SPIRITUS: (12) A Monthly update from the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR - end of year report and one year anniversary.


This is our December update of news from the Respitech group at the WIMR.

The Respiratory Technology Team at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research celebrate their first year of operation. The group has achieved a lot in the past 12 months. We have grown since January and  have had 22 research personal come through our doors. We have published 28 peer reviewed articles, sourced funding for a number of projects and have established wider initiatives within the community. To highlight some of the achievements over the past year the group has prepared an annual report outlining some of the initiatives and key performance outcomes. The report that can be downloaded here. Importantly, the group has partaken in a number of social events including, cook-ups, the famous hot pot adventure, all-important pub trips and a harbour cruise. To learn more about the social side of RespiTech you can always like us on Facebook  - www.facebook.com/RespiTech

In December, members of our group travelled to Edinburgh to participate at the Drug Delivery to the Lungs Conference, DDL24. Jesslynn Ooi, John Chan and Judy Loo were nominated to speak at the prestigious Pat Burnell New investigator award session. Prior to DDL, the group participated in the first ECR2STAR workshop in London. The conference was a great success and the team will be involved in developing new and and exciting early career programs in the coming year.
John Chan received a series of awards this month, including the Royal Society of NSW scholarship and best speaker at the AFPS conference in Korea. Meanwhile, YY (Hui Xin Ong) was awarded her PhD at The University of Sydney. YY was awarded an European Respiratory Society Postdoctoral fellowship and will move to the UK in early 2014 to commence a clinical focussed research project with Prof Joy Conway’s group in the area of medical imaging.

RespiTech 2013 Report.

RespiTech 2013 Report.

Also of note this month, the group announced the ISAM/Woolcock 2014 Joint Conference and workshop to be hosted in Sydney in September. The theme of the conference and further details will be announced in January via the Woolcock and ISAM websites.

Lastly, we would like to congratulate members of the group for publishing 4 peer reviewed articles this month. John published a review with Daniela entitled ‘An update on the use of rifapentine for tuberculosis therapy’ in Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery. Mehra was the first author on a publication in Pharmaceutical Research entitled ‘In vitro cell integrated impactor deposition methodology for the study of aerodynamically relevant size fractions from commercial pressurised metered dose inhalers’. This article describes the establishment and validation of a modified Anderson Cascade impactor for study drug transport across lung epithelia. Jesslynn published two articles as first author.  Firstly, she published an education article entitled ‘Graphing software for medical writers in the Journal of Medical Writing. Secondly, she published an article in Pharmaceutical Research entitled ‘Isothermal Calorimetry: A predictive tool to model drug-propellant interactions in pressurized metered dose systems’. This later article focusses on realtime monitoring of phase transitions in pMDI systems.

The group has come a long way in 2013 and we thank all our supporters and followers. We wish everyone a prosperous 2014 and look forward to the year ahead.

SPIRITUS: (11) A Monthly update from the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR

This is our November update of news from the Respitech group at the WIMR.


In November, the RespiTech group has participated in a number of events. Firstly, we were involved in the Woolcock ‘Think Tank’, a two day conference that highlights the institute’s research strengths and identifies strategic directions for future projects and collaborations. Judy Loo gave an excellent presentation on modified intubation tubes for reducing pneumonia infection in ICU patients and Wing-Hin participated in the Woolcock’s ECR Translational Research Grant, pitching a novel lung cancer therapy. Also, YY won a bottle of bubbly for being the most enthusiastic ECR participant!

The team participated in the annual Melbourne Cup celebrations at the Institute. Meanwhile, Dany Traveled to Italy to conduct a series lectures as Visiting Professor at the University of Ferrara, while Paul went to AAPS in San Antonio USA to establish a series of new collaborations.

Later in the month, the team participated in the Chancellor’s reception at the Woolcock to celebrate a series of Centres of Excellence, a Corporative Research Centre, and the Woolcock Advanced Microscopy Suite. Paul spoke about the new microscopy facilities which are now operational.

