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New blood Nick joins renewed heart disease research effort

By Amanda Iannuzzi 24 May 2018 News Comments off
CHIRI Director Professor John Mamo, PhD student Nick Fimognari and Professor Spencer Proctor.

CHIRI Director Professor John Mamo, PhD student Nick Fimognari and Professor Spencer Proctor.

It has been more than a decade since the Curtin Health Innovation and Research Institute (CHIRI) Director Professor John Mamo and his former PhD student Professor Spencer Proctor teamed up and made some ground-breaking discoveries in heart disease research.

Their pioneering study turned some previously held misconceptions about the causes of heart disease on their head, finding lipoproteins from dietary fats to be a major contributor to the disease.

The findings surprised the research world and earned the pair an international reputation that led to Professor Proctor securing a prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council-Early Career Research Fellowship, which he completed at the University of Alberta in Canada, where he is now based.

The dynamic duo do not intend to let the distance stop them. This year they will be picking up the research where they left off but with a somewhat broader focus and adding a new recruit to their research team.

CHIRI PhD student Nick Fimognari has jumped at the opportunity to be part of the renewed research effort. Nick is in the second year of his PhD and his project, ‘Sub-endothelial retention of post-prandial lipoproteins: risk for atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease, integrates the historical work of Professors Mamo and Spencer around lipoproteins derived from dietary fat ingestion, and is assessing their shared risk in cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s disease.

Nick’s involvement will see him travel to Canada to spend several months of this year working under Professor Proctor.

“I’m privileged to be working with two esteemed vascular biologists, but to also bridge the gap between the brain and the heart surrounding lipoprotein research,” Nick said.

“John and Spencer’s previous findings invite some major unanswered questions for me to investigate with the renewal of this research. This is huge for me!”

Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) originating in the liver were previously thought to be the primary cause behind atherosclerosis, the formation of cholesterol plaques in artery walls which can affect blood flow and cause heart attack or stroke.

LDLs are one of five types of lipoproteins, which transport fat molecules around the body in the extracellular water.

Professors Mamo and Proctor found that while the LDLs were a risk factor, it was lipoproteins originating from dietary fats (chylomicrons) and formed in the small intestine and liver that were a more significant source of the cholesterol plaques. While lower in concentration in the blood supply, the study found the retention of fat molecules in lipoproteins from dietary fats to be extraordinarily higher than previously thought and far higher than that of LDLs. Read more about the research on the AHA Journals website.

Research that gets under your skin

By Kerrie Collier 22 May 2018 News Comments off

Gardner, Joanne5When you’re a researcher at CHIRI the work can really get under your skin!

Just ask CHIRI’s Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Joanne Gardner (School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences).

It’s been great having Joanne working with us as part of Associate Professor Pritinder Kaur’s team, whose research is focused on improving the regeneration abilities of skin stem cells.  Joanne had previously completed her PhD here at CHIRI.

The research team is working to develop better ways of growing skin in the laboratory for transplanting onto patients with skin-related injuries including burns, or to replace skin lost in the removal of skin cancer.

Hear more about what Joanne has been up to on this video.

CHIRI researchers discover wedded bliss

By Kerrie Collier 21 May 2018 Announcements News Comments off

CHIRI albumBefore the weekend’s royal wedding, there were the CHIRI weddings. Not a white coat in sight, as four of our researchers stepped out of the lab and into a life of wedded bliss. Researchers spend their lives discovering things so no surprise that two of our researchers discovered love with each other! I’m sure you’ll agree that all of our brides and grooms looked nothing short of regal on their special days. To all our newlyweds, thank you for sharing your stories with us. Congratulations from all your friends and colleagues at CHIRI. If you have a story to share, please let us know here.

Read more…

CHIRI professor joins expert panel of stem cell researchers

By Kerrie Collier 15 May 2018 Announcements Events News Comments off

Stem largeCHIRI Associate Professor Pritinder Kaur will join five other leading Australian stem cell researchers as a panellist at a free public forum in Melbourne in June.

The ‘Stem Cell Research – Now and in the Future’ public forum will discuss how stem cells could change the future of medicine.

As the Head of CHIRI’s Epithelial Stem Cell Biology Group, Associate Professor Kaur will give a brief presentation on her research, which is focused on epithelial stem cells and uses human skin cells as a model for understanding how the epithelial layers are developed, before fielding questions from the general public in a Q&A discussion. Read more…

CHIRI’s ‘brainchild’ named among WA’s leading researchers

By Kerrie Collier 8 May 2018 News Comments off

Lam, Virginie3Congratulations to CHIRI post-doctoral research fellow Dr Virginie Lam on being recognised among WA’s six leading researchers, and as ‘The Brainchild’, by The West Australian newspaper for her work investigating links between Vitamin D and brain health.

