Author Archives: melmcdowall

Research Tuesdays Featuring Prof Rob McLaughlin

Rob McProfessor Rob McLaughlin will be part of the “Invented in Adelaide” discussion panel in the up and coming Research Tuesdays lecture.

Research Tuesdays are an initiative of the University of Adelaide, allowing the general public to hear about research happening within the university.

Rob McLaughlin leads the Bioengineering Imaging Group and is the Managing Director of Miniprobes. Miniprobes currently develop and sell miniaturised imaging probes that can be encased in hypodermic needles. One such devise is the smart needle, which can detect blood vessels during brain surgery, avoiding bleeds that can potentially be fatal. Pilot studies with the smart needle concluded at the start of this year, with promising results.

Research Tuesdays: Invented in Adelaide
5:30 pm 13th June, The Braggs Lecture Theatre

 

Register via this link.

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Bowie Medal Award for Tara Pukala

tarapukala

Congratulations A/Professor Tara Pukala, for recently being awarded the Bowie Medal from the Australian and New Zealand Society for Mass Spectrometry (ANZSMS).

The Bowie Medal recognises research excellence in the field of mass spectrometry by an Australian or New Zealand researcher under the age of 45 years.

Professor John Bowie is a Professor of organic chemistry at the University of Adelaide, with a specialist interest in mass spectrometry and was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his contributions to the field.

Tara will be presenting her findings at a keynote lecture at the 26th ANZSMS conference that will be held in Adelaide, 16-20th July.

National Measurement Institute and World Metrology Day Honour for Andre Luiten

prof-andre-luiten-ctdToday’s World Metrology Day and to celebrate, the National Measurement Institute (NMI) announced Professor Andre Luiten as the recipient of the Barry Inglis Medal.

The award is in recognition of Andre and team’s pioneering research into the development of techniques for extremely precise and accurate measurement of time. Specifically, the Cryogenic Sapphire Clock is a ultra precise oscillator that can measure time at the femtosecond scale (one quadrillionth of a second) and a single second deviation occurs one every 40 million years. This kind of precision is essential for technologies such as metrology and radar.

More information can be found in Media Releases from Hon Craig Laundy (Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science) and the University of Adelaide.

Cryo clock landscape

Dr Wenle Weng: Marie Curie Fellowship

wenle-weng

Dr Wenle Weng is the recent recipient of a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action Fellowship (MSCA) and will be spending 24 months in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Weng’s project is titled “Synthesis of low noise microwaves using solitons locked to an ultra-stable cavity” and he will be conducting his research at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland. Set on the banks of Lake Geneva, EPFL specialises in physical sciences and was ranked 14th in the world across all fields in QS World University Rankings (2015/2016).

The MSCA Fellowship is awarded to the best and most promising researchers from anywhere in the world. The fellowship funds travel, living costs and employment in an European Union country to facilitate career development, such as research-related and transferable skills, research impact, enhanced cooperation and network building.

 

 

Media Release: Designing Better Drugs to Treat Type 2 Diabetes

John Bruning

Research led by the University of Adelaide is paving the way for safer and more effective drugs to treat type 2 diabetes, reducing side effects and the need for insulin injections.

Two studies, published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and BBA-General Subjects, have shown for the first time how new potential anti-diabetic drugs interact with their target in the body at the molecular level.

These new potential drugs have a completely different action than the most commonly prescribed anti-diabetic, Metformin, which acts on the liver to reduce glucose production, and are potentially more efficient at reducing blood sugar. They target a protein receptor known as PPARgamma found in fat tissue throughout the body, either fully or partially activating it in order to lower blood sugar by increasing sensitivity to insulin and changing the metabolism of fat and sugar.

“Type two diabetes is characterised by resistance to insulin with subsequent high blood sugar which leads to serious disease. It is usually associated with poor lifestyle factors such as diet and lack of exercise,” says lead researcher Dr John Bruning, with the University’s School of Biological Sciences and Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing.

“Prevalence of type 2 diabetes in Australia alone has more than tripled since 1990, with an estimated cost of $6 billion a year. The development of safe and more efficient therapeutics is therefore becoming increasingly important.

“People with severe diabetes need to take insulin but having to inject this can be problematic, and it’s difficult to get insulin levels just right. It’s highly desirable for people to come off insulin injections and instead use oral therapeutics.”

The first study, in collaboration with The Scripps Research Institute in Florida, US, describes an honours research project by Rebecca Frkic, where 14 different versions of a drug which partially activates PPARgamma were produced. Partial activation can have the benefit of fewer side-effects than full activation.

