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					                                                                          ARC/NHMRC Research
                                                             Network in Genes and Environment in Development

                                                NGED Newsletter
Inside this issue:
 Royal jelly makes bee              1
                                                                         Issue 19 - May 2008
 queens, boosts nurture

 Peter Koopman - Fellow             1
                                         Royal jelly makes bee queens, boosts nurture case
 of the Australian Academy
 of Science                              The Network wishes to            future queens - alter DNA
                                         congratulate         Ryszard     methylation          profiles
 Sally Dunwoodie receives           2
                                         Maleszka and his team            and, subsequently, gene
 Investigator Award                      (ANU) on their latest Science    expression. The study shows
                                         paper. In a recent media         how differential nutrition is
 Network Members on the             2    release the ANU reports:         linked to gene expression
                                                                          and how alterations in diet
 Australia 2020 Summit:            3/4   New research from Ryszard        alter pathways that modify
 Through The Eyes of a
                                         Maleszka’s lab reveals           the developmental trajectory
 Young Research Scientist
                                         the epigenetic mechanism         of an organism.
 Sandra Rees receives               4    that destines some honey
 2008 Nina Kondelos Prize                bees to become workers           The      research      team                 Ryszard Maleszka
 NGED Health Priority               5    and others queens. In a          includes Joanna Maleszka,
 Research Summit on                      paper published on 13th          Robert Kucharski, Sylvain              Kucharski R, Maleszka J, Foret
 Alcohol in Fetal Develop-
                                         March 2008 in Science they       Foret and Paul Helliwell.              S, Maleszka R. (2008) Nutritional
 ment                                                                                                            Control of Reproductive Status in
                                         show that nutritional cues
 Upcoming Events                   5/6                             Honeybees via DNA Methylation.
                                         - namely the legendary           Ryszard_Maleszka/                      Science. Mar 13; [Epub ahead of
                                         ‘royal jelly’ that is fed to                                            print].
 Funding Programs                   6

                                         Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science

                                                                          University of Queensland               to produce eggs and males
                                                                          was elected Fellow of the              to produce sperm.
Contact:                                                                  Australian Academy of
                                                                          Science in March this year.            In addition to these world-
NGED Office                                                                                                      leading discoveries, Peter
University of Adelaide
Molecular Life Sciences Building                                          Professor Koopman was                  Koopman and his team
Adelaide SA 5005                                                          part of the team that                  have also identified a large
                                                                          discovered the SRY gene,               number of important genes
T: 08 8303 7549
F: 08 8303 7534                                                           which determines gender                such as Sox9, a critical gene
E:                                         in mammals, hailed as                  for skeletal development,
                                                                          one of the most important              and Sox18, a major control
                                              Peter Koopman               breakthroughs of the 20th              gene for blood vessel and
                                                                          century. In 2006 he led                lymphatic development.
                                         Peter Koopman from the           a team of scientists that
                                         Institute for Molecular          identified the molecular                 Bioscience (IMB) at the          trigger that causes females
PAGE 2                                                                                                   NGED NEWSLETTER

Sally Dunwoodie receives ANZSCDB Young Investigator Award

               Sally Dunwoodie             was awarded a B.Sc. with first              within its Developmental Biology
               has been awarded            class honours. She undertook her           Program. Using the embryonic cDNA
               the     Australian          graduate research on the genetics          libraries she created in London,
               and New Zealand             of muscle development in Edna              she has identified numerous genes
               Society for Cell            Hardeman’s lab at the Children’s           that are required for the normal
               and Developmental           Medical Research Institute, where          development of the embryo and
Biology (ANZSCDB) inaugural Young          she used transgenic systems to             placenta. Sally’s research program
Investigator Award.                        analyse the developmental regulation       aims to define molecular and
                                           of actin gene expression. Sally then       cellular interactions that orchestrate
Alpha Yep (President, ANZSCDB)             moved to Rosa Beddington’s group           mammalian development. She
reports: Sally Dunwoodie is a              at the National Institute for Medical      seeks to accomplish this through a
laboratory head in the Developmental       Research in London. There she              mechanistic understanding of how
Biology Program at the Victor Chang        helped pioneer the generation of           both intra- and extra-embryonic
Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney         germ layer-specific cDNA libraries          environmental factors integrate
and a Conjoint Associate Professor         from the mouse gastrula, a technical       with, and affect, developing form
in the Faculties of Medicine and           tour de force that provided the            and function. In particular, her work
Science at the University of New           developmental biology community            demonstrated that Notch signaling
South Wales.                               with a host of reagents whose value        is central to somite and vertebral
                                           persists to this day. In 2000 Sally        column formation in mouse and
A Sydney native, Sally majored in          returned to a faculty position at the      humans, and identified hypoxia as
genetics and biochemistry at the           Victor Chang where she established         a feature of normal embryo and
University of Sydney, where she            a mouse embryology laboratory              placental development.