As usual we welcome and say goodbye to RespiTech members. This month we say goodbye to Amitabh Prakesh and Ningyi Xu. Amitabh completed his Hons thesis on cilia beat function and was awarded his degree at the end of November. Ningyi completed her Masters degree with the team in the area of pressurised metered dose inhaler droplet drying kinetics. We wish both all the best in their future career. 

We would like to congratulate Eric (Bing Zhu) for being awarded his PhD from the University of Sydney. Erics’s thesis is entitled “The influence of formulation variables on particles generated from solution based pressurised metered dose inhalers”. Eric will continue working with the group as a postdoctoral scientist within the field of aerosol generation.

We would also like to congratulate Alaa Tulbah and Yang Chen for giving excellent PhD presentations at the Woolcock’s Friday morning seminars.

Lastly, we would like to congratulate Yang and Eric for publishing two papers this month. Yang was the first author on a publication in ‘Pharmaceutical Research’ entitled ‘The influence of actuator materials and nozzle designs on electrostatic charge of pressurised metered dose inhaler (pMDI) formulations’ while Eric was the first author on a paper in ‘Colloids and Surfaces A’ entitled ‘The solid-state and morphological characteristics of particles generated from solution-based metered dose inhalers: influence of ethanol concentration and intrinsic drug properties’. Both these publications focus on one of areas of interest of the group- pMDI technology, and the study of particle properties after aerosol generation.

Woolcock Think Tank 2013

Alaa and Yang give woodcock seminar

Chancellors reception

SPIRITUS: (10) A Monthly update from the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR


This is our October update of news from the Respitech group at the WIMR.

October has been a hectic yet productive month for the Respitech group. Firstly the team hosted the Drug Delivery Australia Conference (DDA 2013) at the Woolcock Level 5 conference venue. 100 national and international delegates participated and we had keynote speakers Igor Gonda (Aradigm) and Ian Tucker (current president of the CRS) give insightful talks on the future of drug development and delivery. The conference ran over 2 days and covered a range of topics including respiratory drug delivery, cancer targeting and novel drug delivery vehicles. There were a number of student prizes, great food, a highly popular ice-cream cart and a cruise on the harbour. Thanks to the whole team for all the effort they have put in to make this a success!

DDA2013 Delegates

DDA2013 Delegates

Meanwhile, the ECR2STAR program is picking up pace. We are already approaching capacity for our first workshop in London and have finalised the academic and industrial speakers. The web-site has been visited by 2000 people and we have contributors from around the globe participating with articles and comments via Facebook and Linkedin. If you are a early career research and want to learn more visit ecr2star.org.

Back at the Institute, members of the group have been busy working to develop the Woolcock’s new profile and have successfully launched the new woolcock.org.au web portal. This was completed in time for the Governor of New South Wales reception for the Institute, held at Government house in Sydney which Paul attended on behalf of the Respiratory Technology Group.

We would like to congratulate YY (Hui Xin Ong) for being awarded her PhD from the University of Sydney. YY’s thesis is entitled ‘Transport Mechanisms of Inhaled Ciprofloxacin Formulations Across Calu-3 Lung Epithelia’ YY will continue working with the group and spend next year applying the findings from her thesis to transport kinetics of drugs in humans, using scintigraphic techniques at Southampton Hospital in the UK.

Lastly, we would like to congratulate John Chan and Alessandro  Sadat for publishing two papers this month. John was the first author on a paper published in Pharmaceutical Research, focussing on novel inhaled anti-tuberculosis drugs while Alessandro ’s paper in Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology described a inhaled macrolide formulation designed to target bronchiectasis.


SPIRITUS: (09) A Monthly update from the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR

This is our September update of news with the RespiTech group at the WIMR


September has been an exciting month with the establishment of a series of new initiatives.

Firstly, we have launched a new initiative for young researchers: www.ecr2star.org. Early career researcher to research star (ECR2STAR) is a global initiative to encourage early career researchers (PhD, PostDocs and early career academics and industry researchers) to become the next leaders in their field. 

