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Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute News

Proud as punch as former Honours students shine

By Amanda Iannuzzi 20 September 2018 News Comments off
Former CHIRI Honours student Nur Dianah Abu Bakar receives her award from Chair of the GESA Research Committee Professor Alex Boussioutas from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Former CHIRI Honours student Nur Dianah Abu Bakar receives her award from Chair of the GESA Research Committee, Professor Alex Boussioutas from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Two former Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) Honours students flew the CHIRI and Curtin School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences flags in Brisbane recently and their former supervisors, including CHIRI researcher Dr Nina Tirnitz-Parker who supervised them both, couldn’t be prouder.

Nur Dianah Abu Bakar (Dianah), who in her 2017 Honours year was co-supervised by CHIRI’s Professor Marco Falasca, had her poster abstract on chronic pancreatitis selected as a poster of merit at the Australian Gastroenterology Week 2018.

To give you an idea of the size of the audience, a staggering 1,600 registrations were received this year!

Dianah was then selected by the judges to go to the finals, which was an unopposed podium oral defense for two basic scientist and two clinician scientists. Read more…

Achievements galore at CBSM 2018

By Amanda Iannuzzi 19 September 2018 News Comments off
CHIRI’s Lelinh Duong, Tenielle George and Kofi Stevens.

CHIRI’s Lelinh Duong, Tenielle George and Kofi Stevens.

The recent 28th Annual Combined Biological Sciences Meeting (CBSM) not only had an impressive program it was also packed full of Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) representation and achievements.

The CBSM aims to promote biological science in WA by encouraging the interaction of scientists, students and industry from all of the life sciences.

Held in The University Club at the University of Western Australia, CHIRI’s involvement in this year’s event included six presentations by CHIRI researchers and students, including one prize-winner; a poster presentation category win; and an award-winning research paper. Read more…

Stage set for ‘Adults Only’ research support

By Amanda Iannuzzi 18 September 2018 News Comments off

Newest CHIRI Presentation

The Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute’s (CHIRI) research was recently in the spotlight, at an engagement and networking event featuring ‘Adults Only’ research disclosures from some of CHIRI’s research team.

Professor Marco Falasca and Professor Deirdre Coombe joined CHIRI Director Professor John Mamo in showcasing some of the cutting-edge research underway at the institute, while Dr Nina Tirnitz-Parker, Dr Carl Mousley and Dr Connie Jackaman ran interactive stnds providing guests with a hands-on insight into the world of discovery science. Early Career and PhD student researchers Alice Domenichini, Abhishek Singh and Andrea Stephenson were on-hand to support the interactive experience.

For this first event in the ‘Adults-Only’ series, Prof. Falasca spoke about how CHIRI’s research into how cancer cells within our body release small ‘bubbles’ of information and material into our blood that could be manipulated to provide hope for pancreatic cancer sufferers.

Prof. Coombe spoke about how alternative to naturally-occurring substances called ‘heparins’ may effectively treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and provide a breath of fresh air for older-aged people with lifelong asthma.

Prof. Mamo provided a new insight into a possible for the cause and treatment of dementia, through his team’s discoveries about a small molecule from the small intestine and liver that makes tiny blood vessels in the brain ‘leak’ and a drug that may prevent this pathway of brain destruction from occurring. Read more…

Sebastian finishes PhD in ‘Pohl’ position

By Amanda Iannuzzi 3 September 2018 News Comments off
Dr Sebastian Pohl.

Dr Sebastian Pohl.

As the end of his PhD draws to a close, CHIRI researcher Sebastian Pohl has not only the completion of his thesis to celebrate but also that his three-year labour of love was among Curtin’s best.

Dr Himel Khaleque.

Dr Himel Khaleque.

Now Dr Sebastian Pohl, following his graduation ceremony last Friday, he received a Chancellor’s commendation for submitting an outstanding thesis. This honour, usually reserved for no more than 10 per cent of PhD students at Curtin, includes a signed commendation letter from the Chancellor and is noted in Sebastian’s academic transcript and graduation statement.

Congratulations also to former CHIRI PhD student Himel Khaleque who also received a Chancellor’s commendation for her thesis.

Chancellor’s commendations are awarded to Masters or doctoral students determined to have submitted an outstanding thesis that is considered to have made a significant contribution to their field of knowledge.

Sebastian completed his PhD under the supervision of CHIRI’s Professor Arunasalam Dharmarajan, from Curtin’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, whose research in cancer signalling, cancer biology and cancer stem cells makes him a fitting mentor for Sebastian’s line of research, which to date has been focused mostly on breast cancer research. Sebastian was co-supervised by Dr Allan Prem Kumar from the Cancer Science Institute in Singapore and CHIRI Early Career Research Fellow, Dr Mark Agostino. Sebastian considers the support of his supervisors, as well as the technical staff at CHIRI, to be contributors to his success. Read more…

Research study: Time to be bloody-minded

By Amanda Iannuzzi 28 August 2018 News Comments off

Research study

Tiny microscopic blood vessels called capillaries are critical for brain function and mental health. Brain capillaries also keep the brain isolated and protected from infectious diseases.

Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute researchers have discovered that brain capillaries become increasingly leaky with age and that this process is accelerated by poor dietary behaviour. Capillaries that persistently leak cause silent inflammation, which can increase risk for some degenerative brain diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease. However, dietary behaviour can also strengthen brain capillaries and reduce disease risk.

