MDHS ECA Symposium 2022

Pictured: Dr Meaghan Griffiths, Dr Natasha de Alwis and Bridget Arman

Congratulations to Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology researchers Dr Meaghan Griffiths, Dr Natasha de Alwis and PhD Student Bridget Arman who each won prizes at the recent MDHS ECA Symposium.

The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences (MDHS) Early Career Academic is an ECA-led symposium was held on 27 & 28 October at the Ian Potter Auditorium, Kenneth Myer building, Parkville.

Dr Meaghan Griffiths won the prize for Best Flash talk, sponsored by Illumina for the project "Endometriotic chocolate cysts contains viable cells of endometrial origin: a pilot study". Dr Griffiths, explained that they have been able to grow cells isolated from endometrioma (a type of endometriosis where cysts filled with chocolate coloured fluid 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 cyst rupture.

Dr Natasha de Alwis won the best Melbourne Medical School presentation with the 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, like the serious pregnancy complications, preeclampsia and fetal 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 shout out also to Dr Lucy Bartho and Dr Amber Kennedy who also presented very good lightning talks at the symposium.