Category Archives: UA

Future Fellowship success for CNBP researchers

13 August 2018:

In exciting grant funding news, ARC Future Fellowships were recently awarded to the following CNBP researchers:

Prof Mark Hutchinson (CNBP Director, pictured) – University of Adelaide. Measuring pain in livestock: mechanisms, objective biomarkers and treatments.

Dr Ivan Maksymov (CNBP Researcher Fellow) – RMIT University. Nonlinear optical effects with low-power non-laser light.

Dr Steven Wiederman (CNBP Associate Investigator) – University of Adelaide. From insects to robots: how brains make predictions and ignore distractions.

The Future Fellowships scheme supports research in areas of critical national importance by giving outstanding researchers incentives to conduct their research in Australia. Each Future Fellow recipient will receive salary and on-cost support for four years, and up to $50,000 in additional funding per year for other essential costs directly related to their project.

Congratulations to all Fellowship recipients who will now be able to further develop and advance their innovative areas of research! Further information on Fellowship projects are available from the ARC web site.

Open Day at the University of Adelaide

12 August 2018:

The CNBP team at the University of Adelaide had their light-based science, advanced new tools and innovative startup companies on show at this year’s Open Day, Sunday 12 August, 2018.

Members of the public and aspiring students had the opportunity to see ultra small 3D imaging needles from Miniprobes, the sensor from MEQ Probe that utilises spectral analysis to objectively determine the quality of meat in seconds, and chemistry demonstrations from CNBP PhD students Aimee Horsfall, Kathryn Palasis & Patrick Capon demonstrating a pH Universal Indicator.

The Open Day showcases the University’s programs, facilities, and staff, with the aim of helping those individuals who are thinking about entering higher-education study. CNBP’s efforts were focused on displaying the benefits and career opportunities possible in the biophotonics space (academically and commercially) following a strong undergraduate degree in science.

Below – Photos from the Open Day. Top photo shows a demonstration of pH levels. Bottom photo shows Prof Mark Hutchinson, CNBP Director demonstrating the “MEQ Meat Probe”.

School tour of Braggs building

27 July 2018:

Year 12 chemistry/biology students from Temple Christian College were given a tour around the Braggs building and CNBP laboratories at the University of Adelaide by Centre PhD student Kathryn Palasis.

As a part of the tour students were shown the chemistry and laser laboratories and were also shown the glass and fibre fabrication facilities to aid understanding of the type of research that is undertaken by CNBP and others in the research space.

Research translation is focus of CNBP workshop

11 July 2018:

The take-home message from CNBP’s two day ‘Research Translation’ workshop, held in Adelaide, the 5th and 6th of July, was that high quality science can change people’s lives and that the research that CNBP undertakes is truly transformative with huge translation potential.

Over 75 CNBP researchers, students, partners and invited guests attended the workshop which was based at the University of Adelaide on Day One and which then moved to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institution (SAHMRI) on Day Two.

During the workshop CNBP researchers worked in small groups with senior clinicians to learn about clinical problems and discuss how their research could be translated. They also heard from several leading clinicians about what it’s like to be part of a clinical translation project.

Additional talks described clinical translation from ‘the other side’ – with technical researchers explaining the steps involved in translating a new technology, and drawing on their real-world experiences and outlining key learnings that had been made. Dr Anne Collins then brought insight from a commercial perspective, providing a detailed case study of one of Trajan Scientific and Medical’s most recent market products.

A number of CNBP researchers, from all nodes across the Centre, then presented brief updates on clinically-related projects that are currently underway. This culminated in a master-class led and coordinated by CNBP CI Nicki Packer on seeing nanoparticles at super resolution in cells.

CNBP Director Prof Mark Hutchinson wrapped-up workshop proceedings noting that he had been highly impressed with the science and information presented and encouraged the CNBP team to keep ‘commercialisation impact’ top of mind as this was one of the Centre’s core values.

Prof Rob McLaughlin, Founder of Miniprobes and Senior CNBP Investigator, who helped host the event noted, “We’d like express our gratitude to all of the clinicians who made the workshop such a success: Jillian Clark, Rob Fitridge, Adam Wells, Phan Nguyen, Nam Nguyen, Tarik Sammour, Hidde Kroon, Sam Parvar and Nagendra Dudi-Venkata. Our thanks also to Anne Collins from Trajan Scientific and Medical, and Andrew Abell.”

Informal feedback from attendees at the event was that they had experienced a highly informative and rewarding two days of translational workshop activity.

