Monthly Archives: September 2018

Melbourne Brain Symposium 2018 – 31 October

The Melbourne Neuroscience Institute, University of Melbourne and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health are pleased to present the Melbourne Brain Symposium 2018 on Wednesday 31 October 2018.

This symposium program is a testament to the remarkable breadth of neuroscience focused research happening here and internationally. In 2018, the Mendelsohn Student Lecture will again take place. This prestigious award recognises and honours an outstanding student in the Neurosciences, and provides them with the platform to deliver a lecture to communicate the outcomes of their graduate research to the Neuroscience community, alongside presentations delivered by some of the most eminent scientists, internationally, and from within Australia.

This year, all Symposium attendees are invited to an informal dinner following the Symposium.


Wednesday 31 October, 1.00 pm – 5.00 pm (refreshments to follow)


Auditorium, Melbourne Brain Centre, Kenneth Myer Building
30 Royal Parade
Parkville, VIC 3052

Please note Grattan St is closed nearby due to Metro Tunnel construction


Click here for more information, or to RSVP at Eventbrite.

This is a free event but numbers are limited and registration is essential.

Symposium: Advances in cancer drug discovery and development – 30 October

A collaborative symposium integrating industry, academia, and the clinic, discussing the latest advances in cancer drug discovery and immunotherapies is taking place on Tuesday 30 October 2018.

This unique, free full-day symposium, sponsored by Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), Cancer Therapeutics CRC (CTx), and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, brings together leading industry, academic and clinical experts to discuss opportunities to progress biological discoveries to effective therapies, covering cancer drug discovery, development, and immunotherapies.

Who should attend?

This day of discussion and discovery will suit biomedical PhD students, researchers, clinical and allied health professionals, medical and pharmaceutical investors and life science analysts.

The program

Three program sessions cover “Harnessing the immune system to fight cancer”, “From biological discoveries to therapies”, and “Finding the right patients”. In addition to an exciting mix of local speakers, we will be joined by four keynote international speakers; John Connolly from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research Singapore, Dr Michael Rosenzweig, Executive Director, Biology-Discovery, MSD, Dr Jonathan Bennett, Associate Vic President Discovery Chemistry, MSD and Rachel Altura, MD, Clinical Director, Early Oncology Development MSD.


Tuesday 30 October, 9.15 am – 4.15 pm


9.00 am – Arrival and registration
9.15 am – Symposium
4.15 pm – Networking event and refreshments


The Copland Theatre (B01), Basement
The University of Melbourne
198 Berkeley Street, Parkville

Please note Grattan St is closed nearby due to Metro Tunnel construction


Click here to RSVP at Eventbrite.

This is a free event but numbers are limited and registration is essential.

Australian-first approach to cancer trials to improve patient care

An Australian-first approach to cancer clinical trials – called registry-based randomised controlled trials or registry trials – will enhance the ability of clinicians to select the right treatments for patients

Working with partners across the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) alliance and private health services, the first Australian cancer-focused registry trials will investigate and evaluate promising new cancer treatment strategies for bowel cancer and brain tumours.

Registry trials are facilitated by the comprehensive clinical data captured in clinical registries at many hospitals, including VCCC partner hospitals, enabling researchers to compare the impact of different treatment strategies on large numbers of patients in a real-world setting.

Conventional cancer clinical trials typically have strict patient eligibility criteria, limiting patient access. For less common types of cancers, this can restrict researchers’ access to enough patients to draw statistically valid conclusions.

Previous international research in cardiovascular-focused registry trials has shown that, as well as accelerating patient recruitment, registry trials cost much less than conventional cancer trials and are also much simpler to conduct.

At a glance
  • Registry trials bring together data from a range of patients at multiple hospitals, enabling researchers to better evaluate the impact of different cancer therapy strategies in the real-world setting.
  • Australian-first cancer randomised registry trials have been initiated within the framework of the VCCC alliance, with plans underway to extend the trials to other health services.
  • Registry trials can simplify trial conduct, test different treatment strategies in a routine care patient population and increase patient recruitment while evaluating efficacy and safety.
Enhancing clinical trials

Registry-based randomised controlled trials or registry trials have many advantages over conventional randomised clinical trials, according to Professor Peter Gibbs, clinician-scientist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, medical oncologist at Western Health and the VCCC Research & Education Lead – Gastro-Intestinal Cancers, and Walter and Eliza Hall Institute PhD student Siavash Foroughi. Mr Foroughi, Professor Gibbs and colleagues reviewed the promising data related to registry trials in an article recently published in Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Mr Foroughi found the potential of registry trials had recently been demonstrated in cardiovascular trials and had potential across other disease types.

“We concluded registry trials provide a timely and cost‐effective solution to answering important clinical questions for cancer patients, many of which are not being addressed by conventional trials. Outcomes could assist clinical decision-making for cancer treatments while bridging the gap between randomised clinical trials and observational studies, including phase IV clinical trials,” Mr Foroughi said.

New clinical trials starting

Registry trials have recently been initiated for two cancer treatment strategies:

  • ALT-TRACC – investigating alternating two cycles of doublet chemotherapy versus standard continuous doublet chemotherapy as a new treatment strategy for newly diagnosed metastatic colorectal cancer
  • EX-TEM – examining the effectiveness of six months versus 12 months of post-radiation chemotherapy for glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer

These trials will soon open at multiple Victorian health services, with support provided through the VCCC alliance. Clinicians will have access to the data in existing cancer registries to evaluate patients’ treatments and outcomes. Several more trials are in development, aimed at improving the care of patients with other tumour types, including pancreas and prostate cancer. Registry trials will also, in the near future, enable other underserviced areas of research, such as optimising palliative care and surgical interventions.

