Medical Sciences

Australian Rotary Health PhD Scholarship – Alzheimers Disease

Australian Rotary Health invites applications for a PhD Scholarship starting mid-2014 or early-2015 investigating Alzheimer’s disease.

The value of this PhD Scholarship is $29,000 per annum for a maximum of 3.5 years, and is offered under a three way financial commitment between Australian Rotary Health ($7,000pa), The Rotary Club of Adelaide ($11,000pa), and the administering University/Research Institution ($11,000pa).

Applicants must be full-time students, enrolled within a recognised university or research institute in South Australia, Australia. Only applicants about to commence their PhD in mid-2014 or early-2015, and those without concurrent scholarship funding, are eligible to apply.

To download a copy of the application form and guidelines, please visit:

For more details, contact Michelle Nicholas at Australian Rotary Health on 02 8837 1900 or

Closing date is Friday 4th July 2014


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Professor Roger Byard – A world breakthrough in the fight against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

ADELAIDE researchers have made a world breakthrough in the fight against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome with a find that may have already saved one life.

A University of Adelaide study of medical data collected from deceased children could now help spare countless families the heartbreak of SIDS, which kills dozens of babies without warning every year. Chemical clues in the brains of SIDS victims now indicate a link to breathing problems.

The researchers have identified a link between SIDS and breathing problems, finding that telltale signs in the brains of babies who died of SIDS are remarkably similar to those of children who died of accidental asphyxiation.The clue they have discovered may have already saved one child, whose sibling was a SIDS victim.

The clue pointing to possible breathing irregularities in the victim led to doctors identifying sleep apnoea in the sibling, leading to precautions to avoid a repeat of the tragedy. Latest available statistics show that SIDS claimed 63 young Australian lives in 2011, including three in South Australia.

Despite decades of research and progress in preventative measures credited with decreasing fatalities — such as guidelines on bedding and positioning infants for sleep — its cause remains unknown and neither child nor family medical histories have been able to help predict it.

The Adelaide study compared 176 children who died from head trauma, infection, drowning, asphyxia and SIDS, checking for the presence of the amyloid precursor protein, known as APP, through “staining” it leaves on the brain in death.Researchers say this evidence does not identify a specific cause of death, but that its patterns “can help clarify the mechanism”. Project leader Professor Roger Byard said all 48 of the SIDS deaths examined showed APP staining in the brain.

“This is a very important result,” said Prof Byard, who is also Senior Specialist Forensic Pathologist with Forensic Science SA. “It helps to show that asphyxia rather than infection or trauma is more likely to be involved in SIDS deaths. “The staining by itself does not necessarily tell us the cause of death, but it can help to clarify the mechanism.

“The really interesting point is that the pattern of APP staining in SIDS cases, both the amount and distribution of the staining, was very similar to those in children who had died from asphyxia.” The presence of APP staining in a baby who had died of SIDS led to the identification of a significant sleep apnoea problem in the deceased child’s sibling.

This article originally appeared on Adelaidenow

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Honours Research Seminars

The Honours Research Proposal seminars will be held this Thursday the 10th April 2014.

Due to the large number of students the seminars will take place in two locations. The Felix Bochner Room (Level 5 Med School North) and Numico Seminar Room(S512). Both locations will start at 9:00am, with the last scheduled talk to begin at approximately 1:20pm.  

For more details on the schedule etc. please contact the Honours Co-ordinator Adrian Elliott. Come along and support our Honours students!

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Medical Sciences School Forum Notes- 28th March 2014

  • Paul Rolan spoke about new staff and introduced Lyndsey Collins-Praino. Lyndsey originally came from Columbia University in New York.
  • He also spoke about promotions based on excellence in teaching not just research. Evidence on collaborative work was seen as a key factor.
  • Paul spoke about the School of Medical Sciences Postgraduate Handbook.  The book’s design and content has been praised by the Faculty of Health Sciences and taken up as template for other schools in the faculty to use.
  • Starting a series of presenters on academic achievements at the forum, Maciej Henneberg spoke about the success of Kara Holloway and her achievements on the study of tuberculosis. A Skype session with Kara was initiated so she could talk about her research more.
  • Mark Hutchinson spoke briefly about a key success factor for paper submissions was to go out of your way to make yourself known to a visible network.
  • Andrew Zannettino spoke of the University of Freiburg’s fully funded overseas research program.
  • Melissa Cantley spoke about her recent selection for a trip to Germany for the Nobel Laureates Meeting
  • Paul spoke about Corinna Van Den Heuvel  joining the Adelaide Women Program
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Cowan Grant Trust Overseas Travelling Scholarships

Please be advised the Cowan Grant Trust Overseas Travelling Scholarships for 2014 have been readvertised. 

