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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

SCS medical student garners national award for research

Professor Morand and final year 
MBBS student Andrew Toh

The Australian Rheumatology Association awarded one of its highest annual research awards last week to the lupus research group in the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases at theSchool of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health.

Led by Professor Eric Morand and postdoctoral scientist Dr Sarah Jones, the research was the basis of a project by final year Monash MBBS student Mr Andrew Toh.

During his Bachelor of Medical Science (Hons) at SCS in 2014, Andrew’s research demonstrated for the first time that expression of the anti-inflammatory protein Gilz is reduced in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and that low levels are associated with worse disease.

This important work arose from the strong collaboration between Monash University and the Monash lupus clinic at Monash Health, led by Monash academic Dr Alberta Hoi.

"Gilz has the potential to be the basis of a new way to treat SLE," said Head, School of Clinical Sciences and Director of Rheumatology at Monash Health Professor Morand.

“We are starting work on developing a therapy based on this molecule that could obviate the need for steroid drugs in SLE."

“This award is a very pleasant surprise,” said Andrew. “Contributing to this novel research has been a fascinating and deeply satisfying experience.”

“My BMedSc year was a truly exhilarating journey—I’ve gained invaluable research skills and a greater appreciation for the vast research work underpinning clinical practice in medicine.”

“I would strongly encourage the BMedSc to medical students,” added Andrew.

“The supervisors at SCS have a highly infectious passion for research; they provide a supportive and enthusiastic environment to undertake research and I am eternally grateful for the experience they've given me.”

The Australian Rheumatology Association awarded its 'Best Basic Science' award to this work at its annual national scientific meeting last week in Adelaide.

Professor Morand is convenor of the 2017 world lupus congress to be held in Melbourne.

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