Network Members on the move

                 Jonathan Hill has                       Peter Currie has             Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney
                 been         appointed                  been appointed as            and previously held a senior program
                 as new Professor                        Deputy        Director       leadership position at the MRC
                 and Head of School                      and Head of the              Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh
                 of          Veterinary                  Regenerative Biology         in the United Kingdom. In addition
                 Science at the                          Unit of the Australian       to assuming a key role as deputy
University of Queensland. With an          Regenerative Medicine Institute at         director, Professor Currie will continue
impressive record of academic and          Monash University. Peter will take         an active research program focusing
research achievement as well as            up his post from December 2008.            on zebra fish muscle disease models.
strong links with the animal production
industry, Jon will oversee a $75 million   His appointment follows an                 ARMI is currently in the process of
project to relocate the School of          international recruitment program          developing a zebra fish aquarium
Veterinary Science to the University’s     to identify a deputy director for the      on the Monash University campus
Gatton campus, expected to be              new Institute, which will see over 100     at Clayton. When completed, the
in place by mid-2009. For further          people recruited within two years to       $3.8m core facility will contain
information please visit the UQ            join the researchers already involved in   5000 zebra fish tanks, a 1000 tank
website.                                   regenerative medicine research within      quarantine room, and a self-contained
                                           the Monash biosciences precinct.           phenotyping room (the former two at
                                                                                      PC 2 levels).
                                           Professor Currie is currently
                                           laboratory head of the Developmental
                                           Biology Program at the Victor Chang
                                                                                                                       PAGE 3

Australia 2020 Summit: Through The Eyes of a Young Research Scientist

Dr Beverly Muhlhausler from                provide some reassurance to those         session, and in my initial interactions
the ‘Early Origins of Adult Health         other researchers who tend to             with other participants, was the fact
Research Group’ at the University          approach government initiatives to        that each and every person was
of South Australia attended the            improve the status of research with       there for a reason; a reason, which
‘Australia 2020 Summit’, which was         a certain degree of abject cynicism.      they were committed to and spoke
held at Parliament House on 19 and         I stress that I will concentrate only     passionately about, both in informal
20 April 2008 to help shape a long         on two aspects of the discussion          discussions and during the formal
term strategy for the nation’s future.     in relation to Health and Medical         summit sessions. The energy was
We asked Beverly to summarise              Research, which cannot hope to do         intense, and every single participant
her experience at the summit for the       justice to the depth of discussions       left that opening session with a feeling
NGED Newsletter. Here is Beverly’s         across the health stream, but which       that they were part of something that
report:                                    I hope will be of interest to NGED        could make a real difference in the
                                           Newsletter readers.                       future of this county,
“Now, I must preface this by
confessing that during my previous         And so to the summit....                  As an early career researcher, I
involvement with a number of                                                         came to the summit with two main
societies, which have been quite           I arrived in Canberra unsure what         “agendas”;
heavily involved in lobbying to state      to expect – how the sessions were         (1) I wanted to highlight the importance
and federal governments about the          going to be structured, and how           of thinking about ways to facilitate
importance of investing in health          the organisers would ensure that          the efficient and effective translation
and medical research, I have always        everyone’s voices were heard. The         of basic (for want of a better term!)
taken a relatively cynical stance to any   opening session of the summit was         biomedical research into clinical
Government initiative to make any          certainly an inspiring experience, with   practice and into public health policy.
substantial improvement to Health          a notable amount of positive energy       Whilst Australia has an exceptional
and Medical Research in Australia.         and enthusiasm being projected by         research culture – translation is
I am pleased to say, however, that         all those who spoke (this positive        something we don’t do at all well,
my experience at the ‘Australia 2020       energy and enthusiasm was to              and this needs to change if we are to
Summit’ has allayed this cynicism,         prove a major theme of the summit).       become a world-leader in health.
and I hope that this account can           What struck me most in this opening       (2) I wanted to see Australia develop
                                                                                     a proper career structure for research
                                                                                     scientists – as my colleague, Professor
                                                                                     Caroline McMillen so eloquently
                                                                                     articulated – the instatement
                                                                                     of research as a profession in
                                                                                     our tertiary institutes and the
                                                                                     acknowledgment of the importance
                                                                                     and value of a research career
                                                                                     through professional recognition,
                                                                                     appropriate training and professional
                                                                                     development opportunities and
                                                                                     appropriate remuneration and job
                                                                                     security befitting such highly trained

