CNBP science gets fresh

6 June 2018:

CNBP researcher Dr Annemarie Nadort has participated in ‘Fresh Science’, a national competition helping early-career researchers find, and then share, their stories of discovery. The program takes up-and-coming researchers with no media experience and turns them into spokespeople for science, giving them media training and a public event to present their science to the community. Ten researchers took part in the Fresh Science event for NSW.

Dr Nadort reports on her experience below.

“Fresh Science was an intense, colourful, and informative workshop ranging between fun and hard work. The first day consisted of a Q&A and mock interviews with journalists from television, radio and written news. The participants all had very interesting and new science to pitch and I definitely enhanced my network of Sydney researchers.”

“I also was impressed by the skills of the journalists. They said that society viewed them as the least trusted people, but their professionalism and ability to pick up the most important parts of our complicated science made me think the opposite!”

“The second morning consisted of a Q&A with commercialisation experts, the NSW Chief Scientist and collaboration experts, followed by a 1 minute pitch to stakeholders.”

“The workshop concluded with a final event at the Three Wise Monkeys Hotel: every Fresh Scientist presented their research for as long as their sparkler was still sparkling.”

“I was awarded the ‘highly commended’ distinction for my ‘bright sparks’ presentation which detailed the development of optical methods to improve the detection and therapy of high-grade brain cancer.”

Below – Dr Annemarie Nadort presents her science to an interested and engaged audience at the Three Wise Monkeys Hotel, Sydney.

CNBP Alternate Science Careers workshop

4 June 2018:

Although many students commence their doctoral studies with the aim of being a university academic, statistics show that the percentage who become professors is only around 0.5%.

The RMIT node of the CNBP hosted an alternative careers workshop with five experts who shared their pathways from doctoral studies into the wider world.

Elliot Taranto  completed a PhD in immunology and biology and now works in a technical and sales role at Olympus; Margie Beiharz completed a PhD in zoology and is now a freelance editor; Matthew Lay (pictured top left) undertook his PhD in semiconductor device fabrication and now works as a patent attorney; Shane Huntington’s PhD was in photonics and he is now the Deputy Director of the Melbourne Academic Centre for Health; and Victoria Coleman’s PhD was in semiconductor physics and she now leads the Nanometrology Section at the National Measurement Institute.

The panelists shared their pathways and the opportunities for research, interaction and fulfillment that their careers provided. Often stressed was how the ‘soft skills’ of writing, speaking, and collaboration played key roles in their success.

The session was chaired by CNBP Chief Investigator Andy Greentree.

Below – CNBP’s A/Prof Brant Gibson (L) and Prof Andy Greentree (R) flank guest speakers at the CNBP Alternate Science Careers workshop held at RMIT University.

New CNBP research node at Griffith University

29 May 2018:

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) has announced today that Griffith University has become a collaborating partner and will host a CNBP research node at its Institute for Glycomics on the Southport, Gold Coast campus.

As a research node and collaborating partner of the CNBP, Griffith University joins the University of Adelaide, Macquarie University and RMIT University as a core member of the Centre of Excellence.

The Griffith based CNBP research node, headed-up by Associate Professor Daniel Kolarich (pictured top left)  from the University’s ‘Institute for Glycomics’, will add to CNBP’s research capability in the development of next-generation light-based tools that can sense and image at a cellular and molecular level.

“Our team has specialised glycan knowledge and expertise that will aid the Centre in its objectives of improving understanding and knowledge of cell-communication and the nanoscale molecular interactions in the living body,” says A/Prof Kolarich.

Mark Hutchinson, CNBP Director and Professor at the University of Adelaide welcomed Griffith University as a new partner to the Centre.

“A/Prof Kolarich and his team are world-class scientists with exceptional knowledge and skills in glycomics. They have state-of-the-art facilities and will add significantly to CNBP’s investigative strength, helping us to achieve the highest levels of research excellence,” he says.

For further information, a media release is available online from the CNBP web site.

Below – Formalities are completed with the handover of the CNBP partnership plaque at the Institute for Glycomics.

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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.

CNBP input into major exhibition

11 May 2018:

The launch of a ground-breaking and unconventional permanent exhibition at Scienceworks titled ‘Beyond Perception: Seeing the Unseen’ had more than a touch of CNBP involvement with RMIT based researchers  A/Prof Brant Gibson and Dr Tony Orth involved in providing information, content and ideas to the exhibition over a 12-18 month planning and implementation period.

