Tag: November 2018 Newsletter

New Victorian manufacturing facility at CSIRO Clayton

BioMedVic members interested in the production of biological products such as vaccines, antibodies and stem cells for clinical trials will be delighted to know that a new Advanced Biotechnology Manufacturing Platform will be built at the CSIRO Clayton Central precinct.

The facility will allow the development of state of the art, early-stage biological and pharmaceutical products in Australia, and will ease the process of manufacturing for a wide range of companies, including those smaller ones that can’t afford to manufacture their candidates overseas.

The new manufacturing facility will be owned and run by CSIRO. It has received substantial funding from several institutions, including the Victorian Government, MTPConnect, SIEF and NCRIS/TIA , as well as companies including Telix Pharmaceutical and Sementis P/L. This investment is expected to boost the translational capabilities of the biotech sector in Australia, help to increase the number of Victorian institutions doing clinical trials while supporting local jobs and attract more investments from Australian biotech companies.

For more information see the CSIRO Blog or the Victoria Government page.

Celia Vandestadt, former UROP student: “My UROP placement changed my whole scientific trajectory”

Celia did her year-long UROP placement in 2013 and it changed her scientific life. It gave her the hands-on experience she never got during her undergraduate coursework and prepared her for a PhD, which she is currently about to finish at Monash University’s Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI). In this interview, Celia explores what were the drivers, highlights and turns of her UROP experience.

Why did you apply for UROP?

When I came across UROP I was immediately drawn to the idea of it. I felt like it was important to gain a real-life experience into what being an academic would be like, because during my undergrad I only got some insights into it. But UROP was something different: it allowed me to embed myself in the lab and work on a real-world project.

Also, as an undergrad student, I was very pressed for time. I was dedicated full time to my studies, but I had to earn a living too. UROP was a unique opportunity to fulfil both needs, while also gaining an amazing lab experience.

Would you say UROP was valuable to you?

Yes! I did UROP in my last year of undergrad, so at that time it was extremely valuable for me to go through a real application process: writing my CV, preparing for the genuine interview process, and finally getting experience in a lab.

The UROP Conference was also very valuable, I still remember it! It was my first experience presenting my scientific research. It was a bit daunting, getting up there and talking for 5 minutes about my results in front of a crowd, but it was very rewarding. I attended the presentation skills workshop offered before the Conference, and that really helped me. I still use some of those tips when I write presentations today.

My UROP experience, with a genuine project and real-world work,
gave me the confidence to seriously pursue science.

How much has UROP influenced your scientific career?

My UROP placement changed my whole scientific trajectory, because I fell in love with research. Working on a real project sparked my curiosity, which led me to continue with that project through honours and, eventually, gave me the confidence to say “yeah, I can pursue this crazy thing called a PhD”. Because, to be honest, at the end of my undergrad I wasn’t sure whether I should pursue academia or find a job. My UROP experience, with a genuine project and real-world work, gave me the confidence to seriously pursue science.

How was the relationship with your UROP supervisor?

My supervisor had more of a guiding role and our relationship was rather informal. He gave me freedom to explore but also provided guidance when I needed it. He wanted me to go and get my hands dirty and find solutions to problems by myself, and then go back to him to discuss my results. Thanks to that freedom, I got to see how much fun wet lab work could be!

Would you recommend UROP to new students? What tips would you give them?

Absolutely. It’s a smart move for students because they will gain an incredibly valuable experience. In my case, UROP allowed me to really understand the techniques in the lab, which helped me to do well on my Honours and afterwards to succeed in getting a PhD scholarship.

My tips would be, firstly, to throw yourself at it, take it with both hands and try to get yourself immersed in the lab as much as possible. Secondly, to learn from people working around you, even if it’s just shadowing. Be curious about your research organisation and try to engage with peers. And finally, remember that you are not expected to know everything! So, don’t be afraid to ask questions or get things wrong, and make sure you speak up if you don’t understand something or if you need further clarification.

Would you like to become a supervisor?

Definitely! The questions and the energy that new students bring are so welcome in the lab. That energy feeds into what we are doing on a daily basis and makes the lab more fun. It’s a very positive symbiotic relationship between the the lab and the students, we all benefit from UROP!

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

Defence Research Funding Opportunity for Universities

Universities and Small Business are invited to submit research proposals in response to a new call for Defence Research that aims to find new ways to integrate advanced materials onto military platforms. Find more information here.

Applications open on 28 November 2018 and close on 1 February 2019.

Funding will be provided jointly by Australia’s Defence Science and Technology and the United Kingdom’s Defence and Security Accelerator. Initial funding of up to $900,000 is available under the Next Generation Technologies Fund through the Small Business Innovation Research for Defence (SBIRD) program.

For more details and the chance to speak directly with the SBIRD project team, attend the Information Session on Wednesday 28th of November at Engineers Australia (Melbourne). Register online now!

New potential treatment for premature babies with lung disease

BioMedVic congratulates its member Monash University who, together with the Hudson Institute of Medical Research and the Monash Children’s Hospital, has pioneered a trial for the treatment of premature babies with chronic lung disease. This trial and the substantial body of research underpinning it is led by Professor Euan Wallace, together with Dr Atul Malhotra and Dr Rebecca Lim.

The trial has already established that it is safe to use placenta cells in babies. In the coming phases of the trial, stem cells will be given to babies to assess if they could prevent or cure the chronic lung disease.

