Inaugural NIF Scientific Symposium kicks off #NationalScienceWeek

Leading researchers, clinicians and industry attended the inaugural National Imaging Facility (NIF) Scientific Symposium on 12 August.

The event kicked off National Science Week for NIF, highlighting the critical role of collaboration in translating research challenges to benefit industry and keep Australians healthy, with the theme ‘National partnerships for innovation and impact’.

NIF CEO Prof Wojtek Goscinski said the Symposium was an excellent opportunity to highlight ground-breaking work from Australia’s world-class imaging community.

“It was a privilege to host experts from across Australia, including keynote speakers Prof Graeme Jackson, Prof Louise Emmet and Prof Gemma Figtree, whose work is at the leading edge of imaging globally,” Prof Goscinski said.

“I’d also like to extend my thanks to the presenters who delivered an excellent Technology Showcase session, and Health and Medical Translational Challenges session.

“A particular highlight was hearing from our industry partners, including Telix Pharmaceuticals, Clarity Pharmaceuticals, Cochlear and Nyrada, who discussed the way they engage with national imaging research infrastructure.

“NIF is privileged to have a strong network of world-leading expertise at our fingertips and it was an honour to bring some of these people together to present their work and share ideas at the 2022 Symposium,” he said.

Keynote presentations of the Symposium included:

  • ‘The Australian Epilepsy Project’, Prof Graeme Jackson
  • From mouse to Medicare: the PSMA story in Australia’, Prof Louise Emmett
  • Coronary artery imaging to inform the next Frontier of heart attack prevention’, Prof Gemma Figtree

The Technology Showcase session highlighted NIF’s latest capabilities, including tools for processing and interpreting data, and applications of imaging to solve complex problems, including:

  • ‘Ultra-high field magnetic resonance imaging’, Prof Leigh Johnston and Prof Markus Barth
  • ‘Bringing imaging to rural Australia with a national network of low field mobile MR scanners’, Dr Zhaolin Chen
  • ‘Australian Imaging Service: The national platform for trusted data management and analysis’, Dr Ryan Sullivan
  • ‘Magnetic Particle Imaging’, Dr Andre Bongers
  • An insight into MicroCT imaging: recent advances, applications and impact on research and innovation’, Ms Diana Patalwala
  • Preclinical Research: The Crucial Step in Medical Advancements’, Dr Chris Christou

The Health and Medical Translation Challenges session provided an opportunity for attendees to hear from clinicians and researchers about their journey to making translational impact, including:

  • Neuroimaging in clinical trials: Perspectives of a clinician-researcher’, A/Prof Sylvia Gustin
  • The Australasian Radiopharmaceutical Trials network (ARTnet)’, A/Prof Ros Francis

The Industry Discussion Panel opened up conversation on how imaging accelerates and underpins innovation and future opportunities, with speakers:

  • Dr David Cade, Chief Executive Officer, Telix Pharmaceuticals Asia Pacific
  • Dr Matt Harris, Chief Scientific Officer, Clarity Pharmaceuticals
  • Dr Zachary Smith, Director, Algorithms and Applications, Cochlear
  • Dr Jasneet Parmar, Neuroscience Researcher, Nyrada Inc

Members of the NIF network recognised internationally as in-person conferences return

[Pictured: UNSW-NeuRA Facility Fellow, Dr Michael Green presented a study titled “Effect of Compressed SENSE on Freesurfer parcellation precision” which was a collaboration between NeuRA researchers, Philips Australia and New Zealand, and UNSW.]

In-person events have returned – and over the last few months, leading edge experts from the NIF network have attended, presented, and taken the opportunity to collaborate at conferences like ANZSNM and ISMRM.

We’re proud to acknowledge the members of the NIF network who have presented their globally significant work to the greater imaging communities.

We congratulate University of Sydney-ANSTO Node Co-Director, Prof Fernando Calamante as President of ISMRM on the success of the 2022 31st Annual Meeting hosted in London, UK in May.

