Promiscuous females and their role in evolution

Macquarie University, Media releases

A promiscuous female fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) marked with paint. Photo: The Wigby Lab

Males have to make less of an effort to mate with promiscuous female fruit flies, making the quality and quantity of their semen all the more important in the competition to fertilise the females’ eggs.

This also leads to male flies repeatedly mating with the same female, according to a paper published overnight in Nature Communications, by researchers from Macquarie University, the University of Oxford and the University of East Anglia, who looked into the eyes of thousands of fruit flies.

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The shape of a perfect storm: saving lives by predicting firestorms

Fresh Science, Media releases

Scientists available for interview – details and photos below.

Correction: an earlier version stated the tool is being formally trialed by the NSW Rural Fire SERVICE. It is currently in use, but formal trials ended in 2016.

A fully developed pyrocumulus cloud, formed from the smoke plume of the Grampians fire in February 2013. Credit: Randall Bacon

Firestorms are a nightmare for emergency services and anyone in their path. They occur when a bushfire meets a ‘perfect storm’ of environmental conditions and creates a thunderstorm.

Dr Rachel Badlan and Associate Professor Jason Sharples are part of a team of experts from UNSW Canberra and ACT Emergency Services that has found the shape of a fire is an important factor in whether it will turn into a firestorm.

Fires that form expansive areas of active flame, rather than spreading as a relatively thin fire-front, are more likely to produce higher smoke plumes and turn into firestorms, the researchers found.

This finding is being used to underpin further development of a predictive model for firestorms. The model was trialed in the 2015 and 2016 fire seasons by the ACT Emergency Services Agency and the NSW Rural Fire Service, and now forms part of the national dialogue around extreme bushfire development.  

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The quest for the missing proteins in rice

Macquarie University, Media releases

Rice (Oryza sativa) is the major food source for more than half the world’s population. Photo: Pille-Riin Priske/Unsplash CC

Researchers have identified over 5,700 new proteins in rice and are calling for a global effort to find the remaining missing proteins, in a new study co-authored by Macquarie University.

The international team of scientists from Australia, Iran and Japan say there’s an estimated 35,000 proteins encoded by the rice genome, and yet we still don’t have experimental evidence for 82 per cent of them.

This is important because rice is the major food source for more than half the world’s population, and in order for it to grow in warmer climates and with less water we will need to better understand rice at the molecular level. [continue reading…]

Have you seen a sawfish?

Media releases

From Sydney to Cairns to Darwin to Perth, we want to hear about your sightings – a live fish, a saw on the wall of your local pub, or a photo from your family album.

“Your sightings, no matter how long ago they happened, will help us work out how many sawfish there used to be, how many remain, and how we can help them recover,” says Dr Barbara Wueringer, a zoologist and the director of Sharks and Rays Australia (SARA).

A sawfish caught at Manly, Sydney in 1926.
Photo source: Queensland State Library.

Forty years ago, sawfish were regularly seen off Sydney and the east coast, and Perth and up the west coast. Today they’re rarely seen outside of the Gulf of Carpentaria, NT and the Kimberley.

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Media Release: Melbourne steps up to drive global health

Melbourne Global

Images, video overlay, two case studies (rotavirus vaccine and TB in adolescents) and backgrounder available.

Melbourne Children’s Global Health initiative to take action for the:

  • Two million children dying annually from pneumonia and diarrhoea
  • 8 million new child and youth cases of TB each year
  • Mental health and wellbeing of youth caught up in global unemployment, civic unrest, conflict, urbanisation and migration
  • Hospitals and health workers who want training and education to help them save their young patients.

Three of Australia’s child health leaders are joining forces to tackle global child health. Melbourne Children’s Global Health will build on the achievements of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and the University of Melbourne. [continue reading…]

Backgrounder: What is Melbourne Children’s Global Health? What will we do?

Melbourne Global

Melbourne Children’s Global Health is an initiative to improve the health of children and adolescents in disadvantaged populations globally through partnerships in research, public health, education and advocacy.

The initiative has been created by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the University of Melbourne Department of Paediatrics, and the Royal Children’s Hospital under the auspices of the Melbourne Children’s Campus, and with the support of the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation.

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Images: Melbourne Global

Melbourne Global

For hi-res versions please click on the photo and then right click to download the file.

The first baby in Indonesia to be vaccinated with the new vaccine. (Credit: Melbourne Children’s Campus)

The midwives and doctor at the Jatinom Primary Health Centre in Klaten District, Central Java, which is connected to the new rotavirus trial. (Credit: Melbourne Children’s Campus)

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Videos: Melbourne Global

Melbourne Global

High quality videos are available to download via Dropbox.

Click here to download videos.



Case Study: New rotavirus vaccine enters manufacturing

Melbourne Global

Bio Farma, Indonesia’s national vaccine company, is completing a phase 1 trial of a new rotavirus vaccine invented in Melbourne and has started pilot manufacture of the vaccine. Licencing trials are next, followed hopefully by release of the new vaccine in 2021.