“All too often in medical research we hear about ‘breakthroughs’ when there hasn’t really been one. This is different”, said Professor Wallace.

Professor Euan Wallace, head of Monash’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, was awarded the BioMedVic 2014 VCRN Career Recognition Award for his outstanding record in clinical research and research training and recently delivered the keynote at the BioMedVic HREC Professional Development Day, an annual event dedicated to promulgating good practice in research ethics review through the exchange of ideas among Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) Chairs and Research Office Directors and Managers.

More information about the trial is available here.

New Engagement Manager at BioMedVic

BioMedVic warmly welcomes Núria Saladié as its new Engagement Manager.

Núria is a science communicator and research and innovation project manager with wide experience in stakeholder engagement across a number of European framework programmes. Her storytelling skills will undoubtedly enhance BioMedVic’s efforts to engage with its Members, amplify their initiatives and celebrate their remarkable achievements.

Please introduce yourself to Núria by email, phone (9035 7965) or in person at the BioMedVic office one day soon!













MDPP arrives in Victoria

BioMedVic members engaged with medical device discovery and development will be excited to learn that the Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) has arrived in Victoria. Part of a national expansion, MDPP-Vic has been made possible thanks to the support from LaunchVic, the Victorian government agency for the advancement of the state’s start-up sector. MDPP will receive $2 million over two years to deliver the program in Victoria, which will officially launch in early 2019.

Sally McArthur, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Swinburne and CSIRO Research+ Science Leader in Biomedical Manufacturing, will be the Regional Director of MDPP in Victoria. The organisation is confident that the program will create opportunities, new ventures and employment for Victoria.

BioMedVic’s CEO Prof Jan Tennent is delighted to be a member of the MDPP Victorian Steering Committee, which includes representatives from five BioMedVic members: Swinburne University of Technology, CSIRO, The University of Melbourne, Monash University and RMIT University.

You can read more information here.


Promoting the connections of Melbourne: A City of Science and Innovation

BioMedVic has extended its partnership with Springer Nature as sponsor of the Nature Index Melbourne Collaboration Map. An online, interactive and updateable research network tool powered by the Nature Index, the map shows output and collaboration in high quality research between institutions located in the greater Melbourne region.

Ranking #31 in the recently published Nature Index Top 200 Science Cities of 2018, Melbourne continues to demonstrate that it is a key epicentre of science and innovation in the Asia Pacific region. BioMedVic’s focus on enabling the collective capability of the health and medical research precincts across metropolitan and regional centres to grow and prosper will help propel Victoria to stand equal amongst the innovation and life sciences hotspots of the world.

A quick guide to the features of the collaboration map plus more information can be found here.

University of Melbourne rewards research excellence with Woodward Medal

BioMedVic congratulates Professor Katherine Kedzierska and Professor Geoffrey McFadden for winning the Woodward Medal in Science and Technology for their outstanding contributions in research.

Professor Katherine Kedzierska works at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Doherty Institute. Her research on H7N9 influenza has brought science closer to a universal vaccine for all strains of influenza.

Professor Geoffrey McFadden works at the School of Biosciences of the University of Melbourne. His research aims to better understand malaria metabolism throughout its cycle across humans and mosquitoes.

More information here.

New course “Osteosarcopenia: Preventing falls and fractures in older persons”

Have you seen the new course “Osteosarcopenia: Preventing falls and fractures in older persons“?

Specifically designed for medical practitioners, the course provides a comprehensive education on osteoporosis, sarcopenia and the newer condition ‘osteosarcopenia’ in older people.

We are happy to raise awareness of this initiative from the Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science (AIMSS), a BioMedVic member. AIMSS is a collaborative institute of three main stakeholders: University of Melbourne and Western Health (both BioMedVic members) and Victoria University.

More information and registration details are available via this flyer:

Cancer Therapeutics CRC signs agreement with global pharma heavyweight Pfizer

Cancer Therapeutics CRC (CTx) has signed a two-year research partnership and licensing deal with Pfizer. With this agreement, the global pharmaceutical gains the rights to two novel pre-clinical cancer programs that focus on proteins closely linked to the growth of solid and blood cancer. Exploring these programs could lead to new cancer treatments.

For these two programs, CTx received a signature payment of AUD$20M with the potential for up to AUD$648M for development and sales milestones, plus royalties on sales if program outcomes are commercialized.

“This deal, together with the three prior deals for CTX technology, has the potential to return a billion dollars to Australia. Funds that will help support the biomedical sector and that can be ploughed into new drug discovery programs”, said Brett Carter, CEO of CTx.

This partnership between the Melbourne-based CTx and NY-based Pfizer is the second significant preclinical licensing deal that CTx has completed with a major pharmaceutical company and adds significantly to the already impressive list of commercial achievements by CTx in recent years. The previous license with MSD (Merck in North America) was signed in January 2016.

BioMedVic congratulates its member CTx for reaching this agreement with Pfizer. BioMedVic’s Board is currently Chaired by Dr Warwick Tong, who until April 2018 was the CEO of CTx. Dr Tong is now CTx’s Advisor and Chair of its spin-out company CTx One. BioMedVic’s Board past Chair, Dr George Mortsyn, is also an Independent Director on the CTx Board.

More information can be found in the press release by Cancer Therapeutics CRC, and in the article published last Friday by the Australian Financial Review.