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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.


ARC PD in microfluidics

We are currently recruiting for an ARC Postdoctoral Fellow who will participate in the research program of the ARC Centre for Personalised Therapeutics Technologies within the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Melbourne.

The Postdoctoral Fellow will carry out research projects aligned with the Centre in the area of microfluidics. The Postdoctoral Fellow will be responsible for development and the design, collection and analysis of project data. The Postdoctoral Fellow will also be responsible for writing scientific reports and manuscripts, coordinating research activities, participating in the characterisation of research directions and any other research activities as required. This role has a strong translational focus with links to industry.

For further information download the Position Description and Selection Criteria

Applications close 16th September 2018.


New ARC Training Centre for CI Peter Lee

We are very pleased to congratulate Professor Peter Lee and colleagues including A/Professor Andrea O’Connor, both CIs on the ARC CPTT, who have been successful in their bid for a Training Centre for Medical Implant Technologies.

The ARC Training Centre for Medical Implant Technologies aims to train a new generation of interdisciplinary engineers and to transform the orthopaedic and maxillofacial implant industry in Australia. In collaboration with industry, universities and hospitals, the Centre will build a dynamic training environment for interdisciplinary engineers to develop and evaluate personalised implants and surgeries. It will create new networks, international collaborations and a generation of industry-ready researchers critical for growing Australia’s industry. The advances in materials and savings in time for procedures will reduce costs.

Congratulations Peter, Andrea and team.