We also recognise the incredible achievement of Dr Shawna Farquharson as recipient of the ISMRT 2022 Distinguished Service Award at the same event.

Back in Australia, NIF kicked off events with a Molecular imaging and Radiopharmaceuticals Capability Showcase at ANZSNM. We were honoured to invite world-class speakers from within our network, Prof Steven Meikle, A/Prof Roslyn Francis, Prof Gary Egan, Prof Kristofer Thurecht and Dr John Bennett to present during the NIF session.

We look forward to seeing more of our network at upcoming events – stay tuned for the NIF Scientific Symposium next month in Sydney. Save the date for Friday 12 August.


Here are some more highlights from the NIF network attending events so far this year:

Markus Barth

QLD Node Director

ISMRM

 

Why did you attend? Many reasons: present group results; moderator of sessions; member of study groups and initiatives

 

What was the highlight of the event for you? Catching up with fellow researchers

 

What would you say to someone considering attending next meeting? Best check the hybrid setup, i.e. what is available in person and what is available online

Michael Green

NeuRA Facility Fellow

ISMRM

Why did you attend? Primarily it was a great way to re-connect with colleagues and share ideas in an old-fashioned, non-Zoom type of way. I presented a study titled “Effect of Compressed SENSE on Freesurfer parcellation precision” which was a collaboration between NeuRA researchers, Philips Australia and New Zealand, and UNSW. The study assessed the reliability of an MRI acceleration techniques designed to speed up the time it takes to acquire images. We wanted to provide a guideline for MR researchers wanting to reduce scan time while acquiring high quality data.

 

What was the highlight of the event for you? The face-to-face aspect of a conference was a real highlight. It was a nice compliment and surprise to see Philips also present data from our study to a global audience as validation for their acceleration techniques employed on their MRI machines. I also received some interesting feedback regarding the study analysis which I may implement before publishing the manuscript.

 

What would you say to someone considering attending next meeting? Study the conference schedule well before attending then pick and choose which seminars you’d like to attend. Then talk to as many people as possible. In person!

Joseph Ioppolo

UWA Facility Fellow

ANZSNM

Why did you attend? This is a good meeting to attend to connect with the other radiochemists in Australia. Due to COVID I had not had a chance to do this in a long while. I was also very keen to see the Q-TRaCE labs at Royal Brisbane, as we have a good working relationship between them and us at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. I was able to let people know I had moved across to the NIF Node at UWA and was able to speak about our new lab and facilities being built now in Perth during my talk on the Saturday

What was the highlight of the event for you? While ANZSNM was a great chance to hear some great talks and connect with a lot of people, it was also exciting to tour the labs at Q-TRaCE and the Centre for Advanced Imaging at UQ, where we also had our national Cyclotron User Group meeting.

What would you say to someone considering attending next meeting? There are just not that many radiochemists in Australia, and the ANZSNM (along with the EPSM) is a great opportunity to see meet each other in person and see how the radiopharmaceuticals we make are being used to image and treat disease around the country.

 

Sjoerd Vos

UWA Facility Fellow

ISMRM

 

Why did you attend? I presented a project shared between my current role as NIF fellow and my previous job in London.

 

What was the highlight of the event for you? My highlight was discussing potential new collaborations within Australia and internationally.

 

What would you say to someone considering attending next meeting? I think this is also a key reason to go to these conferences – to help explore new collaborations to benefit our imaging centres and community.

Shenjun Zhong

Monash Informatics Fellow

ISMRM (Virtual)

Why did you attend? My abstract was accepted as an online power pitch presentation in the ISMRM 2022 conference. And I virtually co-chaired one of the gather.town sessions in the theme of imaging processing and analysis.

What was the highlight of the event for you? The main highlight was the talk provided by one of the famous AI researchers, Yann LeCun, and his topic was ‘Future AI research in medical imaging‘. The key take-home message is the shifting from supervised to self-supervised learning framework in general AI and medical imaging research.

Meet our new Fellows

Meet the newest members of Australia’s advanced imaging network.

