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Research

The faculty’s medical science discipline works in close collaboration with the Centre for Research in Therapeutic Solutions (CResTS).CResTS have six research groups working within the disciplines of molecular virology, respiratory virology, epigenetic and transcription regulation, muscle proteomics, visual neuroscience and chirality research.

Photo of the CResTS group

Molecular Virology Group

The Molecular Virology Group, lead my Dr Michael Frese is interested in various aspects of virus biology and the innate immune response to virus infections. During his career, Michael has gained experience with a range of RNA viruses, including orthomyxoviruses, hepadnaviruses, flaviviruses, bunyaviruses and caliciviruses. Present research projects focus on human hepatitis viruses (especially on the hepatitis D virus, a satellite virus of the hepatitis B virus) and the rabbit haemorrhagic fever virus (a highly pathogenic calicivirus that is used to control the feral rabbit population in Australia). Furthermore, Michael has a long-standing interest in Mx proteins, a family of interferon-induced GTPases with strong antiviral activities, and more recently, he became involved in the development and characterisation of immunocontraceptive vaccinations and in the analysis of food-health relationships.

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Respiratory Virology Group

Research within the Respiratory Virology Group is focused on molecular pathogenesis of rhinovirus (HRV) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), two viruses of significant medical importance. An area of special interest is the mechanism/s underlying virus induced asthma exacerbations.

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Epigenetic and Transcription Regulation Laboratory

The primary focus of the Epigenetic and Transcription Regulation Laboratory has been to unravel complex  epigenetic-signatures in transcription programs in the context of the immune  system, as well as to understand the deregulatory mechanisms operating in  cancer settings.

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Muscle Proteomics Group

Research within the Muscle Proteomics Group is focussed on understanding how intracellular calcium signaling pathways initiate muscle contraction. We explore and define the mechanisms which lead to control of calcium signalling and the way in which these are disrupted in skeletal myopathies, cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

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Visual Neuroscience Group

The focus of the visual neuroscience group is to understand the molecular pathways underlying the regulation of normal ocular growth, and how  such neural pathways are affected during the development of the visual disorder  myopia (short-sightedness).  Myopia is now at epidemic proportion in many  parts of the world, most notably in urban East Asia, where 80-90% of  school-leavers are myopic. One of the major focuses of the visual neuroscience  group is investigating how exposure to high light levels, similar to those  experienced on a sunny day, can retard the development of myopia through  modulation of genomic and epigenomic regulatory mechanisms.

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Chirality Research

Our group has interest in the development of new chemical production routes and products that consume less of the resources of nature and minimize risks on human health and our environment either during manufacturing or during or after functional use of the chemicals. Our routes include non-conventional flash chemistry process where the miniaturization of the catalytic reactions and chiral analysis are performed in integrated systems of micro-reactors for chiral drug development and combinatorial approaches. Our approaches to access enantiomerically pure compounds include enzyme and metal catalysis. This is followed by chiral analysis to assess the enantiomeric purity of the product using GC, HPLC and CE equipped with new chiral stationary phases consisting of polymer and silica monolith.

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The forensic group has two main research focus areas of forensic biology and forensic chemistry.

Forensics 4Associate Professor Dennis McNevin has interests in DNA research especially in the development of massively parallel DNA (MPS) for the prediction of biogeographical ancestry and physical features. This includes the development of bioinformatics tools. Associate Professor Michelle Gahan contributes to this research whilst also specialising in forensic microbiology and security forensics.

Associate Professor Jurian Hoogewerff is an expert in forensic provenancing of natural materials (soils, minerals, plants humans, food, drugs,….) using geochemical techniques and is presently heavily involved with research at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER).

Associate Professor Tamsin Kelly specialises in forensic toxicology and illicit drugs.

Professor James Robertson and Emeritus Professor Hilton Kobus specialise in chemical criminalistics and trace evidence analysis and interpretation.

Forensics 3Almost all of the research conducted by the group involves industry partners, including major research institutions and forensic providers, such as the Australian Federal Police and NSW health groups. Forensic research is supported by well-equipped specialist analytical equipment and facilities.

The Faculty's environmental science researchers work within the Institute for Applied Ecology, which has a reputation for world-class research with an applied focus. We engage with on-ground managers and policymakers to solve environmental problems. We pride ourselves on the interdisciplinary nature of our work and span a broad range of expertise.

Our research is organised in a series of six groups, which are genetics and genomics, wildlife genetics, environmental DNA, water science, conservation ecology and environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology.

Genetics and Genomics

Our genetics and genomics research brings the power of new DNA technologies to bear on central questions in ecology and evolution. We engage in detailed examination of epigenetic factors in plants and animals to unveil the mysteries surrounding the interaction of genes and the environment. By combining genetic and genomic analysis with whole organism and field studies we can discover the role genetic processes have in determining basic life histories and characteristics such as sex determination or disease resistance.

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Wildlife Genetics

The Wildlife Genetics team at UC have a broad range of expertise from traditional population genetics through to eDNA and genomic tools. Applying DNA technologies for biodiversity and conservation outcomes is a prime focus of the team. We combine genomic trace DNA and DNA genotyping to probe the historical phylogeography of Australasian fauna and to solve problems of forensic and ecological importance.

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Environmental DNA

Traditional methods of species monitoring can be expensive and challenging. However researchers at the IAE have developed sensitive and cost-effective methods to confirm if a species is present in an area. This method uses traces of DNA that species leave behind in the environment, e.g. scats, tissues and freshwater samples, and is called Environmental DNA or eDNA. Applications include detection of invaders, or rare species of conservation concern. Our team are experts in sample collection, processing and analysis.

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Water Science

Our water science team aims to increase our understanding of freshwater systems to better inform management and policy decisions.  

We study the fundamental ecology of Australia's freshwater systems and apply this knowledge to environmental problems. Increasingly our researchers work in partnerships across disciplines, research organisations and agencies to generate integrated solutions to water science challenges.

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Conservation Ecology

Our Conservation Ecology team carries out research that underpins conservation management, providing knowledge and tools to manage threats to Australia’s native biodiversity. Our research focusses on how plants and animal communities function; their response to changes brought about by processes such as land transformation, the spread of alien species, and changes to climate, fire and nutrient cycles; and how this understanding can be applied to most effectively manage or mitigate those impacts.

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Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology

Our environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology researchers have particular strengths in freshwater and marine chemistry, cycling of nutrients, metals and metalloids through aquatic ecosystems, and ecotoxicology. Of special interest to the group are the transport and fate of trace elements in the environment, including water, sediment, dust and biota. Our researchers are experienced in the sampling and analysis of a wide range of sample types.

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Geochemistry

Geochemical mapping of soils for environmental and forensic applications with ongoing projects in Europe, Taiwan and Australia, e.g. the geochemical soil map of the ACT.

Researcher: Jurian Hoogewerff