MDHS ECA Symposium award winners

Congratulations to Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology researchers Dr Meaghan Griffiths, Dr Natasha de Alwis and PhD Student Bridget Arman who each won prizes at the recent Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences Early Career Academic (ECA) Symposium.

L – R Dr Meaghan Griffiths, Dr Natasha de Alwis and Bridget Arman.  Newsletter item:  MDHS ECA Symposium award winners L – R Dr Meaghan Griffiths, Dr Natasha de Alwis and Bridget Arman.

The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences’ ECA Symposium is an early-career-academic-led symposium and was held in October at the Ian Potter Auditorium in Parkville.

Dr Meaghan Griffiths won the prize for the best flash talk for her project Endometriotic chocolate cysts contains viable cells of endometrial origin: a pilot study.

Dr Griffiths explained that her team have been able to grow cells isolated from endometrioma, a type of endometriosis where cysts grow on the ovaries and characterise these cells by immunofluorescence staining. Further experiments are underway to determine if endometrioma arise from uterine endometrial tissue, and what the function of these cells might be in-culture. Understanding what these cells are capable of may inform whether they have a role in disease recurrence in the event of a cyst rupture.

Dr Natasha de Alwis won the best presentation from the Melbourne Medical School with her talk titled Phosphoglutamase-5 is dysregulated in pathological placenta and in models of placental dysfunction. In summary, this work examined the levels and the role of Phosphoglutamase-5 in the placenta, and whether it could be a potential target for treating diseases that feature placental dysfunction – such as serious pregnancy complications like preeclampsia and foetal growth restriction.

PhD Student Bridget Arman won best presentation by a final year PhD student for the project, Investigation of ticagrelor as a potential therapeutic to delay preterm birth using a pipeline of in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo models of preterm birth. In summary, the potential of repurposing ticagrelor as a preterm labour therapeutic was investigated using a pipeline of human in vitro and ex vivo models of myometrial inflammation and contraction, and an inflammation-induced mouse model of preterm birth. This presentation discussed the preclinical findings of this investigation and the concept of repurposing therapies to delay preterm birth.

A special mention goes to Dr Lucy Bartho and Dr Amber Kennedy for their excellent lightning talks at the symposium.