Our researchers are seeking participants for a new study that will investigate how people respond to meals containing commonly consumed dietary oils. The intent is to study the effectiveness of these oils to influence blood metabolites that positively regulate capillary vessel function.

Starting in September 2018, participants will be invited to consume meals containing one of two plant-derived oils, or no oil. Several small blood samples are subsequently taken for analysis. If selected for the study, you will receive a range of results from the study (glucose, insulin, cholesterol and blood lipid profile), that is relevant to heart health. You would also receive a voucher for your time commitment upon the study’s completion. Read more…

Rising star researcher nets NHMRC Fellowship

By Amanda Iannuzzi 21 August 2018 News Comments off
Dr Virginie Lam.

Dr Virginie Lam.

Adding to an already stellar list of early career achievements, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Dr Virginie Lam has outdone herself again, this time by securing a sought-after National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early Career Fellowship.

Virginie will receive an NHMRC Peter Doherty Australian Biomedical Fellowship of $327,192 over the next four years for her research project titled ‘Postprandial lipoprotein metabolism, cerebral capillaries and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk’.

In line with CHIRI’s research focus on diseases that commonly occur in older age, Virginie’s project is looking for potential causes of AD originating beyond the brain, and the effect of peripheral factors such as dietary intake of particular fats on the development of the disease.

“Attracting funding support for research is highly competitive these days and I feel very privileged to be a recipient of an NHMRC Fellowship,” Virginie said.

“The funding will give me the opportunity to continue to work in a multi-disciplinary team under the mentorship of my CHIRI colleagues, Professor John Mamo and Associate Professor Ryu Takechi, over the next four years, to take what is a paradigm-shifting research project to its full capacity.” Read more…

CHIRI researcher is Antarctica bound

By Amanda Iannuzzi 15 August 2018 News Comments off
Dr Nina Tirnitz-Parker with 'Philip' the penguin.

Dr Nina Tirnitz-Parker with ‘Philip’ the penguin.

Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) researcher Dr Nina Tirnitz-Parker never dreamed the inflatable penguin sitting in her office, which she won at the Lorne Cancer Conference on Phillip Island in Victoria 13 years ago, would one day help to secure her a place on a voyage to Antarctica.

Penguin Philip featured in Nina’s successful audition tape for Homeward Bound #4 2019, a 12-month leadership program starting this November, which culminates in a three-week intensive in Antarctica departing in late 2019.

Nina is a Senior Research Fellow at CHIRI and leads a lab specialising in liver stem cell and cancer biology research. She is now also part of a fourth cohort of women with a science, technology, engineering, mathematics or medicine (STEMM) background worldwide chosen for the Homeward Bound program. Read more…

Mark’s structured approach contributes to breakthrough

By Amanda Iannuzzi 13 August 2018 News Comments off
Left: Dr Mark Agostino. Right: The TNFSF14 protein (in grey, blue and violet) bound to its receptor (in red and yellow).

Left: Dr Mark Agostino. Right: The TNFSF14 protein (in grey, blue and violet) bound to its receptor (in red and yellow).

Early Career Research Fellow Dr Mark Agostino is among a group of researchers who may be on the cusp of finding a new way to treat two diseases that commonly occur in older age – obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Mark is collaborating in a study led by Assistant Professor Vance Matthews, from the Royal Perth Hospital Medical Research Foundation, which is yielding promising results.

Funded by Diabetes Research WA, the study is looking at derivatives of the protein TNFSF14 may be used in the early or pre-diabetic stages to avoid or limit the development of Type 2 diabetes.

Pre-clinical testing has found the protein plays a key role in reducing weight gain, increasing glucose tolerance and reducing insulin resistance. Read more…

Research paper published: Shedding new light on skin regeneration

By Amanda Iannuzzi 8 August 2018 News Comments off
Associate Professor Pritinder Kaur.

Associate Professor Pritinder Kaur.

More exciting research findings out of the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI), this time from lead author and head of CHIRI’s Epithelial Stem Cell Biology Group, Associate Professor Pritinder Kaur. Her team’s latest research paper, published in the journal Life Science Alliance, is a step towards developing new approaches to treating patients with severe skin defects, including burns and blistering diseases.

Since skin replacement and repair from injuries such as burns and diabetic ulcers is severely compromised in ageing skin, these findings have relevance for CHIRI’s research focus on adult diseases and for devising new ways to improve skin repair in elderly patients. Read more…

Winter retreat for CHIRI’s diabetes and metabolism research group

By Amanda Iannuzzi 7 August 2018 News Comments off
Professor Philip Newsholme, Dr Rodrigo Carlessi, Nikita Walz, Karina Romeu Montenegro and Joanne Rowles.

Professor Philip Newsholme, Dr Rodrigo Carlessi, Nikita Walz, Karina Romeu Montenegro and Joanne Rowles.

We just had to share this great photo of some Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) researchers who recently spent a weekend in the Kalbarri National Park for a winter retreat.

Six members of Professor Philip Newsholme’s lab enjoyed team building and some social fun in the form of hiking, fishing, cooking meals and some very competitive evening board games.

They took this picture while exploring Nature’s Window, one of the national park’s most iconic and stunning attractions.

At CHIRI, the group’s work days are spent focused on researching metabolic health and nutrition in relation to age-related diseases including diabetes, chronic inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s been another busy year for the group, which has published in excess of 10 research articles so far in 2018, with more currently under review. Read more…

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