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Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute News

Double funding win for CHIRI’s immunology researchers

By Amanda Iannuzzi 15 August 2019 News Comments off
Dr Connie Jackaman, (top) Associate Professor Delia Nelson, Dr Rodrigo Carlessi, Professor Philip Newsholme and Dr Kylie Munyard, (bottom) Dr Hannah Crabb, Dr Danielle Dye and Associate Professor Giuseppe Verdile.

Dr Connie Jackaman, Associate Professor Delia Nelson, Dr Rodrigo Carlessi, Professor Philip Newsholme and Dr Kylie Munyard (top row), Dr Hannah Crabb, Dr Danielle Dye and Associate Professor Giuseppe Verdile (bottom row).

Making diseases of ageing old news is Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) immunologist Dr Connie Jackaman’s aim and she now has two new funding grants totalling $175,000 to help her do it.

The Cancer Council WA awarded $100,000 to a research team Connie’s leading to investigate immune dysregulation during ageing and the impact on cancer immunotherapy. Contributing to the team are CHIRI researchers Associate Professor Delia Nelson, Dr Rodrigo Carlessi, Professor Philip Newsholme and Dr Kylie Munyard.

A second research project led by Connie, to investigate the impact of acute muscle injury-induced inflammation on the brain in the elderly, received Dementia Australia Research Foundation (DARF) funding of $75,000. Expertise on this team includes CHIRI researchers Dr Hannah Crabb, Dr Danielle Dye and Associate Professor Giuseppe Verdile.

CHIRI Director John Mamo congratulated Connie and her research teams on their success and thanked the two funders.

“We are so grateful to the Cancer Council WA and Dementia Australia Research Foundation for their support,” he said. Read more…

How you and some dietary oils may help progress brain disease research

By Amanda Iannuzzi 8 August 2019 News Comments off

Zac FB banner with new phone number

Imagine if the key to improving outcomes for patients with degenerative brain diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease was sitting right there in our kitchens and in the meals we eat.

Our research at the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute is telling us this is a possibility and our PhD student Zac D’Alonzo is recruiting participants for a study to further investigate this line of research inquiry.

The study is examining how people respond to meals containing commonly consumed dietary oils. In particular, it is looking at the effectiveness of these oils to influence blood metabolites that positively regulate capillary vessel function. Read more…

CHIRI leads discovery of potential new pancreatic cancer treatment

By Amanda Iannuzzi 6 August 2019 News Comments off
CHIRI's Professor Marco Falasca.

CHIRI’s Professor Marco Falasca.

Research led by Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) researcher Professor Marco Falasca has discovered a potential new treatment for an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer which the team hopes may increase the survival of patients resistant to currently available chemotherapeutic drugs.

Published in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research, the research found a specialised protein in human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cancer cells that is critical for tumour progression. The researchers discovered that treatment with a modified version of an anti-inflammatory drug, called sulindac, could block cancer progression in preclinical models with PDAC.

Marco, who is the lead author, said the protein studied in this research is also known to cause resistance to currently available cancer chemotherapeutic drugs.

“Overexpression of tumour promoting proteins found in cancers like PDAC is one of the main reasons why chemotherapeutic drugs are ineffective for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Targeting this protein could be particularly beneficial in treating patients who have failed standard chemotherapy for PDAC,” he said.

“Further research is needed to determine whether a possible drug combination, which includes the modified version of sulindac, may also provide promising results in human clinical trials. If successful, then this new treatment has the potential to increase survival for patients with pancreatic cancer.” Read more…

New scholarship to build on CHIRI’s student talent in liver cancer research

By Amanda Iannuzzi 3 August 2019 News Comments off


back row is John Mamo (CHIRI Director), Bill Crosthwaite (LCI Secretary), Dot Saunders (LCI), Neil Saunders (LCI Treasurer), Helen McCutcheon (Curtin Deputy Pro VC Health Sciences), Fabienne Vonarburg (Curtin, Senior Development Manager) and front row Philip Chinnery (LCI Chairman) and Nina Tirnitz-Parker (CHIRI)

Back row: John Mamo (CHIRI Director) and Lions Cancer Institute’s Bill Crosthwaite (Secretary), Dot Saunders, Neil Saunders (Treasurer), with Helen McCutcheon (Curtin Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor Health Sciences) and Fabienne Vonarburg (Curtin Senior Development Manager). Front row: Lions Cancer Institute’s Philip Chinnery (Chairman) and Nina Tirnitz-Parker (CHIRI).

The Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) is looking to welcoming the first recipient of a newly launched PhD scholarship thanks to support from the Lions Cancer Institute.

Announced this week and fully funded by the Lions Cancer Institute, the Lions-Lotus PhD Scholarship will attract high-quality PhD students to Curtin University to conduct cutting-edge research for the prevention and treatment of liver cancer at CHIRI.

The scholarship recipient will be supervised by Associate Professor Nina Tirnitz-Parker from CHIRI and Curtin’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, an internationally recognised expert in chronic liver disease and cancer.

CHIRI Director Professor John Mamo said he was grateful to the Lions Cancer Institute for its support of the scholarship, which would focus on addressing important research questions about this global disease that affects thousands of Australians every day. Read more…

Young CHIRI scientist named best in Singapore

By Amanda Iannuzzi 18 July 2019 News Comments off
Aleksandra Adamska.

Aleksandra Adamska in Singapore.

