All posts by Tony Crawshaw

Centre outreach encourages a career in science

18 April 2018:

Two fantastic sessions of outreach in two days by CNBP Associate Investigator Dr Annemarie Nadort saw 100 Year 11 and Year 12 students learn about biophotonics, blood cells and the skills required to create medical devices that benefit society.

The sessions took place at Macquarie University and were part of a highly successful initiative aimed at encouraging students to undertake higher education learning and potentially develop a career in science.

During the outreach sessions, Dr Annemarie Nadort provided the students with a brief overview of light-based imaging and how it could be best applied to examine blood inside the body. Students were then presented with a real-life case-study on the development of a clinical microcirculation imager. A hands-on demonstration of the device then took place, followed by an interactive group discussion on how the device could be potentially improved with future development. Students were then left with the message that there were many opportunities open to them across the scientific and technology disciplines,  and that they should study in those areas that they were most enthusiastic about.

“I was extremely impressed as to how engaged these students were,” said Dr Annemarie Nadort. “They provided some great answers during the group discussion stage of the session and had really thought through issues and potential solutions. I could see the keenness for science and technology in the room and hopefully my sessions added to that keenness and passion for science. I’d love to see some of these students become the researchers of the future, developing their own fantastic new medical devices over the years and decades to come.”

Below: Dr Annemarie Nadort communicating the wonders of science to high school students and explaining what it takes to become a successful academic research scientist.

Successful BioNetwork 2018 symposium

13 April 2018:

The BioNetwork 2018 symposium titled ‘Killing it in Science’ was held Friday, 13th April at Macquarie University with significant CNBP involvement at the event.

The aim of the symposium was to foster interactions across the Macquarie University biosciences researcher community encompassing the Science & Engineering and Medicine & Health Sciences Faculties.

A unique career-building panel session was held in the morning of the symposium and a scientific session was held in the afternoon to create a platform for interdisciplinary research collaborations to commence novel or strengthen existing projects.

CNBP Associate Investigators Dr Alfonso Garcia-Bennett (Macquarie University) and Dr Varun Sreenivasan (University of New South Wales) were both invited speakers at the event speaking to their careers in academia, providing tips for advancement as well as outlining challenges that they had faced.

For the science session, CNBP students Mina Ghanimi Fard and Sameera Iqbal (pictured top left) jointly presented on the brain and the targeting and measuring of central nervous system sugar receptors. Other CNBP students also took part with Piotr Wargocki, Kashif Islam, Minakshi Das and Rachit Bansal presenting their CNBP releated science during the morning and lunch-time poster sessions.

CNBP AI’s Annemarie Nadort and Nima Sayyadi were both key members of the symposium organising committee.

“We had a fantastic engaged crowd of over 150 attendees and a wide range of presenters covering careers in academia, research-industry collaboration, innovative bio-research activity and much much more,” said Annemarie Nadort.

“There was so much positive feedback from participants on the day and we’ve kick-started a great many conversations and discussions which will hopefully build new research relationships and lead to even more innovative science taking place.”

Below – Organiser Annemarie Nadort observing the successful symposium panel discussion from the wings.

Fibre-needle probe for imaging and sensing in deep tissue

6 April 2018:

A world-first tiny fibre-optic probe that can simultaneously measure temperature and sense deep inside the body has been reported by CNBP/IPAS researchers. According to lead author of the research, Dr Jiawen Li at the University of Adelaide, the probe may help researchers find better treatments to prevent drug-induced overheating of the brain, and potentially refine thermal treatment for cancers. Read the media release or click on the publication title below!

Journal: Optics Letters.

Publication title: Miniaturized single-fiber-based needle probe for combined imaging and sensing in deep tissue.

Authors: Jiawen Li, Erik Schartner, Stefan Musolino, Bryden C. Quirk, Rodney W. Kirk, Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem, and Robert A. McLaughlin.

