New study: What makes you prone to tendon & ligament injuries?

Why are some people more prone to tendon and ligament injury than others?

We are delighted to promote a recent study by one of our CI’s, Prof Minghao Zheng, Director of the Centre for Translational Orthopaedic Research at The University of Western Australia and Chief Scientific Officer of our industry partner Orthocell.
This study has been published in top medical journal, Science Translational Medicine on February 25th. See a copy of the article here:

Prof. Zheng noted that the study offers new insights in the medical world by highlighting genetic factors responsible for sports injuries, including the commonly reported ACL rupture.

You can view the University of Western Australia’s press release, including a short video, via this link:

“Engineering drug discovery: Process and Passion” – A Public Lecture from CPTT Director

On March 4th our Centre Director, Professor Alastair Stewart (Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, The University of Melbourne) was invited to give a lecture in the Graeme Clark Institute’s ‘Biomedical Engineering Advances’ lecture series at the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne.

Prof Stewart discussed the long and precarious path to success for development of therapeutics for lung disease. His presentation “Engineering drug discovery: Process and Passion” was well received by those in the audience and generated vibrant discussion afterward.

We are delighted to say that the lectures in this series are being recorded, and are available to view on YouTube. If you would like to watch Prof Stewart’s presentation, please follow this link.

Award for CI Megan Munsie

CI Munsie from our Melbourne University node has been awarded the 2018 Stephen Crook Memorial Prize for best authored book in Australian Sociology by The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) for her book titled Stem Cell Tourism and the Political Economy of Hope.

Authors included CI Munsie and collaborator Dr Claire Tanner from the Stem Cell Centre and Jane Brophy a Monash PhD student CI Munsie co-supervised. The book is the culmination of an eight year collaboration with Prof Alan Petersen from Monash Arts Faculty which has been supported by an ARC Discovery grant and some additional seed funding from the Commonwealth Dept of Industry. 

The book was published in 2016 by Palgrave Macmillan as part of a Health, Technology and Society series and provides a unique and innovative perspective on the controversial phenomenon of ‘stem cell tourism’ where a growing number of patients are embarking on stem cell treatments that are clinically unproven and yet available in clinics and hospitals around the world. We describe this complex and rapidly changing phenomenon, including an analysis of the experiences of those who have undertaken or have contemplated undertaking a stem cell treatment, as well as examination of the views of those who undertake research or advise on or provide stem cell treatments. Developing the concept of ‘the political economy of hope’, and referencing case studies of the stem cell treatment market in China, Germany, and Australia, we call for a reframing of ‘stem cell tourism’ to understand why patients and families pursue these treatments and whether response by government authorities and others are appropriate and proportionate to the alleged risks.

Congratulations to the team for having their multidisciplinary work recognised.

New Publication – iScience

Researchers from the Melbourne University node of the ARC CPTT have published a  new paper in interdisciplinary (Cell Press) open access journal iScience titled “A Non-canonical Pathway with Potential for Safer Modulation of Transforming Growth Factor-β1 in Steroid-Resistant Airway Diseases“.

Highlights from the paper:
•TGF-β1 extensively impairs GC activity
•Phospho-cofilin1 is a key link of TGF-β1 signalling cascade subserving GC insensitivity
•Phospho-cofilin1-activated phospholipase D (PLD) reduces GC activity
•SMRT induction downstream of PLD mediates TGF-β1 impairment of GC activity

Impaired therapeutic responses to anti-inflammatory glucocorticoids (GC) in chronic respiratory diseases are partly attributable to interleukins and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1). However, previous efforts to prevent induction of GC insensitivity by targeting established canonical and non-canonical TGF-β1 pathways have been unsuccessful. Here we elucidate a TGF-β1 signalling pathway modulating GC activity that involves in LIM domain kinase 2-mediated phosphorylation of cofilin1. Severe, steroid-resistant asthmatic airway epithelium showed increased levels of immunoreactive phospho-cofilin1. Phospho-cofilin1 was implicated in the activation of phospholipase D (PLD) to generate the effector(s) (lyso)phosphatidic acid, that mimic the TGF-β1-induced GC insensitivity. TGF-β1 induction of the nuclear hormone receptor corepressor, SMRT (NCOR2), was dependent on cofilin1 and PLD activity. Depletion of SMRT prevented GC insensititvity. This pathway for GC insensitivity offers several promising drug targets that potentially enable a safer approach to modulation of TGF-β1 in chronic inflammatory diseases than is afforded by global TGF-β1 inhibition.

