Author: Lucy Dalton

The rewards and challenges of biomedical start ups


13 February 2019 – The Peter Doherty Institute

Know your customer, secure your IP and build the right team were strong messages at the latest Melbourne Biomedical Precinct networking event, held in partnership with the BioMelbourne Network. The event, held at the Peter Doherty Institute, attracted an audience of around 200 people hungry to learn the secrets of successful biomedical start-ups.

Key note speaker Professor Mimi Tang, Scientific founder of Prota Therapeutics led the audience through her own experience. Professor Tang left a career spanning 25 years specialising in paediatric allergy healthcare and research to the very different world of venture capital and biotech start up in 2016.

“I really had to change the way I thought and look at this through the eyes of the investor,” Professor Tang said. “I am incredibly passionate about what I do and I know that patients are looking for a sustained long-term treatment, they don’t want to just manage their allergy with allergen avoidance and all the associated risks that come with this approach, they want remission and possible tolerance. This is a compelling proposition for both patient and investor.

“One of the best pieces of advice I can give anyone is to secure your IP early – it’s fundamental to your success as a start-up and that takes planning as well as patience. Having strong IP is what makes your work investable. You need to wait until you get the IP before you publish – publishing before securing protection for your work is a common mistake that is made by researchers. You also have to balance filing your IP as soon as possible with having sufficient data to support your IP.”

Dr Harris Eyre Chief Medical Officer of CNSdose and Dr Liz Williams the Co-founder, Director & Chief Executive Officer of Hemideina joined Professor Tang in a discussion moderated by Dr Krystal Evans, CEO BioMelbourne Network.

Getting the right support team in place is seen as critical to a start-up’s success.

“We worked really hard to get the right people on our board,” said Dr Williams. “Australia does not have an overabundance of specialists in biomedical start-ups, so the good people are in high demand. Using your networks, and groups such as the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct and the BioMelbourne Network can help you identify high calibre advisors.”

“You also need to leverage your connections with folks from diverse areas of expertise,” said Dr Eyre who moved to the US to take his company’s initial product through the commercialisation process. “Texas Medical Center is just like the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct, just on a larger scale. In these precincts you have plentiful access to patients, researchers, executives, investors, mentors and others who can help guide you.”

Alex Kamenev, Deputy Secretary, Precincts and Suburbs in the newly created Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions introduced the panel and highlighted the role that the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct plays in driving cultural change in the sector.

“Government recognises precincts as key to growth in jobs and investment in our state and we know that while we’ve always delivered incredible biomedical research, healthcare and education, we’ve been slower to embrace commercialisation,” he said.  “Now’s the time for the rubber to hit the road and make the most of what we have right here before us and change our thinking to be more commercially focused. It takes courage, like that we see in the panel members before us today to change the thinking and get even greater impact from both an economic, as well as a patient perspective”

The Collaborate+Connect+Commercialise networking series aims to connect industry and the biomedical sector to create greater commercial and patient impact.

Five Key Principles of Commercialisation

  • Identify an unmet need
  • Demonstrate proof of concept
  • Protect your discovery with IP
  • Establish strategic partners/investors
  • Create impact

Source: NHMRC –The How, What, When and How of Commercialisation

MBS scholarship for woman in leadership role

MBS Leading for Organisation Impact: The Looking Glass Experience program

The Melbourne Business School is offering an open programs scholarship for a woman working within a VCCC partner organisation with a focus on cancer to participate in their Leading for Organisational Impact: The Looking Glass Experience program. This scholarship opportunity is in honour of Jo Leonard who was a longstanding and valued member of the Melbourne Business School. 


Jo first commenced with the Melbourne Business School in 1999 supporting Executive Education programs as a facilitator and executive coach.  She worked with many public and private sector clients including the highly successful BHP Billiton Graduate Program where she was instrumental in its delivery for a number of years.  Jo was also a key facilitator and feedback specialist on the MBS Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) programs, her favourite being Leading for Organisational Impact, Executive Education – MBS.  

Anyone who had the privilege of knowing Jo will know she was incredibly professional and highly dedicated to her work.  She had an engaging personality, a curious mind and a very special warmth.  Colleagues and participants alike benefited from her passion and focus on developing others.  

In August 2016, Jo lost her battle to ovarian cancer – leaving her husband, her teenage daughter and son and a huge network of family and friends. This scholarship has been established in her honour, is valued at $11,900 and is supported by the Melbourne Business School.


This five day program designed by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)®, shows you how to progress from everyday management tasks to impacting your company as a whole. This includes making tough calls and trade-offs to considering organisation-wide opportunities and bridging gaps that limit growth. It will also uncover your strengths and weaknesses enabling you to gain the confidence to address them and move forward as a senior leader. 

Who is this for? 

  • Experienced senior managers who lead a function or division
  • Executives with local, regional or global responsibility 

Key benefits:

By the end of the program journey, you will:

  • Gain an enterprise-wide perspective
  • Build strategic aptitude
  • Develop decision-making skills
  • Assess investment/funding opportunities
  • Collaborate cross-functionally
  • Improve influencing and negotiation skills. 

Applications are due Monday 25 March 2019 by 5pm. 

Completion of the attached application form and a copy of your CV should be compiled into a single PDF and submitted to Erin Turner,

Applicants would need to be available on one of the program commencement dates below. The successful applicant would need to confirm which program date they would like to attend. You must attend all five days.  

5-9 August, 2019
21-25 October, 2019
25-29 November, 2019

This scholarship is exclusively offered to a woman in a leadership role within a VCCC alliance partner organisation. For more information regarding the program read more here or please contact:

Erin Turner
VCCC Education Program Coordinator
P: 03 8559 8584

This article appears courtesy of our proud precinct partner, the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre

The Royal Melbourne Hospital’s new state-of-the-art Acute Stroke and Neurology Ward opens its doors

Kelton Young sits in a wheel chair and cuts the ribbon to the new ward.
Kelton Young, cutting the ribbon, was the first patient to move to the new Acute Stroke and Neurology Ward on Level 8B.

Funded by The Royal Melbourne Hospital Foundation, with proceeds from The Royal Melbourne Hospital Home Lottery, the new ward features a mix of single and double rooms, natural light, lifting tracks above beds and a dedicated rehabilitation gym.

The new ward has capacity for 31 beds including eight high acuity beds for patients who require increased monitoring.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Director Neurology, Professor Mark Parsons, said the new ward is cutting edge, designed to cater for the increasing number of strokes cared for at the hospital.

“The RMH is the leading stroke centre nationally, and we would be in the top 10 worldwide for providing world-class stroke care,” Professor Parsons said.

“Each year the RMH team treats around 1000 strokes and the numbers are increasing annually.

“The new purpose built stroke ward is the last piece in the comprehensive stroke service we provide to our community. The RMH is already leading in stroke care and research, we are a statewide provider for endovascular clot retrieval and we have Australia’s first Mobile Stoke Unit.

“When time is brain, we are always striving to provide the best, fastest stroke care available. The RMH is one of the few stroke centres in the world to do this within 20 minutes of patients arriving in the emergency department.”

The Acute Stroke and Neurology’s Nurse Unit Manager, Corey Swift, said the new ward now provided patients with something they haven’t had in Melbourne before, a dedicated unit specialising in the care of stroke, including rehabilitation.

“We treat the sickest of the sick, as far as a stroke patient goes,” Corey said.

“The unit will help us give the best care to our patients and provide them with the best outcome for rehabilitation and for getting them home.”

Recognising the signs and symptoms of a stroke can save a life. Remember FAST – F is for face drooping, A is for arms (can I lift them) S is for speech (slurring) and T is for time, it’s critical to get help as soon as possible. Stroke is a medical emergency, always call 000.

Polyactiva and

PolyActiva logo

Proud Precinct Partners, Polyactiva attended the recently Ophthalmology conference in Chicago, USA discussing the future of eyecare treatment and recent developments, and their early stage gamechanging projects.  Eyewire TV caught up with them for a brief chat.


To watch all of the discussions with eyewrite: 

More information about Polyactiva:

The company began operation in February 2010 and since its formation has secured in excess of AU$10 million of investment.

A Series A investment was secured in January 2011 and a AU$9.2 million Series B investment was made in January 2013. The Series B investment was made by a syndicate of investors including Medical Research and Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and Brandon Biosciences Fund 1 (BBF1) – both managed by Brandon Capital Partners, and Yuuwa – managed by Yuuwa Capital.

PolyActiva’s platform technology is used to deliver drugs to specific sites in the body with control over the rate of drug delivery for up to 12-months. The technology involves formation of a polymeric prodrug of the target drug, which in turn is the sole component used to produce the administered product. The product administered to the site can take various forms, including rod-shaped implants, injectable gels, and topical film. The technology enables product with high dose loads, which means sufficient drug can be carried in products of a very small size and still delivery therapeutic daily doses to the therapeutic site over extended periods. All of our products are designed to biodegrade after the treatment period, and leave no residue. As a consequence, PolyActiva’s delivery technology is very well suited to delivery at site of the body that have limited volumes (e.g. the eye). With the PolyActiva technology, exceptional zero-order release profiles are achieved over treatment periods ranging from 1 to 12 months. The process by which we manufacture our products is robust, scalable, and can be adapted to existing device component production processes. PolyActiva has built a number of products with drug candidates from different drug classes and with different linkage points, demonstrating the plasticity of the technology.

We have also developed a number of functional co-monomers and polymer segments, which modularises the production of the final polymeric prodrug. Analogous to a set of Lego®, we now have the various building blocks from which we can select to build the preferred polymer prodrug. Animal studies are now complete for our first two ocular products and work towards clinical development has been initiated.