The project is the culmination of a 42-year partnership between Melbourne and Gadjah Mada University which started after Ruth Bishop and colleagues found a virus, now known as rotavirus, in babies at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. They showed it was the cause of an acute gastroenteritis that was hospitalising 10,000 Australian children every year and killing more than half a million children worldwide. [continue reading…]

Case Study: TB in adolescents: Melbourne Children’s Global Health guides new WHO roadmap

Melbourne Global

In 2017, almost one million children fell ill and over 200,000 children under 15 died of tuberculosis, according to the latest WHO Roadmap. The report also identifies a previously underreported challenge, TB in adolescents.

University of Melbourne researcher Ms Kathryn Snow has estimated that about 1.8 million young people develop TB every year comprising [continue reading…]

Melbourne paediatrician wins 2018 CSL Florey Next Generation Award

CSL Florey Medal, Media releases

Oxygen halves child pneumonia deaths

A Melbourne student researcher and doctor has helped Nigerian hospitals halve the number of children dying from pneumonia—just by improving training and access to oxygen.

Dr Hamish Graham has been awarded with the inaugural $20,000 CSL Florey Next Generation Award for top PhD candidate in health and biomedical sciences. [continue reading…]

CSL Young Florey Medal – photos from the award night

CSL Florey Medal

The Hon Catherine King MP, Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare, presents winner Hamish Graham with the CSL Florey Next Generation Award (Photo credit: AAMRI/Bradley Cummings)

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2018 CSL Florey Next Generation Award finalists

CSL Florey Medal, Media releases

Canberra, Hobart and Melbourne young health and medical researchers vie for $20,000 top PhD student award

  • Eradicating gut worms: a path out of poverty
  • Oxygen halves child pneumonia deaths
  • Smart blood pressure measurement to cut heart risk

Scientists available for interviews

Media contacts: Tanya Ha,, 0404 083 863;
Niall Byrne,, 0417 131 977, (03) 9398 1416

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Eradicating gut worms: a path out of poverty

CSL Florey Medal

Naomi Clarke, Australian National University

Hundreds of millions of children worldwide are infected with intestinal worms, which can stunt their growth and trap them in a cycle of poverty. Naomi Clarke has shown more can be done to reduce these worm infections worldwide.

Global efforts to control intestinal worms are reducing infection rates. Naomi’s research demonstrates that more can be done—simple changes to program guidelines could benefit millions of children and their communities. [continue reading…]

Oxygen monitoring halves child pneumonia deaths

CSL Florey Medal

Hamish Graham, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Melbourne

Targeted oxygen therapy could save the lives of thousands of children. Melbourne researcher Hamish Graham says the key is identifying the children who need it most. He found that providing Nigerian hospitals with equipment and training to measure blood oxygen levels has halved the number of children dying from pneumonia.

Hamish, a paediatrician who has worked in Sudan and Nigeria, is now working to make oxygen—a treatment we take for granted in Australia—available to every child who needs it.  [continue reading…]

Smart blood pressure measurement to cut heart risk

CSL Florey Medal

Dean Picone, Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania

Heart disease is the world’s biggest killer, and high blood pressure is the number one warning sign. Dean Picone is developing a smarter way to measure blood pressure, to save lives and prevent unnecessary treatment.

“We’ve been measuring blood pressure the same way for more than 100 years,” Dean says. He thinks modern technology can do better than the standard inflatable cuff method.  [continue reading…]

2018 Metcalf Prizes – Media release

Media releases, National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

Winners of the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia’s Metcalf Prizes announced.

Why do some cancer cells get away? – Heather Lee, Newcastle

Newborn babies offer clues for healing hearts – Enzo Porrello, Melbourne

Scientists available for interviews

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Newborn babies offer clues for healing hearts

National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

For a few short days after birth, the heart can regenerate damaged tissue. Enzo Porrello wants to understand why this ability turns off, so that he and colleagues can switch it back on to heal broken hearts.

Understanding regeneration could lead to new treatments for different types of heart disease, the world’s biggest killer, from birth defects to heart attacks late in life. [continue reading…]

Leukaemia: studying the cancer cells that get away

National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

Heather Lee is analysing individual cancer cells to understand how some survive therapy. Her research ultimately aims to prevent relapse and lift survival rates for leukaemia.

Heather invented a way to study the genetics of individual cells more closely that will help her find out why some cancer cells are treatable, and others go rogue. With her new technique, she can see the chemical ‘flags’ that tell the cell how to interpret its genetic code. At the same time, she can watch how those instructions are—or aren’t—carried out.  [continue reading…]

Friend or foe: how do you feel about the insects and spiders living in your home?

Macquarie University, Media releases

A jumping spider commonly found in Australian backyards. Photo: Jim McLean

Do you love or loathe your creepy-crawly house guests? Are you an insecticide at the ready kind of person? Or do you take a more live and let live approach?

Researchers from Macquarie University and the University of Sydney want to know about the insects and spiders living in and around your home, how you feel about them, and what you do to control them.  [continue reading…]