We have established a website that will be a repository of useful information, news, links and opportunities for ECRs. Additionally, the group has announced the first free ECR2STAR workshop, to be hosted in London this December as part of a collaborative project between University College London, University of Sydney and the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research. For more information follow the link www.ecr2star.org

Secondly, we launched SPAM (Strategic Promotion Advice and Mentoring). Daniela Traini at the WIRM together with colleagues Penny Oxford and Fiona White both from the Faculty of Science, have organized the very first ‘Promotions myths and legends workshop’. Fifteen Level D women in Science, Vet Science, Agriculture and Environment and Medicine Interested in applying for Level E in 2014 or 2015 attended.  The next meeting will be held at the Woolcock Institute on Tuesday the 22nd of October 1-2.30pm. Please send Daniela an email if you are interested in attending. 

As always, we welcome members to the Respitech team. This month we have two new members, Gianluca Lauretani and Mariateresa Stigliani. Gianluca is a visiting student from The University of Ferrara (Italy) and will work on combination therapies for targeting muco-hypersecretion and bacterial infection in the lung, while Mariateresa is a PhD student from Salerno (Italy) who will be studying drug transport phenomena across lung epithelia. Welcome to both. 

We would also like to congratulate Gianluca on securing one of 8 scholarships valued at Euro 2500 (>$3500) from the Atlante-Rotary Club in Ferrara to support international mobility. Well done!

Finally, the DDA2013 program for the October conference has now been finalised and the event is shaping up to be a success. We are projected to have over 100 delegates with world-class speakers and abstracts. More on this in next month newsletter.


SPIRITUS: (08) A Monthly update from the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR

Firstly, we would like welcome Judy Loo, who will commence a research post within the group. Judy's research will be focussed on inhaled antibiotic and anti-biofilm therapies. During her PhD, Judy developed a series of antibacterial and biofilm resistant plastics that can be incorporated into intubation tubes for intensive care purposes. Judy undertook her PhD in the Faculty of Pharmacy, supervised by Ramin Rohanizadeh, Cynthia Whitchurch (UTS) and Paul Young. We would also like to congratulate her for a fantastic final thesis presentation at the Faculty earlier in the month. Both Judy and Wing-Hin submitted their thesis this month... Congratulations!


The group would also like to welcome Rebbeca Xu. Rebecca is a Masters student who will be undertaking a research program to develop advanced excipients for use in non-aqueous propellant and nebuliser based inhalation devices. Additionally we would like to invite four elective Pharmacology students who will be working with us, for the next few months, to gain experience in drug delivery. Welcome to Jacob Emilio, 'Jack' Ba Duy, Merrel Anna and Emelie Linnea.

Members of the RespiTech team have been busy preparing for DDA 2013. We have now confirmed international and domestic invited podium presenters and have two fantastic Keynote speakers, Igor Gonda and Ian Tucker. Igor is the CEO of Aradigm in San Francisco. He was also former CEO of Acrux and an academic at the University of Sydney. Ian is the incoming president of the CRS and Professor at the University of Otago, New Zealand. We have had a great response regarding abstract submissions and are looking forward to the social events, including a harbour cruise.

This month, the group have also been successful in securing funding for the establishment of a collaborative research program between Trinity College Dublin and Sydney. Dr. Carsten Ehrhardt will spend time at the Woolcock Institute working with our team to study the expression and function of transport proteins in the lung. Finally, members of the group have published an original article focussed on the preparation of macrolide nano-particles for drug delivery.

SPIRITUS: (07) A Monthly update from the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR

In our July newsletter we say goodbye to a few members of our team and welcome new members, as well as update you on our travels and research successes.


This month has seen members of the group travelling up to Brisbane for the 6th Australian & New Zealand Controlled Release Society Chapter Workshop. These workshops give postgraduate students and industry participants the opportunity to learn about nano and micro-particulate drug delivery systems that they can then apply to their own research and development programs. The official research conference of the Aus-Chapter of the CRS, DDA2013, will occur in October at the WIMR in Sydney. Registration and contributed paper submissions are being accepted at the following link: www.crsaustralia.org

The group has published two papers this month. Firstly, an article is to be published in the Colloids and Surfaces B, with collaborator Santo Scalia from Ferrara University, Italy. The article is focused on controlled release drug delivery systems for the lower airways and their affect on alveolar cells. Secondly, a ground-breaking paper has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Aerosol Medicine. This paper introduces a new dry powder inhalation device 'the Orbital'. This passive device is capable of delivering high doses (ca. 400 mg) of mucolytic and/or antibiotic therapies over multiple breaths, circumventing lengthy treatment times or the requirement for multiple capsule and device handling. This later work was supported via an industry-academia ARC linkage program with Pharmaxis Ltd. More information will follow as soon as the article is published online.

