Centenary’s Greg Fox wins top PhD prize for Vietnam TB research

Greg_FoxCongratulations to Dr Greg Fox who has won the annual Rita and John Cornforth Medal for the highest quality PhD thesis across the University of Sydney and for contributions to the University and broader community.

His PhD was completed at the Woolcock Institute in collaboration with Centenary Institute’s Tuberculosis (TB) Research Laboratory. 

For more than three years Greg, his GP wife and their young son have been living in Vietnam, where he has set up Centenary’s Vietnam studies, working on two major field projects contributing to the fight against TB.

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A human systems biology centre for Sydney

_MG_8059“We’ll be able to ask individual immune cells where they’ve been and who they’ve been talking to…”

The University of Sydney and The Centenary Institute will establish the Ramaciotti Centre for Human Systems Biology in 2014 following the announcement last night of the $1 million Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award.

The award was made to the Centenary Institute’s Prof Barbara Fazekas de St Groth and her colleagues Prof Nicholas King, University of Sydney and Dr Adrian Smith, Centenary Institute. Prof Fazekas is also Assistant Director of the Centenary Institute.

“At the heart of the Centre will be a unique technology that will allow us to study millions of individual white blood cells and reveal where they’ve been and who they’ve been talking to,” says Prof Fazekas. Continue reading

Professors win prestigious RPA Foundation Medal

Outstanding research into bacterial skin infections has won leading clinician and Centenary Laboratory Head the shared honour of the prestigious RPA Foundation Medal – Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s, highest accolade.

Professor Wolfgang Weninger, Immune Imaging

Professor Wolfgang Weninger, Head of Immune Imaging

Professor Wolfgang Weninger, who heads up Centenary Institute’s Immune Imaging program, and Professor Paul Torzillo, RPA’s Head of Department of Respiratory Medicine – were announced joint winners, each taking home $35,000 to invest in medical and health-based research.

Dermatology expert Professor Weninger was honoured for his research into the mechanisms of skin inflammation and infection. In particular, his group is interested how the function of the skin immune system is inhibited by highly infectious bacteria and other microbes. Continue reading

Immune balance key to good health

Immune systemAt the Centenary Institute we’re learning more about the immune system to help in the fight against cancer.

Why is it that some of our individual immune systems are susceptible to particular diseases while others are protected?

Is our western lifestyle increasing chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes?

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Centenary scientist named “lab legend” by The Australian

In South-East Asia alone, 130 million people carry the hepatitis virus – a statistic well known to Centenary liver scientist, Dr Thomas Tu, whose family members have been affected by the disease.

Vietnam 2010 600 (2)In an article by The Australian today, Dr Tu explains, “seeing people with the disease has been a driver in keeping me passionate about my research. Family members have contracted the disease, but no one talks about it. They are worried about telling workmates because of the stigma.”

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Centenary-led TB research centre knuckles down to work

Professor Warwick Britton

Professor Warwick Britton

  • Should TB patients be quarantined in hospital or treated at home?
  • What are the legal and ethical implications?
  • How can the newest TB drugs best be managed to avoid triggering resistance in TB bacteria?
  • What are the most effective ways of using the latest genomic techniques and information to combat TB?

These are just some of the questions that are becoming ever more critical as extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB looms on Australia’s horizon—it’s already in Papua New Guinea. They are also examples of the issues to be discussed on Thursday 2 May and Friday 3 May at the first symposium of the new NHMRC-funded Centre of Research Excellence in Tuberculosis Control, located at the Centenary Institute.

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Nobel Laureate Professor Rolf Zinkernagel visits Centenary

Nobel Laureate Professor Rolf Zinkernagel engaged in a dynamic round table discussion with Centenary Institute scientists this morning.

Professor Rolf Zinkernagel

Professor Rolf Zinkernagel at the Centenary Institute

Professor Zinkernagel – Professor Emeritus of The University of Zurich, Switzerland – is the 1996 Nobel Laureate (with Professor Peter Doherty) in Medicine “for research on the biochemical mechanism with which the immune system recognises and destroys virus-infected cells”.

Five of Centenary’s scientists were excited to have the privilege of presenting and discussing their latest immunologically based research to their peers and the internationally renowned superstar of the scientific and medical world. Continue reading

New immune cells hint at eczema cause

Dr Ben RoedigerSydney researchers have discovered a new type of immune cell in skin that plays a role in fighting off parasitic invaders such as ticks, mites, and worms, and could be linked to eczema and allergic skin diseases.

The team from the Immune Imaging and T cell Laboratories at the Centenary Institute worked with colleagues from SA Pathology in Adelaide, the Malaghan Institute in Wellington, New Zealand and the USA.

The new cell type is part of a family known as group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2) which was discovered less than five years ago in the gut and the lung, where it has been linked to asthma. But this is the first time such cells have been found in the skin, and they are relatively more numerous there.

“Our data show that these skin ILC2 cells are likely to supress or stimulate inflammation under different conditions,” says Dr Ben Roediger, a research officer in the Immune Imaging Laboratory at Centenary headed by Professor Wolfgang Weninger. “They also suggest a potential link to allergic skin diseases.” Continue reading