Dr Lam is profiled among a number of passionate, highly skilled scientists and health practitioners who are working to deliver breakthroughs in chronic disease management, brain development and mental health and Aboriginal health and wellbeing across WA.

Dr Lam’s research focus is ageing and neurodegenerative disorders, where she is investigating how vasoactive nutrients (micro-nutrients and vitamins), and specifically Vitamin D, effect the micro-vessels in the brain.

The profile of Dr Lam and her work is part of Science on the Swan, an annual health and medical science conference established by the Western Australian Health Translation Network. The network’s members include Curtin University.

Read the feature on The West Australian Science on the Swan website: https://buff.ly/2KKzebl.

CHIRI’s Facility Manager chairs 4th Annual Research Facilities Design and Development Summit

By Kerrie Collier 4 May 2018 News Comments off

The Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) has some pretty impressive facilities, so who better to chair the 4th Annual Research Facilities Design and Development Summit than one of our own?

CHIRI’s Research Facility Manager, Dr Rob Steuart has been in Sydney chairing the 2-day summit, which ran from 30 April to 1 May 2018. Rob’s official duties include opening and closing the summit, and no doubt assisting with the odd speaker introduction, housekeeping message or IT solution in between.

This year’s summit covered topics including:

  • innovation and finding the best designs for research facilities;
  • construction strategies to boost operations of research facilities;
  • maximising the use of space in the development of research facilities; and
  • providing management advice to prevent return on investment losses.

You can find out more about the summit on the International Quality and Productivity Centre website https://researchfacilities.iqpc.com.au. Well done Rob!

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CHIRI hosts EU Ambassador – Horizon 2020 funding of MEDLEM project

By Kerrie Collier 15 March 2018 Announcements Events Facilities News Special guests Comments off

The Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute was privileged to host His Excellency, the European Union Ambassador, Mr Michael Pulch. The primary purpose for the Ambassador’s visit was to celebrate and learn more about Curtin University-CHIRI’s Dr Hani Al-Salami’s involvement as a Chief Investigator in the MEDLEM project, which has received $500K funding through the Horizon 2020 European Union initiative. The Horizon 2020 is an €80 billion research investment program, the largest ever supported through the European Union. The MEDLEM project is developing nano-sensors for optimizing chemotherapeutic treatment in highly fragile leukemia patients .

The visit of his Excellency to Curtin and CHIRI was kindly hosted by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Deborah Terry, with interactive discussions between the Deputy Vice Chancellor-International, Prof Seth Kunin, the Pro-Vice Chancellor Health Sciences, Professor Michael Berndt, the Dean of Research Professor Torbjorn Falkmer and the Director for CHIRI, Prof John Mamo. The delegation was given a tour of our innovative research labs, meeting some of our talented early career researchers and postgraduate students. You can read more about Horizon 2020 here: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/.

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(l-r) Prof John Mamo, Dr Rob Steuart, Dr Hani A-Salami, Mr Michael Pulch, Prof Torbjorn Faulkmer, Prof Michael Berndt and Prof Seth Kunin

 

High-impact publication success for early career CHIRI scientists

By Kerrie Collier 22 February 2018 Announcements News Comments off

CMousley&RSteuartTeamBack row l-r: Kelsi Wells, Rob Steuart & Amy Black
Front row l-r: Carl Mousley & Kofi Stevens

Dear friends of CHIRI, what a tremendous outcome for CHIRI-postgraduate students and early career research scientists to have published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Lead postgraduate student Kofi Stevens with Amy Black and Research Assistant Kelsi Wells, enjoy supervision and strong support of the ever enthusiastic Dr Carl Mousley and Dr Rob Steuart, with mentorship support by Prof Colin Stirling.

For those less familiar with the scientific relevance of the study, the findings shed important information on how toxic material may form in certain diseases such as diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease. Read more…

Honours student awarded Dementia Australia Research Foundation PhD Scholarship

By Kerrie Collier 15 February 2018 Announcements News Comments off

MEccles 1Please congratulate CHIRI 2017 Honours Student, Melissa Eccles, who was awarded a Dementia Australia Research Foundation PhD Scholarship to continue her work from her honours year, where she identified important regions within the enzyme responsible for amyloid-protein production in Alzheimer’s disease. Read more…

Collaborative study shedding light on potential target for cancer treatment

By Kerrie Collier 15 February 2018 Announcements News Comments off

Mousley, Carl5It gives us great pleasure to see a substantial and complex line of research enquiry be recognised via publication in the prestigious journal Developmental Cell.  CHIRI’s Carl Mousley is a leading author in an international collaborative study shedding light on functional proteins that are critical in regulation of cell proliferation and by extension, potential target for cancer treatment.  Have a read of the study and please take the opportunity to congratulate Carl on this outstanding achievement. Read more…

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