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

Insight Centenary: The underestimated burden of skin disease.

Skin diseasesAn interview with Dr Philip Tong, PhD scholar in Immune Imaging.

Centenary Institute: “What is it about dermatology and skin research that interests you?”

Dr Philip Tong: “People need to appreciate their skin… it is our largest organ. It’s important that people don’t underestimate the enormous burden of skin disease.

I was drawn to dermatology by chance. My father had an itchy skin condition on his neck that was related to stress. I remember him telling me how much it affected him.

After he’d seen a dermatologist, I could see changes, I could see him getting better – and it was this that compelled me to study skin diseases.

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How a simple infection can lead to something much worse

Immunology

Dr Chris Jolly has made an important contribution to understanding how infections can trigger autoimmune diseases

The Centenary Institute has made an important contribution to a significant study that suggests how infections can trigger serious autoimmune diseases such as rheumatic fever.

The research, just published in the international journal Immunity, shows how, in unusual circumstances, the B cells of the immune system occasionally work against the body, producing antibodies that attack the cells of our own organs—in the case of rheumatic fever, the heart.

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Tuberculosis – Keeping Up With A Real Killer

Tuberculosis Research

Centenary's Tuberculosis Research Group is the largest in Australasia.

TB is second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer worldwide due to a single infectious agent.

In 2011, about 8.7 million people worldwide fell ill with tuberculosis and 1.4 million died.

Multi-drug resistant TB is present in almost all countries surveyed, and about nine per cent of multi-drug resistant cases are extensively drug resistant—sensitive to very few available medicines and treatments.

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Snooping on the interplay of molecules

Centenary’s Cytometry, Imaging and IT Manager, Dr Adrian Smith

What can you discover with the latest Leica ground state depletion super-resolution microscope at between 40 and 60 millionths of a millimetre? Structures inside cells right down to the level of large molecules, such as proteins.

Given that much of the work of Centenary researchers is involved with studying protein interactions, there is already a lively queue forming to use the new Leica microscope, the first in the Southern Hemisphere. It has been acquired in collaboration with Sydney University’s Faculty of Science, the Sydney Medical School, the School of Medical Sciences, Bosch Institute, the Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis (ACMM) and Leica Microsystems itself. Continue reading

Containment of multi-drug resistant TB in the Pacific is critical.

Professor Warwick Britton, Head of the Mycobacterial Group

Professor Warwick Britton, Head of the Mycobacterial Group at Centenary and a Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney, has been awarded $2.49 million towards a Centre of Research Excellence on tuberculosis control: from discovery to public health practice and policy – a collaborative program with colleagues from the University of Sydney, Woolcock Institute for Medical Research, University of Melbourne, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The grant adds to Centenary’s investment and effort in containing the spread of TB, still one of the world’s most devastating infectious diseases
and a growing threat to Australia. Drug resistant strains of tuberculosis are prevalent in Papua New Guinea, our closest neighbour.

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Number of people worldwide with hepatitis would fill over 6,000 Olympic stadiums **

Dr Nick Shackel, Associate Faculty, Liver Cell Biology, Liver Injury & Cancer. Photo by Kat Finch.

Dr Shackel studies the genes that are triggered when hepatitis strikes. He hopes his work will lead to a better and earlier understanding of the likely course of the disease in individual patients.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by infection with a virus. The virus types B and C that lead to chronic conditions are the most common causes of liver scarring or cirrhosis and of liver cancer.  It is typically diagnosed after people visit their GPs complaining of extreme tiredness and is picked up through a routine blood test, which can even distinguish the type.

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Centenary Australia and Vietnam fight TB together

Centenary Scientist Dr Greg Fox in Vietnam

Centenary Scientist Dr Greg Fox in Vietnam

This week, Centenary is helping Vietnamese medical researchers to plan their next move against tuberculosis, a disease that once was Australia’s top killer and still kills 54,000 people each year in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s National Tuberculosis Program deputy head Nguyen Viet Nhung and his delegation are inspecting Centenary Institute’s new PC3 lab, meeting Australian colleagues who also work on TB visiting our research partners at the Woolcock Institute, and sharing research progress and strengthening ties.

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Setting new standards in treating hep C

Professor Geoff McCaughan, head of Centenary’s liver program is setting world standards for treating hep C

Professor Geoff McCaughan, head of Centenary’s liver program is setting world standards for treating hep C

The Centenary Institute has a strong interest in making sure the products of research are used in medical treatment as quickly and safely as possible. And our interest doesn’t stop at the doors of the RPA.

For the past five years, the head of the Institute’s liver unit Professor Geoff McCaughan has led an international working party of experts convened by the Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL) to revise the guidelines for the study, prevention, diagnosis, management and treatment of hepatitis C in keeping with the most recent research. The latest version of their work has just been published in the journal Hepatology International, and reflects the significant international standing of the Institute’s liver group.

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Why I Run: Anna Lawrence Chair of the YCF

Anna Lawrence

Anna Lawrence, Chair of the Young Centenary Foundation

Last year I ran the City2Surf for the first time. Well… I ran/walked it.

I was determined to run the entire way and started a training regime but after a back injury and general laziness my training kind of…fell to the wayside.

On the day of the City2Surf I decided just to see what I could do and not beat myself up if I didn’t run the entire way – I actually did an alright job and walked only up that infamous heartbreak hill and, you know, when I just really needed a break.

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