Professor Gibbs said the registry trials were an exciting new development for understanding how treatment strategies impact patients.

“Despite statistical advances, comparative observational registry studies have not been widely accepted by the cancer research community as sufficient to change standards of care,” he said.

“We believe there is enormous potential for registry trials to enhance and accelerate cancer research and to bridge the gap between conventional clinical trials and purely observational studies.

“These trials will enable us to evaluate multiple treatment strategies and give oncologists more insight into the best approaches for improving health outcomes for individual patients.

“As for all clinical trials, informed consent, high quality data collection, careful data analysis, data security and patient privacy will be of paramount importance,” Professor Gibbs said.

In summary: key strengths of the registry-based approach
  • High external validity through inclusion of real‐world patients and smaller centres
  • Can answer simple, pragmatic questions that are otherwise unlikely to ever be explored
  • Rapid patient recruitment due to broad eligibility criteria
  • Data collection is integrated into routine care
  • Substantially lower costs than conventional randomised clinical trials.


Professor Peter Gibbs, image credit: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Siavash Foroughi, image credit: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute


Article source: Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre

Melbourne Biomedical Precinct News – September 2018

Well known Melburnian, businessman, philanthropist and Precinct advocate, Harold Mitchell AC will assume the role of Chair of the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct for the next six months, following the departure of our Executive Chair Professor Gareth Goodier last month.
Gareth has taken on a new role as CEO of Abu Dhabi’s health system after two years at the helm of the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct Office. During this time, he’s been a driving force for change in the Precinct overseeing both the establishment of the Office and the delivery of the strategic plan for the Precinct. We wish him every success in his new role.
Harold Mitchell is Chair of the Premier’s Jobs and Investment Panel, which recognised the importance of the Precinct in its 2016 report to the Government. The recommendations of this panel were fundamental to the establishment of this Office and the development of the Strategic Plan for the Precinct. In addition to other roles, Harold is also Chair of the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.
Harold will be a great asset for us during the next important phase of working with the partners to implement the strategic plan. In particular he will explore opportunities to increase the international profile of the Precinct and champion new partnerships and investment.
A search for a new Executive Chair will commence in the new year.

Land Use Framework Plan Project Update

The Melbourne Biomedical Precinct Office continues to work closely with the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) on the development of a land use framework plan for the precinct. The Framework Plan will set out the land use strategies which will support the objectives of the strategic plan, released in April.

The VPA has released a project update to bring stakeholders up to speed on its progress.

You can find the VPA’s project update here

Australian Museum Eureka Prizes

Presented on 29 August 2018, the annual Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of research & innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science.

A number of our Precinct Partners were represented in the teams and individuals shortlisted as finalists this year, including Associate Professor Alan Duffy from Swinburne University of Technology who took home the 2018 Celestino Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science.

Congratulations to Alan and the other Melbourne Biomedical Precinct finalists:

  • The Biopen Team shorlisted for the UNSW Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research
  • Dr Jason Brouwer shortlisted for the 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science
  • Jo Chandler shortlisted for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Science Journalism

Read more about the Precinct’s Eureka Prize finalists here

Building international partnerships – Sky Gross and Nathan Elia visit Melbourne

We were delighted to introduce Nathan Elia and Dr Sky Gross to the Precinct in July when they visited Melbourne for a series of meetings, workshops and presentations with government, industry and Precinct Partners.

Nathan is the Victorian Government’s Investment & Trade Director in Boston, where he focuses on biotechnology, life sciences, medical R&D and tech. Sky is the inaugural Biomedical Director at Victoria’s new trade and investment office in Tel Aviv and will be instrumental in not only building relationships between here and Israel, but also in facilitating a more commercial approach to the translation of our research.

Read more

Collaborate + Connect + Commercialise Networking Series

In July, more than 150 people attended our third networking event which showcased a panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges facing scientists in the quest for commercialisation and the translation of research into patient care.

Dr Sky Gross was joined by Professor Andrew Nash from CSL, Nathan Elia from the Victorian Government’s Trade and Investment Office in Boston, and Professor Aleksandar Subic – Deputy Vice-chancellor (Research & Development) at Swinburne University for a robust discussion and reflection on the topic.

These events continue to bring together industry and the sector to help build further impact for the Precinct.

Read a full overview of the event here

Events and opportunities

You may be interesting interested in attending one or more of the following events taking place in the coming weeks:

  • Eliminating Hepatitis C – is it actually possible? On Thursday 6 September, Dr John McHutchison AO, Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Research and Development at Gilead Sciences, will talk about his experiences and hopes for HCV patients. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn from someone who had significant global impact through the commercialisation of their research.
  • I can save lives! How to take medical research to the market. On Monday 10 September, life science venture capital expert Brigitte Smith will profile some recent commercialisation success stories, giving you the chance to imagine the real-life impacts of your work from bench to bedside and beyond. This is a VCCC Monday Lunch Live event.
  • Culture of Medical Research – Where Are We Heading? On Monday 17 September, join WEHI Director Professor Doug Hilton for a conversation about where the culture of medical research is heading. This is a VCCC Monday Lunch Live event.

Did you know?

On Friday 17 August, a social football game was held between Peter Mac and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute at Princes Park. The event was a great way to meet colleagues from other institutions, and the organisers hope to broaden the community aspect of medical research and foster wider inter-institute collaborations. While everyone’s a winner at these friendly events, for the record WEHI won the game on the day!

Stay informed

The Melbourne Biomedical Precinct Office was established by the Victorian Government to drive economic development in the Precinct and strengthen its position as a world leader in biomedical research, development and innovation.

Do you know someone who would like to know more about our work and stay informed? Please direct them to this website or sign up here