Category Archives: Research

Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS)

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.18.28 amThe University of Adelaide has partnered with IMNIS to offer 20 PhDs the chance to receive one year of mentoring from an industry leader in the areas of MedTech-Pharma and Energy Resources.

What is IMNIS?

The Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) is a prestigious, award-winning initiative of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE). IMNIS connects motivated PhD students with outstanding industry leaders in a one year mentoring program. Officially launched in 2015, IMNIS has successfully piloted in multiple universities in three states and was recognised in 2016 with a prestigious B/HERT Best Higher Education and Training Collaboration Award.

Mentors (industry leaders) and mentees (PhD students) meet face-to-face for 1 hour each month. Guidelines are provided to both mentors and the mentees, and five state-level networking events are hosted by IMNIS to allow mentors and mentees to network and connect more broadly.

IMNIS is not a job placement program. IMNIS is an opportunity to increase your understanding of industry, extend your professional skills and expand your network!

The Program

IMNIS is a 12 month program of mentoring, networking, education and training. IMNIS provides mentees real-world experience, pragmatic advice and a broad professional network that enhances their capacity to engage with industry and understand commercialisation and regulatory processes related to innovating their research. Importantly, IMNIS also extends the mentees’ professional network in different parts of the STEM sector across their State, and educates mentees about the career opportunities beyond academia.

Mentees are matched with an industry leader who will be their individual mentor for the year. Each month, there will be a 1 hour mentor-mentee meeting to review mentee progress, career aspirations, challenges, skills development, answer questions, and to share knowledge and experiences. Mentors may offer guidance, but ultimately it is the mentee’s decision whether to act on that advice. This is an outstanding opportunity to have access to a mentor who has “been there, done that” with years of experience and expertise in industry. Mentors are volunteering their time, so make the most of it!

In addition to the individual mentoring, IMNIS hosts five (5) events/activities to facilitate industry-based education, training and State-level networking during the year.

Participation

Participation is available in the following two IMNIS programs and 10 students will be selected for each:

  • MedTech-Pharma Program
  • Energy Resources Program

Students in relevant disciplines are encouraged to apply and should select the program, either MedTech-Pharma or Energy Resources, that is more closely aligned to their research interests.

Eligibility

The candidate must be:

  • enrolled as a PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide in the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences (ECMS), Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, or Faculty of Sciences
  • in the 2nd year of their PhD
  • able to commit the necessary time to meet your mentor (1 hour per month for 12 months) and attend IMNIS events as a participant in this program

IMNIS Application 2017

Materials to be submitted:

  1. Mentee Application Form (attached)
  2. Curriculum vitae
  3. Letter of support

Deadline – COB Monday 10 July 2017

Completed applications including supporting documentation must be submitted electronically (preferably in PDF format) to carst@adelaide.edu.au.

A diverse range of the most suitable candidates will be short-listed for enrolment. Successful students will be notified via email and invited to enrol in the IMNIS program.

Notification of outcome – 21 July 2017

For further information contact: carst@adelaide.edu.au or visit: http://imnis.org.au

IMNIS Application 2017

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.
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IPAS Seminar: The GEM of Memory Storage

Dr Ben Sparkes kicked off the 2017 IPAS Seminar Series with his presentation titled “Gradient Echo Memory: A GEM for Quantum Information Processing”.

Gradient Echo Memory (GEM) is based on photon echoes and is a more precise and efficient form of quantum  memory and storage for light.

Ben joined the Precision Measurement Group two months ago, following a postdoc at University of Melbourne and undertaking his PhD at Australia National University.  He is an ARC DECRA Fellow and is looking forward to expanding his research within IPAS.

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