The company is headquartered at Queen Street, Melbourne, with research facilities at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 381 Royal Parade, Parkville, Melbourne.

The company has secured a world-class team of more than 10 staff that provide the core chemistry and development capabilities. We also have established relationships with key research service providers including MIPS, University of Melbourne, CERA, MSU, Bolder BioPATH, Institute of Bone and Joint Research, and Miguel Hernandez University who provide capabilities in pharmaceutical chemistry, polymer chemistry, ophthalmology and animal models.

‘Killer’ immune cells provide solution to elusive universal flu vaccine

Two scientists inspect some images in the light

Researchers from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) and Monash University have identified immune cells, called killer T cells that can fight all influenza viruses – A, B and C  – creating the potential for the development of a world-first universal, one-shot flu vaccine.

Two scientists inspect some images in the light

The extraordinary breakthrough made by University of Melbourne PhD student, Marios Koutsakos of the Doherty Institute, was published today in Nature Immunology and is a paradigm-shifting discovery, which could lead to an influenza vaccine that does not need to be updated annually.

Previous research has shown that these killer T cells are present in an immune response to some but not all the influenza viruses – making this discovery a game-changer in the development of a universal vaccine.

“Influenza viruses continuously mutate to evade recognition by our immune system, and they are vastly diverse, making it nearly impossible to predict and vaccinate against the strain that will cause the next influenza pandemic,” Mr Koutsakos said.

“We have identified the parts of the virus that are shared across all flu strains, and sub-strains capable of infecting humans, and then investigated if we could find robust responses to those viral parts in healthy humans, and influenza-infected adults and children.”

University of Melbourne Professor Katherine Kedzierska, study leader and laboratory head at the Doherty Institute, said this was an exciting discovery that clearly revealed killer T cells provide unprecedented immunity across all flu viruses, a key component of a potential universal vaccine.

“Influenza B immunology particularly has remained largely understudied because it doesn’t have pandemic potential. However, it is a serious virus that can lead to death and severe illness, mostly in children, and was one of the missing pieces of the universal flu protection puzzle,” Professor Kedzierska said.

The team now has a patent on the discoveries, which will enable them to develop a universal influenza vaccine approach to reduce the impact of pandemic and seasonal influenza around the world.

Mr Koutsakos and his colleagues in Professor Kedzierska’s laboratory at the Doherty Institute worked with cutting-edge technology in collaboration with Professor Anthony Purcell from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, to identify these common viral targets for killer T cells.

The Purcell laboratory is at the forefront of epitope discovery using mass spectrometry. [1]

“It has been particularly beneficial to combine our expertise with the influenza team at the Doherty Institute, to help map cross-strain reactive epitopes. This work highlights the underlying power and versatility of the mass spectrometry approach, and we are excited about the future potential of these epitopes in the development of universal vaccines,” Professor Purcell said.

In addition to the experiments of the human immune system to prove the killer T cell commonality across all flu strains, something that has never been done before, the research team conducted vaccination tests to demonstrate the protective capacity of killer T cells.

“Our immunisation studies with the peptide responsible for activating the killer T cells revealed remarkably reduced levels of flu virus and inflammation in the airways,” Mr Koutsakos said.

These killer T cells are found in over half the world’s population. Professor Kedzierska’s group is now researching immunity in high-risk ethnic groups including Indigenous Australians and Indigenous Alaskans who might not share the same immune response as those investigated by this project.

“Now this groundwork has been done, we can apply similar technologies and approaches to those high-risk populations that flu has a huge impact on, so we can offer protection to everyone,” Professor Kedzierska said.

This research was a collaboration between the Doherty Institute (including the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, the University of Melbourne, and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, the Royal Melbourne Hospital), with scientists from Monash University; St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis; Seqirus; St Vincent’s Institute; The Alfred Hospital; the Royal Melbourne Hospital; University of New South Wales; and Garvan Institute.

[1] Mass spectrometry is the very sensitive measurement of the mass and structural characteristics of small biological molecules including the peptides that define T cell epitopes.

This article appears courtesy of our proud precinct partner, the Doherty Institute

Digital Tools Bring Cancer Trials To All Victorians

External photograph of the VCCC building in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct

More people from rural and regional Victoria with cancer will access clinical trials closer to home using the teletrial model with digital technology, thanks to a $1.5 million Andrews Labor Government funding boost.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos today announced the launch of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre’s (VCCC) Teletrials Program in Bendigo and Albury Wodonga, which will extend to other parts of regional Victoria.

Clinical trials are the gateway to accessing cutting-edge cancer therapies but fewer than five per cent of Victorians outside Melbourne participate in them due to the need for travel and time away from home.

external photograph of the VCCC building in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct

The VCCC Teletrials Program has built partnerships between metropolitan and regional centres to help more Victorians access trials run by leading cancer hospitals such as the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Teletrials are part of the Labor Government’s $20 million funding boost to increase the number of cancer trials being run in Victoria.

On top of the Teletrials Program, $3.7 million has been granted for four new projects to help more than 6,000 patients access world-leading trials through the VCCC Investigator-Initiated Trial Capacity Building Program.

The four projects focus on improving radiotherapy before surgery, pain management, combining treatments to enhance success of blood stem cell transplantation and better anaesthetics during surgery.

Recent data shows that in 2017, 34,557 Victorians were diagnosed with cancer and 10,955 died from the disease – with 95 new diagnoses each day.

Victoria has some of the best cancer survival rates in the world – it’s a testament to our proud track record of investing in world-class cancer prevention, treatment and research. The five-year survival rate for Victorians diagnosed with cancer has increased from 46 per cent in 1982 to 68 per cent in 2016.

The article appears courtesy of the Minister for Health, Victorian Government

BioCurate partnership set to bridge the biomedical translation gap

BioCurate Logo

BioCurate has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement today that the company’s partnership with MTPConnect, UniQuest, and the Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) will operate the $22.3 million Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) Program.

The BTB program forms part of the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund and aims to help early stage health and medical research ventures reach proof-of-concept stage.

BioCurate CEO Dr Glenn Begley said today’s announcement was an acknowledgement of the leadership and vision demonstrated by Monash University and the University of Melbourne, and the long-term support by the Victorian State Government. Their shared goal was to build research-translation and early commercialisation capability. It also recognises BioCurate’s deep industry-experience in drug development.
Through the BTB partnership, BioCurate and UniQuest – the University of Queensland’s expert translational facility – will together assess and recommend eligible ventures for funding in the area of therapeutics, and MDPP will do the same for medical devices.

A key feature of the Program is the provision of expert advice, education and mentoring to those preparing applications and those awarded funding. Successful applicants will receive hands-on guidance, mentoring and project management advice throughout the life of the Program, leveraging the industry and commercialisation experience of BioCurate and our partners.

MTPConnect, a not-for-profit organisation formed to accelerate the growth of Australia’s medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector, will administer the program.

Dr Moss, CEO of UniQuest said, “In this partnership with MTPConnect and BioCurate we’ll draw on UniQuest’s commercialisation and drug discovery expertise to help develop Australian technologies to the stage where they can attract further capital and support, bridging the funding gap and giving the country’s ground-breaking medical research the best opportunity to create change in the lives of people in Australia and around the world.”
“BioCurate’s focus is working closely with researchers to address the barriers that limit the translation and commercialisation of their early stage research. The BioCurate team brings extensive ‘hands on’ international industry experience and we look forward to sharing our scientific and commercial expertise as part of the BTB Program” Dr Begley said.

About BioCurate
BioCurate is an independently operated joint venture of the University of Melbourne and Monash University, supported by the Victorian State Government. The Board is independently chaired by The Hon John Brumby
AO with CEO Dr C. Glenn Begley leading a team of industry-experienced commercial scientists and professional staff. Announced in June 2016, BioCurate’s founding universities are placed in the world’s top
ten in the therapeutic areas of immunology, oncology, paediatrics, neurosciences, and infectious diseases.

BioCurate aims to be a recognised global leader in the translation of basic medical research into human therapeutics. The Company offers a new model, designed to address the key challenges that limit the translation and commercialisation of biomedical and pharmaceutical research everywhere. Its purpose is to increase the clinical impact and patient benefit from research, regardless of whether or not there is any genuine commercial opportunity.

This article appears courtesy of our proud Precinct partner BioCurate.

Prof Sir John Savill appointed Executive Director to the MACH

Sir John Savill wears a blue tie and dark suit and smiles at the camera.
Sir John Savill

A message from Professor Shitij Kapur:

As Chair of the Executive Board of the Melbourne Academic Centre for Health (MACH) Board, I am pleased to announce the appointment of internationally-renowned clinician scientist Professor Sir John Savill as the new Executive Director for the advanced health research and translation centre.

John comes to the MACH from the University of Edinburgh where he serves as the Regius Professor of Medical Science. John joined the University of Edinburgh in 1998 and in that time has developed the university’s clinical medical research capacity to a point that it rivals Britain’s top universities, taking research income from £30m per annum to £230m today.

From 2002-2018, John was Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Alongside this role, he was also Chief Scientist in the Scottish Government Health Directorates from 2008–2010 and Chief Executive at the Medical Research Council (MRC) from 2010–2018 where he was responsible to the UK Parliament for expenditure of around £800m per year. John played crucial roles in establishing the six-partner Francis Crick Institute in London, guiding the collaboration of 10 funders to create Health Data Research UK, and driving forward formation of the multi-site three-partner UK Dementia Research Institute to support the personal interest of then Prime Minister David Cameron.

