Prof Judy Black Research Leader Cell Biology
To discover the ways in which abnormalities in lung cell behaviour play a role in the development of chronic lung diseases such as asthma, smoking related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung fibrosis and lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM).
- Major progress with the identification of three major targets for treating the structural changes occurring in the airways of patients with chronic airway disease including lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM).
- Professor Dirkje Postma from the Department of Pulmonary Medicine and Tuberculosis, University Medical Center, Groningen, The Netherlands, spent a three month sabbatical jointly with us and the Clinical Airways Management group which has led to ongoing collaborations with members of our group.
- We welcomed Dr Aihua Wang, a physician from Jinan, China for a one year stay to work on our LAM project.
- We farewelled Dr Kyoko Niimi, a physician from Japan following a two year stay in our group.
- We also farewelled Dr Xiahui Tan who is continuing his postdoc research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA.
- We welcomed three USyd PhD students, Gavin Tjin (project title ‘Examining the 3D structure of collagen IV in asthmatic and nonasthmatic airways’, supervised by Janette Burgess), Louise Harkness (‘The involvement of cathepsins in the degradation of tumstatin from the airways of asthmatics’, Janette Burgess) and Francesca Tang (‘The role of neutrophils in virus-induced exacerbations in asthmatics and COPD patients’, Brian Oliver).
- We welcomed Ling Chen from Chongqing University, China on a USyd – China Scholarship Council Postgrad Research Scholarship to continue her PhD studies (‘Investigate which fibrotic lung diseases are associated with dysregulation of FBLN-1’, Judy Black).
- We enjoyed hosting three Pharmacy students in two cohorts from Utrecht, The Netherlands for a six month internship; four Science students in two cohorts from Breda, The Netherlands and a Science student from Karlstad, Sweden.
- Four PhD students completed their studies, Curtis Kuo, David Krimmer, David Van Ly and Qi Ge.
- Our Nikon Eclipse Ti-E PFS research grade inverted microscope is receiving heavy useage. This exciting new piece of equipment enables us to study cell behaviour over time and to capture live video images of moving cells so we can understand how changes in tissue composition caused by disease can alter the cells’ characteristics. This microscope was purchased with the assistance of multiple grants from a number of funding bodies including the Rebecca L Cooper Foundation and the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Foundation.
- We have sent our primary airway cells to our collaborators in Chengdu, China. This is coordinated by Qi Ge at the Woolcock and Dr Tao Wang from State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy of China, Chengdu.
Grants and major external funding in 2011/2012
CRC for Asthma and the Airways – 2006-2012 $350,000-500,000 pa CRC for Asthma and the Airways, 2006-2012 $350-5000,000 pa
NHMRC 571098 – J Black, Senior Principal Research Fellowship 2009-2013 $766,250
NHMRC 570867 – J Burgess, B Oliver, M Weckmann ‘Anti-inflammatory role of collagen IV in asthma’ 2009-2011 $304,500
NHMRC 632830 – JM Hughes, C Brightling, J Burgess, C Armour ‘Mast cells – bystanders or instigators of airway remodelling in asthma?’ 2010-2012 $601,500
NHMRC equipment grant – DR Richardson, J Stone, JL Black et al ‘Sequence based genetic analysis system’ 2011 $74,000
Asthma Foundation of NSW – J Burgess, J Black ‘The role of cathepsins in regulating remodelling in the asthmatic airways’ 2011 $44,842
Asthma Foundation of NSW – B Oliver ‘Role of PDE4 in viral infections in asthma’ 2011 $45,000
University of Sydney Bridging Support grant – J Burgess ‘Interplay between CTGF VEGF165 and elastin: a reservoir and release model regulating blood vessel formation’ 2011 $50,000
NHMRC 1009156 – J Black, M Weckmann, L Moir ‘Lamstatin – a novel inhibitor of lymphangiogenesis’ 2011-2013 $636,732
NHMRC 1003263 – J Black, J Burgess, P Hansbro ‘Fibulin – a target for lung fibrosis? 2011-2013 $551,706
NHMRC 633238 – E Tovey, B Oliver et al ‘The role of viruses in childhood asthma’ 2011-2013 $586,710