                                                                                     This latter issue is one that is
                                                                                     particularly close to my heart. I
                                                                                     consider myself very fortunate in that
                                                                                     I have exceptional mentorship and
                                                                                     have been provided with fantastic
PAGE 4                                                                                                   NGED NEWSLETTER

Australia 2020 Summit (continued)...

opportunities      for     professional   have thought about the problems             between
development right from the start of       we are facing and are able to make          researchers
my PhD. I work in a supportive and        concrete and realistic suggestions on       that      would
internationally recognised group, and     how to improve the current situation.       otherwise
I have a family who supports my rather    The sentiments that I have outlined         have        not
unusual working hours! However,           above were, I am pleased to report,         taken place,
I know only too well that this isn’t      echoed by many of the members of            and one which
always the case and that it is, sadly,    the health stream and I am, for the         I am confident
the exception rather than the rule. I     first time in my, some might argue, as       will continue.
know how many of my friends and           yet relatively short research career,
colleagues, all excellent researchers     optimistic that these suggestions will      I encourage all of you to take the
with huge potential, have chosen to       be heard and considered by those            opportunity to visit the 2020 website,
give up the erratic funding cycle and     with the ultimate power to make             join the discussion and contribute to
uncertainty of a research career for      a difference; and that the place of         the conversation which is shaping
the relative stability (dare I use the    research in ensuring the continued          strategies for the future of research
word ‘normality’?) of an alternate        health and well being of future             in this country.
career path. Few have looked back,        generations of Australian has been
and unless this changes, Australia        recognised.
stands to lose many more of its
brightest talent to other countries or    So, in closing, I felt privileged to have                Dr Beverly Muhlhausler
other professions.                        had the opportunity to be involved in                    Early Origins of Adult Health
                                                                                                               Research Group
                                          what I see as an important moment                                    Sansom Institute
From my perspective, the summit           in the history of the Australian            School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences
provided something that I believe         Government. I look forward to                            University of South Australia
had been missing for some time – i.e.     hearing the response of the Federal
the chance for a coming together          Government to our recommendations
of individuals with a wide range of       (by the end of 2008).                       Australia 2020 Summit web site:
backgrounds and expertise, who all                                          
care deeply about the future of health    If nothing else, the 2020 Summit has        index.cfm
and medical research in Australia,        opened up and renewed a dialogue

Sandra Rees receives 2008 Nina Kondelos Prize

Professor         Sandra        Rees,     George Paxinos and is named after
Department of Anatomy and Cell            his late sister. Professor Paxinos is
Biology, University of Melbourne          very well know in the neuroscience
has been awarded the 2008                 commmunity for the production of
Nina Kondelos Prize for a female          stereotaxic atlases which are used
neuroscientist who has made an            worldwide.
outstanding contribution to basic or
clinical neuroscience research.
                                          Sandra Rees and George Paxinos at the
The Nina Kondelos Prize, which            Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuro-
                                          science Society in Hobart, Tasmania, in
is awarded by the Australian              January 2008.
Neuroscience Society, was made
possible by a donation from Professor
                                                                                                                   PAGE 5

NGED Health Priority Research Summit on Alcohol in Fetal Development
The first NGED Health Priority
Research Summit on Alcohol in Fetal
Development was held for half a day
on Thursday 13th March at the Hilton
Melbourne Airport Hotel.