John practised as a consultant in renal medicine and acute medicine and developed his research interest into the molecular processes of inflammation, with his most influential work being on mechanisms by which scavenger cells recognise and safely clear cells being eliminated by programmed death (apoptosis). As Principal Investigator, he has secured more than £25m in competitive research grants, supervised more than 40 PhD students, post-doctoral fellows and clinical fellows and published more than 100 research papers, 47 of which have been cited over 100 times and three over 1000 times. John was knighted in 2008 for services to clinical science and was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and Fellow of the Royal Society, amongst many other honours.  

In his new role of Executive Director, John will provide strategic oversight and operational management to the MACH as it works with its partners to assist the translation of research into improved healthcare delivery that results in enhanced patient and community outcomes. In addition, John will also play an important role in coordinating the response of MACH partners to major MRFF initiatives. The MACH Board is delighted to have attracted someone of John’s calibre to Melbourne and we look forward to him building upon the momentum gained under the leadership of Professor Cheryl Jones and Interim Executive Director Professor David Story.

University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor, Professor Duncan Maskell, said: “Professor Sir John Savill is a leading figure in the global medical research community and I am delighted that he has been appointed as the new Executive Director of the MACH. Through his knowledge and experience, Sir John will make a significant contribution to the organisation.”

Professor Richard Fox, Chair of the MACH Council, said: “John is a highly-regarded and influential figure in promoting research excellence and we’re thrilled that he is bringing his expertise to Melbourne, helping to direct the future development of the MACH’s programs and fostering our important role at a national and international level.”

Of his new role, John says: “I am delighted to be joining the MACH team. All my experience tells me that this powerful collaboration is poised to marry world-leading health research with cutting-edge clinical practice and outstanding multi-professional training, with the result that patients in Victoria and further afield will benefit from tomorrow’s healthcare today.”

The MACH Board owes a debt of gratitude to Professor David Story, Interim Executive Director from November 2018 to July 2019, who has guided the MACH through this transition period with his considerable expertise, his great skill at building relationships and his characteristic good humour. David will continue as Interim Executive Director until John joins the MACH in July this year and I look forward to his continuing contributions. In the meantime, John can be reached at his local email

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the MACH’s Deputy Director Dr Shane Huntington who will be returning to his substantive strategy role at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. Shane has been instrumental to the establishment and development of the MACH. Working closely with former Dean Professor James Angus and the CEO of St Vincent’s Hospital Professor Patricia O’Rourke, Shane helped lay the foundations for the MACH, resulting in its formal recognition as an academic health science centre and subsequently attracting more than $8m in MRFF research funding. The MACH Board thanks Shane for his extensive contributions and the Faculty looks forward to his ongoing strategy work.

​ Warm regards,

Professor Shitij Kapur
Chair of the Executive Board, MACH
Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Health)
University of Melbourne

This article appears courtesy of our proud precinct partner, MACH Australia

The challenges and rewards of a biomedical start-up – 13 Feb

Pink banner logo for the Melbourne Biomedical precinct networking series
Pink banner logo for the Melbourne Biomedical precinct networking series

One of the hardest parts of a start-up is getting started, so we’ve brought together three of Melbourne’s brightest biomedical entrepreneurs to share their experiences, tips and advice. Here’s your opportunity to hear from these entrepreneurs who have taken the journey from great idea to business reality.

Professor Mimi Tan, Dr Harris Eyre and Dr Liz Williams are all experts in their fields. They are also researchers who know that having an idea is one thing, translating that idea and building a sustainable and profitable business to deliver better patient outcomes takes resilience, strength and an overabundance of patience.

Alex Kamenev, Deputy Secretary, Precincts and Suburbs will facilitate a conversation with our guests.

  • Professor Mimi Tang has more than 20 years’ experience in the investigation of basic immunological mechanisms underlying allergic disease pathogenesis, and correlation of mechanistic studies with clinical outcomes. As a physician and researcher specialising in the care of children with allergic disorders she is inventor, Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Prota Therapeutics, a clinical stage company developing the probiotic immunotherapy platform technology for the treatment of food allergies.
  • Dr Harris Eyre, MBBS, PhD, is a precision mental health executive. Harris is CMO of CNSdose a leading company specialising in advanced genetic testing to guide medication treatments.
  • Dr Liz Williams has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge, and was awarded the BioMelbourne Network Emerging Woman in Leadership Award, 2018. She is the Co-founder, Director & Chief Executive Officer of Hemideina, a company revolutionizing hearing treatment with the Hera Wireless Implant – a miniature cochlear implant that removes the lifestyle restrictions of the current treatment.

Registration will commence at 4.45pm for a 5pm start.

The panel discussion will be followed by networking from 6pm. Refreshments will be provided.

The event will be held at our proud precinct partner, The Doherty Institute

BioBreakfast – Innovation Challenges in Healthcare – 19 Feb 2019

BioMelbourne Network BioBreakfast logo

BioBreakfast:  Innovation Challenges in Healthcare – Tuesday 19th February

BioMelbourne Network BioBreakfast logo
Shaping the Future of Health
BioBreakfast Series
Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Innovation Challenges in Healthcare

Guest speakers: Sue Shilbury, Chief Executive Officer, Austin Health
Craig Bosworth, Group Director, Strategy & Marketing, Cabrini Health

Announcing the BioMelbourne Network 2019 “Shaping the Future of Health” BioBreakfast series, sponsored by the Victorian State Government (DJPR), to lead the conversation in aligning industry growth and economic development with future healthcare needs.

This series of quarterly events brings together players across the health value chain, from industry, research, health, finance and government to explore ways in which Victoria can foster an innovation driven, technology enabled healthcare system. 
Join us for our first event in February 2019 “Innovation Challenges in Healthcare” with hospital executives Sue Shilbury, Chief Executive Officer, Austin Health and Craig Bosworth, Group Director, Strategy & Marketing, Cabrini Health. Our speakers will share their views on innovation challenges, insights into future service delivery aspirations, market players and sector trends, and explore ways to bring about change in the healthcare system to address unmet patient needs.  

When Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Time  7:20 am – Registration 7:30 am – Networking breakfast  8:00 am – Presentations and discussion  9:00 am – Ends
Where The Cube, ACMI, Federation Square, Melbourne
Cost BioMelbourne Network Members: $65;
Non-members: $130 (prices include GST)

Check if your organisation is a member      

Sue Shilbury, Chief Executive Officer, Austin Health
Sue Shilbury joined Austin Health as CEO in early 2017, following a three-decade career in the New South Wales (NSW) public health sector. Sue was General Manager of North Shore Ryde Health Service where she oversaw the delivery of NSW Health’s largest capital works program, the $1.3 billion redevelopment of Royal North Shore Hospital. Sue has also held roles as General Manager of the Central Hospital Network (South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Health District), Director of the Division of Critical Care and Surgery at St George Hospital, and Director of Clinical Services at the Royal Hospital for Women.      

Craig Bosworth, Group Director, Strategy & Marketing, Cabrini Health
Craig joined Cabrini in July 2018. His experience covers a range of sectors across primary and tertiary healthcare, compensable and private health insurance, aged care and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Having graduated as a physiotherapist, he became a Director of Olympic Park Sport Medicine Centre before working for a number of organisations including TAC, Worksafe, Medibank Private, Healthways Australia and Healthdirect Australia. He was Chief of Staff to the Federal Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport from 2015 to 2016. Craig holds an MBA from Melbourne Business School, and has studied at Wharton (finance), Stanford (strategy) and Monash (health economics) universities. He is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is a past Director of Comcare, Multicultural Arts Victoria and the NSW Ministerial Advisory Board for Preventative Health.

This article appears courtesy of our proud precinct partner, BioMelbourne Network

Prof Bruce Kemp receives Australia Day honour

Professor Kemp smiles at the camera, wearing a blue button up shirt
Professor Kemp smiles at the camera, wearing a blue button up shirt
Professor Bruce Kemp, AO

Professor Bruce Kemp, Head of SVI’s Protein Chemistry and Metabolism Unit and one of Australia’s most respected biochemists, has been honoured as an Officer of the Order of Australia.

Professor Kemp was included in this year’s Australia Day Honours List for his distinguished service to biomedical research, particularly to the study of protein phosphorylation. The honour falls on the 30th anniversary of Bruce’s arrival at the Institute.

Bruce says, “I consider this award a recognition of the team effort over many decades – this wouldn’t have been possible without the postdocs, students and colleagues who have been involved along the way – my success has really been the result of a lot of hard work by many others.”

Bruce’s career has been based around his interest in a particular type of protein called a kinase. There are many different types of kinases within the cell, responsible for directing the activity, localization and overall function of many other cellular proteins.

Bruce’s interest in kinases developed during his PhD studies at Flinders University in the 1970s. At the time, the field was nascent – although the first kinase had been identified in the 1950s, not much was known about how they worked. Bruce’s PhD project on kinases within immune cells called lymphocytes meant that he was one of the first people in the world to be working on the role that a specific kinase played within an individual cell. He describes himself as having been hooked from then – over almost half a century he has contributed much to our knowledge of the predominant role kinases play in nearly every aspect of cell biology.

In the early 1990s, Bruce’s group was the first in the world to sequence a protein called 5′ AMP-activated protein kinase (AMP kinase). AMP kinase is now known to orchestrate the cell’s energy levels. Like a conductor directing musicians to play faster or slower, louder or softer, AMP kinase can dampen processes that use energy when energy levels within the cell fall, and activate those that produce it to ensure that adequate energy is available to keep the cell working. This central role in cellular energy control implicates it in diseases as diverse as cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and dementia. Bruce’s laboratory is now focused on harnessing the power of AMP kinase to find ways to treat these diseases.

SVI Director, Professor Tom Kay, says “Bruce is an outstanding scientist whose original research has had a major enduring impact on our understanding of signal transduction within the cell. Through his lifetime of exemplary leadership and mentorship, and his continuing research, Bruce has been an exceptional contributor to Australian medical research. We congratulate him on this honour and thank him for his exceptional service to the Institute over the last 30 years.”