Having one of our talented PhD students share their research with the international research community is amazing in itself but Aleksandra Adamska recently took it up a notch, bringing home the Best Oral Scientific Presentation Award from an international pharmacology conference in Singapore.

Aleksandra took to the stage at the ‘International Conference on Pharmacology: Advances in Translational Sciences and Drug Discovery’ to present on cancer research she is undertaking with her Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) supervisor, Professor Marco Falasca.

A pharmaceutical biotechnology graduate from Wroclaw University in Poland Aleksandra is in her fourth year and close to completing her PhD with CHIRI. She is researching potential new targets to improve treatments for pancreatic cancer, which was the subject of her award-winning presentation. Read more…

Travelling researchers share first-class research

By Amanda Iannuzzi 9 July 2019 News Comments off


Clinton Kidman and Dr Ross Graham at the UK Synchrotron in Didcot, and with two of their posters at Bioiron 2019, in Heidelberg, Germany.

Clinton Kidman and Dr Ross Graham at the UK Synchrotron in Didcot, and with two of their posters at Bioiron 2019, in Heidelberg, Germany.

It has been a busy couple of months for Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) liver researcher Dr Ross Graham and his PhD student Clinton Kidman, who have returned from representing CHIRI at back-to-back international engagements and kindly shared these happy snaps of their travels.

First stop was attending the Eighth Congress of the International BioIron Society (IBIS) in Heidelberg, Germany. Both Ross and Clinton were grateful to receive travel grants to attend the five-day event, Ross’s was from the Biochemical Society UK and Clinton’s an IBIS Conference Bursary.

Together, our talented duo presented three posters on their CHIRI research investigating how iron regulates changes to fat metabolism, work they performed in collaboration with fellow CHIRI researchers Associate Professor Cyril Mamotte and Dr Mark Hackett and researchers from the universities of Western Australia, Newcastle and Sydney. Their research seeks to better understanding the underlying mechanisms of two age-related conditions – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and iron overload orders – and the links between them. Read more…

New GESA Director is a CHIRI researcher

By Amanda Iannuzzi 4 July 2019 News Comments off
Associate Professor Nina Tirnitz-Parker.

Associate Professor Nina Tirnitz-Parker.

You may already know Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) Associate Professor Nina Tirnitz-Parker as the Head of our Liver Disease and Regeneration Laboratory and a current Homeward Bound #4 leadership program participant but here is something new – she has just been elected as a Director on the Board of the Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA).

Congratulations to Nina, who is the only biomedical researcher amongst clinicians on the Board and is looking forward to bringing her unique perspective to its operations during her two-year term from 2019-2021.

GESA is the Australian body representing patients, clinicians and scientists in the field of gastrointestinal diseases.

“I believe that research is an integral part of our society and that unmet clinical needs are best addressed when researchers and clinicians work closely together,” Nina said.

“By capitalising on each other’s strengths and expertise, we can drive the research towards a meaningful outcome for patients.” Read more…

Funding to address knowledge gap in ovarian cancer genetics

By Amanda Iannuzzi 2 July 2019 News Comments off
Professor Arunasalam Dharmarajan.

Professor Arunasalam Dharmarajan.

A research team co-led by Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute’s (CHIRI) Professor Arunasalam ‘Dharma’ Dharmarajan has secured funding of $566,276 for three years from the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, Victoria to define the role of hormones in ovarian cancer.

Working with Co-Chief Investigator Associate Professor Pradeep Tanwar from the University of Newcastle’s Gynaecology Oncology Research Group, the research team’s goal is to improve understanding of the genetics behind the disease.

Dharma said a number of known factors contribute to a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer but many women were not aware of them. Read more…

One night as a CHIRI researcher

By Amanda Iannuzzi 21 June 2019 News Comments off
CHIRI Director John Mamo.

CHIRI Director John Mamo.

Friends and potential supporters of the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) recently stepped into our state-of-the-art lab facilities for the rare opportunity to spend a night as a CHIRI researcher.

The exclusive, hands-on lab tour and cocktail function provided a unique insight into the institute’s research into chronic diseases of ageing. It also provided the more than 70 guests with opportunities to learn more about how they can support the important work of CHIRI’s research scientists.

CHIRI Director John Mamo said it was great opportunity to welcome members of the community into CHIRI’s ‘home’ to see first-hand where the institute’s dedicated and passionate team of researchers spend their days looking for new prevention and treatment opportunities to improve the health of older Australians.

“We received lots of wonderful encouragement for our work and mission and indeed donations have already been realised,” he said. “I am very excited by the prospect of what we can achieve with the help and generosity of the Australian community.” Read more…

One minute with CHIRI PhD student Zalitha

By Amanda Iannuzzi 19 June 2019 News Comments off
Zalitha Pieterse.

Zalitha Pieterse.

Want to get to know one of CHIRI’s PhD students a little better? It will only take a minute!

The Australasian Wound and Tissue Repair Society featured a ‘One Minute’ profile on CHIRI PhD student Zalitha Pieterse in its recent newsletter.

Zalitha, who is a member of the society, took the opportunity to talk about her research with CHIRI, where she works in our Associate Professor Pritinder Kaur’s lab studying the role of pericytes in skin regeneration and their effect on epithelial cancer progression.

Find out more about Zalitha – including her research, why she chose science, what she hopes to achieve in the next 12 months and even her favourite holiday destination – here

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