Our top picks: Three webinars to boost the potential of your research with imaging

We are excited to promote opportunities to make imaging applicable across disciplines and institutions. 

With the start of the academic year upon us, we’ve shortlisted our top webinar picks to upskill, broaden your understanding of advanced imaging capabilities, and get involved in the imaging community.  

1. ACCS Brain Imaging Series with the Australian Characterisation Commons at Scale 

The ACCS Brain Imaging Series will bring together topical webinars and lectures with hands-on workshop sessions teaching practical skills in creating workflows and analysis pipelines for brain imaging data in the Characterisation Virtual Laboratory (CVL).  

Register: 
Lecture: 24 March 1:00pm – 2:00pm  
Workshop: 31 March  1:00pm – 3:00pm 
Troubleshooting session: 7 April  12:00pm – 1:00pm   

2. The neuroscience of lifestyle interventions for mental health: the BrainPark approach with Monash Biomedical Imaging 

In this webinar, Dr Rebecca Segrave and Dr Chao Suo will discuss BrainPark’s approach to developing lifestyle-based interventions to help people get better control of compulsive behaviours, and the multi-modality neuroimaging approaches they take to investigating outcomes. 

Register: 
Webinar: 16 March 12:30pm – 1:15pm 

3. Introducing healthcare research, development, and deployment technologies with NVIDIA Clara™ (last chance to register) 

NVIDIA Clara™ is a healthcare application framework for AI-powered imaging, genomics, and the development and deployment of smart sensors. It includes full-stack GPU-accelerated libraries, SDKs, and reference applications for developers, data scientists, and researchers to create real-time, secure, and scalable solutions.  

Register:  
Day 1: 22 February (9:00am – 11.30am) 
Day 2: 23 February (9:00am – 11.00am) 

#WomenInScience: A conversation with Diana Patalwala

#WomenInScience: A conversation with Diana Patalwala, Research Officer, Preclinical and Materials Imaging and National Imaging Facility Fellow at the Centre for Microscopy Characterisation and Analysis, University of Western Australia  

11 February is the United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science, highlighting the importance of full and equal access and participation. 

We’re proud to create powerful collaborations across the research and innovation sector, building teams with world-class expertise, who manage our state-of-the-art equipment, and partner with experts in other fields.  

Our mission is to make cutting-edge imaging capabilities accessible to Australian researchers, and we envision a society that provides equal opportunity for people of all genders to learn, work and engage in science. 

As we look to the future of research, it’s clear Australia’s success depends on us developing and encouraging the next generation of scientists, problem solvers and leaders – regardless of their gender, background or any other factor. 

Today we highlight the exceptional work of women leading the way in science and thank them for their work to deliver the impacts of life-changing research. 


Diana Patalwala has worked with the National Imaging Facility (NIF) as a Facility Fellow at the University of Western Australia (UWA) for the best part of a decade, dedicating her time to enabling research translation to real-world benefits.  

The breadth of impact that advanced imaging techniques has on research outcomes is what drives her to come to work every day. 

“We have researchers working on projects spanning in scope from investigating the anti-tumour effects of honeybee venom to treat breast cancer, the most common cancer in women worldwide, all the way to studying the acclimatisation of reef-building corals to consecutive heatwaves, contributing to the understanding of how different coral species are responding to climate change,” she says. 

“This sort of research is contributing to society, it’s giving back, it’s impactful!” 

Image: Coral stress band imaging, as part of Diana’s work assisting researchers with the study of acclimatisation of reef-building corals

Diana oversees the operations and development of research projects, providing user training and support at the Centre for Microscopy Characterisation and Analysis (CMCA) Bio-Imaging Facility (BIF), which supports interdisciplinary and multimodal imaging of small animals and materials using X-ray CT, High Frequency Ultrasounds and Photoacoustic Imaging, Fluorescence Multispectral and Bioluminescence Imaging.  

Her valuable skills and experience in imaging methodologies enable her to assist researchers with data collection, reconstruction, analysis and visualisation. 

When asked what led her to this career path, Diana says her post-graduate studies piqued her interest – but not in the way you might expect. 

“My postgrad degree in Medical Biotechnology had a few units which involved data analysis from preclinical imaging instruments,” she explains. 

“Although we were taught the theoretical principles on which these pre-clinical instruments worked, we were never allowed to operate them ourselves, which was disappointing because the science behind the instruments was really fascinating to me!” 

“Seeing my professors at the university working with these instruments motivated me to envision my career in a pre-clinical imaging facility,” she says. 