This article appears courtesy of our proud precinct partner, St Vincent’s Institute.

Professor Kathryn North appointed Companion to the Order of Australia.

Professor North laughs with a small girl

Congratulations Professor Kathryn North, on her appointment as Companion to the Order of Australia in this year’s Australia Day awards.

Professor Kathryn North, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

This honour recognises Kathryn’s national and international leadership in genomic medicine, her contribution to the advancement of genetic, neurological and child health and mentorship of young researchers.

Kathryn has dedicated her life to improving genetic diagnoses, most recently in bringing together a consortium of more than 70 Australian institutions, patient advocacy groups and state-based genetics services into the Australian Genomics initiative, that aims to decrease diagnostic times, enable early intervention and improve access to treatment for people with genetic disorders.

Since taking the helm at MCRI in 2013, Kathryn has transformed Australia’s largest child health research institute into one of the world’s top five most successful child health centres. She now leads and nurtures our outstanding group of young scientists and clinician researchers with a focus on prevention and early intervention to bring health and medicine into the genomic and digital age and make precision medicine part of standard care for all Australians.

Since receiving an AM in 2012, Kathryn has only accelerated her efforts as a leader, motivator and advocate for precision child health

This article appears courtesy of our proud precinct partner, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Hot or Not: Trends for 2019 – 7 Feb 2019

logo for BioBriefing
logo for BioBriefing

What lies ahead for Melbourne’s biotechnology, medical technology and pharmaceutical industry in 2019? BioMelbourne Network’s annual “Hot or Not” discussion explores the global trends for the coming year with 4 speakers each presenting a short “snap shot” of what is HOT and what is NOT going into 2019 in their area of interest and expertise.

Topics for discussion include:

AI & IP – Raffaele Calabrese, Patent Attorney, Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick 
Exosomes – Dr Ian Dixon, CEO & Founder, Exopharm Ltd (ASX-EX1) 
Consumer Health – Swisse Wellness 
JP Morgan conference insight – Market/Sector Trends – Sam Cobb, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Adalta

Thursday – 7 February 2019

3:45pm Registrations
4:00–5:25pm Presentations and Q&A
Networking until 6:30pm

Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick, Level 16, 333 Collins Street, Melbourne

BioMelbourne Network Members: $65
Non-members: $130
(prices include GST)
Check if your organisation is a member

Raffaele Calabrese, Patent Attorney, Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick

Raffaele has a background in electrical and electronic engineering, and a master’s degree in engineering specialising in information technology and telecommunications. He has had over ten years of professional experience in protecting inventions relating to ICT, software and engineering.

Raffaele began his intellectual property (IP) career in 2005 as a Technical Assistant with an IP firm in Adelaide. In 2007, he moved to Melbourne and joined a large IP firm, where he specialised in drafting and prosecuting patent applications in Australia and overseas. During this time, he also gained experience in assisting Australian and international clients with obtaining trade mark and design protection.

Raffaele’s background provides him with an in depth understanding of a wide range of electronic and mechanical inventions. He also has experience in protecting computer implemented inventions, including Fin Tech inventions, mining, energy and medical technologies.

Dr Ian Dixon, CEO & Founder, Exopharm Ltd

Dr Dixon brings to the Exopharm Board an extensive technical and entrepreneurial background in founding, building and running technology-based companies, in recognising the potential commercial value of early-stage drug development, and in understanding the challenges involved in drug development.

In 2011, Dr Dixon Co-Founded Cynata Inc, a company that is progressing the commercialisation of what has become the Cymerus technology of ASX-listed Cynata Therapeutics Ltd (ASX-CYP). 

Dr Dixon is also a non-executive director of Noxopharm Ltd (ASX-NOX); a founder of Nyrada Inc.; a co-inventor of Nyrada drug NYX-330; founder of Genscreen Pty Ltd (2003-2018) and; former director of Cell Therapies Pty Ltd. Dr Dixon currently also serves as a part-time executive director of Medigard Ltd (ASX:MGZ). 

Dr Dixon is a co-inventor of the LEAP Technology now owned by Exopharm.

Dr Ian Dixon has a PhD in biomedical engineering from Monash University, an MBA from Swinburne University and professional engineering qualifications.

Sam Cobb, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Adalta

Sam is the founding CEO of AdAlta and has over fifteen years’ experience in business development and commercialisation of early stage scientific technologies. 

Prior to AdAlta, Sam was the Business Development Director at the Co-operative Research Centre for Diagnostics. Sam has also worked for the biotech start up companies Sensologix Inc and Nephrogenix Pty Ltd and at the University of Queensland’s technology commercialisation companies, Uniquest Pty Ltd and IMBcom Pty Ltd. 

Sam has a Bachelor of Science, a Masters of Intellectual Property Law and has completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors course.

World Cancer Day special Monday Lunch Live – 4 Feb 2019

Patient-driven clinical trial offers new hope for rare cancer diagnosis

Marking World Cancer Day on 4 February, this special Monday Lunch Live event highlights new research into rare cancers – which collectively cause more cancer deaths in Australia than any single cancer type.

An innovative patient-driven clinical trial is exploring genomic profiling of rare cancers. The NOMINATOR trial is the result of a unique collaboration between a clinician-scientist and patient advocate. The trial investigates whether profiling can improve diagnosis and treatment of people with rare cancers.

Reflecting the I Am and I Will theme of World Cancer Day, Professor Clare Scott – clinician-scientist from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and medical oncologist at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre; the Royal Women’s Hospital and Royal Melbourne Hospital – will be joined by Kate Vines, Founder and Head of Patient Care at Rare Cancers Australia. They will share their story of collaboration and commitment in developing the promising NOMINATOR trial.

Professor Clare Scott

Professor Clare Scott holds the Chair in Gynaecological Cancer at the University of Melbourne and is the Joint-Head of Clinical Translation and Laboratory Head at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Medical Oncologist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Royal Women’s and Royal Melbourne Hospitals.

She has 20 years’ experience in clinical cancer genetics, including working in Familial Cancer Clinics. Her clinical expertise is in gynaecological cancers and coordinating care for patients with rare cancers. Her laboratory focuses on drug resistance in ovarian cancer and other rare cancer subtypes, generating patient-specific models to understand and avert resistance to targeted therapeutics, in particular, PARP inhibitors.

Professor Scott chairs the COSA Rare Cancer group and has been awarded clinical fellowships from the Victorian Cancer Agency (2011, 2017), the Sir Edward Dunlop Cancer Research Fellow from the Cancer Council Victoria (2012) and the Jeannie Ferris Recognition Award in Gynaecological Cancer from Cancer Australia (2018).

Kate Vines

Kate Vines is the Founder and Head of Patient Care for Rare Cancers. In 2012 Kate and her husband Richard established Rare Cancers Australia, a patient advocacy group whose mission is to improve the lives and outcomes for rare cancer patients.

The event will also feature a patient experience perspective of the NOMINATOR trial.

Monday 4 February 2019

VCCC Building, Level 7 Lecture Theatres

Light lunch served from 12.30pm

Presentation from 1-2pm

Book now

Can’t join us in person? Join us online via our Webinar

The article is courtesy of our proud precinct partner, the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre

2019 Melbourne Health Accelerator calls for applications

Photo of surgeons operating with the Melbourne Health Accelerator logo in the top left hand corner
Photo of surgeons operating with the Melbourne Health Accelerator logo in the top left hand corner

Applications for the 2019 Melbourne Health Accelerator (MHx) cohort are now open!

The MHx will allow 12 start-ups to physically relocate to the Royal Melbourne Hospital. The 2019 MHx cohort will run for 13 weeks between April 8th – July 5th 2019 and will require a time commitment of 2-3 days each week from at least one founder.

The MHx program involves:

· A semi-structured curriculum to support cohorts through the healthcare accelerator
· Networking with the broader Melbourne Health community of clinicians, researchers and executives
· Mentoring from commercialisation experts
· Engagement with successful health-tech entrepreneurs
· Access to a database of clinical information and case studies through our partnership with the Health Roundtable
· Opportunity for exposure and possible funding through pitch events, invitational local and international exchanges and exhibitions.

MHx welcomes applications from early stage start-ups companies operating between Minimum Viable Product and pre-Series A (in exceptional circumstances start-ups at idea stage could be considered).

Vaccines in the 21st Century – 14 Feb 2019

External photograph of the Doherty Building

On Thursday, 14 February, the Doherty Institute will host an all-day symposium on Vaccines in the 21st Century. Keynote speaker Professor Gagandeep Kang, Executive Director of the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, India, will join a series of distinguished speakers from within the Institute and around Melbourne. Professor Kang will speak on The rotavirus vaccine story: developing and evaluating vaccines in India. The symposium will provide an overview on major vaccines that are recently licensed, in late stage development, or subject to ongoing research, for infectious diseases including rotavirus, influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.

This is a free event, but registration is essential. 

External photograph of the Doherty Building


Professor Kang received her training in medicine and microbiology at the Christian Medical College, Vellore, India where she is Professor of Microbiology. Currently she is on sabbatical as the Executive Director of the Translational Health Science Technology Institute for the Government of India. She works on enteric infections in children, particularly on transmission and immune responses, in order to design effective interventions.  Current studies include active hospital and community based surveillance and clinical trials of new and existing vaccines, with use of molecular based assays to study the diversity of pathogens and the immune response of children with viral and parasitic enteric infections.

