Flinders Research NewsHappy Holidays for 2017

Happy Holidays from Research Development and Support

2017 has been a year of change for Flinders, but through the change there have been some excellent research achievements. One of the major changes has been from the Research Services Office to Research Development and Support and the appointment of Ms Jodieann Dawe as Director. We thank Tom Symonds for his leadership during the transition as Acting Director in 2017.

“I would like to thank everyone for their kind welcome to Flinders. I look forward to working with researchers and staff to keep building on the research profile at Flinders and drive improvement in the quality and impact of our research within Flinders and the community,” said Jodieann.

The Colvera team from CSIRO, Clinical Genomics and Flinders (Professor Graham Young) was awarded the prestigious 2017 Johnson & Johnson Eureka Prize for Innovation in Medical Research for the development of the Colvera Test for Bowel cancer. The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are awarded annually to reward excellence in the fields of research, innovation, leadership, science communication and school science.

It was also an excellent year for science writing at Flinders with Dr Alice Gorman being awarded the Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing. This follows on from her selection as a finalist in the award in 2016. The Forensic Science researchers and students (past and present) at Flinders became ‘best in show’ at the National Institute of Forensic Science (Australia and New Zealand) Best Paper Awards. Out of the five awarded categories, Flinders won four, and received a high commendation in Best Paper in a Refereed Journal. 

Earlier in the year, Professor Adrian Linacre and Professor Paul Kirkbride were awarded $205,193 in funding from the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) – Defence Science Partnership program, for their projectInformative genetic data from trace material collected from a range of forensically informative substrates. Recently Professor Karl Sammut and his team became the first recipient of the Fincantieri – Flinders – CETENA Maritime Innovation Challenge.

Flinders researchers were awarded nine Discovery Projects, two Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards, and a Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grant in the November Australian Research Council (ARC) awards round. Flinders researchers won a total of $1.2m in funding in the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects grant round. In the two recent NHMRC round announcements Flinders researchers were awarded $24,795,927.80 for a Centre of Research Excellence, a Targeted Call for Research - Implementation of Dementia Research into Clinical Practice and Care, twelve Project Grants, one Program Grant, one Medical Research Future Fund TRIP Fellowship and two Postgraduate Scholarships.

For our part in the National Specialist Palliative Care and Advance Care Planning Advisory Services project, Flinders has secured over $4 million - $3.6 million for CareSearch, and a further $743,061 for End of Life Essentials for Acute Hospital Clinicians project. Professor Jennifer Tieman and Ms Kim Devery and their teams’ success showcase the leadership in Palliative Care research at Flinders. We also lead the way in Drug and Alcohol research with $1.7m secured via the Australian Government Drug and Alcohol Program for NCETA. Professor Ann Roche and her team will be looking into how to reduce the prevalence and severity of drug and alcohol use in Australian communities?

Inspiring Research included a new section to spotlight the Early Career Researchers at Flinders. So far seven ECRs have been highlighted – Giselle Rampersad, Harriet Whiley, Margaret Shanafield, George Karpetis, Sam Schutlz, Ashokkumar Manoharan, and Vishnu KK Nair. Two other up and coming researchers were announced as 2017 Fresh Scientists, Laura Gell and Katherine Morel.

Professor Justine Smith was named as one of Australia’s first ‘Superstars of STEM’. The Superstars of STEM project aims to inspire girls towards a career in science by raising the profile of current world class female researchers and clinicians across Australia.

2017 was also a breakthrough year for Indigenous researchers in Archaeology at Flinders. Dr Christopher Wilson became the first Indigenous Australian to graduate with a PhD in Archaeology, and Flinders Master in Archaeology and Heritage Management student Jacinta Koolmatrie was selected as a presenter for the TEDxAdelaide 2017 showcase.

We wish all staff a happy and safe holiday break and look forward to seeing what 2018 will bring for research breakthroughs and community engagement with Flinders.

Research Engagement and ImpactA Flinders first - automated launch and recovery for autonomous underwater vessels

Check presentationFrom left to right: Mr Tony Kyriacou, Professor Colin Stirling and Associate Professor Karl Sammut

Flinders’ close links with Italy moved a step closer with the announcement of the winning project for the Inaugural Fincantieri – Flinders – CETENA Maritime Innovation Challenge. Associate Professor Karl Sammut at the Centre for Maritime Engineering, Control and Imaging (CMECI) won for his project on Launch and Recovery Systems for Ship deployed Autonomous Underwater Vessels.