Now, Diana’s work allows her to have a hands-on role in imaging, enabling potentially life-changing research in medical biotechnology. 

Before new medical treatments and drugs reach the clinical trial phase (when research studies are performed on people for evaluation), they undergo pre-clinical testing and development. 

Diana says this is where pre-clinical imaging comes into the picture to provide invaluable data.  

“High resolution and high throughput pre-clinical imaging equipment such as pre-clinical CT scanners, high frequency ultrasounds, photoacoustics, Invivo bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging techniques better facilitate the development of these treatments and drugs during their pre-clinical phase,” she says. 

“As a NIF Facility Fellow, I operate and train researchers to use these instruments in a way in which we can get the maximum output from them and analyse the data they generate.” 

Talking to Diana, it is clear she is extremely passionate about her job and how her work can benefit the research community.  

At the end of last year, she presented her work on In vivo MicroCT and In vivo Fluorescence Imaging to an international audience at NIF’s webinar series in partnership with Global BioImaging, which for most people would be a career highlight – but for Diana, it’s quite a competitive ranking. 

“EVERYDAY is a career highlight!” she says. 

“Every day, researchers come to us with questions that have never been answered before, and we at NIF help them design experiments that give them access to world-class, cutting-edge pre-clinical and clinical imaging technologies.” 

“We provide them a better insight into their research needs, and ultimately aim to generate answers to some of the biggest challenges facing society!” 

When asked what advice she would give to someone who is considering working with a NIF capability, Diana says collaboration is at the heart of her work. 

“Come and have a chat with us – we are here for you!” 

“No one knows our instruments better than us – so talk to us before you design your experiments. We can put these instruments to use in ways you might not have thought of, and we will help you get the maximum output from them.” she says. 

For more information on NIF’s UWA Node, or to chat about how NIF’s capabilities could be used in your research project, contact Diana here. 

NCRIS: The power behind Australia’s science

NCRIS: The power behind Australia’s science

Australian science continues to make national and international headlines, most recently focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2019 – 2020 Australian bushfires. Behind these headlines, you will find a community of impassioned researchers. And behind them, you will find a network of research enablers from NCRIS, the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy. Since 2004, NCRIS has enabled a wealth of research excellence, making it both headline worthy and a critical pillar of the Australian economy. Leading economists agree.

Powerful economic findings

Recently, a number of  research infrastructure organisations from the NCRIS community commissioned Lateral Economics (LE) to assess the positive impacts of NCRIS for Australian society and the environment. LE’s report has identified ways in which NCRIS funding has and will continue to support the Australian community and economy.

The report found that the direct benefit of investment in NCRIS is calculated to be above a $7 return for every $1 invested, which is a return on investment (ROI) of 7.5:1. The report notes that by 2022-23 the investment could support the employment of an additional 1,750 scientific and technical staff, support staff, and supply chain and industry staff. These benefits along with others outlined in the report indicate the significant impact NCRIS has made on Australia’s economic security. The report concludes: 

“Based on economic theory and evidence from the time of the GFC to present, we can think of few approaches to providing additional stimulus to the Australian economy that are more cost effective than increasing investment in NCRIS.” 

NCRIS delivers 

The impact of NCRIS is clear, however the program itself is not often centre stage.  It is time to shine a light on NCRIS.  From supercomputers and microscopes, to data collection and software platforms NCRIS provides the infrastructure that supports Australia’s scientists.

The result is a network of world-class research facilities that are driving innovation and research in Australia and internationally. This network is made up of 22 NCRIS projects, which link over 200 institutions employing more than 1,900 highly skilled researchers and technical experts. This interconnected infrastructure and the specialist teams who run NCRIS programs allow Australia to meet the key challenges outlined in the UN sustainability goals and tackle some of the biggest scientific and societal challenges we face today. These have been highlighted in the Lateral Economics report as: 