The rotavirus vaccine story: developing and evaluating vaccines in India

India’s vaccine industry provides the majority of vaccines used in national immunization programs globally, and this is something to be proud of, but these vaccines were developed elsewhere and we compete with low prices and large volumes.  In 2016, a vaccine made in India and tested and developed mainly in India, was introduced into the national program. This is the oral rotavirus vaccine, derived from an Indian strain, and tested over two decades before finally being licensed and used for India’s children. Subsequently, a second vaccine was also developed in India and both vaccines are now pre-qualified and being tested in Africa.

However, oral rotavirus, polio and cholera vaccines are less immunogenic and less effective in children living in resource-poor regions of Africa and Asia. The lower efficacy of multiple oral vaccines in similar settings suggests there may be common mechanisms that limit immunity induced by oral vaccines in such environments. 

In studies on oral rotavirus vaccines (in India, we have investigated the role of maternal antibodies, the presence of bacterial and viral pathogens, the intestinal microbiota, intestinal inflammation and the systemic and mucosal immune response in children from lower socio-economic status families. The ability to apply new investigative approaches to carefully conducted clinical studies in resource-poor settings can provide new insights into the heterogeneous performance of oral vaccines.

This article is sourced from our proud precinct partner, the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity

Baker Institute introduces gender equity fellowship to support women scientists to stay in workforce

As she was considering the merits of returning to full-time work as a scientist, Stephanie Yiallourou found herself wondering about school drop-off.

Although holding a meeting before 9:30am would not ruffle feathers among her male colleagues, the prospect of cradling a phone with her shoulder while getting her boys ready for the day was unappealing.

And so was giving up her profession like the many female scientists who have felt they could only be devoted to one thing.

But unlike her contemporaries, Dr Yiallourou was not forced to make the choice between a career and her family, thanks to the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute where she works.

The 37-year-old scientist is one of the institute’s gender equity fellows and the beneficiary of a suite of new measures to make it easier for women to stay in science.

“Without this support I would probably have fallen into the statistic of leaving research at this stage of my career,” Dr Yiallourou said.

As part of the new measures at the Baker Institute, meeting times are now family friendly to ensure parents do not feel the squeeze and the cost of a carer is covered if women scientists attend a conference.

There is also a $150,000 gender equity fellowship and a $10,000 grant for a research assistant to allow women to continue their work while they take maternity leave.

The hope among scientists like Dr Yiallourou is that it will encourage women to come back to work after having children.

“We know the statistics,” she said.

“We know women leave research and we know that more males than females obtain the project grants and things like that.

“So if women can obtain a level of equity with males, which is what this fellowship provides, then our future as researchers is looking much brighter.”

This article is courtesy of our proud precinct partner, Baker Institute

Lowitja Institute call for abstracts

Lowitja Institute logo


The deadline for abstracts for the Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference is only a week away!

Make your submission to the Lowitja Institute by Friday 25 January 2019 to share your solutions-focussed research and programs with First Nations leaders, researchers, health and policy professionals, community representatives and our non-Indigenous colleagues from around the world.

To find out more and to submit your abstract visit

The Lowitja Institute logo

Advanced Analysis of Linked Health Data Course – 11 – 15 Feb 2019

Logo for the WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis who are conducting the Link Health Data Course
World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis

The WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis are holding a week-long course on Advanced Analysis of Linked Health Data. The course will be delivered by Professor David Preen, Chair in Public Health at the School of Population and Global Health, The University of Western Australia.

The course will run from 11-15 February 2019, and will comprise lectures and technical sessions. The course is suitable for individuals that have completed the Introductory Analysis of Linked Health Data course (or have equivalent knowledge) and who are proficient users of STATA, SPSS or SAS. Exercise solutions will be provided for all three packages.

Further information on the course is available here.

Tickets are $3090 per person and can be purchased here.

This course is run at the Doherty Institute

Motor neurone disease breakthrough: Patient trial shows impressive clinical results

A new drug delays motor neurone disease progression and improves cognitive and clinical symptoms according to recently announced trial results.

Research at a glance: 

  • The copper-delivery drug CuATSM improved symptoms in MND patients over six months
  • Improvements were seen in lung function and cognition
  • Decline in motor disability was reduced in treated patients compared to standard-of-care patients
  • The researchers will begin a larger Phase 2 trial to confirm CuATSM’s effectiveness in motor neurone disease

A new drug developed by scientists at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience, and the School of Chemistry and Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne has dramatically improved clinical and cognitive symptoms of motor neurone disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Motor neurone disease is a progressive, fatal neurodegenerative disease. Its key hallmark is the death of the brain cells that control muscle movements. This results in muscle weakness and eventually paralysis.

Patients usually die of respiratory failure within three years of diagnosis, and there are no treatments or disease-modifying therapies available.

In this dose-finding trial involving 32 patients, the group given the highest amount of the CuATSM compound showed improved lung function and cognitive ability, compared to the predicted declines observed in standard-of-care patients.

Further, treated patients showed a much slower overall disease progression as measured by a global disability score. The clinical trial was led by Professor Dominic Rowe at Macquarie University, and Associate Professor Susan Mathers at Calvary Health Care Bethlehem, and sponsored by Collaborative Medicinal Development Pty Ltd with support from FightMND.

Professor Ashley Bush, Chief Scientific Officer of Collaborative Medicinal Development and director of the Melbourne Dementia Research Centre, said “This is the first human evidence for a disease-modifying drug for motor neurone disease. It is a huge breakthrough, and we look forward to confirming the positive results in a larger study soon.”

Associate Professor Kevin Barnham of the Florey, Associate Professor Anthony White at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, and Professor Paul Donnelly and Associate Professor Peter Crouch from the University of Melbourne, developed and tested CuATSM over a 15-year period.

After showing its therapeutic potential for motor neurone disease in pre-clinical models, the researchers founded a company and licensed the compound to Collaborative Medicinal Developments to take the drug into human studies.

Professor Donnelly said, “It is gratifying to see such promising results made possible by collaborative fundamental research at the interface between chemistry and biology.”

The results were reported at the 29th International Symposium on ALS/MND in Glasgow by Dr Craig Rosenfeld, CEO of Collaborative Medicinal Development.

The researchers plan to begin enrollment for a larger, randomised, placebo-controlled double-blind Phase 2 trial in mid- to late 2019. This trial will test CuATSM’s effectiveness in motor neurone disease / amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in a larger patient sample.

About the Florey:

The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health is one of the largest and highly respected brain research centres in the world. Its teams work on a range of serious diseases including stroke, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and motor neurone diseases, depression and addiction. The Florey is a world leader in imaging technology, stroke rehabilitation and large population studies to improve patient care around the world.

About the Bio21 Institute:

The University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute seeks to improve human health and disease and the environment through innovation in molecular life science and biotechnology, driven by collaborative research and dynamic interactions with industry. It is home to more than 700 research scientists, making it one of the largest biotechnology research centres in Australia. The Institute houses major analytical and imaging technology platforms providing world-leading capability to researchers in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct.

About Collaborative Medicinal Development
CMD is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company developing innovative therapies for neurodegenerative diseases.  The Company’s lead drug, CuATSM, was licensed from the University of Melbourne and entered clinical trials in ALS and Parkinson’s disease in 2017 at leading clinical centers in Australia. The CMD team includes Craig Rosenfeld, MD (CEO), Kay Noel, PhD (COO), Ashley Bush, MD, PhD (CSO), and Jim Babcock (Chairman, founder of Cthulhu Ventures LLC, CMD’s founding investor). 

This article is courtesy from proud precinct partner, Bio21 Institute

Join the next TRaMx bootcamp – 11-12 Feb 2019

2018 successful applications gather and smile for the camera
2018 successful applicants gather and smile for the camera

TRaM are taking applications for TRaMx 2019

If you’ve been thinking about how you can have greater impact with your research, you’ve come to the right place. TRaM is now accepting applications for our first two TRaMx bootcamps of the year.

Designed to grow your understanding of research translation, TRaMx will accelerate your entrepreneurial thinking and research commercialisation, using practical frameworks and methodologies.

During the bootcamp, over two days, you will take a valuable first step toward research commercialisation by enhancing your entrepreneurial mindset, building commercial networks and engaging with customers to establish a clear process for commercialising your research with a group of likeminded go-getters.

TRaMx is open to both individuals and research teams. Students and staff from across the University of Melbourne and the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct are strongly encouraged to attend.

What’s even better is that TRaMx bootcamp is provided at no cost to participants (hooray!). The fully catered TRaMx workshops are held at the TRaM Depot, Level 5, 204 Lygon Street, Carlton.

Applications are open now for our forthcoming 2019 TRaMx bootcamps, which will take place on 11-12 February and 21-22 February.

Registrations close 1 February 2019.

If you are a researcher who is looking to accelerate the impact of their research or gain commercial insights please register your interest here… and if you know of someone who is on the same wavelength, please forward this email to them! We really like making new friends.

Interested in mentoring opportunities with TRaM?
A key part of what we do is connecting the dots and making magic happen by introducing TRaM individuals and teams with others actively engaged in research commercialisation. If you would like to find out more information about becoming a mentor for TRaM19, please email TRaM’s Program Manager, Andrew Rowse, at

$25 million to bridge a vital gap in Australian drug discovery

Minsiter Hunt addressed a full auditorium to announce funding for the new Drug Discovery
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has today announced $25 million in funding to enhance Australia’s drug discovery capabilities at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s new Drug Discovery Centre. 

This significant investment is helping to overcome a challenge in Australian drug discovery by enabling the translation of world-class Australian biomedical research into lifesaving medicines for patients.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announces funding to establish the Drug Discovery Centre at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.
(Photo courtesy Brendan Rowswell)

The funding builds upon the Institute’s own $32.1 million investment in the Centre, as well as generous philanthropic and state government support.

