HMRI Searcher Newsletter Spring 2012


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Quarterly donor newsletter from the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), featuring information on the new clinical trials facility, asthma, respiratory disease, breast cancer, bowel cancer, donating and HMRI events.

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HMRI Searcher Newsletter Spring 2012

  1. 1. spring 2012searcherWhere patientsare a virtue!In July the world-class HMRI Buildingopened its doors to around 350health and medical researchers inthe Hunter, offering state-of-the-artlaboratory spaces and facilities tofurther their research. However the HMRI Building alsoholds something new and unique forHunter residents. The Clinical Trials Centre(CTC) is the focal point between EFFICIENT: Dr Lisa Wood with a patient undergoing a ‘Dexa’ scan in the CTC.the innovative research beingundertaken in the Building and the “On the other hand it also allows HMRI Director Michael Nilssonsignificant health benefits it holds for researchers to conduct clinical trials says the move into the new Buildingthe community. in a professional setting with an heralds an exciting new era for The high-tech equipment and extensive range of equipment and medical research.modern clinic rooms that fill the CTC resources available to them.” “For HMRI it really represents aare second to none, having been seismic shift from a virtual institutebuilt to enhance the specific HMRI to one with a $90 million centrepieceresearch programs taking place. “ The CTC will have that will help cement the Hunter’s Complete with a cough challenge place in the research world,”clinic, lung function machine, expired enormous benefits Professor Nilsson said.nitrous oxide clinic, nutrition lab for both researchers “That said, the heart and soul ofand pharmacy, the area allows HMRI are the 1100 researchers,researchers to conduct clinical trials and clinical trial wherever they’re working – thewith an unprecedented ability to participants.” University campus at Callaghan, theretrieve accurate study results and Hunter New England Health campustrack outcomes. at Wallsend, the Calvary Mater University of Newcastle Researchers previously shared Newcastle or elsewhere.”respiratory researcher Dr Lisa Wood equipment that was also being used Professor Nilsson added that itrecognises the value that a centre by outpatient clinics at the hospital. was vital for researchers to have thelike this will hold for the Hunter. This inevitably meant longer waiting best possible “tools” to work in such “The Clinical Trials Centre lists. a technical sphere.will have enormous benefits for “Having our own dedicated “Through the integration of clinicalboth researchers and clinical trial research equipment is not only trials facilities, this building willparticipants,” Dr Wood said. going to make clinical trials a more become a global centre of excellence “It offers participants a range consolidated process but it is going while providing the best possibleof improved facilities to make the to be more efficient and quicker for environment for the translation ofresearch process more comfortable. participants,” Dr Wood said. research for patients in the Hunter.” Follow HMRI on Facebook and Twitter
  2. 2. communitySinging the praiseNewcastle musician and clinical trialparticipant Mark Wells has been one of thefirst members of the public to experience the Study a breath of fresh airfacilities available through the new Clinical The generosity of HMRI ASTHMA BREAKTHROUGH:Trials Centre at the HMRI Building. supporters may help asthmatics Professor Phil Hansbro and While participating in an antibiotic drug trial Ama-Tawiah Essilfie to breathe a little easier, with ato treat cystic fibrosis with the respiratory recent study highlighting why important in guiding the futureteam, Mark is able to benefit from the new many of the 670,000 Australians development of treatments thatequipment and clinical practices first hand. with asthma are resistant to target the infection and reduce “Previously when I needed to have a lung conventional steroid treatment. resistance to steroids.”function test done the wait would generally The study was funded by Ashleigh Baines, 24, has beenbe between six and 12 weeks. If I required HMRI grants in its early stages, trying to manage her asthmaa test more urgently I used a hand-held helping the researchers to attract from a very young age, and saysmachine and the results always varied major national funding through that sometimes an asthma attackconsiderably,” Mark said. the National Health and Medical is unavoidable. Research Council and the “I have learned to somewhat Australian Research Council. control my condition, but it is a“Knowing that this Lead researcher Professor Phil very delicate balance of steroid-equipment is available to Hansbro, from the University of based medication and therapy,”me ... really takes a great Newcastle, said some asthmatics Ashleigh said. were resistant to steroiddeal of stress off my treatment and often sufferedtreatment program.” more severe asthma. “Asthmatics with steroid- While participating in the HMRI antibiotic resistant asthma more commonlytrial, researchers have measured Mark’s carry a bacterium calledlung function continually using the new lung Haemophilus influenzae in theirfunction machine in the CTC. airways,” Professor Hansbro Ashleigh Baines said. “I haven’t had to wait to get a test done in “Our research hasthe new building, and the results are always demonstrated that the “Therefore I can’t stress theaccurate. My lung function has improved combination of allergic airways importance of research intoover 10 per cent, and watching that change disease and the Haemophilus alternative asthma treatments,has been really motivating,” Mark said. influenzae bacteria drives as it will help sufferers to take “Knowing that this equipment is available chronic lung infection which, in back control by giving them theto me, and that the researchers at HMRI turn, leads to the development of appropriate tools to manage theirare watching my results so closely really steroid-resistant disease. asthma more efficiently.takes a great deal of stress off my treatment “For the first time, we have “I look forward to newprogram. clear evidence that targeting innovations within the “Managing cystic fibrosis takes a lot of time bacterial infection in patients with management of asthma, as it willand hard work, but I am happy to give that steroid-resistant asthma may hopefully make breathing easierextra time up to participate in studies like this have therapeutic benefits. for both myself and other asthmaif it means I am getting these kind of results.” “This finding is likely to be sufferers.”