Bushfire preparedness. With a range of sensors across Australia supported by NCRIS facilities such as TERN and AURIN, Australia can be better prepared for bushfire threats in the future.
Cyclone warnings. IMOS is providing rich, high frequency data from Australia’s surrounding oceans which can provide early warning signs of cyclones, not to mention ocean acidification and sea level rise associated with climate change.
Population health. A range of NCRIS facilities (e.g., PHRN, Phenomics Australia, Bioplatforms Australia, Therapeutic Innovation Australia) are helping to improve the health of Australia’s population.
Understanding the building blocks of reality. NCRIS facilities such as Microscopy Australia, National Imaging Facility, ANSTO, and Astronomy Australia Ltd are contributing to world leading research on the building blocks of the universe and of life.
Monitoring biodiversity. Australia’s unique biodiversity is being monitored, described and protected by the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), BioPlatforms Australia, IMOS and TERN. In particular, ALA is our national biodiversity data infrastructure. It integrates and delivers fundamental data on Australia’s plants, animals and fungi to support ecosystem assessment, monitoring and planning.
Boosting crop yields and resilience. The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility contributes fundamental services in the effort to improve crop yields and crop resilience with genomic and molecular characterisation performed through Bioplatforms Australia.
Deriving value from data. ARDC, Pawsey Supercomputing Centre and the National Computational Infrastructure enable data from many fields of research across a wide range of scales to be stored, curated, managed and analysed.
Understanding the earth. AuScope improves our understanding of fundamental earth science and enables a range of benefits including substantial reductions in the cost of and more effective resource exploration.
Advanced manufacturing. The Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) and Therapeutic Innovation Australian (TIA) provide industry and the wider community with access to cutting-edge advanced manufacturing technologies. Furthermore, NCRIS organisations such as Astronomy Australia Ltd are involved in advanced manufacturing activities.

Selected examples of major benefits of NCRIS-supported infrastructure to the Australian community from the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure (NCRIS) spending and economic growth report, June 2021. 

Why Australia needs science innovation

Current global challenges have proven the ability of science to respond and to break new ground when faced with a novel challenge. The fact we have vaccines a year into a global pandemic is testament to this. The ability to respond quickly and skillfully requires infrastructure and team work. The challenges are numerous and Australia has, through NCRIS, been building its scientific capability. A flow on effect of this is that investment in NCRIS has also resulted in a stronger and more resilient economy. The Lateral Economics report noted that:

“The economic impact analysis has revealed that NCRIS stimulus has contributed to supporting the economy during the GFC and the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dr Cathy Foley in her inaugural speech as Australia’s new Chief Scientist in March 2021 was perhaps thinking along similar lines when she noted that science is critical to solving humankind’s greatest challenges: 

“The question for me is how to strengthen the connections [between] scientists, researchers and innovators, with industry and policymakers.” — Dr Cathy Foley

This question highlights the direction in which Australia’s science must head.  NCRIS will be a key driver of this interdisciplinary and impact driven future. 

AUTHORS

Philomena Manifold (AuScope), Jo Curkpatrick (Australian Plant Phenomics Facility) Romy Pearse (Astronomy Australia Ltd), Nicola Tew (Population Health Research Network) and Karina Nunez Machado (Pawsey) on behalf of the NCRIS Communications Network

MORE INFORMATION

If you would like to know more about this report, please contact Nicola Tew (Communications Officer, Population Health Research Network, University of Western Australia).

FURTHER READING

National Collaborative Research Infrastructure (NCRIS) spending and economic growth by Lateral Economics, 2021

World-leading imaging technology reveals insights into cancer treatment for children with Down Syndrome

World-leading imaging technology reveals insights into cancer treatment for children with Down Syndrome.

The National Imaging Facility (NIF) continues to enable imaging science to unlock major health challenges with break-through research coming out of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

Leading-edge research conducted at the NIF’s South Australian Node has provided critical insight into the development of cancer in children with Down Syndrome.

Scientists from SAHMRI have identified an epigenetic regulator, HMGN1, on chromosome 21 that cooperates with a high-risk gene fusion to give rise to acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in paediatric patients with Down Syndrome.

Children with Down Syndrome are 20 times more prone to developing leukaemia, and are more susceptible to experiencing additional side effects from chemotherapy. In addition to these statistics, 60% of children with Down Syndrome ALL harbour this high-risk gene fusion, and all have high expression of chromosome 21 genes.

SAHMRI’s findings suggest HMGN1 is a potential target for a precision treatment approach in Down Syndrome ALL. The outcomes from this study present an opportunity to reduce exposure in patients to the toxic side effects of chemotherapy and improve survival outcomes for children with Down Syndrome ALL.

NIF Node Co-Director, Dr Chris Christou praised the work of the SAHMRI team, including Prof Deborah L White and Dr Elyse Page and congratulated them on the findings which present potentially life-saving data.

“These dedicated and highly-skilled scientists have demonstrated the critical role imaging has in responding to major health challenges,” Dr Christou said.

“I congratulate them on this vital discovery and look forward to updates on their continued work progressing their research to improve the lives of children with Down Syndrome.”

You can read a detailed post about the study here.

For more information, contact Wick Lakshantha, Imaging Scientist and National Imaging Facility Fellow, SAHMRI.

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