News Archive 2019

November 2019

2019 SA Women’s Honour Roll

Congratulations to Professor Eva Bezak, the Cancer Research Institute’s Director: Centre for Translational Cancer Research, who was inducted into The South Australian Women's Honour Roll. The Honour Roll is an important part of an ongoing strategy to increase formal recognition of women who contribute to the South Australian community. Held biennially, the Honour Roll acknowledges and celebrates the diversity of women in our community and their commitment to effecting change to ensure that we live in a safer and more inclusive society. The 2019 SA Women's Honour Roll was released on 20 November 2019 at an event at Government House, with 24 outstanding nominees honoured, see further information here.

The Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation announced the funding on World Pancreatic Cancer Day (21 November).

A research team led by Eva Bezak, UniSA Professor of Medication Radiation Science, aims to use radioisotopes emitting alpha particles to target and kill pancreatic cancer cells.  Full story here

Channel Seven Children’s Research Foundation funding

Researchers from UniSA’s Cancer Research Institute have been awarded funding through the Channel Seven Children’s Research Foundation for 2020, see the full details here:

  • Professor Leanne Dibbens, Overcoming drug resistance in childhood seizure and psychiatric disorders caused by potassium channels
  • Professor Leonie Segal, Early in life outcomes of children of mothers with child protection system involvement. What factors are protective and what factors predict poorer infant outcomes?
  • Dr Emmanuel Gnanamanickam (ECR) Social welfare dependency and receipt of welfare benefits following child abuse and neglect: a South Australian linked data study
  • Dr Preethi Eldi (ECR) Evaluation of ex vivo human CD4 T cell immune response against peanut allergens for a novel therapeutic peanut allergy vaccine

2019 Research Award Winners and Finalists

Congratulations to UniSA’s Cancer Research Institute researchers who were recognised at the UniSA 2019 Research Day:

Transformed PhD - Student of the Year Award
Winner: Imogen Ramsey, Centre for Translational Cancer Research and School of Nursing and Midwifery
This award recognises a PhD candidate who exemplifies the Transformed PhD at UniSA. They are undertaking research that is excellent, and end-user engaged. Moreover, they are acquiring the knowledge partnerships and transferable skills to position them competitively for career success.

Pathway to Impact Category –  Interdisciplinary Award
Winner: Professor John Hayball, Centre for Cancer Diagnostics and Therapeutics and Krasimir Vasilev, School of Engineering
Interdisciplinary award is awarded to an individual or team who has produced a ground-breaking research outcome that was only possible as a result of the integration of two or more unrelated disciplines. What happens when a nanoenginner meets an immunologist?

Supervisor of the Year
Finalist: Professor Clive Prestidge, Centre for Cancer Diagnostics and Therapeutics

Research Excellence Category - Early Career Researcher
Finalist: Dr Alexandra Sorvina, Centre for Cancer Diagnostics and Therapeutics

Pathway to Impact Category - Policy Impact Award
Finalist: NHMRC NAFOSTED (team including Professor Adrian Esterman from the Centre for Translational Cancer Research)

Research Theme Investment Scheme awardees

Researchers in UniSA’s Cancer Research Institute were the recipients of UniSA RTIS grants:

  • Dr Manuela Klingler-Hoffmann ‘Facilitating personalized medicine with assay-ready plates’
  • Dr Emmanuel Gnanamanickam ‘Social welfare income support following child abuse and neglect: A South Australian linked data study’
  • Dr Amanda Hutchinson ‘Food for thought: Understanding the relationship between diet and cognition in cancer survivors’
  • Dr Ian Johnson ‘Development and validation of Random Positioning Machines for organoid tissue development of disease pathogenesis’

And the following members of successful project teams:

