“You can’t teach anatomy without bodies. Or at least you couldn’t until now,” says Monash University’s Paul McMenamin.
He and his colleagues are printing 3D plastic body parts of unprecedented detail and accuracy that have the potential to revolutionise anatomy teaching.
Anatomy students need a high degree of familiarity with the intricate details of the human body. That ideally comes with repeated handling and hands-on study. But students are often reluctant to touch a cadaver any more than necessary.
Removing the emotional, ethical and physical restrictions to close handling and repeated study improves the students’ familiarity with the human body. Another advantage of the printing is the expertly applied false colouring picking out intricate nerves, veins, arteries and ligaments that are much harder to identify in preserved cadavers.
Australia and Japan are both island nations with vast maritime reserves and responsibilities. Together we’re developing the science needed to understand, use, enjoy and protect our unique marine ecosystems. And we’re collaborating to solve some of the mysteries of the ocean systems that drive the world’s climate.
Attack of the giant starfish
The waters off Japan’s tropical Okinawa Islands are home to hundreds of species of coral. The reefs attract a rich diversity of life: fish, turtles, whale sharks, and… the crown-of-thorns starfish.
Five thousand kilometres to the south is the Great Barrier Reef—the world’s largest reef system and one of the richest and most diverse natural ecosystems on Earth. The Australian Government is committed to protecting the Reef and has developed a plan to 2050 to ensure the sustainability of the Reef. But the Reef has lost half its coral cover in the past 30 years and periodic plagues of crown-of-thorns are responsible for more than forty per cent of the coral loss. Continue reading Exploring the mystery of the oceans→
Deep underground in rural Victoria, Matteo Volpi is searching for evidence of the cosmic glue that holds the Universe together: dark matter.
Matteo is taking the initial measurements for the study at Stawell Gold Mine where an international team is set to construct a $3.5 million laboratory more than a kilometre underground.
Understanding dark matter is regarded as one of the most important questions of modern particle physics.
“If we nail it, it’s a Nobel Prize winning experiment,” says the project leader Elisabetta Barberio, a University of Melbourne physicist and chief investigator of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale (CoEPP).
Hugh Possingham and his team are making conservation more efficient. They’re helping to save less fashionable threatened species by getting more bang for the bucks donated to cute and cuddly species.
The team of ecologists and mathematicians in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Environmental Decisions (CEED) worked with the New Zealand government to assess how to better spend money that is donated to conservation. They’ve shown that by protecting habitats shared by several different species, the money donated to charismatic ones can be stretched further to save other species as well.
“The way we currently attempt to save species is inefficient, choosing species that are popular or charismatic, like koalas and tigers, over those that are less well known or even ugly, like the blobfish,” says Hugh, ARC Laureate Fellow and Director of CEED.
Only 10 per cent of prostate cancers are lethal, but which ones? Australian researchers have tracked the mutations that drive the cancer to spread through the body, and eventually become lethal.
The research shows they can be detected in the original tumour and even in blood samples. Testing the DNA of prostate cancer cells may help clinicians in the future identify which cancers need to be urgently removed and which ones might simply be monitored.
“Some advanced cancer cells evolve the ability to break away from their original location, travel through the bloodstream and create secondary tumours in another part of the body,” explains Clare Sloggett, Bioinformatician and Research Fellow at the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI). “Cells in this state of metastasis are the most deadly.”
The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami devastated coastal communities around the Indian Ocean and left people asking what are the risks of future tsunamis and super storms? The answers can be found, at least in part, in the prehistory of coastlines.
The world’s first 3D-printed jet engine was presented at the Australian International Airshow in early 2015. The creation of the engine, by Monash University researchers in collaboration with CSIRO and Deakin University, has already led to partnerships with international aerospace industries.
Relief isn’t a term commonly associated with spiders, but Glenn King has found promising molecules in tarantula venom that he hopes will bring respite to the one in five Australian adults suffering from chronic pain.
Dr Christina Riesselman, geologist, University of Otago, Dunedin
Three million years ago Earth was much as it is today – familiar continents, animals, and carbon dioxide levels. But temperatures were higher and sea levels were also about 20 metres higher. Today, a billion people live on land less than 20 metres above sea level, and carbon dioxide levels are rising.
Working on the Antarctic ice shelf and at sea Dr Christina Riesselman collects sediment cores from hundreds of metres under the sea floor and reads the climate history of millennia past using the microscopic fossilised fish teeth and diatomic algae she finds in the cores.
Christina will use her L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship to turn her focus to the end of the last Ice Age around 10,000 years ago. 2014 was the hottest year on record, but was it the hottest year since the end of the last ice age? Christina’s research could answer that question and help us understand and plan for the impact of our planet’s rapidly changing climate.