critical point for my career, and it was all
thanks to UROP that I was able to access this type of mentorship.

How did UROP influence your career?

Immensely! It was thanks to my UROP placement that I met Paul Hertzog. In Pauls’ lab I was given the opportunity to discover the field of bioinformatics and see how fascinating it is. If I hadn’t done UROP, I would have probably ended up going down an IT career path.

What do you think is the key aspect of UROP?

The fact that it very effectively matches the students with the labs where they can best thrive. From the beginning I really enjoyed being in Paul’s lab and he was not only my PhD supervisor but he’s also still one of my mentors. Meeting Paul was a critical point for my career, and it was all thanks to UROP that I was able to access this type of mentorship.

And now you have decided to put in a project to become a UROP supervisor yourself.

Yes, and it was an easy decision because having gone through UROP myself, I know the advantages of being part of the program. An important aspect of UROP is that new students bring different perspectives, backgrounds and areas of expertise to a lab and can really impact lab culture and contribute with new questions. UROP also allows for staff to adopt supervisory responsibilities, and in this way contributes to the training capacity of people within the lab.

If you could give a tip to new UROP students, what would you say to them?

Well, if there is even the smallest chance that you would like to have a science career, you should stop thinking about it and apply for a UROP placement now! And, if you have already been offered a UROP placement in a lab, remember that you are in an environment full of knowledge, so make sure you interact with as many people as possible and learn as much as you can from them.


Read more about the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) here.

Eastern Health shines in research world rankings and helps to transform healthcare

Article by Ashlea O’Hea, Communications Adviser at Eastern Health. 

Box Hill Hospital (Eastern Health) came in at number 36 in the Times Higher Education global rankings of non-university and non-commercial research organisations: equal to the world-renowned Scripps Institute in the US. Box Hill Hospital was the first ranked hospital in Australia, being the second ranked Australian research organisation.

Times Higher Education (THE) is the UK’s most authoritative source of information about higher education. THE ranked hospitals and non-university medical institutes based on a weighting of the impact of their publications between 2013 and 2017.

“The result means the impact of Eastern Health’s research based on weighted citations is ranked highly globally and the highest ranked Australian hospital,” Eastern Health’s Chief Executive, Adjunct Professor David Plunkett said.

Eastern Health conducts research across all disciplines, with more than 600 trials currently active.

“Our success has been possible due to our multidisciplinary research strengths across medical specialities, nursing and allied health with a strong focus on translating research to improve patient outcomes. We have strong state-wide services research with Turning Point and Spectrum and an increasing depth of surgical research currently underway.”

“We have a proud history in research and innovation. We have always fostered a culture where ethical research is embedded in every day practice,” Adj Prof Plunkett said.

Recent highlights from Eastern Health’s research activity includes the launch of the DC MedsRec trial in March, which is a community pharmacy-based service for patients discharged from Box Hill Hospital with four or more medicines, designed to help reduce the risk of harm from dangerous drug interactions. The service is an Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) pilot project, managed by Eastern Health in partnership with Monash University.

Recent research has also contributed to community outpatient health clinics slashing their waiting times using a model of patient care known as Specific Timely Appointment for Triage (STAT).

The joint La Trobe University, Eastern Health and Department of Health and Human Services trial – supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council – resulted in thousands of outpatients spending significantly fewer days waiting to see a health professional.

Eastern Health and La Trobe health service researcher, Dr Katherine Harding recently received a prestigious Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) fellowship from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to do further work on translating the STAT model into practice for paediatric services. In addition, the team (collaborating with Dr Patrick Carney) has received funding from the Eastern Health Foundation to find out if the STAT model can be applied to reduce waiting times in medical specialist clinics.

Adj Prof Plunkett said he was proud of Eastern Health’s commitment to research and the impact it is having, and will continue to have on patient care and health outcomes. “Research is a vital component of providing world-class healthcare, and we are excited about what the future holds for us in this space.”

For more information about our research, visit https://www.easternhealth.org.au/research-ethics

The Bio21 Institute

Article by Florienne Loder, Communications and Engagement Advisor at Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute. 

The Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute, or ‘Bio21’ for short, has a powerful founding vision, which is inherent in its name: a molecular science and biotechnology institute. It is a community of brilliant scientists, equipped with the most cutting-edge instrumentation, working together to improve human health and the environment through innovation in biotechnology and molecular sciences, driven by multidisciplinary research and dynamic interactions with industry.

In 2017 Professor Michael Parker took up the challenge as the new Director of leading the Institute into an exciting future, located in one of the great biomedical precincts in the world.