Bridging a vital gap in Australian drug discovery

The Institute’s Drug Discovery Centre will offer the latest robotic equipment and expertise to researchers, so they can undertake ultra-high throughput chemical screening. This is a critical step in the drug discovery pipeline that allows researchers to identify the exact chemical compounds needed to develop medicines that treat disease.

Institute director Professor Doug Hilton thanked the federal government for recognising the importance of a Drug Discovery Centre for the whole Australian medical research sector that fills a vital gap in our drug discovery pipeline.

3D render of drug discovery tool
A 3D render of an ultra-high throughput screening
platform currently being installed in the Drug Discovery Centre

“In a landmark move for Australian medical research, the Institute has established a Drug Discovery Centre so that researchers in Australia can screen and pinpoint the exact chemical compounds needed to progress their basic research discoveries into new medicines.

“For many years the translation of world-class Australian research into new medicines has been hampered by a lack of capacity for drug development. This meant that many promising research discoveries were either never pursued, or researchers were forced overseas to develop their research into new therapies,” Professor Hilton said.

Increased capacity for developing new medicines

The Institute’s head of new medicines and diagnostics Associate Professor Guillaume Lessene said the injection of federal government funding would triple the Centre’s screening capacity over the next two years.

“The additional funding means we are now able to recruit additional highly skilled scientists and open the Centre up to the Australian medical research sector from June 2019,” he said.

Executive director of Children’s Cancer Institute Michelle Haber said a nationally-accessible Drug Discovery Centre would increase the probability of developing lifesaving medicines.

“The Drug Discovery Centre is a great example of how as a nation we can excel in health and medical research on the international stage.  The Centre’s accessibility to the whole sector will serve to increase Australia’s capacity for drug discovery, bringing hope to patients in Australia and around the world,” she said.

Proven track-record for translation

The Institute’s own contribution to the establishment of the new centre has come from philanthropic and state government support, as well as $32.1 million from the sale of royalty rights for venetoclax, an anti-cancer treatment based on a landmark research discovery made at the Institute in the 1980s. 

Professor Hilton said the Institute had a proven track-record for translating its research into health outcomes for patients.

“Venetoclax is a leading example of how patients can benefit from the translation of basic research discoveries made in Australia. While that medicine took 30 years to reach patients, we hope that our commitment to building a centre that enhances Australia’s capacity for translating basic biomedical research will serve to accelerate the process of drug discovery bringing future medicines to patients faster.”

An important investment

Minister Hunt said the $25 million contribution from the Coalition Government would help the innovative centre save lives.

“Our investment in this important Drug Discovery Centre will help researchers develop news drugs to treat both common and rare diseases and improve the quality of life of many Australians,” Mr Hunt said.

“Our Government’s contribution to this significant centre is through our landmark Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). The MRFF is an endowment fund, which will mature at $20 billion, providing a sustainable source of funding for vital medical research. It is the single largest boost in health and medical research funding in Australia’s history.”

The latest innovative technology

Thermo Scientific has been engaged to take the Institute’s small molecule screening capabilities and capacity to the next level. The Drug Discovery Centre has collaboratively designed three, highly flexible, expandable, ultra-high throughput screening platforms with Thermo Scientific that are currently being installed in the new centre.

Article courtesy of our proud precinct partner Walter & Eliza Hall website.

Five promising MedTech companies to watch earn $10,000 pre-seed funding in the 2018 National MedTech’s Got Talent Gala Finals

Medtech's got talent logo

Australia’s brightest MedTech entrepreneurs battled it out at last night’s National MedTech’s Got Talent National Finals in Melbourne. The top five teams secured $10,000 non-dilutive, stage-gated funding to kickstart their MedTech startup towards product-market fit and investor readiness. These teams will participate in an intensive 6-week accelerator program, with the most investible team taking out the competition, and receiving an additional $30,000.

Melbourne, Australia. Friday 30th November, 2018. STC Australia, The Actuator and MedTech’s Got Talent (MTGT) announce their 2018 top five emerging MedTech companies to watch, selected at the national awards ceremony in Melbourne last night. These teams secured $10,000, stage-gated, non-dilutive funding to accelerate their path to product-market fit and investor readiness.

The 14 semi-finalists had three minutes each to pitch their business concept to the judging panel of industry executives, investors and sector influencers, who then debated and selected five finalists against criteria including innovation, market, pathway, sustainability and soft skills.

The 2018 MedTech’s Got Talent finalists are:

NanoMSlide – instant unambiguous cellular diagnosis – Associate Professor Brian Abbey, Dr. Eugeniu Balaur, Dr. Caroline Bathje and Dr. Belinda Parker – mentored by Hydrix

Lateroll – complete patient transfer system – Simone Saville, Dr. Cameron Keating, Jane Chen, Sidonie Matthew and Garrick Liu – mentored by The Actuator

TalkiPlay – harnessing technology to explore language in a child’s real-world to accelerate their development – Annie McAuley – mentored by IDE

Ventora – real time monitoring of pressure delivered to lungs in neonatal intensive care – Edward Buijs, Lorinda Hartley, Amy Yu, Seetal Erramilli and Alan Haszard – mentored by Design + Industry

Enlighten Imaging – transforming the way in which Alzheimer’s disease is detected – Dr. Lauren Giorgio Peter van Wijngaarden, Xavier Hadoux & Professor Darren Kelly – mentored by Vestech

The $1,000 people’s choice award for the night was taken out by Horizen – mentored by Procept, who are developing a device for the prediction of agitation in dementia patients.

Each of these five teams will now begin an intensive six-week training program focused on the most critical issues for MedTech startups, such as clinical need validation, regulatory strategy, intellectual property protection, and reimbursement. The program will conclude in March 2018 with an Investor Deal Pitch where the overall ‘most investable team’ will then receive an additional stage-gated $30,000 with no impact on equity or IP.

This program is not possible without the entire ecosystem coming together to support the emerging talent and promising ideas of the future. This includes: STC Australia; The Victorian State Government, The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport & Resources; The Federal Government, The Department of Industry, Innovation & Science; Artesian; EY; Johnson & Johnson; Medtronic; Cook Medical; Baker; Burnet Institute; Macquarie University; Swinburne University; The University of Melbourne; LaTrobe University; Vestech; K&L Gates; Ingenuity Product Design; IDE; Planet Innovation; Hydrix; Design + Industry; Procept; MiniFAB; Microsoft; Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute; The Social Science; Cogentum; ResMed; The Medical Technology Association of Australia; BioMelbourne Network; Brandwood Biomedical; Truly Deeply; Grant Ready & Grant Guru; F2F Communications; IQVIA; Australian Healthcare Solutions; Accelerating Australia, supported by MTPConnect; and The Healthy Organisation.

“The Australian Government continues to support the commercialisation of our brilliant ideas in the medtech sector. This will not only create highly valued and resilient jobs of the future, but also contribute to fulfil our ambition to become the healthiest nation on Earth,” said Director of Accelerating Commercialisation Larry Lopez.

About The Actuator
The first of its kind, The Actuator is a deeply collaborative national program that gives promising early-stage medical technology companies an accelerated pathway to $2.7 million of funding, capitalising on Australia’s strengths in medical research, healthcare, clinical trials and advanced manufacturing.

Artificial Intelligence (US) Mission to the US – 13-15 Feb 2019

Logo for Australia Unlimited and Australian Government

The AUTM Conference, an assembly of international academic technology transfer professionals, is taking place in Austin, Texas from 10-13 February 2019. Austin has become one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the US with competitive strengths in Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data.

Following the AUTM Conference, Austrade Americas will be hosting a strategic 2-day program for Australian researchers and technology transfer professionals to learn and connect with Austin’s vibrant AI ecosystem. Meetings will include a variety of potential investors and collaborators across industry, academic, and philanthropy. Examples of meetings include Dell and the University of Texas at Austin.Additional information is available from the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM)

Who should participate:
Australian providers of Higher education.

Austrade package:
For detailed information about this event and the participation package, please refer to the event brochure (pdf).

Application deadline:
15 January 2019

How to apply:
Apply to participate in this event using the register button below.
Acceptance of your application is not confirmed until you have received formal notification from Austrade. Austrade is not bound to accept any application and shall only do so at its sole discretion so as to best facilitate export and foreign direct investment.

Travel details:
Australian travellers should be aware of the increased threat of terrorism globally and should consult the Australian Government’s General Advice to Australian Travellers, which is available at
All Australians travelling overseas, whether for tourism or business or for short or long stays, are encouraged to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) before travel. The registration information provided by you will help DFAT find you in an emergency – whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family emergency. It may also be used to pass other information to you, such as: new travel advisories, notice of elections and information on other matters relevant to travellers and expatriates.

Australian citizens can register online at

Please note: Austrade will only work with clients that maintain appropriate business ethics, and demonstrate a commitment to legal obligations including anti-bribery laws, both in Australia and overseas markets. For further information, please visit

For more information please contact:
Elizabeth Bucknor
Education Partnership Director
Austrade Washington, DC
T: +1 202-454-9756

Access to cancer clinical trials for all Victorians

Associate Professor Kate Burbury stands next to Dr Craig Underhill. They are both smiling at the camera in the VCCC.

Patients with cancer living in regional and rural Victoria will soon have access to clinical trials, on their doorstep.

The first patients participating in a cancer clinical trial implemented through a new Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) Teletrials Program has begun in Albury Wodonga and Bendigo. The program provides opportunities for regional patients to participate in clinical trials without the need to travel to metropolitan centres.

