Associate Professor Daniel Kolarich is the CNBP’s chief investigator in the field of glycomics – the study of the glycome, the term for the sugars in our bodies. Continue reading
The CNBP and its researchers are taking part in a wide range of activities for National Science Week.
This Thursday 8 August researcher Dr Wei Deng from UNSW Sydney will explain how nanotechnogy is changing how we treat cancer, as part of Inspiring Australia’s Talking Science series.
It will be held at the Max Webber Library, in Blacktown, Sydney. More details here.
On Sunday, 11 August, Adelaide University’s Lyndsey Collins-Praino will host Kids Navigate Neuroscience, an event at which children aged 4-10 can explore how the brain works in a fun and hands-on way by participating in a series of interactive neuroscience exhibits.
On Tuesday 13 August explore medical brain research by joining Dr Lindsay Parker, a researcher at Macquarie University, as she discusses how she is trying to create better medicines for Alzheimer’s, chronic pain and brain cancer, by only targeting the unhealthy cells in the brain.
This event is part of Inspiring Australia’s Talking Science series as part of National Science Week. Bookings available now. Contact details:
Castle Hill Library
The Hills Shire Library Service
Phone: 02 9761 4510
There is a fun evening next Friday, 16 August, at the Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide, where you can explore the neuroscience of sex, drugs and salsa dancing.
A series of interactive exhibits will address questions such as, what role does the brain play in sexual attraction? Can you salsa dance your way to a healthy brain? How does the brain perceive different flavours when drinking wine, and how can pairing wine with different foods alter this perception?
Also next Friday, 16 August, the whole family is invited to see some amazing short videos on a massive screen in a free National Science Week Event hosted by STEMSEL Foundation Braggs Lecture Theatre, University of Adelaide AI Light Science Spectacular.
You will find out how the eye works, how NASA finds planets in other solar systems and how detected the edge of the Universe.
You will also explore light, from nanoscale biophotonics with CNBP research fellow Dr Roman Kostecki to exploring the Universe with Dr Jerry Madakbas, a photonics physicist who builds night vision sensors for NASA.
You can book through Eventbrite.
Also on Friday night:
What role does the brain play in sexual attraction? Can you salsa dance your way to a healthy brain? How does the brain perceive different flavours when drinking wine, and how can pairing wine with different foods alter this perception?
These days, you can’t seem to walk through the aisle of a grocery store without being bombarded by newspaper and magazine headlines touting the latest and greatest breakthrough in neuroscience research. But how can you tell fact from fiction?
Join us for this Big Science Adelaide event, held at the Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences (AHMS) building at the University of Adelaide, where we’ll explore the answers to these questions and many more!
More details at https://www.scienceweek.net.au/neuroscience-at-night/
Finally, CNBP researchers will be taking part in Science in the Swamp, a fun, free family festival of science displays, shows and activities on Sunday 18 August in Centennial Park, Sydney.
Join scientists as they show what amazing superpowers you find in nature – super sight, super hearing, super strength and camouflage are only some of the capabilities on show.
Be sure to put on your cape and dress up as your favourite superhero for this great event. You can find out more details here.
Biophotonics is a technique with so many applications it’s hard to know where to start.
While you probably have never heard of most of them, the technology is transforming the way we study human health.
Improving pregnancy success rates
A lot of what we know about fertilisation and embryo development has come from in vitro experiments – those carried out in a test tube. How much better if we could observe these processes inside real, live female bodies.
Well new technologies, using nanoscale biophotonics, let us do precisely that.
High powered sensors, harnessing the power of light, can zoom in on the chemistry of pregnancy to deepen our understanding of all the ingredients needed to grow a healthy baby for nine months.
Safer brain surgery
The tiny imaging probe, encased within a brain biopsy needle, lets surgeons “see” at-risk blood vessels as they insert the needle. That helps stop potentially fatal bleeds.
The smart needle, being developed by CNBP researchers at the University of Adelaide, contains a tiny fibre-optic camera, the size of a human hair, shining infrared light to see the vessels before the needle can damage them.
The needle is connected to computer software that can alert the surgeon in real-time.
It has already gone through a pilot trial with 12 patients at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Western Australia and will soon be ready for formal clinical trials.
Early diagnosis of common health problems
Our cells often signal ill health long before symptoms appear. And as we all know, early diagnosis can often mean the difference between life and death.
