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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

FMNHS Early Career Researcher Publication Prize Awards 2014

L-R: Helen Ackland, Karin Hammarberg,
Anton Issacs, Prof Ross Coppel,
Ricardo da Costa,  Matthew Munday.
Absent: Melanie White.
Each year the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences awards six prizes; one in each of the Faculty disciplines, to Early Career Researchers (ECR’s) who published an outstanding piece of research.

The winners for 2014 were presented with their prize by the Deputy Dean of Research, Professor Ross Coppel at the Shaping Your Career @ Monash session during Research Week. The winners shared some information about their publication in a 3 minute presentation to the audience. Each winner receives $1000 towards furthering their research career.

The 2014 winners are;

Dr Melanie White (Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute) won the Laboratory Based Sciences category for her publication in Nature Cell Biology titled: Cadherin-dependent filopodia control preimplantation embryo compaction.

This research describes for the first time how the earliest morphological change necessary for successful development of mammalian embryos is controlled. In addition to improving our basic understanding of early mammalian development, these findings may also contribute to improvements in IVF technologies.

Dr Karin Hammarberg (Jean Hailes Research Unit, School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine) won the Public Health Research category for her publication in Infertility titled: Knowledge about factors that influence fertility among Australians of reproductive age: a population based survey

This research identified considerable knowledge gaps among Australians of reproductive age about the modifiable factors that affect fertility and pregnancy health. The most staggering was that the majority of participants underestimated, by about 10 years, the age at which male and female fertility starts to decline. The findings of the study are now used to inform a nationwide public awareness campaign to improve knowledge about what people can do to improve their chance of conceiving and having healthy babies.

Dr Helen Ackland (Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine) won the Clinical Sciences category for her publication in Spine titled: Outcomes at 12 Months after early magnetic resonance imaging in acute trauma patients with persistent midline cervical tenderness and negative computer tomography

This work was the final component of a 5 year study which found that patients with severe, pre-existing cervical spondylosis were at greater risk of traumatic cervical discoligamentous injury, and required further investigation with MRI prior to definitive clearance of injury. The research resulted in changes in clinical practice in trauma to include investigation of persisting midline cervical tenderness with MRI in specific neurologically intact emergency and intensive care patients.

Dr Ricardo da Costa (Department of Nutrition and Dietetics) won Nursing and Allied Health category for his publication in Nutrition Journal titled: Water and Sodium intake habits and status of ultra-endurance runners during a multi-stage ultra-marathon conducted in a hot ambient environment: an observational field based study

This novel study comprehensively explored water and sodium intake and status of ultra-endurance runners during consecutive days of exertional-heat stress. The study clearly identified over-drinking behaviours, fluid-overload and incidence of asymptomatic exercise-associated hyponatraemia in the cohort. The study also acknowledged that commonly used methods of determines hydration status (body mass change and urine measures of hydration) may actually promote over-drinking behaviours and subsequent clinically significant issues.

It is hoped that the findings will aid evidence-based practice in devising effective hydration strategies for individuals exposed to physical exertion in extreme environmental conditions. As such, this work has been cited in the recently published (2014) ultra-endurance medical services consensus guidelines in the prestigious Sports Medicine journal.

Dr Anton Isaacs (School of Rural Health) won the Social and Educational Research category for his publication in Early Intervention in Psychiatry titled: Help seeking by Aboriginal men who are mentally unwell: a pilot study

This is the first study of help seeking among Koorie men for a mental illness in Australia. The findings from this study informed the development of a new model of integrated mental health service for Aboriginal men in Gippsland. The model (The Koorie Men's Health Day - Isaacs and Lampitt, 2014) was found to be a success with the local Koorie community and has been replicated in neighbouring towns.

Dr Matthew Mundy (School of Psychological Sciences)won the Psychological Sciences category for his publication in The Journal of Neuroscience titled: A critical role for the hippocampus and perirhinal cortex in perceptual learning of scenes and faces: complementary findings from amnesia and fMRI

This research is fundamental in supporting recent theoretical accounts of ventral visual stream and medial temporal lobe function - providing converging evidence for a new model of perceptual-mnemonic interaction. In particular, this study helped to unify neuroimaging and neuropsychological investigations, clarifying the role of memory areas in perceptual functions. This opens the door for a new series of studies, building towards a revised understanding of memory deficit, such as that seen in Alzheimer's disease and long term amnesia. The prize money will be used to support Matthew’s travel to an international neuroscience conference.

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