The exhibition, reflecting the latest and greatest stories from science and technology, provides interactive, large-scale experiences that reveals the invisible fields and forces that surround us, such as gravitational waves, invisible light, sound and aerodynamics. It also demonstrates current research which is continuing to uncover these amazing and tantalizing worlds.

“The areas where we contributed were around the use of the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum for optical microscopy applications,” says A/Prof Brant Gibson.

“We looked at the the fact that the diffraction limit of a microscope has now been ‘broken’ with the development of superresolution microscopy such as STED or PALM.”

“It was an absolute pleasure to be involved in this type of activity that takes science out to the broader community,” says A/Prof Gibson.

“The exhibition provides an opportunity for people to immerse themselves and to deeply engage with the exhibition using sound, light and waves in ways which are radically different to other exhibitions I’ve seen.”

Information on the exhibition and how to visit can be found online.

Below – a quote from A/Prof Gibson forms part of an exhibition display.

CNBP outreach at MQ ‘Career Ready Day’

10 May 2018:

CNBP’s Dr Annemarie Nadort has shone a light on biophotonics, microcirculation, medical device development and a career in science to an audience of 35 Yr 9-10 high school students, at an outreach session at Macquarie University, May 10th, 2018.

The students, attending the University as a part of a ‘career-ready’ day, were given a quick tutorial on blood and light and were then given a hands-on demonstration of a clinical microcirculation imager that was able to provide a real-time view of red blood cells circulating in capillaries under the tongue.

Students were then given a brief history of the imager’s development and then asked how they could potentially improve a mark-two version of the device from a biological, physics, engineering, IT and software perspective. This explained Dr Nadort was the sort of critical thinking required to kick-start a career in medical device design and development; and the skills that could be learnt from undertaking higher education study.

Feedback from the students was extremely positive. Half a dozen students tried the imager under their own tongues. Seeing the body’s cells operate in real-time on a large screen proved insightful and engaging to all in the room.

Below – Dr Annemarie Nadort explains to students how we can use light to see blood using innovative new tools and techniques.

Blood test identifies chronic pain

6 May 2018:

Australian neuroscientist and CNBP Director, Professor Mark Hutchinson who is developing a world-first blood test that identifies chronic pain by colour “biomarkers” is featured by NZ Doctor online. Prof Hutchinson believes that the breakthrough work has the potential to revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment for the one in five people in Australia and New Zealand who suffer from chronic pain.

Detecting zearalenone (a toxin found in cereals)

1 May 2018:

CNBP PhD student at Macquarie University, Fuyuan Zhang (pictured), is first author on a new paper reporting on the development of magnetic nanobead based fluoroimmunoassays  for detection of zearalenone (a toxin found in cereals).

Journal: Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical.

Publication title: Novel magnetic nanobeads-based fluoroimmunoassays for zearalenone detection in cereals using protein G as the recognition linker.

Authors: Fuyuan Zhang, Bing Liu, Guozhen Liu, Wei Sheng, Yan Zhang, Qi Liu, Shuo Wang.

Abstract: Zearalenone (ZEN) is a type of estrogenic mycotoxin commonly found in cereals. In order to satisfy the need for ultrasensitive detection of ZEN, we developed two novel magnetic nanobeads (MNBs)-based fluoroimmunoassays using protein G (PG) as recognition binder on the sensing interface. One proposed facile strategy is based on a first capture last react (FCLR) procedure while the other is a first react last capture (FRLC) format. Specifically, CdTe/CdS/ZnS quantum dots were synthesized and modified to antigen (OVA-ZEN) as the signal probes. The PG modified MNBs specifically captured the fragment crystallizable region of immunoglobulin G (IgG) with a level of orientation while avoiding the destruction of antibody’s binding sites caused by chemical coupling. Under the optimized conditions, the detection limits of 0.019 ng mL−1 and 0.049 ng mL−1 in the extract solution were obtained for the FCLR and FRLC, respectively. Furthermore, the established methods proved to be successful in detecting ZEN in real cereal samples with the detection limits being 0.6 μg kg−1 and 1.5 μg kg−1 in the FCLR and FRLC, respectively. The performance of the proposed assays was evaluated utilizing commercial ELISA kits with satisfactory results.

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.