Note – a brief visual video of the event has been produced by Dr Johan Verjans here.

Below – Dr Johan Verjans CNBP AI at SAHMRI discusses the need to work closely with clinicians to successfully translate research into the clinical environment.

Vitamin D no defence against dementia

10 July 2018:

New research from South Australian scientists has shown that vitamin D (also commonly known as the sunshine vitamin) is unlikely to protect individuals from multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or other brain-related disorders.

The findings, released today in the science journal ‘Nutritional Neuroscience’ reported that researchers had failed to find solid clinical evidence for vitamin D as a protective neurological agent.

“Our work counters an emerging belief held in some quarters suggesting that higher levels of vitamin D can impact positively on brain health,” says lead author Krystal Iacopetta (pictured), PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide.

“The results of our in-depth review and an analysis of all the scientific literature indicates that  there is no convincing evidence supporting vitamin D as a protective agent for the brain,” she says.

Mark Hutchinson, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) and Professor at the University of Adelaide worked with Ms Iacopetta on the research and findings.

“This outcome is important and is based on an extremely comprehensive review and analysis of current data and relevant scientific publications,” Professor Hutchinson says.

“We’ve broken a commonly held belief that vitamin D resulting from sun exposure is good for your brain.”

Interestingly, Professor Hutchinson notes that there may be evidence that UV light (sun exposure) could impact the brain beneficially, in ways other than that related to levels of vitamin D.

“There are some early studies that suggest that UV exposure could have a positive impact on some neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis,” he says. “We have presented critical evidence that UV light may impact molecular processes in the brain in a manner that has absolutely nothing to do with vitamin D.”

“We need to complete far more research in this area to fully understand what’s happening,” says Professor Hutchinson.

Read the full media release here.

Journal: Nutritional Neuroscience.

Publication title: Are the protective benefits of vitamin D in neurodegenerative disease dependent on route of administration? A systematic review.

Authors: Krystal Iacopetta, Lyndsey E. Collins-Praino, Femke T. A. Buisman-Pijlman, Jiajun Liu, Amanda D. Hutchinson & Mark R. Hutchinson.

New CNBP partnership announced

13 June 2018:

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) is pleased to announce that the Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry (CIAC) is now a Partner Organisation of the CNBP with Dr Xiaohui Wang (pictured) leading the relationship from the CIAC side as a formal CNBP Partner Investigator.

Collaboration activity to take place between CNBP and CIAC will be focused in the areas of innate immune targeted biosensors and novel pharmacology. More specifically, CIAC expertise will feed into CNBP’s advanced research program exploring the impact of innate immune signalling in pain processing.

In a similar manner, CNBP will bring to CIAC and Dr Xiaohui Wang’s team a unique set of pre-clinical behavioural models and application areas that will advance the CIAC research program more broadly across the synthetic chemistry space.

Prof Mark Hutchinson, CNBP Director, noted that Dr Xiaohui Wang already possessed strong linkages with CNBP following Dr Wang’s visits to several CNBP nodes, and the decadal collaboration between the two researchers stemming from their time working together at the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder USA.

“I look forward to our future co-operative activity,” says Prof Mark Hutchinson. “CNBP and CIAC are an excellent strategic partnership fit in the novel innate immune targeted chemistry and pain-signalling space and I’m extremely excited to see where our joint research activity takes us.”

As a part of the partnership, CIAC will fund a full-time PhD student working on CNBP-CIAC related projects as well as provide additional research funding to support project activity and materials.

Below – Dr Xiaohui Wang.

Seminar and lab visit at Zhejiang University

7 June 2018:

CNBP’s Dr Jiawen Li has given a science talk at the College of Optical Science and Engineering, Zhejiang University, China, 7th June, 2018. The talk’s title was ‘Miniaturized multimodal fibre-optic probes for biomedical applications’.

While at the college, Dr Li also visited laboratories specialising in super resolution microscopy, holography and optical coherence tomograpy (OCT). She also shared with undergraduate and master students, her experiences of studying in both the United States and Australia, and provided her perspective on potential career paths for post-doctorate researchers.

Commercialisation workshop outlines opportunities

17 May 2018:

Thursday 17th May saw CNBP, The Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) and Adelaide Enterprise come together at the University of Adelaide to jointly host a well-attended Commercialisation Workshop.