  • Professor John Hayball ‘Dissolve and suppress: Combating bacterial biofilm and excessive inflammation in chronic wounds so they heal again’
  • Associate Professor Sally Plush, Dr Manuela Klingler-Hoffmann, Professor Peter Hoffmann ‘Is it dangerous to be different? Discovering mechanisms of patients with Myocardial Infarction with nonobstructive Coronary Arteries (MINOCA)’
  • Professor Marion Eckert ‘Enhancing in-hospital care for Aboriginal people with cancer: Codeveloping a culturally-responsive, quality improvement system with Central Adelaide Local Health Network’s Aboriginal Health Unit (CALHN AHU)’
  • Professor Clive Prestidge ‘Nanomedicine to enhance sphingosine kinase 1 targeting in acute myeloid leukaemia and improve patient outcomes’

October 2019

Tour de Cure grant success

The following UniSA Cancer Research Institute researchers have been awarded funding by Tour de Cure:

  • Professor Elina Hypponen, Machine learning to predict and prevent cancer, see further details here
  • Professor Shudong Wang, A new treatment against ovarian cancer, see further details here
  • Professor Cory Xian, Preventing childhood cancer chemotherapy-induced bone loss: a preclinical study, see further details here

ARC Special Research Initiatives Grant Success

Professor John Hayball, CRI Centre for Cancer Diagnostics and Therapeutics, is leading a team in partnership with Membrane Systems Australia Pty Ltd and Puratap Pty Ltd has recently been awarded an ARC perfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) Remediation Research Program grant.

This project aims to develop low cost platform technologies using the team’s patented high capacity adsorbent material for the removal of PFAS from contaminated water sources in Australia. Their advanced adsorbent material is made from a novel sulfur co-polymer and activated carbon, both of which have high affinity for PFAS, but when combined as a composite provide significant advantages for PFAS remediation. Read more about it here

Major depressive disorder – referred to colloquially as the ‘black dog’

In a study which was led by Professor Elina Hyppönen, Director: Australian Centre for Precision Health. Major Depressive Disorder has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases. Read more about it here

September 2019

Flawed evidence underpins approval of new cancer drugs

The researchers say that inaccurate evidence also encourages false hope and creates a distraction from needed palliative care. They highlight the need to improve the design, conduct, analysis, and reporting of cancer drug trials.

Scientific proof that bowel cancer screening reduces death

Researchers from UniSA Cancer Research Institute's Cancer Epidemiology and Population Health found that having one pre-diagnostic colonoscopy was associated with a 17 per cent reduction in cancer deaths; a 27 per cent reduction with two pre-diagnostic colonoscopy procedures and 45 per cent for three or more.

Just bad luck? Australian cancer patients nominate ‘fate’ as third most likely cause

UniSA Research Chair of Cancer Epidemiology and Population Health, Professor David Roder, says there are many misconceptions about what causes cancer.

August 2019

UniSA nano scientists stop superbugs in their tracks

A team of researchers led by the University of South Australia has discovered a way to find and beat superbugs, providing a critical breakthrough against many deadly infectious diseases.

Professor Clive Prestidge, from UniSA's School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences and the Cancer Research Institute, says the technology shows promise in successfully treating golden staph infections which kill around 700,000 people globally each year, including 260 Australians.

10th International Nanomedicine Conference:

The annual International Nanomedicine Conference is regarded as the most significant nanomedicine meeting in the Southern Hemisphere. This event attracts approx. 250 registrants with representation from academia, medical research institutes and biotech companies. More than half of the delegates are from interstate and international organisations.
Congratulations to:

  • Ms Chelsea Thorn ACS Sensors 3MT Poster Presentation Prize
  • Ms Santhni Subramaniam ACS Applied Nano Materials 3MT Poster Presentation Prize

July 2019

Finalists in the SA Science Excellence Awards

Congratulations to the Finalists in the SA Science Excellence Awards including PhD Research Excellence: Dr Tahnee Dening from the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences and the Cancer Research Institute
Winners will be announced at the Gala Dinner of the 9th of August.

Study indicates causal link between obesity and multiple diseases

Research led by Professor Elina Hyppönen, Director of Australian Centre for Precision Health, Cancer Research Institute, has been published in Lancet Digital Health. The study draws data from the UK Biobank – a research database holding health and genetic information from half a million volunteers – to analyse associations between body mass index (BMI) and a range of disease outcomes. See the publication here.