They will receive $310,000 towards the project, which also involves the research team collaborating with the University of Genoa, one of Fincantieri’s key academic partners in Italy.

The scope of the project is to develop an automated system for launching and recovering autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) from a ship. Existing launch and recovery methods require the use of manned boats to assist the process, making it a very hazardous process for both the crew and the vehicle. This project will involve the development of automated guidance systems that direct the vehicle back towards its mothership as well as the development of the towed docking station that is used to release and capture the vehicle. The result of the study will eventually lead to safer AUV deployment and recovery systems that can operate even under inclement sea state conditions, thus increasing the weather operating window within which such vehicles can be employed.

Each proposal was assessed on not just the immediate ability for the project to deliver on the research methodologies but also for commercial application in a 3-5 year timeframe. The Challenge received excellent proposals, and further opportunities are being explored for the proposals submitted to the challenge. A key selection criteria was for the research groups to consider the ability of their research to work with their Industry partner’s goals – taking the research to the market.

Launched at the Pacific International Maritime Exposition in October, by Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling, along with Mr Dario Deste, Chairman of Fincantieri Australia, and Mr Sandro Scarrone, President of CETENA, the Maritime Innovation Challenge was aimed at creating a 12 month project addressing Fincantieri’s competitive identified drivers. Proposals were developed within a 3 week time frame and included collaboration with the University of Genoa in the development of the technical activities.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Flinders and the University of Genoa in January 2017 to cooperate in research and development and training with focus on maritime, naval architecture and shipbuilding. This Challenge provides a tangible focus for further collaboration.

Additionally, two Flinders University Business School students undertook internships in Italy with Fincantieri during the year.

Flinders Research NewsGrantConnect now open

Grant Connect

A change has started in how many Commonwealth Government funding opportunities’ documentation are made available. For example, previously documentation was available on each Commonwealth Government websites. Now they will only be made available through a single website – GrantConnect. 

GrantConnect is 'live' now at www.grants.gov.au. To access documentation you will need to create a log-in, which is done directly at www.grants.gov.au.

If you urgently need a specific grant application document only available at GrantConnect, but do not have a log-in, Research Development and Support can download the documentation for you. Please email your request to research.grants@flinders.edu.au

GrantConnect provides a centralised publication of forecast and current Australian Government grant opportunities and grants awarded.

New OpportunitiesPitch it Clever

camera at press conference

Universities Australia has opened its annual Pitch it Clever competition, challenging early-and mid-career researchers to talk up their research in a 1-2 minute video. The video should aim to persuade leaders from across the country to become champions for your research.

Submissions close 12 February 2018 at 8:00 PM. Flinders is offering support for the development of Flinders' applicant entries. Contact Dr Marina Delpin. Videos will be shortlisted by a panel of Vice-Chancellors and then shown at Universities Australia’s annual Higher Education Conference for conference delegates to vote on. 

Pitch it Clever is being run through thinkable. To apply through thinkable, a researcher has to have been verified by thinkable. Verification entails registering as a researcher, and then authenticating your current organisation email, select your field/s of study, and provide details of at least one recently published peer-reviewed article.

New OpportunitiesAccelerate your research with ON, powered by CSIRO

ON Prime banner

Applications are now open for ON Prime, Australia’s sci-tech accelerator, designed to help researchers translate their big ideas into real-life impact. ON Prime is a part-time pre-accelerator that brings together Australia’s brightest researchers—that’s where you come in—with leading entrepreneurs, business and commercialisation specialists and inspiring mentors.

Together, you will test paths for your IP and/or technology through a process of customer discovery and market validation, and unlock your entrepreneurial nous required to take your work to the next level. The best bit? There is no cost to you for participating and there’s no strings attached – you get to keep your IP. Applications close 2 February 2018.

Flinders has had two teams recently work their way through the ON Prime stream. The SeaNU team (from Flinders and the CSIRO) were highlighted back in April for their participation in ON: Accelerate 3, and recently the Interplay Wellbeing Framework participated in ON: Accelerate 4

For more information and to apply, visit www.nviflinders.com.au/onprime/.

Research Engagement and Impact2017 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Early Career Researchers

2017 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Early Career Researchers
From left to right: Professor Robert Saint, Dr Pramod Nair, Dr Shailesh Bihari, Dr Monique Mulholland, Dr Alice Clement, Dr Ian Moffat, Dr Mihir Dilip Wechalekar, and Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling

The 2017 Vice-Chancellor's Awards for Early Career Researchers have been announced. Eight Flinders researchers have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to the University. Each recipient will receive $2,500 to fund opportunities to broaden their networks and enhance their standing and recognition as a staff member of Flinders University.

