SPIRITUS: (JAN-14) A Monthly update from the Respiratory Technology team at the WIMR.

This is our January 2014 update of news from the Respitech group at the WIMR.

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The RespiTech Group celebrates a year of operation this month and look forward to an exciting year ahead. In January the group has been ramping up operations for 2014 and celebrating a number of new initiatives and successes.

Firstly, Wing-Hin Lee was awarded the Woolcock Institute’s inaugural Early Career Researcher Grant. Wing will use the $10,000 grant to establish his project proposal in the area of lung cancer targeting. The group also congratulates Mehra Haghi for receiving a Travel Grant from the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand. Mehra will use the award travel to South Australia in April to attend the annual meeting and present her work.

As usual we would like to welcome new members to our group. Jasper Lamers and Mary Goud have joined us from the Netherlands as visiting researchers. Jasper will be working on projects within the field of patient compliance and ‘good inhaler device use’, while Mary will be working on advanced phosphodiesterase inhibitor therapies. We would also like to welcome Khanh Huynh to the group. Khanh is an Honours student from Engineering and will spend the next year with the group studying and optimising fluid flow paths through dry powder inhaler devices using in vitro and in silica models.

The group celebrated Chinese New Year this month, with members bringing a number of dishes to enjoy, including sushi, cupcakes and beef tendon jelly. The event was also accompanied by the celebration of John Chan’s successful PhD thesis submission. We also announced the successful completion and launch of the Woolcock Video, of which a number of the group were involved in making a success. You can find the Woolcock Video, Chinese New Year and other group social activities on our Facebook Page (www.Facebook.com/RespiTech).

Lastly, we would like to congratulate YY for publishing a first author paper in AAPS Journal entitled ‘Combined Inhaled Salbutamol and Mannitol Therapy for Mucus hyper-secretion in Pulmonary Diseases’. This study utilises a number of cell-based models and in vitro techniques to study the effect of combined β-2 agonist and mannitol formulations on cilia beat frequency, muscle contraction and drug absorption.

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

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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).