Fourteen delegates, consisting of
NGED members and non-members
from the fields of clinical medicine,
epidemiology       and      laboratory
research, arrived from a variety of
locations around Australia. The main      history in alcohol and development,      productive meeting; the NGED has
aim of this meeting was to discuss        their interest in participating at the   received very positive feedback
and identify key research questions       summit and their vision for what         from attendees. A future meeting will
and needs to increasingly understand      needs to be addressed in this field.      ensure that the NGED will continue
the role and impact of alcohol in         Discussions followed which enabled       to facilitate an integrated approach
development.                              clear identification of key knowledge     to basic research. In addition,
The meeting began with two                gaps. There was a general                the NGED is looking to sponsor
presentations bringing attendees          consensus that there is insufficient      the Monash University organised
up to speed on the epidemiology of        experimental and population based        National Conference on Alcohol and
fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in       data to understand the implications      Development, Friday 14th November
Australia (Professor Elizabeth Elliott,   of alcohol consumption during            2008.
University of Sydney & The Children’s     pregnancy for the general population.
Hospital at Westmead) and an              The 2008 Annual NGED Forum has           Other NGED Health Priority Research
overview of lab investigations on fetal   a scheduled session covering in part     Summits will be scheduled this year
alcohol exposure (Professor John          the material from this summit.           concentrating on (i) obesity and (ii)
Bertram, Monash University & NGED).                                                allergies.
Following this, each participant          The participation of lab and
briefly introduced themselves to           epidemiological researchers as well      Marina Delpin
the group detailing their research        as clinicians made this an energetic,    NGED Marketing & Communications
                                                                                                                                        PAGE 6

Upcoming Events

Australian Society for Medical Research - South Australia Branch

 2 June 2008     ASMR Gala Dinner at The Observatory. The keynote speaker will be the ASMR Medallist for
                 2008 Sir Gustav Nossal AC CBE, Professor Emeritus, from The University of Melbourne.
 4 June 2008     ASMR Annual Scientific Meeting at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

More information for both events can be found at

NGED Funding Programs

The Network has introduced a number of funding programs to support the interaction amongst Network Members and
with other researchers and research organisations from Australia and overseas. Award rules and application forms are
available on the NGED website.

 Closing Date Funding Porgram
 31 January      NGED Conference Support Awards
 30 April        The purpose of the NGED Conference Support Program is to assist conference organisers to provide high profile meetings
 31 July         in the areas of developmental biology / developmental physiology. Preference will be given to international conferences
 31 October      held in Australia with an emphasis on promoting multidisciplinary interactions in order to provide the greatest benefit to
                 NGED members from different scientific backgrounds.
                 NGED Conference Participation Awards
 31 January *
                 The purpose of the NGED Conference Participation Award is to provide young scientists with an opportunity to present
 30 April *
                 their work at a scientific forum, which they otherwise may not have been able to. Preference will be given to the Network’s
 31 July *
                 PhD students and early career researchers. Awards will not normally exceed $500 (for meetings in Australia) or $1,000 (for
 31 October *
                 overseas meetings). * Please refer to award rules for further details.
 31 January      NGED Laboratory Interchange Award
 30 April        The NGED Laboratory Interchange Award is available to assist NGED students, early career scientists and other members
 31 July         of the Network to visit other NGED laboratories to work on collaborative interdisciplinary projects, learn specialised
 31 October      techniques or access specialised equipment.
                 NGED Cross-Disciplinary Workshop Attendance Award
 Ongoing         To facilitate research interactions and research training activities, which cross discipline boundaries, the Cross-Disciplinary
                 Workshop Attendance Award will assist NGED students, early career scientists and other members of the Network to attend
                 cross-disciplinary workshops (i.e. a physiology student attending a developmental biology workshop).
 31 January      NGED Focus Group Award
 30 April        The purpose of this award is to support ‘Focus Group/Think Tank Meetings’ that lie within the objectives of the Network
 31 July         (i.e. strategic planning across the fields, Centre of Excellence planning, or establishment of collaborations between NGED
 31 October      groups that cross disciplinary boundaries).

Late applications will not be considered.