Research into early rheumatoid arthritis, on the sociology of gender and sexuality and science and technology policy studies are just three of the areas of research on which the 2017 awardees have focussed their careers. “I’m honoured to receive a Vice Chancellor’s Award for Early Career Researchers and very thankful to Flinders University for recognising and supporting my research in this way.  It was a pleasure to meet my fellow awardees at the award cemeteries and find out more about the inspiring research that ECR’s are undertaking at Flinders,” said Dr Ian Moffat. Ian is also a mentee in the 2017 Flinders University Researcher Mentoring Scheme.

The Awardees, listed with their field of research and College affiliation, are:

Dr Shailesh Bihari, lung injury, College of Medicine and Public Health

Dr Alice Clement, evolutionary biology, College of Science and Engineering

Dr Ian Moffat, archaeological science, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Dr Monique Mulholland, sociology of gender and sexuality, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Dr Pramod Nair, pharmacology, College of Medicine and Public Health

Dr Owen Siggs, genetics, College of Medicine and Public Health

Dr Peter Tangney, science and technology policy studies, College of Science and Engineering

Dr Mihir Dilip Wechalekar, early rheumatoid arthritis, College of Medicine and Public Health

These awards recognise, reward and encourage excellence in research across the University.

New OpportunitiesFameLab - helping STEM researchers communicate their research

FameLab banner

Are you a Higher Degree Research Student or Early Career Researcher (up to 5 years post PHD)? Do you want to improve your communication and presentation skills and win $1,000 cash prize and an expenses paid trip to the UK? The British Council is looking for passionate STEM researchers with a flair for public engagement to compete in the 2018 round of its international science communication competition, FameLab.

Some of Australia’s most impressive early-career researchers have presented their work on stage in their quest to become FameLab champion and to claim their place in the FameLab International Final in the UK. Flinders is offering support for the development of Flinders' applicant entries. Contact Dr Marina Delpin for more information, and refer to the British Council website for the eligibility criteria. Applications close 16 February 2018.

Research Engagement and ImpactECR Spotlight - Vishnu KK Nair

Bilingual benefits beyond social & literacy

Imagine you are driving on a busy road and trying to pull over to a safe place whilst avoiding multiple road distractions. If you speak multiple languages, you are more likely to stay focused, ignore the distractions and succeed.

The advantages of speaking a language in addition to your native tongue have been known for some time. Recent research has revealed that the benefits of bilingualism may extend even further. Individuals have been observed to possess heightened cognitive abilities, including focused attention and inhibiting distracting information – skills that are critical for our everyday, increasingly complex lives. These studies to date, however, have failed to control for Socio Economic Status (SES) and literacy - factors that can drive superior cognitive abilities.

Our study addressed this knowledge gap by testing a group of illiterate bilinguals from low SES. Through comparing their performance on cognitive tasks to illiterate monolinguals from low SES, we found that bilingualism has a positive effect on cognitive abilities, with that group demonstrating significantly higher cognitive performance.

As bilingualism bestows positive effects over and above the effects of SES and literacy, we recommend that there is a need for maintaining bilingualism for individuals living in low SES circumstances. Bilingualism may be the only single life factor that can provide cognitive benefits for these individuals compared to higher SES bilinguals, who can be exposed to a number of positive life experiences for cognition, such as playing video games and learning music.

More information about this finding can be found in my article, co-authored with Dr Britta Biedermann and Professor Lyndsey Nickels, Effect of socio-economic status on cognitive control in non-literate bilingual speakers published by Bilingualism, Language and Cognition.


Dr Vishnu KK Nair

Dr Vishnu KK Nair

Dr Vishnu KK Nair is a Cognitive Scientist with a background training in Speech Pathology. He is currently a Lecturer in Speech Pathology. Vishnu is interested in examining the effects of bilingualism on cognitive and linguistic processing in bi/multilingual healthy individuals and individuals with aphasia. This research area is highly interdisciplinary and combines related fields such as cognitive neuropsycholgy, experimental psychology, psycholinguistics and speech pathology. He is also an Associate Investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Macquarie University.