Dr Craig Underhill, VCCC Regional Oncology Lead (providing representation for the regional cancer community) and the Director of Oncology at the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre is a champion of the program, “Regional cancer patients experience several disadvantages including lower survival rates, due to healthcare access differentials. The VCCC Teletrials Program aims to reduce the barriers for regional patients with cancer to access clinical trials, including travel, cost and social disruption.”

Capitalising on digital health technology

Peter Mac Haematologist, Associate Professor Kate Burbury is working with Dr Underhill and the VCCC to deliver Victoria’s first clinical teletrial. “Clinical trials are a gateway to accessing new cancer treatments,” she said. “We are very excited to be a part of this groundbreaking approach to undertake clinical trials and ensure regional Victorians gain all the opportunities available to their metro counterparts. In addition, this approach can help the health service challenge of meeting recruitment targets and the success of clinical trials, which bring new therapies to the wider community.”

Digital health is a rapidly evolving tool for regional patients’ access to health services. Combining this technology with the principles of the Australasian Tele-trials Model, developed by the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA), the VCCC Teletrials Program will implement clinical trials within a framework specifically designed for the Victorian healthcare system to benefit the community.

Associate Professor Kate Burbury and Dr Craig Underhill
Associate Professor Kate Burbury and Dr Craig Underhill

Teletrials to deliver benefits to regional communities

Dr Underhill said, “The VCCC Teletrials Program provides benefits for both our patients and health workforce. Decreased travel and cost will have a big impact on patients. Professional development structures and clinical trial participation will increase our workforce capability.”

Victoria’s first cancer clinical teletrial will be closely monitored to understand challenges and identify opportunities. The VCCC will continue to expand the teletrial program across Victoria to improve clinical trial access and participation for patients living in regional and rural locations.

The VCCC Teletrials Program has been developed in conjunction with the Regional Trials Network; led by VCCC Regional Oncology Leads.  

The VCCC Teletrials Program is supported by the Victorian Government.

This article is sourced from our proud precinct partner, the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre

“We’re excited about it.” – CSL talks up new flu vaccine

CSL logo

Melbourne Biomedical Precinct Partners, CSL Limited presented new real-world data showing that its cell-based quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIVc) was 36.2 percent more effective than standard* egg-based quadrivalent vaccines (QIVe) in preventing influenza-like illnesses during the 2017/18 influenza season in the United States. This is likely due to the predominance of the H3N2 virus and its propensity for mutation when it is adapted for influenza vaccine production in chicken eggs. These observational data were presented today at the Canadian Immunisation Conference and also shared at CSL’s annual Research and Development briefing in Sydney.

The finding is based on an analysis of over one million (1,353,862) medical records for patients aged four years and above who received either a four-strain egg-based influenza vaccine or a four-strain cell-based influenza vaccine in a primary care setting during the 2017/18 influenza season in the United States. Analysing real-world data from electronic medical records is a new and important approach to understanding the effectiveness of influenza vaccines and their impact on health outcomes. These types of analyses are different from traditional randomised clinical trials which study clinical efficacy.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control1 the 2017/18 influenza season in the US was the worst in recent years with the H3N2 virus being associated with the majority of influenza infections. Research has shown that H3N2 viruses often undergo changes when they are grown in eggs2. When produced completely outside of the egg-based process, cell-based influenza vaccines avoid egg-adapted changes, which means they may offer a closer match and potentially improved protection compared to standard egg-based options in some seasons.3 4 5 6 7

QIVc was first licensed in the US in 2016 based on a study showing non-inferiority immune response to a three-strain cell-based influenza vaccine. Both cell-based products used in this study were produced using egg-based starting viruses8. The 2017/18 season was the first in which QIVc was manufactured using a cell-derived H3N2 starting virus, making this component of the vaccine exclusively cell-based. Seqirus is incorporating other cell-derived starting viruses into the production process for QIVc and has plans to conduct real-world studies over future seasons to help determine the full potential of the cell-based technology in preventing influenza.

“The real-world data, along with other emerging evidence, indicates that cell-based influenza vaccines may result in better influenza-related outcomes compared to standard egg-based vaccine options in some seasons, particularly those seasons characterised by egg-adapted changes,” said Gregg Sylvester, VP Medical Affairs, Seqirus. “We are greatly encouraged by the data and with increasing availability of our vaccine look forward to working with partners to generate additional data in future seasons.”

Developing new and better influenza vaccine technologies is a strategic priority for Seqirus, including further advancing current cell-based technology as well as adjuvants – or ‘immune boosters’ – to enhance the immune response of those particularly vulnerable to influenza such as children and the elderly.

While QIVc is currently only licensed in the US, the European regulatory agency (EMA) recently issued a positive recommendation for the vaccine, indicating formal approval in Europe by the end of 2018. Expansion into other markets is planned after that, including the submission of an application to the TGA in Australia in 2019.

Seqirus’ QIVc is manufactured in the company’s Holly Springs facility in North Carolina. The capacity of the plant to meet anticipated future demand for the vaccine has been greatly enhanced with approval by the FDA earlier in 2018 for important process improvements to the manufacturing process, and by the recently announced US$140 million plant expansion.

“The burden of influenza is a global healthcare concern, and Seqirus is committed to developing new and potentially better vaccines that help reduce the hundreds of thousands of deaths and severe illness caused every year by influenza. Since we acquired the cell-based technology just three years ago, we have increased vaccine production five-fold and introduced cell-derived starting viruses (rather than viruses that have been optimised to grow in eggs). These innovations together with other major investments into the Holly Springs facility will assist us to meet further global demand for the vaccine,” said CSL’s Chief Scientific Officer Professor Andrew Cuthbertson.

Influenza is a common, highly contagious infectious disease that can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people. In Australia, the impacts of the 2017 season included high levels of absenteeism and a substantial burden on primary care and hospitals.9

“Vaccination is the best line of defence in reducing deaths and severe illness caused by influenza. Every flu season is different and it’s important that we stay one step ahead of influenza viruses through the development of more effective vaccines, better matched to the strains in circulation. This real-world data on cell-based vaccines is encouraging and will bring another welcome influenza vaccine option to Australia,” said Professor Terry Nolan AO, Head, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health. – ends –

*standard QIVe is non-adjuvanted with standard dose of antigen.

This article is sourced from Proud Precinct Partners, CSL

Stentrode™ developed for brain treatments without major surgery

Man smiling at the camera, hands in pockets, in Times Sqaure, New York
Tom Oxley, a researcher on the Stentrode, standing in Times Square smiling at the camera

Australian researchers have developed a tiny device that electrically stimulates the brain and could one day be used to treat conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease without invasive surgery.

They have shown for the first time that electrical stimulation can be delivered into the brain from a 4 mm diameter Stentrode™ permanently implanted inside a blood vessel.

This technology opens the door for a range of potential treatments that have traditionally required open brain surgery, including deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

Deep brain stimulation requires open brain surgery with an electrode implanted via burr hole surgery, where one or more holes are drilled in the skull so the electrodes can penetrate the brain. The Stentrode™ can place electrodes in the brain via blood vessels through a vein in the neck.

The work builds on previous research that showed the Stentrode™ could be used to record brain signals, with the potential to control an exoskeleton in patients with paralysis. This study now shows the Stentrode™ can also deliver targeted stimulation.


The proof-of-concept study is published in Nature Biomedical Engineering and involved researchers from The University of Melbourne, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Monash University and the company Synchron Australia.

The researchers implanted a 4 mm diameter Stentrode™ into blood vessels in sheep and achieved localised stimulation of brain tissue, all without open-brain surgery. They implanted devices into blood vessels that were adjacent to motor areas of the brain.

“Stimulation-induced responses of the facial muscles and limbs were observed, and were comparable to those obtained with electrodes implanted following invasive surgery,” the researchers wrote.

“A minimally invasive endovascular surgical approach utilising a stent-electrode array is an encouraging safe and efficacious way to stimulate focal regions of brain.”


Until now, it has never been proven that stimulating the brain from inside a blood vessel can achieve focal brain stimulation using a permanently implanted device. Future studies must now determine the safety of stimulation across a range of intensities.

“While additional data is required to validate chronic safety and efficacy of the Stentrode™, our previous research, and literature on the success of commercially available cranial stents and vascular lead wires supports our hypothesis that a Stentrode™ may be a suitable alternative to invasive neural implants,” the researchers said.

Lead researcher Dr Nick Opie said the work built on previous research that showed the Stentrode™ could listen to the motor cortex of the brain.

“By adding the ability to speak to the brain using electrical stimulation, we have created a two-way digital communication device,” Dr Opie said. “In one application, the Stentrode™ could be used as a tool to record the onset of an epileptic seizure, and provide stimulation to prevent it.”

Co-author Dr Sam John said it was the first time such an implant was able to stimulate the brain without needing to perform open brain surgery. He said this work opened the way to making treatment for drug resistant neurological conditions accessible to a greater number of people.


“This offers hope of less invasive treatments for the symptoms of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder,” he said.

Earlier research, released in 2016, demonstrated that Stentrodes™ implanted into blood vessels next to the motor cortex could pick up brain signals related to movement. The researchers plan to use the Stentrode™ to close the loop, making two-way communication with the brain possible.

In their upcoming clinical trial, the recording Stentrode™ will receive and interpret neural signals and enable a person with Motor Neurone Disease to control communication software.

Eventually it is hoped this technology will be used to help all people suffering from paralysis to control computers, wheelchairs and exoskeletons.

“From within a blood vessel in the head, the Stentrode™ can pick up brain signals when people think about moving”, Dr Opie said. “These can be converted into commands that enable direct-brain control of computers, vehicles or prosthetic limbs. With stimulation, sensory feedback is possible, and people may be able to feel what they are touching.”