Abstract: The ability to visualize structure while simultaneously measuring chemical or physical properties of a biological tissue has the potential to improve our understanding of complex biological processes. We report the first miniaturized single-fiber-based imaging+sensing probe capable of simultaneous optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging and temperature sensing. An OCT lens is fabricated at the distal end of a double-clad fiber, including a thin layer of rare-earth-doped tellurite glass to enable temperature measurements. The high refractive index of the tellurite glass enables a common-path interferometer configuration for OCT, allowing easy exchange of probes for biomedical applications. The simultaneous imaging+sensing capability is demonstrated on rat brains.

Below – Dr Jiawen Li.

Miniprobes innovation featured

20 March 2018:

The CNBP spin-out company Miniprobes and its development of an inexpensive handheld scanner that can undertake microscopic analysis of surfaces has featured as a ‘success story’ as a part of the AUSInnovates campaign.

The handheld imaging device is able to accurately measure the thickness of surface coatings applied to products – often less than a tenth of a millimetre in thickness.

“We’re exploring two major international markets,” explained Dr McLaughlin, Miniprobes Managing Director.

“Our scanheads can examine metal parts in microscopic detail, and that’s important for industrial manufacturers working to fine tolerances, such as in the car and aerospace industries.”

“Another important application is in controlling the absorption rate of drugs, which is achieved by coating the drug with a thin chemical layer. Our device enables precise measurement of these layers by pharmaceutical manufacturers.”

The AUSinnovates campaign celebrates successful Australian commercialisation and is championed by gemaker, research-industry engagement and commercialisation specialists.

Detecting hydrogen peroxide

19 March 2018:

A nanosensor that can detect hydrogen peroxide has been developed by CNBP/IPAS researchers by combining fluorescent nanodiamonds with organic fluorescent probes.

Importantly, cellular imbalance of hydrogen peroxide has been connected to aging and various severe diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disorders, and Alzheimer’s.

The work is featured in the latest edition of MRS Bulletin with Patrick Capon from the University of Adelaide, co-author of the research study interviewed for the article (available here).

CINSW Fellowship awarded

16 March 2018:

It has been formally announced that Dr Andrew Care, former CNBP Research Fellow and now Centre Associate Investigator, has been awarded a 2018 Early Career Fellowship from the Cancer Institute New South Wales (CINSW) to fund the research project, ‘Biological nanoparticles for the targeted delivery and light-triggered release of drugs’.

This project aims to develop novel protein nanocages for the targeted co-delivery and controlled release of therapeutics in the multimodal treatment of cancer.

In addition, PhD Candidate Ms Dennis Diaz, who is part of the team working on this exciting project, was recently awarded a Research Scholarship Award from the translational cancer research centre, Sydney Vital.

Dennis is working under the supervision of Dr Andrew Care and A/Prof. Anwar Sunna (also a CNBP Associate Investigator).

Further information on the CINSW and its recent grants announcement is available here.

New CNBP visiting researcher

Ashley Grant12 March 2018:

CNBP welcomes visiting researcher Ashley Grant to the University of Adelaide.

Ashley graduated magna cum laude with the highest university honors from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, USA with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Psychology.

She will be based at the University of Adelaide for 12 months in the School of Medicine. While there she will be supervised by CNBP Director Prof Mark Hutchinson and will work in pain and alcohol research.

“I’m looking forward to being exposed to studies that focus on the molecular level of pain during my stay,” says Ashley.

Ashley is an avid yogi and blogger who loves the outdoors and exploration, meeting new people and trying new things. She has a strong past history in nonprofit work including being the Development Director for a nonprofit group called Camp Kesem which provides free summer camps for children who have been affected by a parent’s cancer.

“I think there is a lot of pain in this world, physically and emotionally, and my goal in life is to help alleviate some of the pain that can be managed,” says Ashley.

Aptasensors and cytokine detection

10 March 2018:

A new review paper summarising recent advances in aptamer-based biosensors with a specific focus on cytokine sensing has been published in the journal ‘Trends in Analytical Chemistry’. The paper includes CNBP coauthors Fuyuan Zhang, Ewa M.Goldys and Guozhen Liu (pictured).

