Friday, 30 June 2017

Standing up for research participants

Jane Tiller (left) presents to the inquiry

By law in Australia, any genetic finding discovered in the course of medical research returned to the participant must be disclosed to life insurance providers when applying for a policy, should the provider request it. Providers can use this as a reason to deny or restrict cover, regardless of whether the change is proven to increase the risk of disease.

SPHPM’s Dr Paul Lacaze and Jane Tiller made a case for legislation or a moratorium on the use of genetic information by life insurers at the Parliamentary Inquiry into the life insurance industry in Canberra recently. A legislative ban or moratorium would give researchers time to understand the clinical significance of genetic risk variants and would bring Australia into line with countries including the UK, Canada and most of Europe.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

'Natural’ contraceptive methods on the rise in Australia

Authored by Dr Karen Freilich & Dr Sara Holton

Although most people in Australia use a method of contraception to prevent pregnancy, many use less effective contraceptive methods and few use long-acting reversible methods such as IUDs and implants.

A recent study by Monash University found that around one in seven sexually-active Australians use no contraception, and a further one in seven (15 per cent) use ‘natural’ contraceptive methods, such as withdrawal or fertility-awareness-based methods. This is a considerable increase from previous studies which have indicated that less than seven per cent of people use these methods.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Two new public health traineeships secured

In a major win for the School, we have received funding to act as a host institution for two advanced public health trainees in the 2018 cohort of the Victorian Public Health Medicine Training Scheme (VPHMTS). The scheme builds Victoria’s capacity in public health, producing graduates with strong skills and leadership to tackle current and emerging public health issues and cover public health emergencies such as the 2016 thunderstorm asthma event.

1,000th participant joins statin trial

1,000th participant Susan Ball (centre) celebrates with StaREE team members

Based on an article by Fleur O’Hare and Tania Ewing

An SPHPM-led national trial investigating whether cholesterol lowering drugs can lead to a healthier life in people 70 years of age and above has reached an important milestone with the registration of its 1,000th participant.

The STAtins in Reducing Events in the Elderly (STAREE) trial aims to recruit over 10,000 older adults to explore the debate around who are likely to benefit from statin treatment, weighing up the benefits and potential side effects of treatment. Statins are low cost, over-the-counter drugs used by millions of Australians to protect against heart attacks. 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Excellence Awards showcase the ways we improve healthcare

SPHPM’s high-quality and diverse spread of research was on show at the School’s annual Excellence Awards earlier this month. The ceremony was held in the newly opened Conference Rooms at 553 St Kilda Road and was opened by ABC Melbourne’s Jon Faine, who spoke about the need for scientists to share their passion and discoveries with media and the community.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Better pain management needed in emergency departments

The effectiveness of acupuncture for reducing acute back or ankle pain in the emergency department (ED) is comparable with that of pain relief drugs, but neither treatment, either alone or in combination, provides adequate relief within the first hour, according to research published in the Medical Journal of Australia. Over 20,000 people are treated in EDs each day in Australia and pain is the primary cause of attendance.1,2 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Men’s Health Week: Men want to be fathers but over-estimate their fertility

Men’s Health Week: June 12th – 18th 2017

Men’s Health Week is an international initiative started in 1994 to draw attention to preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment among men and boys. This year’s theme is “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind: Keeping the Balance” and it explores the ways men balance physical and emotional health in a hectic world.

Dr Karin Hammarberg and colleagues at the Jean Hailes Research Unit published a paper looking at men’s knowledge about fertility that was published in Human Reproduction Update this year. 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Profile: Dr Ingrid Hopper, joint winner of Mollie Holman Medal

Dr Ingrid Hopper in action with participant

Today we congratulate Dr Ingrid Hopper, SPHPM’s second Mollie Holman Medal winner. Ingrid’s PhD was supervised by the late Professor Henry Krum. Of her PhD experience, she says,

“The quality of supervision I received from Henry KrumAndrew Tonkin and Marina Skiba was fantastic and I felt I had the support of the whole school. It was a wonderful experience with an interesting spread of subjects, which is a reflection of the broad program the School offers.”

Ingrid’s research focused on polypharmacy in people with heart failure. Heart failure happens when the heart muscle is damaged and doesn’t pump properly, causing extra fluid to build up in the body. Polypharmacy is when people take five or more prescription drugs to control a condition or multiple conditions.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Win for “Citizen Science”: A/Prof Elliott awarded Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award

A/Prof Elliott accepting his award last night

Congratulations to A/Prof Julian Elliott from Cochrane Australia in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, who was awarded the prestigious Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research 2017 at a ceremony in Melbourne on Thursday night. The medal is bestowed annually to the top-ranked Career Development Fellowship applicant through the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The medal for best application comes with an additional $50,000 research grant to be used by A/Prof Elliott on top of his CDF funding. 

Meet Edward Zimbudzi, SPHPM PhD student and Monash Nurse of the Year

Edward accepting his award

Did you know the Monash Nurse of the Year 2017 studies among us? Edward Zimbudzi is a part-time PhD student under Professor Sophia Zoungas at the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI). He juggles his study with a clinical nursing role at the Monash Medical Centre, where he serves as a Nurse Manager of a very busy Acute Haemodialysis Unit.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

New blood test potential game-changer for myeloma patients

Article authored by Anne Crawford and used with permission from Monash University’s Central Clinical School blog.

MM is an incurable blood cancer
characterised by multifocal tumour
deposits throughout the bone marrow.
 Patient image provided by
Prof Andrew Spencer
Painful and invasive bone marrow biopsies performed on Multiple Myeloma (MM) patients to diagnose and analyse their cancer may become a thing of the past, replaced by a new liquid biopsy technique being developed by Alfred Health-Monash University researchers.

The technique, being pioneered by the Myeloma Research Group (MRG) at Monash’s Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD), at the Alfred Hospital, tests plasma for DNA and RNA circulating in the bloodstream to detect and analyse MM mutations.

MM is an incurable blood cancer characterised by multifocal tumour deposits throughout the bone marrow (see picture).

Currently, bone marrow biopsies are carried out to form a ‘mutational profile’ of the disease in a patient. However, these biopsies do not capture the mutational heterogeneity across the multiple tumour sites, research leader Professor Andrew Spencer said.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Dr James Trauer announced as new head of Epidemiological Modelling Unit

SPHPM is pleased to announce Dr James Trauer as the new head of the School’s Epidemiological Modelling Unit, with Dr Lei Zhang taking over as deputy head. James replaces Professor Manoj Gambhir who has left the organisation.

James’s research interests focus on the effectiveness of tuberculosis (TB) control programs. He continues to contribute to the Australian Tuberculosis Modelling Network (AuTuMN) project. This network provides support and analysis in a number of TB affected countries including Australia’s neighbours Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Preventable nursing home deaths increase four-fold in 11 years

It is estimated that by the mid-2050s Australia’s population will be 31-43 million, 25% of whom will be aged 65 years or more. With this in mind, understanding nursing home quality and safety is becoming increasingly important.

In a major study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, SPHPM’s Professor Joseph Ibrahim and co-authors at the Victorian Institute for Forensic Medicine have found that the number of preventable deaths in Australian nursing homes quadrupled between 2001 and 2012. They’ve used the data as a reason to call for policy and practice changes in aged care.


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