High on iron? It stops anaemia but has a downside

A global study led by Dr Beben Benyamin from the Australian Centre for Precision Health, Cancer Research Institute with Dr Dipender Gill and Dr Ioanna Tzoulaki from Imperial College London looked at the role that iron plays in 900 diseases. Research has uncovered the impact of both low and high iron levels – and the news is mixed. The full story can be read here.

June 2019

GSK Fast Track Challenge

Professor Tom Gonda from the Cancer Research Institute and Professor Richard D’Andrea from CCB have been announced as the winners of the GSK Fast Track Challenge. The UniSA researchers, together with GSK scientists, test GSK compound libraries against a target protein that plays a role in a number of different cancers. It has been shown to be critical in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and the researchers believe the discovery of a molecule, that could block the function of this protein, could ultimately lead to new therapies.

Philanthropic funding support

Advancement Services together with UniSA CRI have been successful in attracting private funding to support melanoma research. The family who have a personal interest in melanoma research were recently hosted at UniSA CRI and researchers presented a number of research projects to the family members who agreed to fund 3 projects.

PhD Awards

  • PhD candidate Chelsea Thorn from the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences and Cancer Research Institute is the 2019:
    • Maurice de Rohan International Scholarship recipient. The grant of $17,500 which is for the purpose of undertaking research, data collection or work with institutional or industry partners in the United Kingdom or United States of America. Chelsea intends to internship at the University of Nottingham and the UK Biofilm Centre
    • recipient of the Gould Experimental Science Grant Encouragement Award
    • and the BUPA Health Research Grant recipient
  • PhD candidate Jack Janetzki from the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences and Cancer Research Institute is the 2019 recipient of the highly prestigious and competitive Gould Experimental Science Grant
  • PhD candidate Hayley Schultz from the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences and Cancer Research Institute is the BPW Adelaide Heather Southcott Memorial Grant recipient.
  • PhD candidate Ellie Davies, School of Nursing and Midwifery, was awarded a 2019 BUPA Health Research Grant to further her research

Tour de Cure

A team of 13 UniSA researchers and staff including from the Cancer Research Institute, Centre for Cancer Biology and Advancement Services completed the recent Tour de Cure SA Discovery Tour. A total of 80 riders rode some stunning terrain around Kangaroo Island and Fleurieu Peninsula and raised over $300,000 for cancer research, with the funds supporting UniSA and the Flinders Foundation.

May 2019

Endeavour Leadership Awards

Leah Wright and Chelsea Thorn from the Nanostructure and Drug Delivery Group (Prof Clive Prestidge), Centre for Cancer Diagnostics and Therapeutics, Cancer Research Institute, the have been successful in securing Endeavour Leadership Awards for 6 months and 12 months of overseas research, respectively. Leah will travel to Uppsala University in Sweden to work with Professor Christel Bergström utilising their state-of-the-art synthetic gastrointestinal permeability models to analyse protein and nanoparticle transport. Chelsea will travel to the Hemholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland in Germany to work with Professor Claus-Michael Lehr to learn highly sophisticated, bacteria-infected organoid models that will access the pre-clinical efficacy and tolerability of her bacterial-targeting formulations. Both PhD students are eagerly looking forward to the opportunity to experience research in different countries, all of which will uniquely benefit their PhD and future careers as scientists.

April 2019

UniSA proudly delivering world class research with real impact

The 2018 Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) results assessed UniSA across 39 detailed fields of research and rated all at or above world standard.

Research Australia Highly Commended Award

Professor Bill Runciman, Australian Centre for Precision Health,  Cancer Research Institute, was recently invited to attend the Research Australia award night, where he received Highly Commended in the Health Services Research Award. The Award is for an individual who has provided leadership and made an outstanding contribution to health services research; has driven research that had led to a significant improvement in healthcare; and/or has championed the development of health services research field. View the video here.