Role: Lecturer in Speech Pathology
College: Nursing and Health Sciences
Campus: Bedford Park
E: vishnu.nair@flinders.edu.au
T: +61 8 7221 8837

This is a new feature for Inspiring Research where we profile Flinders’ Early Career Researchers (ECRs) in our ECR Spotlight. This initiative will appear regularly and aims to connect our research community and strengthen research communications within the University. You will get insight into who our ECRs are and how their research and achievements are making a difference.

The featured ECRs welcome dialogue, debate, and conversation and we hope that it may shape future intra-, inter- and/or trans-disciplinary collaboration with Flinders’ colleagues. Please feel free to comment on their spotlight, and/or contact them directly. Also, you can contact the ECR Spotlight coordinator, Dr Marina Delpin, with your queries and comments.

Research Engagement and ImpactNHMRC success for Flinders

Flinders researchers have been awarded a Centre of Research Excellence, a Targeted Call for Research - Implementation of Dementia Research into Clinical Practice and Care, twelve Project Grants, one Program Grant, one Medical Research Future Fund TRIP Fellowship and two Postgraduate Scholarships, with the total awarded amount to Flinders in the two recent NHMRC round announcements being $24,795,927.80.

Ophthalmology at Flinders had a good showing with Dr Ebony Liu and Dr Genevieve Oliver being awarded Postgraduate Scholarships, Associate Professor Jamie Craig and Professor Justine Smith were both awarded a project grant and Jamie was also awarded a Program Grant. Other project grants include treating type 2 diabetes and obesity through gene targeting, improving drug resistance in chemotherapy, and exploring the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Liaison Officers in hospitals.

Congratulations to all the researchers, research teams and support staff involved in the submissions. Over the coming months, we will have articles highlighting individual successes from this round.

There are also named Chief Investigators on NHMRC Grants led by other universities.

2018 Successful NHMRC Project Grants – led by Flinders University researchers

Decolonising practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care
Professor Fran Baum, Dr Toby Freeman, Dr Tamara Mackean, Professor Juanita Sherwood (University of Sydney), Associate Professor Anna Ziersch, Associate Professor Deborah Askew (Queensland Health), Dr Annette Browne (University of British Columbia, Canada), Professor Judith Dwyer, and Professor Michael Kidd.
Amount Awarded: $1,451,490.50 (5 year project)

Silencing visceral nociceptors by targeting NaV1.1: A novel therapeutic approach for treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Associate Professor Stuart Brierley, Professor Richard Lewis (The University of Queensland), Dr Irina Vetter (The University of Queensland), and Associate Professor Grigori Rychkov (The University of Adelaide)
Amount Awarded: $696,808.50 (3 year project)

First-in-Field Study of Mechanisms Operating in Post-Ebola Eye Disease
Professor Justine Smith, Dr Glenn Marsh (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), Dr Jillian Carr, and Associate Professor Steven Yeh (Emory University)
Amount Awarded: $748,985.20 (3 year project)

Is overactive bladder a 'Bladder itch'? Identification of itch specific pathways within the bladder
Associate Professor Stuart Brierley, Professor David Grundy (Sheffield University, UK), and Professor Nicholas Spencer.
Amount Awarded: $720,585.00 (3 year project)

Targeting RCAN1 to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity
Professor Damien Keating, Professor Leif Groop (Lund University, Sweden),and Associate Professor Beverly Rothermel (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)
Amount Awarded: $814,468.20 (3 year project)

A new clinical tool to assess fitness-to-drive in obstructive sleep apnea
Doctor Andrew Vakulin, Professor Ronald Grunstein (University of Sydney),  Professor R. Douglas McEvoy, Associate Professor Peter Catcheside, Associate Professor Keith Wong (Woolcock Institute of Medical Research Limited), and Dr Angela D'Rozario (University of Sydney)
Amount Awarded: $727,962.80 (3 year project)

UGT enzymes in chemotherapeutic drug metabolism: new avenues to improve drug response and overcome resistance
Dr Robyn Meech, Professor Ross McKinnon, Emeritus Professor Peter Mackenzie, Dr Dong Gui Hu, and Professor Christos Karapetis.
Amount Awarded: $610,005.00 (3 year project)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers’ and Liaison Officers’ role in quality acute health care services
Dr Tamara Mackean, Professor Fran Baum, Dr Annabelle Wilson, Professor Eileen Willis, Dr Janet Kelly (The University of Adelaide), Associate Professor Kerry Taylor, Dr Odette Gibson (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute Limited), Dr Catherine Hunter (The George Institute for Global Health), and Dr Kim O'Donnell.
Amount Awarded: $1,571,334.20 (4 year project)

