Issue 20 | Spring/Summer 2007
Research recognition for Monash scientists
Monash University has received
nearly $77 million in competitive
grants from the National Health
and Medical Research Council's
(NHMRC's) and Australian Research
Council's 2008 funding round.
The funding was announced
in September by the Federal
Professor James Whisstock and
his team at Monash will receive
more than $11 million from the
NHMRC for research to develop
new treatments for a range of
(Research), Professor Edwina
Cornish, welcomed the allocations
as a testament to the quality of
researchers and innovative medical
research being pursued at the
She said the University has attracted
more than double the amount of
NHMRC grants it received in 2005.
"Our performance in research has
improved markedly over the past
three years. Research income has
risen from $112 million in 2003 to
$186 million in 2006," Professor
Professor Whisstock said the
NHMRC grants renewal was great
news for his team.
"This important funding will allow us
to continue our work into protease
systems biology and help address
a wide range of cardiovascular,
infectious and degenerative diseases,"
Professor Whisstock said.
The University's share of NHMRC
grants included 56 Project Grants,
nine Research Fellowships, two
Practitioner Fellowships and one
Health issues covered by these
grants include cancer, cardiovascular
disease, genetic analysis of complex
human diseases, the determinants of
reproductive health and optimising
health outcomes from clinical trials.
Professor Ed Stanley received
one of only five Special Program
Grants. He has been allocated
$2.9 million to explore the
derivation of pancreatic B-cells
from embryonic stem cells. The
project is part of a nationwide
search for treatments for Type
1 diabetes, in conjunction with
the Juvenile Diabetes Research
Dr Velandai Srikanth will lead a
Monash project team for a $1.2
million population-based cohort
study of brain ageing, exploring
the rates of brain structural change,
functional effects and mechanisms.
A landmark for Malaysia
|Cover of HP Lee's book, Constitutional
Landmarks In Malaysia: The First 50
Fifty years of independence may
seem like a short amount of
time, unless you take a glance
at an atlas of South-East
Asia where many countries
have less than 30 years of
On 31 August, Malaysia
celebrated the 50th anniversary of
its constitution and independence,
known as the Merdeka
For a developing country such as
Malaysia, it is clearly a remarkable
achievement worth celebrating,
considering the many developing
countries that have torn up their
constitutions or have their civilian
government replaced by military
Professor Hoong Phun (HP) Lee,
Deputy Dean and Sir John Latham
Chair of Law at Monash, has cowritten
a book celebrating the event
with Professor Andrew Harding,
Director of the Centre for Asia-
Pacific Legal Systems, University of
Victoria, British Columbia.
In Malaysia: The First 50
Years, 1957-2007, explores
the constitutional law
of Malaysia through
the research of jurists,
judges, practitioners and
academics from inside
and outside Malaysia to
contribute to the volume,
published by Malayan Law
The text was officially
launched in August at the
Australian embassy in
His Royal Highness, Sultan
Azlan Shah, the Sultan of
Perak wrote a foreword
to the book, praising the
authors for their dedication
to the task.
Tubular steel study a winner for engineering student
|Postgraduate student Hussein Jama is one of only six people to win
a prestigious 2007 Victoria Fellowship
Blast-resistant tall buildings,
sports stadiums, oil platforms
and train stations are closer to
reality thanks to the work of
engineer Hussein Jama.
The 35-year-old postgraduate
student is one of six people to
win a prestigious 2007 Victoria
Fellowship. He received the
Fellowship on Wednesday 15
August at a gala function at
Government House from the
Governor of Victoria, Professor
David de Kretser, AC.
Mr Jama is investigating how to
build more resilient structures
made from tubular steel with the
capacity to withstand accidental
explosions. Current building
structures can be damaged by
gas leaks, dust explosions or
His work will also assist in
damage-prevention to large
oil rigs that are vulnerable to
accidental explosions, which can
result in loss of life, reduced oil
supplies and massive pollution.
Mr Jama will travel to South
Africa to carry out blast
experiments at the Blast Impact
and Survivability Research Unit
at the University of Cape Town,
the only facility in the world
where explosives can be used in
a university setting.
Monash welcomes a bright new era in Synchrotron research
Monash University has welcomed a new
era in scientific research with the official
opening of the Australian Synchrotron.
Monash is a founding member of the
Australian Synchrotron and made a strong,
early commitment to the facility, which
is adjacent to the University's Clayton
campus in Melbourne.
The formation of the Monash Centre for
Synchrotron Science is a new chapter in
the University's almost 50-year track record
of scientific advancement, which includes
innovations in IVF, drug design and stem
The centre provides advice and assistance to
researchers, develops platform technologies,
engages in education programs across the
university and funds research fellowships and
Monash University researchers are
guaranteed a minimum 1,500 hours
access to the facility each year. Instead of
travelling to overseas facilities, they have
access to world-class technology at their
Centre Director, Professor Rob Lewis is a
pioneer in applying synchrotron science to
medical research and is involved in many
"The creation of the Centre for
Synchrotron Science means Monash is
taking a pre-eminent position in Australia's
development of synchrotron science and in
the application of the synchrotron to many
research fields," Professor Lewis said.
"Our scientists are well placed to take the
lead on the health and scientific issues
facing our community."
Scientific discovery for 3-D imaging
A world-first discovery by physicists at
Monash University will enable scientists to
view fast moving images of minute structures
in three dimensions.
Monash University physicists Professor David
Jesson, Dr Konstantin Pavlov and Associate
Professor Michael Morgan (BSc(Hons) 1976,
PhD 1982) have solved a major problem in
surface electron microscopy to determine surface
shape and depth.
The discovery was made by adapting the 100-
year-old principle, known as Lloyd's Mirror, to
new technology and is expected to be used by
researchers across the world.
Lloyd's Mirror was a classic 19th century physics
experiment where light reflected off a mirror
interferes with light coming directly from the source.
"Previously, scientists have had to freeze-frame
each image and link them together but our
discovery means images can be captured as a realtime
video which also shows the depth of the
structure," Professor Jesson said.
"This will open up new opportunities for
theorists to understand the changes in
nanostructures being developed for technology
such as computers and mobile phones."
Professor Jesson's team discovered 3-D imagery of
nanostructures was possible while using electron
microscopy to look at droplets of liquid gallium
sitting on a mirror-flat surface of gallium arsenide.
By using UV light to illuminate gallium droplets
they found the bright interference fringes resulted
in the emission of electrons. By applying the
same principle as viewing a topographic map of a
mountain range, they were also able to determine
the height of the structure.
Pet personality: it's all in the mind
|Dr Pauleen Bennett with some of her pets
If your pet dog seems worried or is showing signs of neurotic
behaviour, don't worry, it could be just their personality.
A new world-first study by Monash University researchers of
more than 1000 dog owners shows dogs have personalities
that are very similar to our own and include traits such as
self-assuredness, extroversion and amicability.
Dr Pauleen Bennett (PhD 2000) said the study results could
assist pet shelters to help pair dogs and potential owners.
"An outgoing young family might cope with an energetic puppy,
while a dog with a placid personality would probably better suit an
elderly person and a motivated dog may be the best type to engage
in farm work or join our policing services," Dr Bennett said.