Journal: Trends in Analytical Chemistry.

Publication title: Advances in Structure-Switching Aptasensing Towards Real Time Detection of Cytokines.

Authors: C. Cao, F. Zhang, E.M. Goldys, G. Liu.

Abstract: Structure-switching aptamer-based biosensors (aptasensors) provide a promising strategy for real-time or near real-time monitoring of analytes in vivo, owing to their reversibility, the versatility of methods available to engineer the aptamer switches, and the ability to tune their dynamic range. Monitoring cell-to-cell communication through cytokine secretions has enormous value in biology and medicine. However, cytokine detection is challenging due to the extremely dynamic, transient cytokine secretion process, and typically low abundances in physiological conditions. Here, we summarise recent advances in structure-switching signaling aptamer-based biosensing with specific focus on cytokine sensing. This Review begins with the survey of cytokine-specific aptamers followed by the designs of elegant sensing platforms based on structure-switching aptamers with different signal readouts such as optic, electrochemistry, and other types. We describe the strategies of signal amplification in aptasensors, and highlight future perspectives of aptasensors for real-time or near real-time detection of cytokines.

Extending depth of field of MOF imaging probes

2 March 2018:

A fully computational method for extending the depth of field of multicore optical fibers (MOF) imagers has been demonstrated by CNBP researchers in a new paper published in the journal ‘Optics Express’. The work shows that the depth of field can be more than doubled for certain spatial frequencies. Lead author on the publication is CNBP Research Fellow Dr Antony Orth from RMIT University.

Journal: Optics Express.

Publication title: Extended depth of field imaging through multicore optical fibers.

Authors: Antony Orth, Martin Ploschner, Ivan S. Maksymov, and Brant C. Gibson.

Abstract: Compact microendoscopes use multicore optical fibers (MOFs) to visualize hard-to-reach regions of the body. These devices typically have a large numerical aperture (NA) and are fixed-focus, leading to blurry images from a shallow depth of field with little focus control. In this work, we demonstrate a method to digitally adjust the collection aperture and therefore extend the depth of field of lensless MOF imaging probes. We show that the depth of field can be more than doubled for certain spatial frequencies, and observe a resolution enhancement of up to 78% at a distance of 50μm from the MOF facet. Our technique enables imaging of complex 3D objects at a comparable working distance to lensed MOFs, but without the requirement of lenses, scan units or transmission matrix calibration. Our approach is implemented in post processing and may be used to improve contrast in any microendoscopic probe utilizing a MOF and incoherent light.

New CNBP Outreach Chair announced

28 February 2018:

CNBP welcomes Dr Melanie Bagg, Director of Communications and Outreach, Australian Academy of Science as the new Chair of its Education and Outreach Advisory Committee.

The Committee provides guidance to the CNBP in marketing, public relations, communications and outreach with Melanie a PhD qualified medical research scientist and professional science communicator.

In this role, Melanie will bring her extensive knowledge of science communications and engagement strategies to the Centre. This includes prior experience gained as Manager of Business Development, Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) as well as various senior marketing and outreach roles at the University of Adelaide.

As Chair of the CNBP Education and Outreach Committee, Melanie will also be welcomed as a member of the CNBP Advisory Board. This high level Advisory group advises on the strategic directions for the Centre and monitors delivery of organisational outcomes.

“I’m extremely excited to be able to help CNBP continue its great work in communicating its scientific outcomes to a wide range of stakeholders including school students, the general public and media,” she said.

“The research coming out of the Centre is simply fantastic and I look forward to being involved in such an exciting and interdisciplinary scientific space.”

Below – Melanie Bagg joins Team CNBP. L to R – Kathy Nicholson (CNBP Chief Operating Officer), Melanie Bagg (Outreach Committee Chair), Prof Mark Hutchinson (CNBP Director) and Catriona Jackson (Advisory Board Chair).