When reefs decline, parrotfish thrive

Australian Institute of Marine Science, Media releases

Researchers find familiar species pave the way for coral regrowth

Parrotfish numbers rise as reef quality decreases.
Credit: Kendall Clements

In contrast to most other species, reef-dwelling parrotfish populations boom in the wake of severe coral bleaching.

The surprise finding came when researchers led by Perth-based Dr Brett Taylor of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) looked at fish populations in severely bleached areas of two reefs – the Great Barrier Reef in the western Pacific and the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

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‘Magic crystals’ to enable our electric car future

Media releases, Other

Australian invention promises massive boost to lithium production

CSIRO and Monash University’s Matthew Hill received the Solomon Award for developing ‘magic crystals’ with dozens of applications from cleaning gases and liquids to mining and drug production.

Cheaper cleaner lithium mining for future cars and batteries is the newest application. It’s being developed with US company Energy Exploration Technologies (EnergyX).

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When cells forget how to die – a hallmark of cancer

CSL Florey Medal, Media releases

Andreas Strasser and David Vaux win $50,000 CSL Florey Medal for Lifetime Achievement for identifying cell death triggers and using them to fight cancer.

  • Past CSL Florey Medallists include Graeme Clark, Ian Frazer, and Nobel Laureates Barry Marshall and Robin Warren.
Professor Andreas Strasser with Professor David Vaux. Image credit: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

In the late 1980s to early 1990s, two Melbourne scientists, Andreas Strasser and David Vaux, discovered the molecular processes that cause billions of cells in each of us to die every day. They showed that some cancer’s cells can evade this process of programmed cell death and ‘fail to die’. So far, their findings have led to powerful new treatments for leukaemia and opened a new field of research which generates 25,000 papers every year. And, they say, there is still much to learn.

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Spin doctors: Astrophysicists find when galaxies rotate, size matters

ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in Three Dimensions (ASTRO-3D), Media releases

Sky survey provides clues to how they change over time.

A simulation showing a section of the Universe at its broadest scale. A web of cosmic filaments forms a lattice of matter, enclosing vast voids. Credit: Tiamat simulation, Greg Poole

The direction in which a galaxy spins depends on its mass, researchers have found.

A team of astrophysicists analysed 1418 galaxies and found that small ones are likely to spin on a different axis to large ones. The rotation was measured in relation to each galaxy’s closest “cosmic filament” – the largest structures in the universe.

Filaments are massive thread-like formations, comprising huge amounts of matter – including galaxies, gas and, modelling implies, dark matter. They can be 500 million light years long but just 20 million light years wide. At their largest scale, the filaments divide the universe into a vast gravitationally linked lattice interspersed with enormous dark matter voids.

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Should Australia allow mitochondrial donation?

  • Public events in Sydney 11 Nov, Melbourne 18 Nov and online
  • Case studies/patients also available from the Mito Foundation.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is inviting all Australians to provide their views on the use of a new assisted reproductive technology that might assist in preventing certain rare mitochondrial diseases but which requires careful ethical and social consideration. Consultation is open until Friday 29 November 2019.

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2019 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research

Media releases, National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

Permanent hearts and changing breasts spur stem cell research

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

Monday 4 November 2019

Scientists available for interviews

Breast epithelial cells in culture, viewed through a microscope
Credit: Dr Teneale Stewart/Davis Lab, Mater Research Institute, UQ

The stubborn endurance of heart cells and remarkable plasticity of breasts have won two Queensland researchers $50,000 each in the annual Metcalf Prizes, awarded by the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia.

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Stem cells and calcium affect breast function

National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

Brisbane scientist targets knowledge gap in women’s health

Mammary biologist Dr Felicity Davis is investigating how breasts change through life: how they develop during puberty, alter during pregnancy and change back after breastfeeding is complete.

A scientist at the University of Queensland’s Mater Research Institute, she is examining the role stem cells play in this remarkable tissue plasticity.

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Scientist mass produces mini-hearts

National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

Brisbane scientist awarded for research tackling Australia’s biggest killer

Bioengineer Associate Professor James Hudson has developed a new way to mass-produce human heart tissue from stem cells.

The achievement will help researchers study diseases, screen new drugs, and investigate heart development and repair.

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Underwater grandmothers reveal big population of lethal sea snakes

Macquarie University, Media releases

A novel citizen science project in New Caledonia finds an ‘astonishing’ number of venomous reptiles in a popular swimming spot.

Fantastic grandmother Monique Mazière photographing sea snake number 79, nicknamed Déborah. Credit: Claire Goiran/UNC

A group of snorkelling grandmothers is helping scientists better understand marine ecology by photographing venomous sea snakes in waters off the city of Noumea, New Caledonia.

Two years ago the seven women, all in their 60s and 70s, who call themselves “the fantastic grandmothers”, offered to help scientists Dr Claire Goiran from the University of New Caledonia and Professor Rick Shine from Australia’s Macquarie University in their quest to document the sea snake population in a popular swimming spot known as Baie des citrons.

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Should Australia allow mitochondrial donation?


National consultation launched Saturday 19 October in Adelaide

See the stories on Seven News, Ten News and the Adelaide Advertiser.

NHMRC invited all Australians to provide their views on the use of a new assisted reproductive technology that might assist in preventing certain rare mitochondrial diseases, but which requires careful ethical and social consideration. Consultation is open until 29 November. An issues paper is available at www.nhmrc.gov.au/mito

On Saturday 19 October in Adelaide, NHMRC held its first major event of the consultation – a citizens’ panel. Around 20 citizens randomly selected from across Australia met over two weekends to hear from experts and then prepared their own position statement.

Mitochondrial donation might be able to assist in the prevention of mitochondrial DNA disease in an estimated 60 births per year in this country. However, there are social and ethical issues to consider including:

  •             using mitochondrial DNA from a donor (using IVF technology) so that the child has DNA from three people
  • the rights of children to know their full genetic heritage
  • the potential risks and benefits of the technology, and
  • the implications for future generations.

Mitochondrial donation is in limited use in the UK and some other countries, but not Australia. NHMRC is asking the Australian community to consider the social and ethical issues associated with mitochondrial donation and will then provide advice to the Australian Government.

Details on further events will be provided in future announcements.


Niall Byrne (on location)    M: 0417 131 977   E: niall@scienceinpublic.com.au
NHMRC Media Team                                                                                                                                                    M: 0422 008 512   E: media@nhmrc.gov.au