Their expertise is vital in applying imaging technologies, processing and interpreting imaging data, and applying imaging to solve complex problems.

We’re proud to extend our welcome to, and introduce, the newest members of NIF’s Fellows network, joining our team of experts enabling Australian imaging science to unlock solutions to major challenges.

USyd/ANSTO Facility Fellow
SAHMRI Facility Fellow
Monash Facility Fellow
Macquarie Facility Fellow

NIF Molecular Imaging and Radiochemistry Showcase to be presented at ANZSNM

National Imaging Facility enables access to imaging capabilities across the country and will present a Molecular Imaging and Radiochemistry Showcase at ANZSNM 2022, featuring presentations from a range of research leaders from Australia’s advanced imaging network.

See the full ANZSNM program here.

Register to attend ANZSNM 2022.

National Imaging Facility: Molecular Imaging and Radiochemistry Showcase
Saturday 14 May 2022, 3:15pm – 4:15pm
Session Chair: Prof Wojtek Goscinski, CEO National Imaging Facility

TimeSpeakerTopic
3:15 – 3:20Professor Wojtek Goscinski

Chief Executive Officer
National Imaging Facility

Introduction to NIF Molecular Imaging and
Radiochemistry Showcase

3:20 – 3:30Professor Steven Meikle

Head of the Imaging Physics Laboratory, Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney

Total Body PET
3:30 – 3:40Associate Professor Roslyn Francis

Head of Department of Nuclear Medicine and WA PET Service, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, University of Western Australia

Radiochemistry activities in Western Australia
3:40 – 3:50Professor Gary Egan

Professor and Foundation Director, Monash Biomedical Imaging

Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function

Australian Precision Medicine Enterprise
3:50 – 4:00Prof Kristofer Thurecht

Acting Deputy Director (Research Technologies) and Group Leader – Principal Research Fellow,

Centre for Advanced Imaging, University of Queensland

Affiliate Principal Research Fellow and Group Leader,

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

Alpha therapies and activities
4:00 – 4:10Dr John Bennett

Research Infrastructure Platform Leader – Biosciences,
ANSTO

ANSTO’s new NIF Alpha Radioisotopes and
Radiopharmaceuticals Facility

World class imaging expertise empowers a sight for (dino)saur eyes

ICYMI, Horridus, the world’s most complete and finely preserved Triceratops was unveiled to the public (for the first time in 67 million years) last month at Melbourne Museum, as part of their new exhibition, Triceratops: Fate of the Dinosaurs.

Advanced Imaging experts from Monash Biomedical Imaging (MBI) and the National Imaging Facility (NIF) worked with Melbourne Museum to create a digital record of Horridus and further examine how the dinosaur would have walked the earth back-in-the-day for the exhibition’s immersive digital experience.

Longstanding research collaborations exist between the Melbourne Museum palaeontology team and the Biomedicine Discovery Institute and School of Biological Sciences at Monash University, with MBI facilitating imaging of many important fossil specimens for collaborative scientific study, teaching and outreach.

Imaging is critical to a broad variety of research problems including environmental and ecosystems research, palaeontology and preservation. The National Imaging Facility (NIF) makes cutting edge imaging capabilities accessible to Australian researchers and companies, and NIF’s world-class network of Fellows provides expertise in processing and interpreting imaging data and applying imaging to solve complex challenges.

As the CT scanner can penetrate plastic and foam, the team were able to keep the bones in their protective stillages during scanning


Why make a digital record of Horridus?

As the most complete real dinosaur fossil in any Australasian Museum, Horridus was scanned in MBI’s large bore Siemens CT scanner before it was assembled for display, to enable further study of the Triceratops by the global scientific community.

The imaging of rare and high-value specimens such as Horridus allows the preservation of information from fragile objects, in addition to the non-destructive exploration of the interior of specimens.

Monash University PhD student Hazel Richards conducted the scans and created 3D models of the Triceratops bones for the exhibition as part of her role as research assistant on the project.