That inspired CNBP researchers to look for a general marker for ill health and then to work on a means of detecting it.
They settled on the cytokines, a type of protein secreted by cells in the immune system that can signal a whole range of conditions including arthritis, tissue trauma, depression or even cancer.
The problem up to now has been that cytokines are extremely hard to measure and quantify – there is not many of them at any time, they are extremely small and exist in an environment of much background noise and interference.
So CNBP researchers developed nanotools to monitor cytokines in living humans. They engineered the surfaces of nanomaterials such as gold nanoparticles, graphene oxides and magnetic nanoparticles to sense the presence of cytokines, providing an ultra-powerful tool for early detection.
Removing more cancer cells the first time
One of the biggest problems for cancer surgeons is making sure they remove all the cancer cells while leaving as much healthy tissue intact as possible. But it can be hard to tell the two apart – in 15-20% of cases the patient requires follow-up surgery to remove tumour tissue that was missed the first time. It is particularly difficult to differentiate with breast cancer.
Now CNBP researchers, in collaboration with clinicians at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, have developed a sensor which can potentially help surgeons to tell the difference between healthy and cancerous tissue in real time, which could significantly increase the surgery success rate for many cancers.
The probe works by measuring the pH of the surface of the tissue, an indicator of whether the tissue is healthy or tumorous. The tip of an optical fibre is coated with a pH sensitive indicator, and the signal read out uses a low-cost light emitting diode and portable spectrometer.
Less painful, more accurate testing for prostate cancer
It has long been a goal to replace invasive needle biopsies to test for prostate cancer with a simple urine test. Not only would that be great for the patients, it would also be cheaper and faster. But current urine diagnostic tools are just not sensitive enough.
For a test to be useful for early diagnosis and treatment, it would need to detect just 10 cancer cells in a large volume of urine. Biophotonics could solve this problem.
CNBP is working with Minomic International and Macquarie University to develop a new method of fluorescent staining and imaging prostate cancer cells so they become highly visible, glowing when viewed under a special microscope.
The capacity to quantify single prostate cancer cells has the potential to revolutionise the diagnostics industry.
CNBP researchers Dr Georgina Sylvia and Dr Erin Smith (in conjunction with Children’s University Adelaide) have taken their love of science to the public, demonstrating fun-filled experiments to budding young scientists at a ‘pop-up’ event titled ‘The Magic and Wonder of Science’. The event took place as part of the biennial ‘Dream Big Children’s Festival’, held in South Australia, May-June, 2019.
Attendees at the ‘pop-up’ outreach event saw science working in practice as well as real-life applications of differing scientific elements.
“We demonstrated numerous experiments to our audience including creating ‘Elephant’s Toothpaste’. This is a foamy substance caused by the rapid decomposition of hydrogen peroxide,” says Georgina.
“Other experiments included a demonstration of atmospheric pressure with a jar of water, as well as the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze an everyday egg in a fry-pan. We wanted to inspire our young audience and to open their minds to the everyday science that exists all around them,” she says.
“Our show aimed to be a blend of entertainment and education with plenty of humor and laughs as well.”
Below – Erin and Georgina putting on their scientific show!
CNBP AI at Macquarie University and Early Career Fellow at the Cancer Institute NSW, Dr Andrew Care, has presented his research to a packed house at a ‘Pint of Science’ public outreach and engagement event, 20th May 2019.
Held at the Nags Head Hotel, Glebe, Sydney, Dr Care talked about the latest in cancer research with a particular focus on a newly discovered class of biologically-derived nanoparticles (protein nanocages), and how they can be genetically-engineered to target and destroy tumours.
“Taking my science out to the public was great fun,” he says. “But more importantly it was a good opportunity to highlight that positive advances we are making in the fight against disease thanks to ongoing research investment in Australia,” he said.
Dr Care added, “I checked out Pint of Science for the first time last year. I saw a great talk by Dr Orazio Vittorio a cancer biologist from Children’s Cancer Institute Australia. After a chat at the pub about our research, we started a collaboration. A year later Orazio and I are developing an exciting new tool for cancer treatment! Together, we’ve also obtained research funding, and we’re about to file a patent and to publish our first paper together. None of this would have possible without Pint!”
“Talking at Pint of Science this year is my way of giving back and saying thanks for making a great collaboration happen…and maybe to find another awesome collaborator lurking in the pub again,” he concludes.