  3. 3. news in brief Researchers at the University of Newcastle have motivated 85 Hunter men to ‘shed’ a total of 438kgs – equal to about 40 cartons of beer. The SHED-IT (Self- Help, Exercise and Diet using Information Technology) Program motivates men to lose weight using a range of resources including the internet, a DVD and printed materials. Professor Philip Morgan said the first community-wide SHED-IT Program was a great success with participants losing an average of 9.7 kilos.Proud and passionate The researchers are now calling for another 200 men to take part in the nextHMRI supporter Jan Bynon, I recently read about the amazing round of the SHED-IT Program.pictured, is proudly Novocastrian results of Professor Chris Levi’s Call (02) 4921 6096 for more details.and yet she is even more stroke trial, I thought ‘isn’t thatpassionate about the importance wonderful!’ ... I would have given The University ofof medical research to the the world for Dad to have been Newcastle’s LaureateHunter. able to have the opportunity to Professor Rob Sanson- Fisher has won the If you attended the annual receive that kind of treatment. Cancer Institute NSWHMRI Ball you would be “I am so glad that HMRI is Make a Difference 2012acquainted with Jan’s avid making it possible for someone award for his cancersupport and creative insight. else to have that chance now. We prevention work with The 2012 Secret Garden can look at that study with pride disadvantaged and vulnerable populations,Ball marks Jan’s fourth year on now and say, that’s Novocastrian including reducing smoking among pregnantthe HMRI Foundation Events research.” Aboriginal women.Sub-Committee, second as Jan attributes much of the The award recognises a researcherthe Chair, and has resulted in success of events like the Ball who has made a significant difference tounprecedented success. to the enormous generosity of cancer care or research practice. Professor “The Ball this year was a big people in the Hunter. Sanson-Fisher has made a lasting impact onnight, but the planning goes “Everybody I approach and the cancer field and demonstrated sustained progress against cancer.on for months, it began back in ask to help, they always answerOctober 2011,” Jan said. with a yes. It doesn’t matter how Hunter researchers “It’s nice that people come and big or how small it is, everyone is have helped secureexpect something different every happy to lend a hand,” she said. a second $5 millionyear. I absolutely love the Ball, “That is the good thing about grant from the NationalI love the meetings and all the Newcastle, it is a really giving Breast Cancerpeople involved are just amazing. town, we are very lucky. Foundation based “It never ceases to amaze me “I think that is what HMRI has on promising resultshow much time they are willing to done for me, it has shown me from a study thatgive or what they are willing to do how much people are willing to successfully identifiedto help.” give and how much we get back women who are at a greater risk of breast Jan’s devoted support also from the research in return. It is cancer recurrence. The next phase of the study will focuscomes from her family’s personal a real two-way street and that’s on identifying the cancer recurrence riskexperiences with research. what makes it work. factors from these biomarkers and then “Everybody loves somebody “It’s simple, we do the funding appropriately targeting those women withwho needs hope for something. that allows the researchers to do immediate screening and therapies.Medical research is important to their job. Raising money is the Professor Rodney Scott said the findingall of us, because it is going to easy part, the hard part is up to took researchers a step closer to targetingtouch each of our lives at some the researchers.” those women who were more likely topoint. develop breast cancer after remission and “My dad was 61 years old when Read more about this year’s then treat them more quickly and effectively.he had his first stroke, and when HMRI Ball on the back page!