The event, with 45 participants comprising CNBP/IPAS researchers, students, Centre Associate Investigators and Chief Investigators looked to provide information, advice and discussion on commercialising technologies successfully, best-practice in starting and exiting start-ups, as well as tips for successful working relationships between academics and industry.

CNBP’s Business Development Manager Mel Trebilcock who helped coordinate the workshop saw the day as a great success.

“Firstly, Adelaide Enterprise provided an overview of a tech transfer office, templates relating to Invention Disclosures, Patents and the step by step process for a researcher ready to start the commercialisation process.”

“Then we had guest speakers – Melissa McBurnie (Brandon Capital) and Stewart Bartlett (from spinout company Ferronova), discuss their history of success and failure along the technology-translation journey, as well as talk about alternate  career pathways for researchers. They both provided some fantastic insights, including the adage that it’s okay to fail but that there is the need to stay positive and focused on your desired research outcomes.”

The afternoon session of the workshop saw attendees break-up into smaller groups and undertake a practical hands-on exercise whereby they had to work-up an invention based on household waste, to fill-out an invention disclosure, and to then provide a pitch to the whole room.

“This allowed for great involvement and interaction with an amazing amount of commercialisation experience being shared by attendees and guests,” says Mel Trebilcock.

New commercialisation workshops are also being planned by the CNBP for August.

“These will help prepare colleagues and collaborators to refine and learn the art of pitches with industry. It will also help them to lead ‘pitch teams’ presenting at a ‘Shark Tank’ style event to be held at this year’s CNBP Conference at Lorne,” she says.

A successful CNBP/IPAS commercialisation workshop at the University of Adelaide.

Outreach at Adelaide High School

17 May 2018:

Superstar of STEM and CNBP researcher Dr Sanam Mustafa has taken her outreach skills to Adelaide High School, speaking to approximately 300 Year 9 students (across two sessions) about her scientific activity, her career as a scientist and what it takes to succeed in a University environment.

“My talk was extremely well received by the students and teaching staff,” said Dr Mustafa. “They loved the personal stories and hearing about the light-focused science that we do at the CNBP.”

As part of her outreach activity at the school,  Dr Mustafa also ran an interactive workshop  for students, aimed at illustrating the importance of developing tests to quantify levels of pain for both human and animal populations.

“The students, in groups of about 10 were asked to discuss painful conditions that they had experienced and to try to find a common experience (maybe a paper cut or sprained ankle for instance). I then asked them to rate their pain from a scale of 1-10 to see how this varied within the group to demonstrate the subjectivity,” says Dr Mustafa.

“I then asked the groups to discuss if and why this subjectivity is a problem – such as inability of small children to describe pain, an inaccurate description of pain resulting in the administration of wrong medication and deliberate manipulation of pain scores for drug seeking behaviour.”

“Finally, I told the students how I hoped to develop a test to quantify pain to help overcome this subjectivity and showed them a slide demonstrating the ‘colour of pain’ from our ongoing hyperspectral work.”

“Feedback from the day was extremely positive,” concluded Dr Mustafa. “And it was fantastic to see so many engaged students actively thinking about science and how it has the potential to have such a beneficial and positive impact on society.”

Below – Adelaide High School visited by CNBP’s Dr Sanam Mustafa.

A novel, high sensitivity Sagnac-interferometer biosensor

30 April 2018:

A new publication featuring CNBP co-authors (Dr Stephen Warren-Smith pictured left and Prof Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem) reports on the design and implementation of a novel, high sensitivity Sagnac-interferometer biosensor based on an exposed core microstructured optical fiber (ECF).

Journal: Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical.

Publication title: High-sensitivity Sagnac-interferometer biosensor based on exposed core microstructured optical fiber.

Authors: Xuegang Li, Linh V. Nguyen, Yong Zhao, Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem, Stephen C. Warren-Smith.

Abstract: A novel, high sensitivity Sagnac-interferometer biosensor based on exposed core microstructured optical fiber (ECF) has been designed and implemented in this paper. The exposed core fiber has noncircular symmetry and thus exhibits birefringence and can form a sensing element within a Sagnac loop interferometer. The exposed-core fiber design provides direct access to the evanescent field, allowing the measurement of bulk refractive index (RI) with a sensitivity of up to −3137 nm/RIU while maintaining the fiber’s robustness. The sensor can also detect the localized refractive index changes at the fiber core’s surface as the result of a biological binding event. We demonstrate the use of this sensor for label-free sensing of biological molecules by immobilizing biotin onto the fiber core as the probe to capture the target molecule streptavidin.