Category Archives: Research

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Science can influence policy and benefit the public – here’s how

The Conversation  Jeremy VanDerWal et al. 28 May 2015

We have all heard the calls to translate research into action, and have it influence policy and management. Each year, volumes of research are published that could help policy makers make better decisions.
Yet all-too-often it goes unnoticed. The reality is that different priorities, political agendas, personalities, data licensing, etc. often stand in the way.
In rare situations, the stars align and research rapidly informs policy and management, producing positive outcomes in on-the-ground environmental management. This is one such case. In this article we have three different perspectives on how it all came together, and what lessons can learnt from the experience that can be applied to other attempts to have research inform policy.
Earlier this month, the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP), released a heat map highlighting climate change-resilient areas for vertebrates across Queensland as a part of its Landscape Resilience program.

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Box jellyfish antivenom a step closer after breakthrough by Queensland scientists

ABC News Isobel Roe 29 May 2015

Scientists say they are a step closer to developing an antivenom to counteract toxins from the box jellyfish, which delivers the world’s deadliest jellyfish sting.
Scientists from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute say ground-breaking research has uncovered new toxins inside the venom of box jellyfish.
More than 60 people have died from box jellyfish stings in Australia, but there has never been any research into what causes such severe reactions.
Institute spokesman Dr Jason Mulvenna said scientists took samples from jellyfish venom and searched its contents against a database of proteins.
“We found a lot of proteins that we find in other venoms, like snakes and spiders, but we also found a large group of proteins that haven’t been identified anywhere else that seem to be unique to jellyfish, and particularly the box jellyfish,” he said.

Read more Qld researchers hopeful deadly box Jellyfish venom holds cancer answers


Ebola virus: Scientists discover key protein needed to develop vaccine

ABC News 27 May 2015

US researchers believe they may have pinpointed the Achilles heel of the Ebola virus, which could hold the key to developing an effective preventative vaccine, a study has reported.
Research published in the latest issue of mBio, the online journal of the American Society for Microbiology, said scientists believed a protein called Niemann-Pick C1 (NPC1) was critical for Ebola to infect a host.

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Link to full-text article in mBio

Publisher pushback puts open access in peril

The Conversation Virginia Barbour 21 May 2015

Delegates at the The Higher Education Technology Agenda (THETA) conference on the Gold Coast last week heard from futurist Bryan Alexander about four possible scenarios for the future of knowledge.
Three of them sounded engaging: there was one where “open information architecture has triumphed”; another where automation is the primary driving force; and a third which is a renaissance of “digitally enabled creativity”.
However, one was chilling. This was where the drive for “open” has failed, and content is locked up in walled gardens.
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Australia could face innovator exodus as fellowship scheme slashed: academics

ABC News Jake Sturmer 15 May 2015

The Federal Government has more than halved the number of fellowships on offer to mid-career researchers, sparking fears talented innovators could be forced to leave Australia’s shores.

The Future Fellowships program, which gives four years of funding to researchers in critical fields, has been slashed from 200 spaces two years ago to just 50 this year.

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Stainless staining provides a new tool for clinicians and researchers

EurekAlert 13-May-2015

Histopathology is a cornerstone of modern biomedical research. Yet, the practice of histopathology has evolved just a few times — non-specific stains in the late 19th century, immunohistochemical staining in the mid-to-late 20th century and digital imaging/computerized analysis at the turn of the 20th century. In all cases, prepared biopsy samples are stained and examined under a light microscope. This study reports a new approach to histology in which a team of engineers, pathologists and surgeon report the development of label-free chemical imaging to provide the same information as molecular stains. Led by Rohit Bhargava at the University of Illinois, the study is based on using infrared spectroscopic imaging for microscopy.
Instead of using stains, the spectra measure the chemical constitution of cells and tissues directly. By using computational techniques, the researchers were able to relate spectral properties to known staining patterns of tissue. The outcome is that that molecular stains can be reproduced without staining the tissue but by using the intrinsic molecular contrast of the tissue and computation.

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Journal of Medical Ethics – Special Issue – Retention of Human Tissue

Table of Contents  |  Vol 40 Issue 1  (2014)

Professor Loane Skene, Professor Jonathan Herring, Dr Imogen Goold and Ms Kate Greasley convened a series of workshops in the UK and Australia to bring together legal academics and philosophers to examine the impact of these decisions. The papers in this Special Issue are the result of the lively and productive discussions that took place in the course of these workshops in 2011 and 2012.

NOTE:  Full-text of all articles should be available from the Table of Contents.  Please email the IRS if you have any problems.