“When we combine the internal images produced by these CT scans with the external surface scan images, we can create a complete 3D model of the Triceratops bones that allows us to research a range of exciting biological and evolutionary questions,” Ms Richards said.

“The team at MBI are always enthused and accommodating when we come to them with proposals for scanning weird and often unwieldy objects like these Triceratops fossils.”

“With their support and expertise, we have been able to maximise the scientific potential of these remarkable pieces of natural history,” Ms Richards said.

Monash University PhD student Hazel Richards conducted the scans and created 3D models of the Triceratops bones for the exhibition as part of her role as research assistant on the project.


Applying imaging expertise to solve challenges

NIF Facility Fellow, and MBI’s Head of Pre-Clinical Imaging, Dr Michael de Veer worked with Ms Richards to provide training and operational guidance on the optimal use of the instrument to generate the data.

“Fossilised bone is very dense, so our scanning challenge was to manipulate the CT settings so that the X-rays would penetrate the bones, allowing visualisation of internal structures such as the dinosaur’s brain case,” Dr de Veer said.

“Different parts of the dinosaur fossil were scanned over a number of visits, and the bones were transported in special crates to reduce the possibility of damage.

“As the CT scanner can penetrate plastic and foam, we were able to keep the bones in their protective stillages during scanning, a capability that made Museums Victoria palaeontologist Tim Ziegler very happy” Dr de Veer said.

As Collection Manager Vertebrate Palaeontology, Tim Ziegler manages the preservation of Victoria’s fossil collections of backboned animals, plants, and microfossils, including dinosaurs.

“Fossils are surprisingly fragile once they are uncovered and brought out of the ground,” Mr Ziegler said.

“We take any opportunity to improve the safety of specimens under research. As part of Victoria’s State Collection, this skeleton will be kept and preserved in perpetuity, and will offer scientific potential for years to come.”

Museums Victoria palaeontologist Tim Ziegler, Monash University PhD student Hazel Richards and NIF Facility Fellow, and MBI’s Head of Pre-Clinical Imaging, Dr Michael de Veer. 


What can a CT tell us about life 67 million years ago?

Visitors to the Triceratops exhibition will see the CT data captured first-hand – both virtually –through animated projections from the scans, and physically – as life-size touchable resin casts made from the 3D printed models.

This information can be used to tell deeper stories about Triceratops, including its evolution, behaviour and how it sensed its Cretaceous world.

The data of the upper and lower jaws reveal Horridus had more than 800 teeth. These CT scans can contribute to investigations of feeding biomechanics and diet in Triceratops and other highly specialised herbivorous dinosaurs.  

Scans of the dinosaur’s well-preserved braincase provided 3D models of the internal cranial cavity, allowing the team to examine the size and shape of regions of the brain and inner ear.

These provide important data for research reconstructing what sorts of sounds Triceratops was adapted to hear, and the relative importance of vision, smell and hearing in the daily lives of these long-extinct beasts.

The data of the upper and lower jaws reveal Horridus had more than 800 teeth. These CT scans can contribute to investigations of feeding biomechanics and diet in Triceratops and other highly specialised herbivorous dinosaurs. Image copyright Museums Victoria.


Say hi to Horridus

You can visit Horridus in the flesh (er.. bones?) at Melbourne Museum’s exhibition, Triceratops: Fate of the Dinosaurs.

View Horridus in 3D here.

For more information, contact Dr Michael de Veer, Head of Pre-Clinical Imaging and NIF Facility Fellow.

Images courtesy of Museums Victoria and Monash Biomedical Imaging.

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) 

Changes in the brain related to parenthood

Parents can tell you that having kids changes your life. Recent studies by the Cognitive Neuroimaging Team at Monash Biomedical Imaging have shown just how deep those changes go by analysing brain structure in older adults that have had children. Parenthood was shown to cause life-long changes in both mothers and fathers, with a follow-up study suggesting that motherhood can protect the ageing maternal brain.

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