This article is sourced from our Proud Precinct Partner, the Royal Melbourne Hospital

Forecasting the cycle of epileptic seizures

New research throws light on the predictability of seizure cycles for people with epilepsy


Cycles govern most aspects of our day-to-day life and our biology.

There are environmental cycles, like the 8-hour working day, 5-day working week, monthly mortgage repayments and seasonal weather patterns.

Epilepsy is particularly sensitive to metabolic cycles. Picture: Shutterstock
There are also cycles in our body governed by hormonal and metabolic activities, like body temperature, sleep and appetite. Longer biological rhythms exist too, like the menstrual cycle, breeding and hibernation.

It is not surprising that so many interwoven cycles can affect human disease in complex ways. Epilepsy is particularly sensitive to metabolic cycles with seizures known to be provoked by poor sleep, heat stress, alcohol consumption, exercise, changes in mood and even the weather.

Breakthrough: Medicinal cannabis and severe epilepsy

Hundreds of years ago, neurologists documented their patients’ seizure times and found reliable patterns that, for some people, were repeated daily, weekly and monthly.

The cause of these cycles was not clear and the cause of longer cycles remained particularly mysterious. For some women, seizures appeared to be linked to menstruation; however, monthly cycles were also common in men.

Baffled, several researchers resorted to supernatural explanations like ‘moon madness’.


Understanding seizure cycles, and being able to forecast when they will occur, has profound implications for better treatment of epilepsy.

We have conducted the largest study of seizure cycles in humans and our research, published in the Lancet Neurology, provides conclusive evidence that multi-day cycles exist for most people with epilepsy.

A major finding from our study is the high rate of seizure cycles in the population which means that cycles could potentially be affecting the treatment of most people with epilepsy.

Seizures can be provoked by poor sleep, heat stress, alcohol consumption, exercise, changes in mood and even the weather. Picture: Getty Images
We still do not understand the causes of seizure cycles and it is difficult to replicate early studies of multi-day seizure cycles because reliable, longitudinal data of individuals’ seizure times is not typically collected.

Early studies were conducted in a world where people travelled less or lived in closed epilepsy colonies where it was much easier to obtain complete records of a person’s seizure times over decades.


Q&A: How algorithms are fighting epilepsy
Read more

Nowadays, people with epilepsy may report having a ‘bad week’ at the start of each month, a cluster of seizures every 10 days, or other cyclic patterns. However, while anecdotal evidence of long-term seizure cycles is abundant, experimental proof is lacking

Our study was based on two of the largest databases of human seizures ever recorded. The first dataset is from 15 people with epilepsy who were implanted with a device to continuously recorded their brain signals for up to three years.

The second dataset is a non-invasive, online record of peoples’ seizure times reported via a mobile app, with data sharing supported by the International Seizure Diary Consortium.

The implant data provided an extremely accurate, objective account of seizure times since seizures were directly verified from brain activity. App data is based on self-reporting so is more subjective, but reflects a large and diverse cohort of over 10,000 people reporting for up to 10 years.



We measured the strength of cycles from periods of 12 hours to three months. A majority (86 per cent) of people had at least one significant cycle
Circadian or 24-hour cycles were most common at 83 per cent, however 23 per cent of people had a seven-day cycle. A quarter of the participants also had at least one cycle that was longer than three weeks.

Gathering self-reported data on peoples’ seizures via a mobile app meant researchers could capture a large and diverse dataset. Picture: Pexels
The existence of a precise seven-day cycle in over one fifth of the cohort was staggering. These weekly cycles suggest human brain activity is entrained to an artificial seven-day week in addition to our brain’s well-documented synchrony with the 24-hour light cycle.

The weekday that most seizures occurred was unique to the individual and, across the population, no day of the week was ‘worse’ than any other day. Like many researchers before us, we also found that longer cycles were equally common in men and women.

So what are the implications of our findings?



Failing to account for multi-day cycles could lead to inconsistent treatment decisions.

For instance, if medication changes were made at the high point of someone’s cycle there would be a perceived benefit because afterwards seizures would begin to decrease.

After the low point of the cycle however, seizures would begin to increase and the drug would seem to be performing badly. Similarly, tracking seizure cycles during clinical trials is important to properly measure the effectiveness of a new drug.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this research is that cycles were measured from self-reported mobile seizure diaries. By developing the right software, we can immediately begin using the information from seizure cycles to improve treatment outcomes.

The main aim of my research is to develop a seizure forecasting app and this study is an important step towards that goal. At our start-up company, Seer, we have developed Beagle Health Tracker, an app that detects the different cycles that modulate individuals’ seizures and present this information graphically.

The Beagle Health Tracker app helps users plan according to their how likely they are to have a seizure that day.

Users can track where they are in a particular cycle, explore the different associated risk levels and schedule medication to align to their unique rhythms. The next step is to incorporate additional data to build a more nuanced picture of an individual’s seizure likelihood.

One important data source available soon is brain signals recorded from outside the skull. Recently our team, lead by Professor Mark Cook, announced that a trial of Minder, a sub-scalp implant device, will begin in Melbourne as early as next year. Devices like Minder are anticipated to revolutionise seizure forecasting.

However, it is important to begin the data collection process now.

Our investigation has taught us that tracking seizure times can reveal rich patterns that can be used to build better forecasts and make a real difference to how people manage epilepsy.


This article is sourced from our Proud Precinct Partner,  the University of Melbourne


Download the Beagle Health Tracker app

$100 million investment in new PBS listings to fight cancer

Peter Mac was delighted to host The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, to announce important changes to the PBS which will provide or improve subsidised access to life-changing cancer drugs.

Minister Hunt toured Peter Mac’s labs prior to the announcement on Friday,  speaking with Professor Keiran Harvey (pictured left in the above photo) about his research which is focused on Drosophilia flies. The flies have genes which are also seen in humans, the study of which can yield important insights into the fundamental drivers on cancer.

The minister also met with patients who will directly benefit from the drug listings.

From December 1, patients with certain forms of leukaemia, advanced tumours of the intestine and pancreas, melanoma, bowel cancer and ovarian cancer.

More about the Peter Mac Centre

Peter Mac is one of the world’s leading cancer research, education and treatment centres globally and is Australia’s only public hospital solely dedicated to caring for people affected by cancer. We have over 2,500 staff, including more than 580 laboratory and clinical researchers, all focused on providing better treatments, better care and potential cures for cancer.

More about Prof Kieran Harvey

Professor Kieran Harvey is interested in the fundamental biological question of organ size control. His laboratory focuses on how deregulation of signalling networks that control organ size contributes to cancer, employing multiple model systems including the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster.

More about Prof Rick Pearson

As head of the Pearson Laboratory, a major focus of Professor Pearson’s research is to understand the molecular basis of the regulation of ribosome biogenesis and cell growth and to use this knowledge to address how deregulation of these processes contributes to cancer. His laboratory has recently demonstrated that dysregulation of ribosome biogenesis is critical in the development of cancers of the blood, ovary and skin and can be directly targeted using inhibitors of ribosome biogenesis to treat cancer. His laboratory now plans to build on this research, to develop of a novel class of anti-cancer agents targeting ribosome biogenesis, providing new options for single agent and combination therapies for these cancers.
Minister Hunt in the middle of 6 people all smiling for the camera

This article is sourced from our Proud Precinct Partner, Peter Mac Centre

New ACRF cancer research facility will harness structural biology to discover innovative cancer drugs in Melbourne

Two scientists, proudly smiling at the camera

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) will provide $2 million to fund the creation of the ACRF Facility for Innovative Cancer Drug Discovery at the Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne.

The chief investigators, Professor Michael Parker and Dr David Ascher of Bio21, Professor Rick Pearson of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Professor John Silke of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, represent some of Victoria’s major cancer research institutions.

Professor Parker said: “The ACRF funding will make it possible to create a facility that houses some of the most cutting-edge structural biology instruments and technologies to cater for the cancer research community in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct and beyond. It will provide our partners with powerful tools to develop and deliver new cancer drugs to patients.

Structural biology has played a key role in targeted molecular medicines including imatinib (Gleevec) to treat myeloid leukaemia, venetoclax for leukaemia and gefitinib for lung cancer.

“Structural biology holds the key to developing innovative cancer drugs by providing detailed information about the shape of molecules that are involved in cancer-causing biological signalling pathways within cells of our bodies,” Professor Parker said.

ACRF chief executive Professor Ian Brown said: “The ACRF is proud to be providing the ACRF Facility for Innovative Cancer Drug Discovery with state-of-the-art equipment for the identification, development and delivery of drugs for cancers in this era of personalised medicine where there is currently no therapy available or where improved treatments are required. Structure-based drug discovery offers great potential to hasten advances to improved patient outcomes.”

The grant was announced at a reception hosted by the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) and Lady Cosgrove, tonight at Admiralty House in Sydney.

The Bio21 Institute of Molecular Science and Biotechnology aims to understand human health and disease at the molecular level and improve patient outcomes through biotechnology. It is home to more than 700 research scientists, making it one of the largest biotechnology research centres in Australia. The Institute has major analytical and imaging technology platforms providing world-leading capability to researchers in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) supports Australian cancer research to end all types of cancer. ACRF funding for cutting-edge technology and infrastructure to speed up discoveries in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit

The Melbourne Biomedical Precinct in Parkville has more than 25 health service, research and academic partners, making it one of the world’s largest life science research clusters and Australia’s largest research and higher education teaching precinct. Partners include Bio21, the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, the University of Melbourne, Cancer Therapeutics CRC (CTx), CSL, CSIRO, Monash Institute of Pharmacological Sciences and Melbourne Health.
Professor Michael Parker and Dr David Ascher are available for interview.


This article is sourced from our Proud Precinct Partners, Bio21