PhD Scholarship opportunities – UWA node

One ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre PhD Scholarship is available for a student to carry out the following project at our UWA node:

Mechanobiology of 3D bioprinted scaffolds


Other scholarships available at UWA that may be affiliated with the Centre are the BioZone PhD Scholarships.

The BioZone at UWA brings together researchers with a shared vision and purpose from across the University. We seek innovative solutions that address the increasing complexity of local and global challenges and ‘wicked problems’. These problems require transformative change in the way we learn, think and interact and the BioZone PhD program will train the next generation of researchers to work across disciplines and create imaginative and revolutionary outcomes.



ARC PD in real-time live cell assay technologies

Our UWA node is now currently recruiting for an ARC Postdoctoral Fellow who will participate in the research program of the ARC Centre for Personalised Therapeutics Technologies within the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

The Postdoctoral Fellow will manage the day-to-day running of the Centre for Personalised Therapeutics Technologies project entitled ‘Development and utilisation of real-time live cell assay technologies and complementary diagnostics to improve profiling of therapeutics’.

For further information download the UWA CPTT ICPD Position Description

Applications close 18th October 2018.

Accelerating Australia National Conference – Nov 27th in Adelaide

The Accelerating Australia National Conference is being held alongside the ASCEPT Scientific Meeting in Adelaide.

Register for this one day Accelerating Australia event with keynote from Daria Mochly-Rosen, Founder and Co-director of Stanford SPARK.

See the Accelerating Australia Conference Flyer for further information.

Note: if you are going to ASCEPT you  can attend this one day event for free as part of your ASCEPT registration.

Funding success for CI Alice Pebay

Congratulations to University of Melbourne researcher and ARC CPTT Chief Investigator A/ Professor Alice Pèbay who has recently been awarded a highly competitive NHMRC Research Fellowship.

Her project “Human induced pluripotent stem cells to understand neurodegeneration” will use stem cells taken from patients to generate unique and important eye tissue models relevant in certain eye diseases (glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration) and the brain (Alzheimer’s disease). These models will allow us to study these diseases in extreme detail. The program will help to uncover how and why these diseases develop and will be used to search for new treatments to prevent them or to slow their progression.

The NHMRC funding supports research across the full spectrum of health and medical research, from basic science through to clinical, public health and health services research.


International Visit – Dr Jon Koff

The Centre’s Melbourne University node recently hosted a 7 week visit by Associate Professor Jon Koff of Yale Medical School, who was with us in Australia for his sabbatical.

Jon has brought with him an array of interests and expertise (Asthma; Bronchiectasis; Cystic Fibrosis; Influenza, Human; Lung; Viruses; Respiratory Mucosa) that has been a wonderful addition to our weekly lab meeting discussions.

In 2011, Dr. Koff joined the faculty at Yale University to direct the Adult CF Program. His laboratory focuses on pulmonary innate immune responses to pathogens in chronic obstructive lung diseases and lung injury. His postdoctoral studies led to a research program that implicated EGFR inhibition as a potential therapeutic target for respiratory viral infection (e.g., Influenza, Rhinovirus, RSV), which has important implications for chronic obstructive lung diseases that have increased airway epithelial EGFR signaling, and evidence for increased susceptibility to viral infections. This has led to translational research in virus-induced asthma exacerbations. He also uses in vivo and in vitro models to investigate innate immune responses to post-viral bacterial infections with a focus on signaling pathways that regulate host tolerance during lung injury.

While he was here, Jon presented his work on “Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Regulation of Interferons: Implications in Lung Inflammation and Asthma” to the Department of Pharmacology (pictured below to the left with Centre Director, Professor Alastair Stewart). Many thanks to Jon visiting us and sharing his wealth of experience with the whole team.