The original drug, INT131, is currently being tested in clinical trials in the US but some of the versions produced at the University of Adelaide have increased potency compared to the original, with the potential to further improve the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

“A major finding of this study was being able to show which regions of the drug are most important for interacting with the PPARgamma receptor,” says Dr Bruning. “This means we now have the information to design modified drugs which will work even more efficiently.”

The second study, in collaboration with Flinders University, used X-ray crystallography to demonstrate for the first time exactly how a potential new drug, rivoglitazone, binds with the PPARgamma receptor. Rivoglitazone fully activates PPARgamma but has less side effects than others with this mode of action.

“Showing how this compound interacts with its target is a key step towards being able to design new therapeutics with higher efficiencies and less side-effects,” says lead author Dr Rajapaksha, from Flinders University School of Medicine (now at La Trobe University). “Lack of structural information was hampering determination of the precise mechanisms involved.”

Press Release link.

Reference: Frkic et al (2017) “Structure-Activity Relationship of 2,4-dichloro-N-(3,5-dichloro-4-(quinolin-3-yloxy)phenyl)benzenesulfonamide (INT131) Analogs for PPARγ-Targeted Antidiabetics” Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b01727.

Rajapaksha et al (2017) “X-ray Crystal Structure of Rivoglitazone bound to PPARγ and PPAR Subtype Selectivity of TZDs” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – General Subjects, doi:10.1016/j.bbagen.2017.05.008.

Sapphire Clock’s JORNey

Andre LuitenMartin O’ConnorFred Baynes and Waddah Al-Ashwal, members of the Sapphire Clock team, recently visited the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) near Laverton, WA. The JORN site is part of the Australian Airforce’s monitoring and surveillance, covering between 1000-3000km of local and international airspace.  

The Sapphire Clock is a cryogenic sapphire oscillator that allows time to be measured to the femtosecond scale (one quadrillionth of a second), with only a single second gained or lost every 40 million years. This kind of accuracy is required for ultra high precision measurements; such as radar technology used at JORN.
SC

Visiting Scientist: Dr Alexander Wood

 

IPAS Seminar: Thursday 11th May, 3:30-4:30 pm

Dr Alexander Wood (University of Melbourne), will be visiting IPAS on 10-11th May and will be giving a seminar entitled “A New Spin on Quantum Sensing with Diamonds”  on Thursday 3:30-4:30 pm, Level 2 Meeting Room, The Braggs.

 

Trajan Named in Top 20 “Businesses of Tomorrow” List

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 3.50.55 pmTrajan Scientific and Medical (Trajan) has been named one of the top 20 leading “Businesses of Tomorrow” in Australia.

Commissioned by Westpac and conducted by Deloitte, the Businesses of Tomorrow study identified companies that are shaping Australia’s future. Judging criteria included: track record of delivery, ability to meet future challenges and contribution to the community, industry or economy.

Trajan‘s strong collaborative relationship with researchers, such as IPAS within the University of Adelaide, allowing the company to be at the forefront of innovation, was a contributing factor in gaining a place in the top 20 list.  Furthermore, Trajan’s evolution from an engineering business to market-focused company allows Trajan to “remain agile and adaptable to market needs”.

A branch of Trajan has been colocated with IPAS since September 2016, following the Photonics Catalyst Program, a joint initiative between the South Australian government and IPAS to connect industry with research.

A full report on the top 200 Australian Businesses of Tomorrow can be found here.

Welcome Tim: IPAS Project Manager

Tim Nelson will be commencing his position as the IPAS Project Manager on 24th April.

Tim’s background is in biomedical engineering and he previously worked at The Bionics Institute in Melbourne, developing and trialling novel implantable devices and strategies for the prediction and treatment of seizures in patients with chronic epilepsy. As an engineering professional, this also incorporated aspects of intellectual property identification and commercialisation strategy development. He studied post-graduate Management at Melbourne Business School prior to taking up a role with Save the Children (Vanuatu) in the development and humanitarian space. As Director of Operations, he was responsible for a large-scale humanitarian program over a 10-month period following Cyclone Pam.

Most recently, Tim worked in the Research & Business Partnerships branch of the University of Adelaide as an industry-engagement specialist, with an interest in innovation, entrepreneurship and tech-transfer.

Welcome Tim!

Prof Luiten: New Appointment to the National Committee for Physics

Prof Andre Luiten has been appointedAAS as a member of the National Committee for Physics (NCP), with tenure until 31st March 2020. The NCP is one of 22 national committees within the Australian Academy of Science(AAS), with the broad aim of fostering links between domestic and international scientists within disciplines to the academy.