These scholarships are open to students who are Australian or New Zealand citizens or permanent residents of Australia and provides a minimum of $3000 and up to $5000 (dependent on number of recipients) to assist with an overseas exchange for which the student will receive credit towards their enrolled program. The exchange program must be for a minimum of six weeks.

 Applications close Wednesday 30 April 2014.

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Dr Femke Buisman-Pijlman – Can ‘love hormone’ protect against addiction?

Researchers at the University of Adelaide say addictive behaviour such as drug and alcohol abuse could be associated with poor development of the so-called “love hormone” system in our bodies during early childhood.

The groundbreaking idea has resulted from a review of worldwide research into oxytocin, known as the “love hormone” or “bonding drug” because of its important role in enhancing social interactions, maternal behaviour and partnership.

This month’s special edition of the international journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior deals with the current state of research linking oxytocin and addiction, and has been guest edited by Dr Femke Buisman-Pijlman from the University of Adelaide’s School of Medical Sciences.

Dr Buisman-Pijlman, who has a background in both addiction studies and family studies, says some people’s lack of resilience to addictive behaviours may be linked to poor development of their oxytocin systems.

“We know that newborn babies already have levels of oxytocin in their bodies, and this helps to create the all-important bond between a mother and her child. But our oxytocin systems aren’t fully developed when we’re born – they don’t finish developing until the age of three, which means our systems are potentially subject to a range of influences both external and internal,” Dr Buisman-Pijlman says.

She says the oxytocin system develops mainly based on experiences.

“The main factors that affect our oxytocin systems are genetics, gender and environment. You can’t change the genes you’re born with, but environmental factors play a substantial role in the development of the oxytocin system until our systems are fully developed,” Dr Buisman-Pijlman says.

“Previous research has shown that there is a high degree of variability in people’s oxytocin levels. We’re interested in how and why people have such differences in oxytocin, and what we can do about it to have a beneficial impact on people’s health and wellbeing,” she says.

She says studies show that some risk factors for drug addiction already exist at four years of age. “And because the hardware of the oxytocin system finishes developing in our bodies at around age three, this could be a critical window to study. Oxytocin can reduce the pleasure of drugs and feeling of stress, but only if the system develops well.”

Her theory is that adversity in early life is key to the impaired development of the oxytocin system. “This adversity could take the form of a difficult birth, disturbed bonding or abuse, deprivation, or severe infection, to name just a few factors,” Dr Buisman-Pijlman says.

“Understanding what occurs with the oxytocin system during the first few years of life could help us to unravel this aspect of addictive behaviour and use that knowledge for treatment and prevention.”

Femke has currently been doing radio interviews regarding this subject with the first one being aired today on FiveAA with Will Goodings. 

UPDATE:  follow the link below to hear a radio interview with Femke on Radio Adelaide



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Dr. Ian Musgrave – Herbal remedies Channel Nine News Adelaide

University of Adelaide researchers have found some herbal medicines don’t comply with Australian regulations, with medical experts warning consumers of the serious health risks.

See Dr. Ian Musgrave being interviewed by Channel Nine regarding this issue:

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Hannah Wardill – Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards

Congratulations to Hannah Wardill, one of our PhD candidates, for reaching the semi-finals of the Channel Nine Young Achievers Award. Hannah has been selected in the category of The University of Adelaide, Faculty of Sciences, Science and Technology Category. The Awards will be presented on March 29th 2014. The purpose of the Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards is to acknowledge, encourage and most importantly promote the positive achievements of young South Australians up to 28 years of age.

Good luck on the 29th Hannah !


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2014 Annual Memorial and Dedication Service

Memorial 2014 serviceThe School of Medical Sciences wishes to thank all those who attended and participated in the universities Annual Memorial and Dedication Service yesterday in Bonython Hall. It was a great success with many students and members of the donor families present.

Many thanks to all the staff and students, the musicians and volunteers who helped on the day and in preparation for the event.

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Dr Melissa Cantley selected to attend 64th Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau, Germany

Congratulations to Melissa Cantley (NHMRC Peter Doherty Early Career Fellow) on being selected to attend the Nobel Laureates meeting in June 2014.  She was nominated by the Group of Eight and the Australian Academy of Science as one of 20 nominees across Australia to attend this event.  Final selection was made by the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, and Melissa will be one of 600 young scientists from across the world attending this event which will be focussed on medicine and physiology. There will be over 30 Nobel laureates at this meeting.  More information on this meeting can be found at

Melissa is also invited to attend ‘Science at the Shine Dome’ held by the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra in May 2014. 

Congratulations Melissa!

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