Tag Archives: Monash University

From sky to hospital

Working together to create advanced manufacturing industries

The maiden flight of the COMAC C919 airliner in May 2017 illustrated China’s ambition in advanced manufacturing.

Many of the airliner’s parts are made using 3D printing, and Australian engineers are working with their Chinese colleagues to develop the technology further.

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How reprogramming cells turns back time

For the past decade scientists have been able to reprogram skin cells, nasal cells and other mature cells to become pluripotent stem cells that can turn into any cell type in the human body. How it works is only starting to become clear.

Teams led by Professors Ryan Lister at the University of Western Australia, Jose Polo at Monash University and Ernst Wolvetang at The University of Queensland are working together to understand how this process occurs, whether all cell types follow the same path to becoming pluripotent cells, and if this impacts their ability to mimic disease in the laboratory.

Through a series of collaborations over the last ten years the scientists have uncovered a number of stem cell secrets, opening the door for more targeted research and, ultimately, treatments for diseases. Continue reading How reprogramming cells turns back time

Building tools for brain repair

Professor James Bourne and his team are laying the groundwork for using stem cell transplants to treat brain trauma with the discovery of an anti-scarring agent and new biomaterials to support transplanted cells.

“What we’re doing is a prelude to direct stem cell research. We hope to give potential stem cell therapies for brain trauma the best chance of success,” James says.

He and his team at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University are studying nonhuman primates to understand how to create the best environments for repair after brain injury. Continue reading Building tools for brain repair

“Who will help me?”

People suffering from serious illnesses are turning to unproven and risky stem cell therapies in growing numbers. Researchers are trying to understand why—and how to provide better information and support.

Stem cells have been saving lives for decades, largely through bone marrow and cord blood transplants treating leukaemia and other blood diseases. Unproven treatments are booming, however, with clinics in Australia and around the world spruiking cures for conditions from osteoarthritis and MS to dementia and diabetes.

Associate Professor Megan Munsie and her colleagues in Stem Cells Australia’s Engagement, Ethics and Policy Program have heard many tales of patients spending thousands of dollars on treatments that often have no benefit and may be harmful or even deadly. Continue reading “Who will help me?”

Gravitational waves—looking further

The brainpower of 18 institutions and more than $30 million are expanding the net to detect gravitational waves—disturbances in the fabric of spacetime—and cement Australia’s role in the emerging field.

Continue reading Gravitational waves—looking further

Growing food and stopping floods with rain gardens

Small urban ‘rain gardens’ are popping up all around Australia and Indonesia to keep waterways free from pollutants, stop flooding and erosion, and to grow food.

Although they may look similar to a normal garden, beneath the surface rain gardens are a sandwich of layers of sand, gravel, roots and microbes through which polluted water passes and clean water exits, which can then be used for irrigation or washing.

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Predicting fire, flood, and food shortages

In lands ‘of droughts and flooding rains,’ predicting the weather means saving both lives and livelihoods.

The work of Indonesian and Australian scientists, which began with a visit to Jakarta in 1981 by climate scientist Professor Neville Nicholls, has given the countries the ability to forecast rain in the dry season, and during the lead up to the wet season. This means the fires, haze, and food shortages that often go hand in hand with droughts can be predicted—and planned for.

Continue reading Predicting fire, flood, and food shortages

Riding the rails to an efficient freight system

From 2016 a specially-equipped standard railcar will be rocking and rolling along the tracks of East Java. It will have carefully positioned sensors to detect its movement during normal operation, including its displacement and vibration.

The railcar instrumentation has been designed by Monash University’s Institute of Rail Technology to provide data on the condition of the track. This will allow engineers to accurately estimate safe loads and running speeds.

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Building port cities

Port cities can be lively, vibrant hives of activity—the hub of a nation’s economic health—if they’re planned well.

Indonesia’s busiest port, Tanjung Priok, has roughly two and a half times the container traffic as the Port of Melbourne. But it also has a reputation as one of the least efficient ports in Asia. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has recognised the need to transform the nation’s ports and plans to develop 24 new ports by 2019. One recently established, state-of-theart port is Teluk Lamong in Surabaya.

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Identifying the Bali bombers; testing for bird flu; and better selection of anti-malarial drugs

Testing for flu, malarial drug resistance, and identifying the Bali bombers are all outcomes of an Australia-Indonesia medical research initiative that begun in 1997 and continues today.

The original Australia-Indonesia Medical Research Initiative agreement between the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) in Melbourne and the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta was conceived and funded by the Indonesian Minister of Research and Technology and the Australian Government, and designed to boost the capacity of the Indonesian labs while enabling more transfer of ideas and skills between the two countries.

Continue reading Identifying the Bali bombers; testing for bird flu; and better selection of anti-malarial drugs