Lastly, we say farewell to old members and welcome new. Firstly, Giulia and Alessandro left us to return to Italy. Both have been immensely productive during their stay with us and we wish them well; we also hope to see them back in the near future to undertake PhD programs. Secondly, our postdoctorate research assistant, Ketan Sharma, has also left us. Ketan is returning to his home country and will continue to pursue a career in aerosol research. We thank Ketan for his support to the RespiTech group, particularly in the early stages of setting up the new facility at WIMR. Finally, we would like to welcome Wilco van den Oetelaar and Wing-Hin Lee. Wilco is a visiting student from the Netherlands and will spend the next 9-months working on developing novel systemic inhalation drug delivery technology, while Wing-Hin will commence a postdoctorate position within the group and will be involved in a multitude of cell and non-cell based respiratory drug delivery projects.

SPIRITUS: (06) A Monthly update from the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR - 6 month roundup


June marks 6 months since the establishment of the RespiTech Group at the WIMR. The new laboratories are fully up and running and the group has integrated seamlessly into the culture and mission of the Institute. Since our arrival, the group has started a number of collaborations with basic molecular biologists, pharmacologists, medical practitioners, and clinical management teams to form a holistic approach to researching and treating respiratory disorders.

We established a series of new initiatives: The RespiTech.org web-portals and social media pages, The OzNose project (a multidisciplinary team working on projects with the upper respiratory tract space) and launched Pulmatix Ltd, a consultancy and testing services company. Internationally, the group have attended a series of international conferences and members have presented papers and posters to the scientific community. Members of the group have been successful in securing a number of grants to fund continued and new research projects and have published over 16 peer reviewed journal articles. Paul, Dany and Brian received funding from the TSANZ to study the influence of diet on the effectiveness of asthma medicines; Jess received an Endeavour Fellowship to undertake work at UCL with Simon Gaisford's group and YY will spend 2014 in Southampton with Joy Conway's group after receiving a prestigious European Respiratory Society Postdoctoral Fellowship. We attended the graduation of Mehra, welcomed many new members and held BBQs, Institute Cook-ups and other social events.

RespiTech.org - Respiratory Technology at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research

RespiTech.org - Respiratory Technology at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research

As June draws to a close, the RespiTech Team continue to move forward. This month, members of the group (Young, Traini) along with Cell Biology (Oliver) have been successful at securing two competitive grants. Firstly, the teams were awarded a $200,000 Equipment Grant for the purchase of a new CRAM microscope (confocal, Raman, atomic force microscope). Secondly, the team were successful in securing a $370,000 Australia Research Council Linkage Grant to develop a treatment for pulmonary fibrosis. Additionally, two new articles were published. YY was first author on both publications. The first, in the European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics (IF 3.83), presented an inhaled liposomal formulation and the applicability of different in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo methods for predicting release in the lung. The second, in Molecular Pharmaceutics (IF 4.57), showed the influence of inhaled hypotonic mannitol on the uptake of common antibiotics across lung epithelia.

We made significant achievements in this short 6 month period and are looking forward to the exciting opportunities that await us in the next half of 2013.


SPIRITUS: (05) A Monthly update from the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR

May 2013.jpg

May has been a busy month for the RespiTech team at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.

The OzNose Project was launched, a series of open-source research programs and consortia focussed on the upper-respiratory tract. The founding team consists of academics from a wide range of disciplines including engineering, physiology, clinical practice, molecular pharmacology and drug delivery. With the announcement, a new website 'www.oz-nose.org' was set up to provide a platform for the consortia to report findings to the public and scientific community and serve as a research hub for its members.