  4. 4. events H AL M L B R I‘Secret Garden’ bears fruitIt’s no secret that this year’sHMRI Ball was a resounding HMRI can continue to provide valuable grant funding to Hunter Horses and coursessuccess, raising over $147,000. researchers. Join the HMRI Singleton Foundation to Newcastle’s Civic Theatre “This is helping them to celebrate the Melbourne Cup in style, onwas transformed to resemble improve the health outcomes of November 6 at the Singleton Showgrounda mystical Secret Garden, with people throughout our region Pavillion. Cricket commentator Jim Maxwellguests greeted by live statues and beyond, both today and into will be MC for a day of races, live auctions,on arrival and tables adorned the future,” Maureen said. sweeps and raffles.with trees, twisted vines and “Every year we receive Tickets are $100, including a two-coursetwinkling tea-lights. exceptional support from our lunch and all beverages. HMRI Development Manager major sponsors, and everyone See for more details.Maureen Jack said that the who donates auction items oroutstanding result ensures that essential services to the Ball.” Ready to ride Upcoming events State Member for Newcastle, Tim Owen AM, will be among up to 400 cyclists donningSail away ... the lycra to compete in the third annual Rotary Newcastle to Dungog charity bike rideOrd Minnett has come aboard on October principal sponsor of the Mr Owen is borrowing a road bike andHMRI Cup yacht race, which will madly training for the 90-kilometre coursebe held at Newcastle Cruising from Nobbys Beach to Dungog.Yacht Club on October 13. “It’s a little daunting because I haven’t been Given Australia’s golden on a pushbike for a little while, but I’m veryefforts in sailing at the Olympics, participants can do as much or much looking forward to the ride,” Mr Owenthis is a great team-building as little as they like. said. “I like the idea of a healthy activity likeopportunity which also provides A spectator cruiser will be cycling helping to fund medical research.”views of our coastline … and the available for those seeking a Last year’s event attracted more than 360occasional glimpse of a whale! gentler pace, while back at the cyclists – a peloton twice as large as the Each yacht has a skipper club you can enjoy a band, Tour de France – and resulted in a $14,000and crew, and there are no food and drinks right on the cheque from the Rotary Club of Newcastle.spinnakers to worry about, so waterfront. Entry fee is $55 plus optional donation to HMRI via online registration. SAVE THE DATES: See Sept 15 Stroud Rodeo for more details. Sept 15/22 Keith Tulloch Wine Dinners Sept 30 PULSE NRL Grand Final Party Oct 6 Keith Tulloch Wine 2012 Wine Appreciation - Lot 1, Kookaburra Cct supporting PULSE New Lambton Oct 7 Tainn Hunter Classic Softball Tournament Locked Bag 1000 New Lambton Oct 13 Ord Minnett HMRI Cup yacht race NSW 2305 Oct 27 Rotary Newcastle-Dungog charity bike ride T 02 4042 0000 Nov 6 Singleton Foundation Melbourne Cup Luncheon F 02 4042 0001 E SEE THE WEBSITE FOR FULL DETAILS ABN 27 081 436 919
  5. 5. Your support helpsfund life-changing research!You can make a real differenceIn the spring of 2010, young mother and Universityof Newcastle education lecturer Wendy Miller wastold she had Stage 4 bowel cancer. Try to enjoythis Christmas, her doctors said.If that news wasn’t gut-wrenching enough, tellingher two daughters was worse. The words flowedin a stream of consciousness chilling in franknessand implication.“The statistics were really scary in terms of likelysurvival,” Wendy says. “But I’ve never been one tosit and watch life pass by.“The language I’dbeen using was thatwhich I’d heard –I’m dying of cancer.Somewhere I readthe idea that you’reliving with cancer,not dying from it,which aligned withthe way I like tosee the world.”Under the care ofProfessor StephenAckland, leader of HMRI’s Cancer ResearchProgram, Wendy began defying the predictions.Christmas came and went. Weeks rolled intomonths, into a year and beyond.“The medical team have been fantastic. To me,knowing my oncologist is up to date with the latestresearch is really important. I also get a sense thatProfessor Ackland really cares.”According to Professor Ackland, Wendy hasbenefitted from the translation of research andcollaboration between clinicians.“Wendy officially remains at Stage 4 and willcontinue on chemotherapy as required. If a trialcomes along that she’s eligible for I suspect we’dhave her in it tomorrow,” he says.With a determined smile Wendy adds “Cancer isnot stopping me, I’m doing what I love right now.”You can help make life better forpeople like Wendy and her family.Please donate today by completing theform overleaf, or online.