Anonymous grant from charitable foundation – J Black ‘Doxycycline and lymphangioleiomyomatosis 2011-2014 $360,150
Rebecca Cooper Foundation – A Weiss, J Burgess ‘Novel treatment of damaged airway’ 2012 $22,000
NHMRC equipment grant – DR Richardson, R Scolyer, R Stocker, JL Black et al ‘Gene Atlas personal microarray system for shared use at the multi-user Molecular Biology Core Facility’ 2012 $72,876
NHMRC 1023131 – P Hansbro, B Oliver et al ‘Elucidating the role of mast cell tryptases in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and Crohn’s disease 2012-2014 $599,685
NHMRC 1032695 – Janette Burgess Career Development Fellowship level 2, 2012-2015 $432,568
NHMRC 1032695 – Brian Oliver Career Development Fellowship level 1, 2012-2015 $391,076
Janette Burgess - Airway remodelling: Three major targets identified as being of interest for the therapy of airway remodelling in asthma, lung fibrosis and LAM – one involves targeting angiogenesis or new blood vessel formation, another tackles the accumulation of fibrotic proteins in the airway wall and lung parenchyma in lung disease and the third focuses on the lymphangiogenesis which is abnormal in LAM and could have implications for cancer. These arose out of our CRC funded research and three patents have been filed. ((1) United States Patent Application No. 12/278,266 - Allowed 2 April 2012; European Patent No. 1988915 - Granted 28 March 2012; European Patent Application No. 12151311.3 – Pending; Australian Patent Application No. 2007211846 – Pending. A method of modulating cellular activity and agents for use therein. Black J, Boustany S, Burgess J, Oliver B. (2) United States Patent Application No. 12/740805 – Pending; European Patent Application No. 8845278.4 – Pending; Japanese Patent Application No. 2010-531377 - Pending ; Australian Patent Application No. 2008318288 – Pending. A diagnostic molecule and therapeutic target. Black JL, Burgess JK, Lau JY, Oliver BGG. (3) United States Patent Application No. 13/376,939 – Pending; European Patent Application No. 10785593.4 – Pending; Japanese Patent Application No. 2012-514292 - Pending ; Australian Patent Application No. 2010258089 – Pending. Methods of treatment. Black JL, Burgess JK, Oliver BGG, Weckmann M.). Two of these projects are currently funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (1009156 ‘Lamstatin – a novel inhibitor of lymphangiogenesis’ and 1003263 ‘Fibulin – a target for lung fibrosis?’) and we are extending all of these studies.
Brian Oliver leads a productive team of researchers investigating the pathophysiology of respiratory diseases, with a particular emphasis on understanding basic mechanisms leading to disease exacerbations and progression. He has been extending his studies on respiratory viruses, forming collaborations with A/Prof Euan Tovey (Woolcock), Professor Bill Rawlinson (UNSW), Professor Stephen Liggett (University of Maryland, USA), Professor Philip Hansbro (University of Newcastle) and Professor Nick King (USyd). Within Brian’s group, David Van Ly has recently completed his PhD and has been exploring the mechanisms underlying decreased functionality of beta adrenoceptor agonists which occurs during viral infections in people with asthma. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Brian's team have developed a novel in-vitro model to better understand the aetiology of the fibrosis which occurs in the small airways of people with COPD. Using this model they have demonstrated that the extracellular matrix (ECM) produced by fibroblasts induced by cigarette smoke extract is functionally different from non exposed ECM, and that the cigarette smoke itself may prime the airways in such a way as to create an environment whereby airway fibrosis is encouraged. Ling Chen, a PhD student has been using this model, developed by Dr David Krimmer, to help understand mechanisms underlying smoking induced lung tissue destruction and remodelling. Drug resistance: In collaboration with A/Profs Paul Young and Daniela Traini from the Respiratory Technology group at the Woolcock and Dr Lisa Wood (University of Newcastle) Brian has been investigating the molecular mechanisms leading impaired drug actions in people with obesity and/or severe forms of asthma.