Away from the Institute, members of the RespiTech group (Mehra, Yang, John, Dany and Paul) attended RDD Europe in Berlin. The premier drug delivery conference had over 450 attendees and a series of papers by the group were well received. Mehra gave a podium presentation on epithelial uptake of combination products and continued-on to give invited presentations in the areas of drug delivery and cell biology to Paolo Colombo's group at the University of Parma and Claus Muir's group at the University of Saarbrücken. Mehra will work with the team to establish new collaborations and strengthen existing projects between these centres. Also overseas, Jess left for the UK to visit Simon Gaisford's group at UCL. Jess received an Endeavour award to spend 6 months studying particle stability in pressurised metered dose inhalers.

At home, YY received a prestigious fellowship from the European Respiratory Society to undertake a research program with Joy Conway's group at the University of Southampton (UK). She will spend 2014 in the UK working alongside Joys' group to study mucociliary clearance using lung imaging and develop new approaches to treating CF and COPD.

The group have published three articles this month in the areas of respiratory cell biology and clinical management. Firstly, YY published a review in 'Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery', focusing on the application of the Calu-3 cell model for drug delivery studies, while Mehra authored an article in 'Respirology' using the Calu-3 model to study mediated cellular uptake of fluticasone when delivered in combination with Salmeterol. At the patient interface, Sharon authored an article in the 'Australian Journal of Primary Health' reporting asthma management practices in developmental disability clinics; giving advice to healthcare professions with respect to inhaler use and training.

As always we welcome new members to our team. Michele Pozzoli starts with us as PhD student. Michele is supervised by Fabio Sonvico, Mary Bebawy (both UTS), Paul and Dany and will focus on drug delivery to the upper respiratory tract (one of the first projects as part of the OzNose initiative). Welcome Michele!

SPIRITUS: (04) A Monthly update from the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR

Respiratory Technology celebrates its fourth month since establishment at the WIMR. 

April has been a short month for the group, with members of the Respiratory Technology team attending the International Society of Aerosol Medicine conference in North Carolina, followed by meetings with collaborative partners on the East Coast of the US. At home, members of the team who supported the WIMRs Student Research Symposia. 80 people attended this years meeting and Dr Mehra Haghi gave a plenary lecture. Yang gave a postgrad talk and Jess and John had posters which attracted significant attention by other attendees, congratulations to all!

Two papers from an international university-industry consortia were published for which we have received amazing feedback and support from the local pharmaceutics and inhalation community; many thanks for all who commented on our media feeds! It was also announced this month that Respiratory Technology and the WIMR have supported the Australian Chapter of the Controlled Release Society by offering to host the 2013 Drug Delivery Australia Conference in Sydney on the 24 and 25 of October (See www.crsaustralia.org and www.facebook.com/DrugDeliveryAustralia for further details). 

This month has also seen the appointment of YY and Eric as postdoctorate researchers within the WIMR. YY's research will focus on understanding the mechanisms underpinning drug interactions at a cellular level, with a view to treat chronic infection and hypermucosal secretion at the epithelia, while Eric will focus on the dynamics of particle production in combination inhalation systems. We welcome both! Additionally the group would like to introduce and welcome two new research students, Ningyi Xu and Giula Ballerin. Ningyi is undertaking a project looking at the dynamics of pMDI aerosol droplet formation and will be co supervised by Eric, while Giulia, co-supervised by YY, is studying new approaches to enhance clearance of mucus in patients with COPD and Cystic Fibrosis. 

The month ahead; May looks to be an interesting month with the launch of a new group-initiative and the ramp-up of a new area of research (watch this space…). Additionally, members of the team will be attending Respiratory Drug Delivery in Berlin towards the end of the month. See you there…

SPIRITUS: (03) A Monthly update from the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR

Respiratory Technology celebrates its third month since establishment at the WIMR. March has been a productive month both socially and scientifically. 


On a social note, Alessandro entertained local residents in the Sydney's Inner West by playing a session at Mr Falcon's; for those who missed out, he will be playing a longer chill-out session in April (keep an eye on our www.Facebook/RespiTech feed for more info). The winners of the WIMR 'Think Tank' Challenge (Ketan, Mehra, YY, Jess and Eric) enjoyed fine dining at Glebe Point Dinner courtesy of the WIMR. Earlier in the month the RespiTech team took part in the Woolcock 'CookUp' to celebrate the Dr Cheryl's Salome's retirement from the Respiratory Physiology and Imaging group. Members from throughout the institute attended and cooked dishes, which were shared and enjoyed by all. 

