Our Focus

The MHTP research agenda is driven by current health priorities, focusing on heath conditions and diseases recognised as having major social and economic impacts on the local, Australian and global communities. Aligned to the national health priorities, the six research themes are:

Cancer

Theme leader:
Professor Eva Segelov

Monash Health Oncology Research Unit was established in 1999 and has a long history of conducting clinical trials to a high standard. It is one of the largest clinical trials units in Melbourne and has an active and exciting trials programme enabling Monash Health patients to benefit from early access to the world’s newest medications, treatments, and therapies. All phases of clinical trials are being conducted, from First in man Phase 1 trials, Phase II, Phase III and Phase IV studies. In addition, many studies have a strong translational component with correlative laboratory studies on biopsy and surgical specimens, to allow maximal understanding of cancer and how it is affected by new treatments.

To be referred a clinical trial, a patient’s GP or specialist needs to email a referral form to outpatients_moorabbin@monashhealth.org with a subject line stating the trial to which referral is being made, or the condition if no specific trial is known.  The Lead Investigator for the trial will then be in touch with the patient directly to assess their eligibility and make a face-to-face appointment in our dedicated Clinical Trials Clinics in MHTP building at Monash Medical Centre, Clayton.

  • Find out more about MHTP Clinical Trials Centre here
  • A list of trials open for recruitment are displayed here
  • Find a trial

Diabetes, Obesity, Men’s Health and Endocrinology

Theme leaders:
Professor Peter Fuller
Professor Helena Teede

Goals/achievements:

The targets of this Theme are to improve conditions related to hormonal and metabolic disturbances. These include:

  • Increased screening for diabetes in high risk populations
  • Significantly decreasing micro and macrovascular complications of diabetes
  • Developing standardised medical and surgical protocols for an obese population
  • Improve outcomes in prostate and thyroid cancer
  • Improve detection and treatment of osteoporosis

Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases

Theme leaders:
Professor Paul Hertzog
and Professor William Sievert

The immune system has evolved to protect the body from infectious agents and other harmful environmental stimuli. This early innate immune response not only protects from viral and bacterial infection but also chemicals, products of dead cells and oxidative stress products, by mounting an inflammatory response.

Inflammation is a double-edged sword. Without inflammation, we would never recover from infection, however too much inflammation can be just as dangerous as no inflammation at all. An over-active inflammatory response can contribute to diseases like hepatitis and lung injury such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), septic shock, stroke and cancer. It can also lead to diseases of pregnancy, the fetus and neonate including recurrent miscarriage, preeclampsia, necrotizing enterocolitis and periventricular white matter (brain) injury.

There are a number of research groups within MHTP investigating different aspects of the role of inflammation in acute infections caused by bacteria and viruses. They are also studying the origin and progression of chronic diseases such as gastritis, arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and neurodegenerative diseases such as stroke and asthma.

MHTP researchers are also investigating the links between innate immunity, inflammatory processes and cancer. They are particularly interested in how ribonucleic acid or RNA, a macromolecule essential for all forms of life, responds to the innate immune system. Understanding these interactions are crucial to combating viral infection, as well as regulating immune responses important in autoimmune diseases and cancer onset and progression.

 

 

 

Neuroscience and Psychiatry

Theme leaders:
Professor David Kissane
and Professor Dominic Thyagarajan

 

At MHTP, we provide research and teaching in the field of developmental psychiatry and psychology with a particular focus on child, adolescent and family mental health, and works in close affiliation with the clinical services provided by the Monash Health Early in Life Mental Health Service.   Over the past five years, special areas of interest have included mental health in children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, autism and other pervasive developmental disorders, disorders of infancy, attachment, school refusal, trauma, refugees, anxiety and depression.

Women’s, Children’s and Reproductive Medicine

Theme leaders:
Professor Euan Wallace
Professor Lois Salamonsen

Through the collaborative research at MHTP, we are striving to achieve the best maternal, neonatal, paediatric and gynaecological outcomes for all women and children in our community.

Women’s Health

Our research into women’s health has its origins in IVF; research that resulted in Australia’s first IVF baby in 1980. Today, women’s health researchers also focus on pelvic organ prolapse, endometriosis, endometrial cancer, breast cancer and pregnancy disorders. Studies also continue into how the IVF process can be improved for mother and baby.

Newborn and Child Health

While the majority of pregnancies progress smoothly, some experience serious problems that can endanger both mother and child. Ectopic pregnancy, a condition in which a pregnancy grows outside the uterus, affects two percent of all pregnancies. Left untreated, it is a leading cause of early pregnancy death in Australia.  MHTP researchers are pioneering a non-surgical treatment for ectopic pregnancy using targeted cell therapy. If this trial is successful, it will allow women to avoid invasive surgery, which carries a risk of internal bleeding and fertility issues.

Researchers at MHTP are developing therapies for preeclampsia, by targeting different pathways in the maternal blood that are known to be affected by this condition. Pregnant women affected by preeclampsia suffer from dangerously high blood pressure, and potentially, multi-organ failure.  The only ‘cure’ for preeclampsia is the delivery of the baby. As such, it is a leading cause of premature birth in Australia.

Neonatal Health

A life-threatening challenge facing all babies born prematurely is their inability to breathe properly. Physiologists and neonatologists at MIMR and Monash Newborn, Monash Health are developing new therapies, including the application of stem cells from the placenta following birth, to protect and repair fetal and neonatal lung development. Researchers are also working with engineers using groundbreaking synchrotron science to monitor how air travels through the lungs in healthy and premature babies.

Researching the fetal and newborn brain is crucial to understanding how events in pregnancy, labour or early newborn life can cause brain injury. Through their research, our researchers and clinicians aim to develop new interventions that may protect the developing brain and reduce the prevalence of cerebral palsy and other neurodevelopmental abnormalities.

Sleep and breathing disorders in babies and children can result in health, behavioural and cognitive issues. MHTP is home to researchers recognised as word leaders in this area.  They are aiming to better understand how the control of the cardiovascular system and breathing, particularly in preterm infants, may contribute to increasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Collaborative studies with the Melbourne Children’s Sleep Unit, Monash Health, are being carried out in older children to investigate how sleep disorders affect the cardiovascular system and the ability to learn.

 

For more information on newborn and child health research visit The Ritchie Centre, Hudson Institute of Medical Research