Departmental Research Retreat
The Department of Microbiology and Immunology held a Research Retreat at the Crown Mill on October 28th. The research retreat was a chance to see the depth of research in the Department and included talks and poster presentations from most people in the Department.
The poster prize was jointly awarded to Estelle Baker (a PhD student in Professor Vernon Ward’s lab) and Simon Kelly (a PhD student in Professor Clive Ronson’s lab).
Estelle’s poster was entitled “Inherent structural disorder and multimerisation of the norovirus NS1-2 protein” while Simon’s poster was entitled “Requirement for EPS in the Mesorhizobium-Lotus symbiosis”.
The People’s Choice poster prize was awarded to Manal Aziz (a PhD student jointly supervised by Chemistry and Dr Heather Brooks ). Manal’s poster was entitled “Antimicrobial properties of chitosan/dextran based hydrogels for surgical use”.
Medical teaching award for Dr Heather Brooks
Congratulations to Dr Heather Brooks who received a best lecturer award for her teaching in both the 2nd year and 3rd year medicine courses at the recent Otago University Medical Students’ Association (OUMSA) Teaching Excellence Awards.
Amphibacillus cookii - a new bacterial species named after Professor Greg Cook
A new bacterial species has been named after our very own Greg Cook.
Amphibacillus cookii (cook'i.i. N.L. gen. masc. n. cookii, named in honor of Gregory Cook, to recognize his contribution to the microbiology and bioenergetics of extremophiles) was first described in the article "Pugin B, Blamey JM, Baxter BK, Wiegel J. Amphibacillus cookii sp. nov., a facultatively aerobic, sporeforming, moderate halophilic, alkalithermotolerant bacterium from Great Salt Lake, Utah. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 2011 Oct 28. [Epub ahead of print]" and if you would like to know more click here.
Professor Gerald Tannock elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand
Professor Gerald Tannock was one of twelve top New Zealand researchers elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand at the Annual General Meeting of the Society's Academy in Auckland yesterday (November 2nd).
Gerald is a world-leading authority on gastrointestinal microbes and their role in health and disease, who has pioneered the amalgamation of traditional methods with DNA-based technologies.
Tu Kahika visit
Last week, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology hosted the 2011 Tu Kahika students on behalf of the Otago School of Medical Sciences. Students met with representative staff and students from all 5 departments in OSMS and also participated in a microbiology practical session, organised by Dr Judith Bateup. Students analysed microbes from their own teeth and, for those who dug deep, their gums too.
More information on the Tu Kahika programme can be found here
2011 4th year research symposium
4th year students based in Microbiology and Immunology had a chance to present their year’s research at the annual 4th year research symposium held on Friday October 14th.
This year the best speaker prize was jointly awarded to Elyse Dunn and Edward Taylor.
Elyse presented her BBiomedSc (Hons) research completed in Professor Greg Cook’s lab and the talk was entitled “Synthesis, characterization and mode of action studies of lipophilic triphenylphosphonium cations in bacteria”.
Edward presented his BSc (Hons) research completed in Dr Roslyn Kemp’s lab and the talk was entitled “Isolation of functional T cell subsets from colorectal cancer patients”
Well done to Elyse and Edward for two great talks and also congratulations to the other 4th years for a great set of talks.
Ed and Elyse receive their best speaker prize
Marsden Fund success for Professor Margaret Baird and Professor Antony Braithwaite
Congratulations to Professor Margaret Baird and Professor Antony Braithwaite (Department of Pathology) for their success in the latest, highly competititve, round of the Marsden Fund. Margaret and Antony received $860,000 to research "The p53 tumour suppressor and its nemesis – does a p53 isoform promote cancer through an inflammatory pathway?".
Modular PC3 facility installed on the roof of the Microbiology building
The University of Otago’s new modular PC3 facility was craned on to the top of the Microbiology building today.
This facility represents a significant advance in scientists' ability to work directly on important disease causing infections and pathogens and it’s anticipated that this facility will facilitate work on the various pathogens being studied throughout the University.
The facility will be operational once the final installation and certification are completed.
For further information, see the Otago Daily Times news story
Professor Greg Cook named a James Cook Fellow
Congratulations to Professor Greg Cook for the award of a prestigious James Cook Fellowship.
The fellowships are administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand and allow the recipients to undertake concentrated work in their field for two years. Greg will undertake research on "Structure and function of membrane-bound protein complexes".
Otago Medical School Research Society PhD Research Speaker Awards
Zarina D'Costa placed second equal at the Otago Medical School Research Society PhD Research Speaker Awards last night. Zarina's talk was titled "Regulation of E-cadherin by Human papillomavirus 16 E6".
Zarina is in the final stages of her PhD under the supervision of Dr Merilyn Hibma in the Virus Research Unit
Prof Gerald Tannock addresses launch of the Gut Health Network
Prof Gerald Tannock opened the launch of the Gut Health Network on September 21 with a very entertaining talk: "It all starts in the gut..."