Each month the group would like to congratulate individuals for their personal achievements over the past month. Mehra graduated with a PhD from the Faculty of Pharmacy in a ceremony held at the Great Hall. In the same month, both YY and Eric gave their final PhD presentations at two of the WIMR seminar series. Two papers were accepted for publication in 'Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy' and the 'European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences'. The first, studied the potential uptake of antibiotics after deposition in the lung while the second investigated the potential uses of Quercitin as a flavanoid for inhalation therapy, with a view to target a range of diseases. Lastly, YY and Eric completed and submitted their PhD thesis to the Post-Graduate board so that it could be externally evaluated.

Finally we welcome a new member to the group, Sharon Davis. Sharon has moved to the WIMR from the Faculty of Pharmacy to work in the area of inhaler device use in patients with disabilities. Sharon is supervised by A/Prof Sinthia Bosnic-Anticevich (who recently joined the WIMR Clinical Management Group at the WIMR) and is co-supervised by Paul and Dany.

SPIRITUS: (02) A Monthly update from the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR

February has seen the launch of the Respiratory Technology group’s new laboratory facilities. An opening party, hosted on Valentines Day, was a great success and attended by colleagues from Pharmacology, collaborators, industry supporters, members and friends of the Institute. Guests were given a tour by members of the group and enjoyed canapés and drinks in the Board room overlooking Blackwattle Bay.

Each month the group would like to congratulate individuals for their personal achievements over the past month. The group has published 4 new peer reviewed articles this month. Firstly, congratulations to Mehra who published a paper studying how pMDI formulation variables affect drug absorption at a cellular level. This was followed by a second co-authored paper focused on engineering particles for the same study.

Congratulations also to Judy who had a paper accepted reporting the biofilm disruption effects of novel silver nanoparticles. She hopes to incorporate this technology into intubation tubes for the treatment of ventilator-associated pneumonia in intensive care wards. Also, Daniela was corresponding author on a paper that reported a new method of delivering both oral and inhalation drugs simultaneously to enhance patient compliance and improve treatment in COPD.

Finally and most importantly, the group would like to welcome new members. Amitabh Prakash, honors student from the Discipline of Pharmacology in the School of Medicine has joined the group. Supervised by Daniela, Paul, YY, Brian Oliver (Cell Biology Group) and Lucy Morgan (Concord Hospital), Amitabh will undertake a project studying the affect of novel therapeutics on mucociliary clearance in the lung.

SPIRITUS: (01) A Monthly update from the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR

January has been a busy month for the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR.


Of note, our new laboratories and installation of core facilities have been completed. All postgraduate students, postdocs and staff have now moved in to the WIMR and research programs are ramping up. Importantly, we have successfully launched our new Website www.Respitech.org along with social media hubs, via Facebook and Twitter.

The group would like to congratulate individuals for their personal achievements over the past month.

YY's (Hui Xin Ong) talk at DDL in Scotland was a success and she was nominated a finalist for the Pat Burnell New Investigator award; Jess (Jesslynn Ooi) received the award for best scientific poster. Jess was also awarded a prestigious Endeavour Research Fellowship to spend six months at UCL studying thermal events in pMDI systems with Prof Simon Gaisford.

Paul was appointed onto the Editorial Advisory Board of Pharmaceutical Research while Daniela saw the launch of a new textbook focussed on educating undergraduate and postgraduate students in the basic principles of inhalation science.

Additionally, the team has published two papers this month suggesting that commonly used oral medications, such as statins and NSAIDS, may provide new therapeutic approaches to treating respiratory disease.

Importantly, the group would like to welcome new members. Alesssandro Varnousfaderani from the University of Ferrara (Italy), co-supervised with Dr Gaia Colombo, has joined the group to undertake a project on particle engineering of novel macrolide drug delivery systems.

Finally, the group enjoyed celebrating the Australia Day long-weekend with an indoor BBQ (circumventing the backlash of Ex-Cyclone Oswald).