Lyn Moir - Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM): We have increased our research effort into this deadly disease of young women. Dr Lyn Moir is investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of lamstatin, an anti-lymphangiogenic fragment of collagen that is missing from the lung tissue of people with LAM. In addition, Lyn collaborates with Dr Jeff Holst from the Centenary Institute and Dr Anthony Ashton (Kolling Institute) to examine the in vivo effects of lamstatin. Lyn is also extending her work commenced at University of Pennsylvania with Dr Vera Krymskaya with the help of grants from the LAM Australasian Research Alliance (LARA). Lyn works with PhD student Patrick Ng to investigate the effects of other potential therapies, such as doxycycline, on the enhanced cell proliferation, migration and cystic destruction associated with LAM. In addition, we continue to examine biological samples obtained from LAM patients participating in a trial of doxycycline at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney for content of enzymes (matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their inhibitors – tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs)) which may contribute to the sytic destruction associated with LAM.
Prizes and major awards:
J Black: American Thoracic Society’s Assembly on Respiratory and Function Joseph R Rodarte Award for Scientific Distinction, 2012
J Burgess: 17th International Colloquium on Lung and Airways Fibrosis Young Investigator Award, 2012
B Oliver: Travel grant to attend Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand annual scientific meeting, Perth, 2011 Travel grant to attend the American Thoracic Society annual scientific meeting, San Francisco, 2011
L Moir: Travel grants, LAM Australasia Research Alliance, 2011 and 2012
Staff and Students in 2011/2012
Professor Judy Black AO MB BS PhD FRACP (Hon) NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow and Group Leader
Associate Professor Janette Burgess BSc (Hons) PhD NHMRC Career Development Fellow
Dr Lyn Moir BSc (Hons) PhD Research Fellow
Dr Kyoko Niimi MB BS PhD Research Fellow (to Nov 2011)
Dr Brian Oliver BSc (Hons) MSc PhD NHMRC Career Development Fellow
Dr Xiahui Tan BSc (Hons) PhD Research Officer (to Nov 2011)
Dr Aihua Wang MB BS PhD Visiting Academic (from Dec 2012)
Dr Melissa Baraket MB BS (Hons) PhD FRACP Research Fellow
Ms Qi Ge BSc Senior Research Assistant and PhD candidate
Ms Louise Harkness BBiotech (Hons) Research Assistant (from Mar - Dec 2010) PhD candidate (from Feb 2011)
Ms Maree Svolos BSc (Hons) Research Assistant
Ms Hilary Cox Clinical Study Coordinator/Administrator
Ms Ling Chen MSc PhD candidate
Mr Alen Faiz BSc (Hons) PhD candidate
Ms Qi Ge BSc Senior Research Assistant and PhD candidate
Mrs Karryn Grafton BSc MSc (Hons) PhD candidate
Ms Aini Ibrahim BSc (Hons) PhD candidate (from Jan 2012)
Ms Jade Jaffar BSc PhD candidate
Mr David Krimmer BSc (Hons) PhD candidate (conferred 2012)
Mr Curtis Kuo BSc (Hons) PhD candidate (conferred 2012)
Mr Patrick Ng BSc (Hons) PhD candidate
Ms Francesca Tang BSc PhD candidate (from March 2012)
Mr Gavin Tjin BMedSci PhD candidate (from July 2011)
Mr David Van Ly BMedSci (Hons) PhD candidate
Ms Lonneke Boot BSc student (Breda, The Netherlands, to Jan 2012)
Ms Yvette Gladdines BSc student (Breda, The Netherlands, to Sept 2012)
Ms Josephine Middelburg Masters student (Utrecht, The Netherlands, to Jan 2011)
Ms Sofia Unger BSc student (Karlstad, Sweden, May - Dec 2012)
Ms Lieke van den Borne Masters student (Utrecht, The Netherlands, to Feb 2012)
Ms Pleun van Egmond Masters student (Utrecht, The Netherlands, to Jan 2011)
Ms Megan van Voren BSc student (Breda, The Netherlands, from Aug 2012)
Mr Peter James BSc Honours student (Feb - Nov 2011)
Ms Monique de Pedro BSc Honours student (Feb - Nov 2012)
Ms Qaanita van Heerden BSc Honours student (Feb - Nov 2012)
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