How stimulant laxatives work
Professor Simon Brookes, Associate Professor Philip Dinning (Flinders Medical Centre), and Professor Marcello Costa.
Amount Awarded: $529,428.00 (3 year project)

Validating novel biomarkers relevant to major depression
Professor Ma-Li Wong (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute Limited), and Professor Julio Licinio (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute Limited)
Amount Awarded: $515,549.50 (3 year project)

A Randomised Evaluation of the Appropriateness of Anatomic Coronary Investigation in Cardiac Injury/MI Type 2
Professor Derek Chew, Professor John French (University of New South Wales), Professor Harvey White (Auckland Hospital, NZ), Professor Michael Farkouh (University of Toronto, Canada), Dr Stephen Quinn (Swinburne University of Technology), Associate Professor Billingsley Kaambwa.
Amount Awarded: $2,481,816.00 (5 year project)

Translation of glaucoma blindness genes to improve clinical practice
Professor Jamie Craig, Associate Professor Alex Hewitt (University of Tasmania), Associate Professor Stuart Macgregor (The Council of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research), Professor David Mackey (University of Western Australia), Associate Professor Kathryn Burdon (University of Tasmania), Professor Lyle Palmer (The University of Adelaide), Associate Professor John Landers, Dr Puya Gharahkhani (The Council of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research), Professor Robert Casson (The University of Adelaide).
Amount Awarded: $844,965.60 (5 year project)


2019 Program Grant

Translating genetic determinants of glaucoma into better diagnosis and treatment
Professor Jamie Craig, Professor David Mackey (University of Western Australia), Associate Professor Stuart Macgregor (The Council of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research), and Associate Professor Alex Hewitt (University of Tasmania).
Amount Awarded: $9,466,000.00 (5 year project)


2017 Medical Research Future Fund TRIP Fellowship

Enhancing the capacity of mental health services to review, personalise and intervene early through implementation of real-time outcome monitoring
Associate Professor Niranjan Bidargaddi
Amount Awarded: $179,118.00 (2 years)


2017 Postgraduate Scholarships

Emerging and Re-emerging Retinal Infections
Dr Genevieve Oliver
Amount Awarded: $94,952.75 (3 years)

Risk factors for diabetic retinopathy and its treatment
Dr Ebony Liu
Amount Awarded: $73,963.25 (2 years)


2017 CRE Application

National Centre for Sleep Health Services Research - Positioning Primary Care at the Centre of Sleep Health Management
Professor Doug McEvoy, Professor Nigel Stocks (University of Adelaide), Professor Nicholas Zwar (University of New South Wales), Professor Ronald Grunstein (University of Sydney), Dr Ching Li Chai-Coetzer, Professor Leon Lack, Professor Robert Adams (University of Adelaide), Professor Sally Redman (The Sax Institute), Dr Andrew Vakulin, and Professor Steven Wesselingh (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute Limited).
Amount Awarded: $ 2,497,977.50


2017 Targeted Call for Research - Implementation of Dementia Research into Clinical Practice and Care

‘Agents of Change’: Improving post diagnosis care for people with dementia and their carers through the establishment of a National Quality Collaborative to implement guideline recommendations
Dr Kate Laver, Professor Janna Fitzgerald (Griffith University), Professor Maria Crotty, Professor Susan Kurrle (University of Sydney), Professor Ian Cameron (University of Sydney), Associate Professor Craig Whitehead, Dr Jane Thompson, and Associate Professor Billingsley Kaambwa.
Amount Awarded: $770,517.80

New OpportunitiesCall for Peer Reviewers in Cancer Research

National Breast Cancer Foundation logo

The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) are inviting applications to researchers involved in cancer research to become a member of their Peer Review Committees. They are looking for scientists with a wide-range of expertise in cancer research. This rigorous reviewing process ensures transparency, fairness and the ability to support the best breast cancer research in Australia.

This is an opportunity for researchers to stay up to date in their field and to gain insights from other fields that can be applicable to their own work. Please forward this request to any researchers who might be interested in participating in the NBCF peer review process. Interested researchers are requested to email research@nbcf.org.au. For information on the review process at NBCF, see their website.

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Share research news and opportunities, including information regarding upcoming research related events in your area.
Contact inspiring.research@flinders.edu.au for article submissions or further information.

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