The Gut Health Network is a new research initiative bringing together scientists and clinicians from across the university to research the myriad of diseases that are initiated and/or manifested in the gut. This includes Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Colorectal Cancer, Coeliac Disease, Spondyloarthropathies and Diabetes. The Gut Health Network is also actively involved with community and patient groups such as Crohn's and Colitis New Zealand and the Arthritis Society of New Zealand. Further information on the Gut Health Network can be found here
Founding members of the Gut Health Network include three researchers from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology: Gerald Tannock, Frank Griffin and Roslyn Kemp.
Dr Michael Schultz (Director of the Gut Health Network) welcomes people to the Gut Health Network launch
Poster prize for Corinna Richter
Corinna Richter was awarded a highly commended poster prize at the Biointeractions satellite meeting (August 28 and 29, 2011) held during the Queenstown Molecular Biology Meetings. Corinna's poster was titled “Protein-protein interactions and complex formation for CRISPR-mediated defense against foreign genetic elements in Pectobacterium atrosepticum”. Corinna is a PhD student in Peter Fineran’s lab
Rutherford Fellowship for Peter Fineran
Congratulations to Peter Fineran for gaining a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship.
Peter's fellowship will help develop a proposed research programme to investigate "how bacterial 'adaptive immune systems' protect microbial cells against viral infection".
Peter is one of ten top researchers who were awarded the highly sought after fellowships administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Peter Fineran awarded University of Otago Early Career Award for Distinction in Research
Congratulations to Dr Peter Fineran who has been awarded a 2011 University of Otago Early Career Award for Distinction in Research.
The award aims to recognise outstanding research achievement at an early stage of the academic careers.
For further information on the award and the 2011 recipients click here
OSMS poster evening and PhD colloquium
The Otago School of Medical Sciences (OSMS) recently held their annual PhD Colloquium at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Estelle Baker (from Vernon Ward's lab) was one of three winners for Best Research Presentation for her talk "Inherent structural disorder and multimerisation of the norovirus NS1-2 protein".
Estelle also won the University of Otago Virology Theme Best Poster Award at the OSMS/Genetics Otago Annual Poster Evening held the previous night.
For more about the Poster Evening and PhD colloquium, click here
Runner-up Buck Immunology award presented to Emily Waugh
The runner-up Buck Immunology award was presented to Emily Waugh on July 1st 2011 for coming second equal in the student oral presentation competition at the New Zealand Australasian Society for Immunology Branch Meeting 2011. Emily's presentation was titled "MNV and the acquired immune response". Emily is a PhD student in Professor Vernon Ward's lab.
Summer studentship successes
Congratulations to Michael Harrington and Julia Prier who both received Highly Commended Awards for their 2010-11 Summer Student Research Reports. Julia's project " TCR-dependent, pSTAT5-mediated Compensation of pS6K Signalling in Naïve CD8 T Cells" was performed in Roslyn Kemp's lab and Michael's project "Antibiotic resistance in a diarrhoea-causing microbe" was supervised by Dr Heather Brooks.
OMSRS student speaker award for Clare Burn
Congratulations to Clare Burn for winning the Otago Medical School Research Society student speaker awards that were held May 18th, 2011. Clare completed a summer studentship with Merilyn Hibma looking at human papillomavirus virus-like particles and their potential as gene delivery vectors in the skin.
World Day of Immunology
The Department of Microbiology and Immunology hosted a successful public lecture last week to celebrate World Day of Immunology. The World Day of Immunology is commemorated every year by over 30 countries world wide and aims to bring immunology research to the public. This year we were fortunate to have Dr Nikki Turner, the director of New Zealand's Immunisation Advisory Centre, speak to a large public audience about the history and relevance of vaccination, and the impact it has had on New Zealand and worldwide. Happily this coincided with National Immunisation Week.
2010 OSMS Distinguished Academic Teacher - Dr Heather Brooks
Dr Heather Brooks was named the 2010 Otago School of Medical Sciences Distinguished Academic Teacher in the School's awards ceremony held yesterday afternoon. Heather teaches in the Medicine course (where last year she was again named the best Med 2 and Med 3 lecturer), the Medical Laboratory Science course and also our very own Microbiology and Immunology papers.
2010 Virology Theme Best Paper Winners
Congratulations to PhD students Zabeen Lateef and Stephanie Win who are the joint winners of the 2010 Virology Theme Prize for the Best Paper.
Zabeen's paper "The chemokine-binding protein encoded by the poxvirus orf virus inhibits recruitment of dendritic cells to sites of skin inflammation and migration to peripheral lymph nodes" was published in Cellular Microbiology. Stephanie's paper "Cross-presentation of epitopes on virus-like particles via the MHC I receptor recycling pathway" was published in Immunology and Cell Biology.