Professor Parker took the opportunity to reflect on what kind of Institute Bio21 is; its purpose and direction:

“Bio21 is not the ‘cancer’ centre, the ‘brain’, ‘infectious diseases’ or ‘sustainability’ institute; yet individual groups do conduct research in all these fields. From understanding how malaria invades the body, to what makes mozzarella cheese stretchy, or how organisms can adapt to climate change – the common denominator is the molecular science approach we all use to seek knowledge and solutions to problems in health and disease, environment and agriculture and more generally the biological sciences. We are the ‘molecular sciences’ institute!” says Michael Parker.

Bio21 is uniquely positioned with large, state-of-the-art technology to delve deeply into the structure and nature of molecules, from small molecules, to peptides, proteins, nucleic acids and viruses.

Collaboration is key

The Bio21 Institute was built with collaboration in mind. The architects built bridges across the atrium with break-out spaces to meet and chat. The Institute is home to groups across the three STEMM faculties of the University of Melbourne (Science; Medicine Dentistry and Health Sciences and the Melbourne School of Engineering). The Bio21 community also includes industry members, CSL Ltd, Prana Biotech Ltd, Circa Group and more recently, Rhythm Biosciences and SYNthesis Research & Med Chem.

One strategy that has served Bio21 researchers well is to truly seek to work collaboratively with colleagues within and across disciplines, in academia and industry.

Bio21’s success is reflected in a Nature Index survey of leading research institutions in Australia, where the Bio21 Institute figures prominently (see BioMedVic Nature Index infographic).

There are numerous examples within the Institute of collaboration that has led to truly innovative commercialisation successes, such as: Spencer William’s success with Fibrotech; Clarity Pharmaceuticals commercialisation of radiopharmaceuticals; Barnham and Donnelly labs commercialisation and licencing of a motor neurone disease drug with Collaborative Medicinal Development Pty Ltd (CMD); and collaborative work between Takeda Pharmaceuticals and the Tilley lab to show that proteasome-inhibiting cancer drugs can be repurposed to be effective against malaria. These great stories highlight the biotechnology aspirations of Bio21.

At the end of 2018, Bio21 celebrated the opening of the Nancy Millis building and Margaret Sheil Mass Spectrometry Laboratories. It is founded on collaboration between CSL and the University of Melbourne and now houses CSL research groups as well as Platform Technology facilities from the University of Melbourne.

Nancy Millis Building

 Bio21’s collaborations, span the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct and beyond, contributing to our success as a world class molecular science and biotechnology Institute.

Industry supported and embedded in the Institute

Bio21 is co-located with industry tenants. In 2018, the Bio21 Institute welcomed Rhythm Biosciences (diagnostics), and SYNthesis med chem (medical chemistry), two biotechnology companies, that moved into the Bio21 Business Incubator building (building 404). They join CSL (biological therapeutics), Circa Group (chemistry of bio-derived products) and Prana Biotech (medicinal chemistry applied to neurodegenerative diseases) as industry research groups who are part of the Bio21 community.

From the beginning, it has been one of Bio21’s goals to support translation and commercialisation of research and to provide a supportive ‘incubator’ space for industry research, whether they be start-ups or more well established companies.

Bio21 is an attractive location for industry groups for many reasons: access to our platform technology facilities, being embedded in a thriving academic research institute and in close proximity to other University of Melbourne institutes and faculties, medical research institutes and hospitals in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct in Parkville. But, it is often the intangible factors such as a collegial, collaborative and welcoming research culture that then leads to the flourishing of these groups in the Institute, as well as the growth of opportunities for all.

Platforms Technology Facilities supporting molecular science

The Bio21 research environment consists of well-resourced platform technology facilities that house powerful research instruments.

Some of our facilities represent the largest of their kind in Australia, with cutting edge instruments and led by highly regarded national experts in their respective technologies. Much of the instrumentation has been supported through government grants, such as the ARC LIEF grants. Bio21 has been likened to Dr Who’s ‘Tardis’; small on the outside but full of amazing technology inside.

Malcolm McConville, Associate Director Platform Infrastructure says: “The co-localisation of key technology platforms at Bio21 is opening up new opportunities for researchers, encouraging them to move beyond their comfort zone. For example, the co-localisation of the proteomics, metabolomics and lipidomics mass spectrometry facilities in the new Nancy Millis building, together with recent developments in the NMR and cryo-EM platforms allows researchers to characterise their systems, from metabolites to proteins and genotype/phenotype in unprecedented detail. Co-localisation is also bringing together expertise in IT, data handling and computational biology that underpin innovation and development across of these platforms.“

The Margaret Sheil laboratories in the Nancy Millis building house the Melbourne Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics platform and Metabolomics Australia platform, with a total of over 30 mass spectrometers.