Dr Care’s research group combines techniques from synthetic biology and nanomedicine for the targeted treatment of cancer. More information on his exciting work can be found in his profile here.
Senior indigenous students were given an insight into life as an academic researcher, as well as provided with an overview of light-based imaging in the body, following an outreach presentation undertaken by CNBP’s Dr Annemarie Nadort at Macquarie University.
Dr Nadort’s presentation (the challenge of exploring blood as it circulates through the body) and hands-on demonstration of a clinical micro-circulation imager supported Walanga Muru’s ‘Camp Aspire’ program. Camp Aspire sees approximately fifty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students (in Year 11/12) spend three days at Macquarie University to discover tertiary options, explore the campus and make potential connections related to future study.
“I hope to inspire students with my research journey as well as to show them that a science degree can help open multiple doors when it comes to future career options,” says Dr Nadort. “The skills you learn at University are valuable and will stand you in good stead regardless of what you end up doing.”
Co-presenting the outreach session with Dr Nadort was Macquarie University’s Professor Orsola De Marco. She spoke to students about her own career journey as an astrophysicist and discussed the importance of tackling gender imbalance by encouraging more women to undertake STEM related study.
A group of high achieving STEM students from Adelaide High School visited the University of Adelaide, 21 November 2018.
As a part of this visit, CNBP researcher Dr Jiawen Li took the time to show them around the Bio Sensing Laboratory while also explaining the research that took place there.
‘Ingenuity’, a public facing event run by the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences (University of Adelaide) was recently held at the Adelaide Convention Centre and CNBP science was represented!
The University event, showcasing final year student projects and achievements, was attended by thousands of school students, industry representatives and members of the general public, with the goal of encouraging and fostering an ongoing interest in STEM related subject areas (science, technology, engineering and maths).
This year saw CNBP PhD student Kathryn Palasis participate at the event, giving two presentations to approximately 300 school students on her research (the design and development of photoswitchable drugs) and describing her time at the University, with the aim of encouraging students to pursue a career in STEM.
“It was fantastic seeing the energy and interest in the room,” said Miss Palasis. “The feedback from staff and students was extremely positive and it was great to share my research and scientific passion with them all.”
“Hopefully we’ll see some of these young scientists studying at the University and then showcasing their own exciting areas of research in the years to come,” she said.
Below – CNBP PhD student Kathryn Palasis delivers her talk.
A class of Year 11 Physics students from Loreto College, Marryatville, South Australia were visited by CNBP researcher Dr Jiawen Li, September 20th, 2018.
During the outreach visit Dr Li spoke on the medical uses of fibre optics technology and answered questions from the class, helping shed light on the life of a scientist and explaining the wide-range of career options open to STEM students.
“I really enjoyed visiting the school and found the session an extremely rewarding experience,” said Dr Li.
“Student questions following the presentation were well thought through and hopefully I helped in some small way to encourage the girls to continue their study of physics and other STEM related subjects.”
“Higher education potentially opens up a wide range of exciting career opportunities right across the science, engineering and medical disciplines,” said Dr Li. “And it would be great to see these enthusiastic students get to University.”
Feedback from the school post-event noted that the students had found Dr Li to be a fantastic role model and that her presentation session had been particularly inspiring.
Below: Students from Loreto College at the outreach session.
It was a fantastic evening of outreach by the CNBP-RMIT team at the annual AstroLight Festival, at Scienceworks in Melbourne, 8th September, 2018.
A wide range of demonstrations, talks and hands-on activities from volunteers from Observatories, Universities and Research Centres brought science to life to over 600 members of the public at this annual astronomy and optics event.
CNBP highlights included public talks from Center Chief Investigator Prof Andrew Greentree (The wonders and delights of bees and how they see colour) and Centre Associate Investigator Dr Kate Fox (Fluorescent Implants: 3D printing for the future).
Also popular was the CNBP interactive stall where there was a number of light based giveaways as well as a room of CNBP light experiments showcasing the properties of lasers, fluorescence, imaging and more.
“Taking science to the public is always extremely satisfying,” said CNBP Node Leader at RMIT University, A/Prof Brant Gibson.
“It’s great to be able to excite and enthuse people about what we do and to explain the relevance that science has in our community more generally.”
“The team came together with a huge amount of energy and positivity which helped make the evening a great success!”