Vice Chancellor and President’s Scholarships Success

Congratulations PhD candidate, Ramin Hassankhani Gharagozlou from the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, (supervised by Professor Shudong Wang), who was successful in obtaining prestigious Vice Chancellor and President’s Scholarships recently. The $10,000 awards support recipients whose research project exemplifies the objectives of the Transformed PhD (tPhD) and who can demonstrate how they would use the scholarship to further these objectives.
The Vice Chancellor and President’s Scholarships will provide funding towards gaining engagement or experience with industry, overseas or domestic trips for the purpose of collecting data or input from an end user on the research project, travel to conferences to present a refereed conference paper, or other activities identified in the candidate’s application and approved by the selection panel.
Well done Ramin on your success!

Channel Seven Children’s Research Foundation funding

Cancer Research Institute researchers have been awarded funding through the Channel Seven Children’s Research Foundation for 2019:

  • Associate Professor Kristin Carson-Chahhoud: Mixed Reality and Holographic technologies (iHealth) to deliver cognitive and behavioural therapy for treatment of anxiety among teenagers with asthma
  • Dr Yu-Wen Su, Injury site-derived proteoglycan glypican-3 suppresses growth plate cartilage bony repair and bone fracture healing
  • Dr Mingfeng Yu, Developing a new therapeutic for childhood acute myeloid leukaemia (ECR)

March 2019

New Director of the Cancer Research Institute, Professor Alan Boddy

Prof Alan Boddy

Following the departure of Professor Ian Olver AM, we welcome Professor Alan Boddy who has recently commenced his new role as Director of the Cancer Research Institute.  Alan will also retain his duties as Head of School, Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

February 2019

Farewell to the Cancer Research Institute's Inaugural Director, Professor Ian Olver AM

22 February 2019

Prof Ian Olver

We bid a sad farewell to Ian Olver who made the decision to leave the CRI to pursue other ventures. Ian's contribution to the University as initially the Director of the Sansom Institute for Health Research, followed as the Inaugural Director of CRI has been invaluable.

Ian Davey Research Thesis Prize 2019 - outstanding nominee

Congratulations goes to Dr Tahnee Dening from Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, and a member in the Centre for Cancer Diagnostics and Therapeutics, Cancer Research Institute,  whose thesis, entitled “Nanostructured clay materials for solidifying lipid-based drug delivery systems” was one of only four nominated for the 2019 Ian Davey Research Thesis Prize. Whilst not the overall winner, Tahnee’s thesis was recognised for its outstanding research and scholarly contribution. The Ian Davey Research Thesis Prize is awarded to the most outstanding research thesis leading to a Doctor of Philosophy in the preceding calendar year.

NHMRC Success: Funding announcement made

Researchers from the Cancer Research Institute have been awarded NHMRC Project Grant funding totalling $3million:

  • Prof Elina Hypponen: Identifying      pathways to dementia: a large-scale genetic study
  • Prof Alex Brown: Intervening      on social and health services practice to address social determinants of      Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing: The Northern Pathways Project

The national outcomes are now available from the NHMRC website here.

Appointment to the 2019 ARC College of Experts

Professor Eva Bezak has been offered an appointment to the 2019 ARC College of Experts (College).  The College is made up of experts of international standing, drawn from all corners of the Australian research community, including from higher education institutions, industry and public sector research organisations. College of Experts members are engaged by the ARC for appointments of one to three years, during which time they play a key role in identifying research excellence, moderating external assessments, and make funding recommendations under the ARC’s National Competitive Grants Program.

Outcomes of the 2018 Research Theme Investment Scheme (RTIS)

Seed Funding is designed to support the formation or development of research that spans across traditional disciplinary boundaries, and that builds collaborative partnerships. This year 7 of the funded projects were from the Cancer Research Institute (in total 95 application across the University were made). The full listing of the successful Development Scheme and Seed Funding projects are available on the RIS website here.  

ARC Funding Success

Dr Sang Hong Lee in the Cancer Research Institute was awarded an ARC Discovery Project for the project titled Whole-genome multivariate reaction norm model for complex traits.

Let's map our DNA and save billions each year in health costs

10 January 2019
Dr Vijay Suppiah, a senior lecturer in pharmacy at UniSA and a member in the Australian Centre for Precision Health,  Cancer Research Institute, says PGx testing – mapping a person’s genetic makeup – is the most effective way to ensure patients are prescribed drugs which suit their specific DNA profile.