Melbourne Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics

Melbourne Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics, with its fleet of eight mass spectrometers and seven HPLC instruments, as well as sample preparation instruments makes it possible to conduct proteomic, lipidomic and metabolomics analyses of samples, as a powerful way to identify biomarkers of diseases, as well as measure the impact of potential therapeutic candidates. A recent addition to the laboratories, through a collaboration with the Doherty Institute, is an ICP-mass spectrometer that can identify metal ions at very low concentrations in biological samples.

Metabolomics Australia

The Metabolomics Australia facility, also housed in the Margaret Sheil laboratories at Bio21, comprises the combination of high-throughput analytical technologies for the detection and quantification of metabolites in biological systems with the application of sophisticated bioinformatic tools for data mining and analysis. The most commonly used platforms for the detection and measurement of metabolites involves the use of gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, or capillary electrophoresis coupled with mass spectrometry. These analyses can be very powerful for biomedical and environmental research.

Melbourne Magnetic Resonance

The Melbourne Magnetic Resonance platform is home to nine magnetic resonance spectrometers, with a tenth one on the way for fragment-screening purposes. This suite of instruments includes 400, 500, 600, 700 and 800 MHz magnetic resonance spectrometers and a DNP solid-state dynamic nuclear polarization-enhanced NMR system to make increasingly sensitive measurements of samples from small molecules through to large proteins, in solution, but also as solids in more physiological conditions.

Melbourne Advanced Microscopy

The Melbourne Advanced Microscopy platform is bursting at the seams with high end electron microscopes. It is housing four TEMs, amongst which 3 cryo TEMs. It is also equipped with 2 SEMs and a dual beam microscope. The ThermoFisher FEI Talos Artica cryo EM has already led to a number of atomic resolution protein structures despite only being commissioned a year ago. Bio21 looks forward to new cutting edge technology in 2020 with the arrival of a 300 keV cryo EM and cryo FIB instrument for tomography allowing imaging of structures in their native environment. The Bio21 Institute also has several high end optical microscopes with confocal microscopes and super resolution systems as well as sample preparation equipment as part of the University of Melbourne’s Biological Optical Microscopy Platform (BOMP). A new facility will be built to house the electron microscopes and will provide much needed space and the opportunity for further expansion.

Melbourne Protein Characterisation

Bio21’s Melbourne Protein Characterisation (MPC), which is currently being established, will be a key resource within Bio21 for studying protein function and interactions as well as supporting the other platforms through the production of well characterised proteins for further analysis. The platform which is nearing completion in April, will be comprised of three facilities, to support protein discovery research: 1. Protein Production, 2. Protein Characterisation and Interaction and 3. X-ray diffraction. Protein Production will focus on insect and mammalian cell protein expression and is so far equipped with a Biostat twin control tower with rocker and cross-flow system. The Protein Characterisation and Interaction facility contains analytical ultracentrifuges, fluorescence spectrophotometers, UV-Vis absorbance spectrophotometers, isothermal titration calorimeters, circular dichroism spectrometers, dynamic light scattering zetasizer, biolayer interferometer, microscale thermophoresis, and differential scanning calorimeter. The facility will soon be complemented by Biacore surface plasmon resonance with funds from the recent successful ACRF grant. The X-ray Diffraction lab has been fitted out with a Rigaku Synergy-S X-ray diffractometer for both protein and small molecule studies and a PX Scanner. A suite of protein crystallisation robots will be added over the next year.

Systems and Computational Biology Platform
The major Bio21 platforms are supported by the Bio21 Systems and Computational Biology Platform and the Melbourne (Bio21) Specialist Store. The former has recently set up “Bio21 cluster 1”, a high performance cpu cluster with a total of 340 cpu core to support our platforms and researchers at Bio21.

Bio21 is growing

The ‘Bio21 precinct’ is growing its facilities.

With the ‘Stage 2C’ development to house CryoEM microscopes in the former Veterinary Research Institute and the newly established Melbourne Protein Characterisation platform, Bio21 is growing our already significant molecular science instrumentation capacity.

The Bio21 Institute is a wonderful environment to undertake molecular science research, equipped with a suite of platform technology facilities. It is however, the combination of these complementary technologies: for example, metabolomics using Magnetic Resonance and Mass Spectrometry; X-ray crystallography in combination with CryoEM and computational biology that often give us that extra insight, resolution, detail and data that allow us to solve the missing pieces in our respective puzzles.

Complementing each other the instruments housed in Bio21’s platform facilities, are an incredible resource to the biomedical scientific community within the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct.