Griffith University scientist named Australian of the Year

Griffith University Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim is the 2017 Queensland Australian of the Year.
Griffith University Professor Emeritus Alan Mackay-Sim is the 2017 Queensland Australian of the Year.


Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim has been honoured as this year’s Australian of the Year recipient.

The retired biomedical scientist accepted the prestigious award during a live announcement at Parliament House in Canberra on Australia Day eve.

Professor Mackay-Sim's 'personal object' on display at the Australian National Museum in an exhibition for the Australian of the Year awards.
Professor Mackay-Sim’s ‘personal object’ on display at the Australian National Museum in an exhibition for the Australian of the Year awards.

Professor Mackay-Sim has spent his career researching how nerve cells in the nose regenerate and pioneered a way to safely apply that same regenerative process to damaged spinal cords.

Recognised as the 2003 Queenslander of the Year and the 2017 Queensland Australian of the Year, Professor Mackay-Sim will now spend the next year fulfilling his duties for the Australian title while still overseeing several research projects at the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery.

Those projects include stem cell research into treatments for conditions such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to talk about the importance of research on spinal cord injury and brain diseases,” Professor Mackay-Sim said in his speech.

“About new treatments using stem cells and cell transplantation, undreamed of 20 years ago. About how we must, as Australians, prioritise our spending so that we can afford not only to look after the diseased and disabled in our communities but also to afford the research for new and radical treatments to reduce future health costs.

“As a nation we must be part of this. And we must invest in young scientists.”

University response to media reports

Professor Mackay-Sim highlighted the vital need for continued support and funding for research to ensure this life changing work isn’t compromised.

Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor congratulated Professor Mackay-Sim on his national award.

“Griffith University is extremely proud to have such a remarkable man and scientist among us,” he said.

“Alan’s research has laid the foundation for global efforts to use stem cell surgery to repair spinal cord injury. It is an extraordinary field.

“He is a deserved recipient of Australian of the Year and we join the rest of the country in applauding him.”

Pro Vice Chancellor (Sciences) Professor Andrew Smith said:  “We are delighted Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim and his research has been recognised at the highest level. Griffith Sciences Group remains committed to supporting this pioneering stem cell research towards new innovative treatments for spinal injury.”

Professor Alan Mackay-Sim
Professor Alan Mackay-Sim

Leading the world in stem cell research

A  new medical research centre established at Griffith University is offering hope to those suffering from spinal cord injury – progressing ground-breaking work that could see paralysed patients walking and feeling again.

Researchers at the Griffith University Clem Jones Centre for Neurobiology and Stem Cell Research, opened this week by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, are preparing to conduct clinical trials by 2018 focused on restoring motor and sensory function to badly injured people.

Research team leader Dr James St John said the initiative was building on research conducted around the world in the past 20 years, which involved transplanting olfactory ensheathing cells from the nose into injured spinal cords to form a cellular bridge. This enables nerve cells to regenerate and make functional motor and sensory connections.

“The medical research being done here at this centre could transform the lives of people with an acquired brain injury or a spinal injury. And the first tests are very encouraging,” the Premier said at Thursday’s opening.

“I want to thank (Vice Chancellor) Ian O’Connor and Dr James St John for the outstanding leadership happening here at Griffith University.

“This is about taking medical research to the next steps. It is ground breaking research.”

Repairing spinal cords

Dr St John said his team was currently focused on refining cellular aspects of the process, which was a crucial part of repairing spinal cords and could also have implications for the treatment of acquired brain injuries.

“This exciting therapy now offers hope to those who live with spinal cord injury that paralysis does not have to be forever,” he said.

“To some degree, it is already proven that this process can work but we need to improve the results.

“One of the keys to that is working out how to stimulate the cells to grow and migrate faster and to find specific cells that do those things when we need them to.

“We are getting some fantastic results already and are unbelievably excited about it.”

Building on global success

There has been some success in restoring movement to paralysed patients with the use of robots but so far researchers have been unable to work out how to re-establish the sensations of touch and temperature. Both motor and sensory function could be restored with cellular therapy.

Dr St John said an innovative approach was being used to get the results needed to progress to the clinical trial phase, which involved improved cell purification, 3D bioprinting and natural product drug discovery.

The therapy has its origins in Queensland with now retired Prof Alan Mackay-Sim, from Griffith University’s Eskitis Institute, who led the world’s first phase one clinical trial in 2002, which demonstrated its safety in patients with spinal paralysis.

More than 12,000 Australians currently live with spinal paralysis and each year 300 people are diagnosed with the condition.

Speech pathology students take out Queensland Health jobs

Griffith speech pathology graduates
In 2014, Griffith’s Master of Speech Pathology graduates enjoyed amazing success by being offered all five new positions in the Queensland Health new graduate position round.

Griffith’s Master of Speech Pathology department is delighted following the amazing success of five of its graduating students who are set to take on jobs with Queensland Health.

The Master of Speech Pathology program at Griffith is relatively new, having launched in 2012, and now its second student cohort is about to graduate. “We had great success last year in the Queensland Health new graduate position round. Out of 6 speech pathology positions, our students gained three of these, which delighted us as a new program,” says discipline head Associate Professor Elizabeth Cardell from the Griffith Health Institute.

“These positions are highly competitive and much sought after by graduating students from all speech pathology programs.” “This year, five new graduate positions were offered including Gold Coast University Hospital, the Gold Coast Child Development and Behaviour Service, Logan Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital and the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

High quality, work-ready graduates

“We are thrilled that this year, our students were successful in being offered all five positions. It also shows that our program is achieving its aims in in providing high quality, work-ready graduates for the speech pathology sector.”

Second year Master of Speech Pathology student Jodie Connolly is set to begin a oneyear full time position at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane early next year.

“It was a tough interview process but I am so thrilled to have got a position in the Brain Injury and Rehabilitation Unit at the hospital,” says Jodie. “I am not sure exactly what all my responsibilities will entail yet but I will be assisting people with brain injuries with their swallowing and communication difficulties.”

She says the Griffith program has been very beneficial in providing a framework for real life work.

“We were provided with a high level of clinical and theory work, as well as diverse previous placement opportunities, so this next step will really be an extension of that,” she says.

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Griffith grad named Australasian Junior Doctor of the Year

Supporting young doctors as an educator and trainer has been the passion for Dr Kat Curtis, who has been named Australasian Junior Doctor of the Year at the Postgraduate Medical Education Council Awards.

A Griffith Medicine graduate from 2011, Kat originally worked at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane, before joining Bundaberg Hospital this year as a principal house officer in general surgery.

“This is a great honour for me and a great encouragement but I never really expected it,” said Kat, 30.

“Supporting other young doctors as an educator and trainer of surgical treatment is something that I am really passionate about and it is great to be recognised for it.”

A registrar in Bundaberg

Dr Curtis accepted a registrar position at Bundaberg Hospital in August.

“The position provided me with an opportunity to enjoy both clinical and surgical work in a diverse range of medical fields where I could gain experience and develop my skillset.”

Dr Curtis has also served on several peer and professional organisations including Chair of the Junior Medical Officer Forum, committee member for Queensland Women’s Medical Society and Queensland’s representative to Australian Junior Medical Officer Committee.

She said she remembers her time on the Griffith Medicine program very fondly.

“My Griffith years were brilliant, partly due to the way the third and final years were structured. We focussed on a broad range of specialities in various settings including general practice, intensive care and emergency.

“Having that kind of knowledge and experience behind you is invaluable and really prepares you for your future career.”

The Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service chairman Dominic Devine praised Dr Curtis for being recognised for her commitment to the field of medicine.

“Receiving this award is due recognition of Dr Curtis’ hard work, effort and dedication to health care,” Mr Devine said.

“It is great to see a young doctor who has made such a strong commitment to supporting and training her colleagues be recognised with this award.”

Turkey Prime Minister makes development a G20 priority

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at the Pre G20 Summit Conference. Griffith Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O'Connor is pictured in the background.
Turkish Prime Minister Professor Ahmet Davutoglu at the Pre G20 Summit Conference in Brisbane.

Global inter-connectedness and an integrated approach to economic politics set the tone when the Turkish Prime Minister addressed a Pre G20 Summit Conference in Brisbane.

Professor Ahmet Davutoglu’s speech closed the two-day event hosted by Griffith University with the G20 Research Group, University of Toronto.

The 26th head of Turkey also placed the spotlight firmly on climate change, development and the Ebola crisis in a far-reaching 40-minute delivery.

“Countries should be working shoulder to shoulder to address the crises of humanity,” he said.

More G20 Summit news

Griffith G20 events, experts and research

He outlined his view of a global economy now connected by technology rather than geography as in the past.

“Financially, nobody is safe and secure. No nation is an island. Money flows and recognises no borders in this global age,” he said.

He described issues of climate change as “ontological rather than political”pointing to its potential impact on human existence.

The Ebola outbreak from Africa provided an example of modern global connectedness. “Everything is spreading faster. This is not just a health issue. But if the G20 agenda is only limited to financial issues, the G20 can’t have global legitimacy in addressing challenges like Ebola.”

G20 Presidency

Professor Davutoglu also looked ahead to Turkey’s upcoming term as president of the G20, and put development at the top of his list of priorities. The list also covered employment, energy, inclusivity, climate change and the refugee crisis.

He explained that integrating low income countries into the international economic system would be crucial to development, and efficient mechanisms of trade would be important in this context.

“History has shown us that inter-connected and interdependent economies are the best way to achieve peace.”

Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor described the Turkish Prime Minister’s address as extraordinary. “We can think of no better person to address this group today,” he said.

GIFT stands tall on World Tourism Day

Griffith Institute for Tourism (GIFT) research aligns well with the tourism and community theme of World Tourism Day on the 27th September
Griffith Institute for Tourism (GIFT) research aligns well with the tourism and community theme of World Tourism Day on the 27th September

The Griffith Institute for Tourism (GIFT) is harnessing the ‘tourism and community development’ theme of World Tourism Day 2014, to be held this Saturday, September 27.

“Tourism is a people-based economic activity built on social interaction, and as such can only prosper if it engages the local population by contributing to social values such as participation, education and enhanced local governance,” emphasises Talib Rifai, Secretary General United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

This year’s World Tourism Day draws special attention to the role of tourism in contributing to one of the building blocks of a more sustainable future for all: Community development. This focus is in line with the global transition to the Sustainable Development Goals as the guiding principle promoted by the UN from 2015 and beyond.

GIFT researchers are contributing to sustainable tourism development at multiple levels.

GIFT Director, Prof. Susanne Becken announced a new partnership at the Third United Nations International Conference on Small Island Developing States, to work with key agencies globally, and in the region to enhance tourism resilience. The impacts of climate change and extreme weather events are a key focus of this new partnership.

“Reducing vulnerabilities to disasters is an absolute must if we want to achieve any real progress in terms of sustainable development,” highlights Prof. Becken.


Elsewhere, GIFT Adjunct Professor, Steve Noakes continues inputs to an international consultancy in Myanmar on a tourism business development project, focusing on micro/small enterprises in impoverished communities. This is all part of the A$9 million Business Innovation Facility program in Myanmar that is funded by the UK Government.

Across the past few years, Myanmar has experienced significant double-digit growth in international arrivals, with the first five months of 2014 having seen a massive 46% increase in arrivals.

“My work in Myanmar has been focussed on supporting local tourism related businesses to adjust their business in ways that create more jobs, opportunities, products and services for the local community,” confirmed Adjunct Professor Noakes.

“With such a rapidly expanding tourism industry we are calling on researchers to invest their time and effort into the project to ensure sustainability of the Myanmar tourism industry.

“Despite the obvious economic positives of the current situation, there is also potential for problems to manifest as the destination grapples with the economic, social and environmental consequences of rapid tourism growth.”

Sharing lessons learned across the various projects in different parts of the Asia Pacific region is critical to maximise progress towards sustainable development.

“The diversity of our projects and global partnerships, including important links with the UNWTO, are a real plus for our research team at GIFT,” added Prof. Becken.

Stakeholders interested in discussing GIFT’s tourism research needs and opportunities, can contact Professor Becken at

Griffith research excellence honoured

Dr Glenda Andrews and VC Professor Ian O'Connor
Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O'Connor with Dr Glenda Andrews, representing the Applied Cognitive Neuroscience winning research team

The diversity, quality and importance of Griffith University research was celebrated last night with the announcement of the 2014 Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Awards.

Researchers in fields as diverse as war crimes, quantum physics, neuroscience and the role of nursing in improving patient outcomes were all honoured at last night’s awards which were held for the first time at the Sir Samuel Griffith Centre at Nathan.

Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor said the past year had been one of extraordinary research achievements across disciplines.

“It’s also an interesting time for research given the changes foreshadowed in the recent Federal Budget,” he said. “However, Griffith University’s capacity to respond and adapt will ensure we navigate a pathway through and continue to build on our reputation as a research university.”

Professor O’Connor congratulated the winners in each category and commended the far-reaching benefits and diversity of their research, adding their dedication to advancing scholarly knowledge was helping to transform our world.

The winners in each of the award categories are:

Dr Olivera Simic from the Griffith Law School received the award for excellence in an early career researcher for her work in transitional justice and accountability for war crimes, in particular genocide; the involvement and accountability of UN peacekeepers in transnational organised crimes, such as human trafficking; the accountability and involvement of UN civilian police officers in sexual exploitation and abuse; and local perspectives on war crimes including the ways that local actors have dealt with the past.

The award for excellence in an individual mid-career or senior researcher went to Professor Geoff Pryde from the Centre for Quantum Dynamics. Professor Pryde has been recognised for his outstanding research into the strange properties of the quantum world and how they can be harnessed to revolutionise technology in information processing, communications and precision measurement.

His research program aims to make fundamental advances in the theoretical and experimental understanding of quantum systems (especially photons), and use these advances as resources to make significant progress in developing quantum technologies including quantum computers, quantum communications and quantum-enhanced measurements.

The work of Professor Wendy Chaboyer, Centre for Health Practice Innovation in the Griffith Health Institute, was recognised with the research leadership award. Professor Chaboyer’s research focuses on patient safety and the role nurses play in improving the quality of hospital care and patient outcomes, particularly preventing or mitigating patient risk through care provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Professor Jane Hughes from the Australian Rivers Institute was recognised for her distinguished record in research supervision.

Professor Jane Hughes and Dr Glenda Andrews
Research Excellence award-winners Professor Jane Hughes and Dr Olivera Simic

Professor Hughes has supervised, either as Principal or Co-Principal Supervisor, a total of 57 honours students with 37 being awarded First Class Honours.  Furthermore, three students have been awarded University Medals and 38 Honours students have gone on to do PhDs, 29 of them under Professor Hughes’ supervision.

Professor Hughes has also supervised 61 Higher Degree Research (HDR) students to completion, 48 as Principal or Co-Principal Supervisor, eight as Associate Supervisor and five as External Supervisor.

The Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award for a research group or team went to Applied Cognitive Neuroscience: Improving Human Functioning by Understanding Brain-Behaviour Relationships (Professor David Shum, Associate Professor David Neumann, Dr Glenda Andrews and Associate Professor Allison Waters). The team seeks to join the particular expertise each has in order to address central issues in attention, memory, learning, executive functioning and problem solving that have their analogues in the class-room, rehabilitation clinic and mental health service.

Griffith in World’s Top 100 Universities under 50

Griffith University has been ranked 84th in the world’s top 100 universities under 50 years old.

The Times Higher Education Top 100 Under 50 rankings, are a global list of universities under the age of 50.

Vice-Chancellor and President of Griffith University, Professor Ian O’Connor said the ranking was endorsement of the strategic and ambitious path the university was following which focused on strengthening the quality of its teaching and research, particularly within a number of selected areas.

“Being ranked 84 in the THE 100 Under 50 rankings confirms Griffith’s international standing” he said.

“The world of higher education is truly global and we need to evolve to meet this new reality. We are committed to enhancing the international reputation of the University through both quality teaching and research excellence, and this ranking is proof that we are well on our way to achieving this.”

THE Editor-at-Large and Rankings Editor Phil Baty agreed.

“The academy’s traditional, ancient elite should be warned – many of the exciting young universities on this forward-looking list do not see their youth as a disadvantage in the global knowledge economy.

“While they may not have had centuries to accumulate wealth and cannot draw on generations of alumni and rich traditions of scholarship to drive their reputations, they are free from the burdens of history: free to be more agile, lean, flexible and risk-taking, giving them an advantage in a rapidly changing global marketplace; free to offer innovative teaching and focus their research on niche, high-impact areas.

“So, Griffith has joined a prestigious list of some truly exciting and dynamic institutions. To feature in such a list against such tough global competition is a great achievement,” Mr Baty said.

Euro travellers more environmentally conscious

European travellers into Australia are more likely to support voluntary carbon off-setting measures than their Asian counterparts, a new study has revealed.

Collaborative research involving the Griffith Institute for Tourism and Tourism Research Australia suggests more knowledge about Asian attitudes towards sustainability is required to optimise support for voluntary carbon off-setting practices among this most crucial inbound market sector.

Click here for Carbon Offsetting Infographic

“There is a definitive gap between European and Asian country attitudes towards carbon off-setting travel habits,” confirmed Dr Char-Lee McLennan.

“There is greater prevalence of this trend among the more mature European and United Kingdom markets as opposed to the emerging growth markets of Asia.

“A better informed population that is more readily exposed to social marketing and media coverage of the issues relating to our carbon footprint are more likely to be supportive of carbon off-setting initiatives.

“Australia’s geographic proximity to the growth markets of Asia dictates that more work needs to be done in this area.”

Dr McLennan believes further research on Asian travellers’ environmental perceptions and behaviours, and how these perceptions are developed, is important.

Voluntary carbon-offsetting was popularised during the last decade, particularly by airlines, as a tool to ‘neutralise’ emissions associated with travel.

“Overall support of voluntary carbon off-setting schemes is still quite low among inbound travellers,” she said.

“However there is evidence to suggest a stable market for carbon off-setting is being established. This will be of particular interest to companies looking to tap into the environmentally conscious traveller market.”

The research, based on data collected between 2008 and 2010, also provides key demographic characteristics and travel trends of those people more likely to make voluntary payments to offset their carbon emissions.

The research raises important questions with respect to tourists’ sustainable travel behaviour and those who engage in it, with the findings indicating that social marketing and the stage of economic development in a country could influence visitors’ sustainable behaviour and mitigation activities.

Class of 2013 take the stage

Griffith graduation ceremonies

More than 7700 students will graduate from Griffith University at ceremonies on the Gold Coast and Brisbane over the next two weeks.

Graduation season begins at the Gold Coast Convention and Entertainment Centre today (Monday 9 December) with three separate ceremonies for Arts, Education and Law students, Griffith business students and science, engineering, environment and technology students plus a cohort of postgraduate business students.

The Gold Coast will celebrate the graduation more than 2000 students in attendance from the fields of arts, business, education, law, languages, health and sciences as they don their mortar boards and gowns for afternoon and evening ceremonies.

The Brisbane ceremonies for students from the Logan, Mt Gravatt, Nathan and South Bank campuses will run from 16 to 18 December and celebrate the graduation with more than 2700 students in attendance.

There will be 14 graduation ceremonies in all with 14 guest speakers set to inspire and five Honorary Doctorates to be awarded.

Guest speakers at the ceremonies include:

Gold Coast, December 9

Mr Matthew Hall – Partner at Swaab and Chair of the QCGU Advisory board)

Ms Helen Conway – Director, Workplace Gender Equality Agency

Ms Sarah Marsanich – Geotechnical Engineer at AECOM and Griffith Alumnus,

Gold Coast, December 10

Mrs Daphne Pirie AO, MBE – Founding President of Womensport Queensland

Dr John Kearney OAM – Gold Coast Eye Clinic and member of the Gold Advisory board

Professor Emeritus John O’Gorman – Foundation Professor of Psychology at Griffith University

Brisbane, December 16

Professor Jeff Dunn – CEO, Cancer Council Queensland

Ms Cheryle Royle – General Manager, St Vincents Private Hospital Brisbane

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AC, AFC (Retired) – Doctor of the University recipient

Ms Rachel Hunter DUniv and member of the Griffith Council

Brisbane, December 17

Dr Nancy Underhill  – Doctor of the University

Dr Des Power – Doctor of the University

Brisbane, December 18

Mr Ian Brusasco AO – Doctor of the University

Professor Emeritus Nancy Viviani – Doctor of the University

Over 130,000 alumni from more than 130 countries have graduated from Griffith University since its opening its doors in 1975.

You can watch the ceremonies live at – #griffithgrads

Griffith scientist part of Multiple Sclerosis breakthrough

Professor Simon Broadley

A Griffith University medical scientist is part of an international team which has made a key discovery in the effort to find the cause and cure of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

The Griffith Health Institute’s Professor Simon Broadley is working under the umbrella of the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium (IMSGC) and has identified 48 previously unknown genetic variants that influence the risk of developing MS.

The discovery nearly doubles the number of known genetic risk factors and thereby provides additional key insights into the biology of this debilitating neurological condition.

“Getting to the source of this terrible condition is a key focus for medical scientists around the world. This new information is a significant step forward in unlocking the genetic code of the disease,” Professor Broadley said.

A central role played by the immune system

The genes implicated by the newly identified associations underline the central role played by the immune system in the development of MS and show substantial overlap with genes known to be involved in other autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and Coeliac disease.

“It shows why this search for a cure of MS is so important. It will take us to new areas of understanding of the human body and its functions and new areas of therapy. This will assist many more conditions than just MS,” he said.

The study published today in the medical journal, Nature Genetics, is the largest investigation of MS genetics to date.

The international team consist of 193 investigators from 84 research groups in 13 countries, led by the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine.

The Australia and New Zealand branch is led by Associate Professor David Booth, MS Research Australia Senior Research Fellow from the Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney with fellow scientists from the ANZgene Consortium (Australia and New Zealand MS Genetics Consortium). DNA from blood samples from 80,000 people both with and without MS were examined, 1800 of which came from Australia and New Zealand.

“This discovery really demonstrates the power of global scientific collaboration in finding answers to some of our most pressing problems. MS is the most common neurological condition in young people,” Professor Broadley said. Dr. Jacob McCauley from the University of Miami (who led the study on behalf of the IMSGC), commented further on the significance of the work and nature of the collaboration.

“By further refining the genetic landscape of multiple sclerosis and identifying novel genetic associations, we are closer to being able to identify the cellular and molecular processes responsible for MS and therefore the specific biological targets for future drug treatment strategies,” said Dr. McCauley.

Dr. Matthew Miles, MS Research Australia’s CEO said “MS Research Australia is proud to have provided foundation funding and continued support to the ANZgene Consortium. This work is a huge contribution to our understanding of MS and will underpin intensified efforts to translate these genetic findings into new therapies to reduce the impact of this condition for people with MS world-wide.”

There is currently no cure for MS.

Griffith Health Centre prepares to open

Pro Vice Chancellor (Health) Professor Allan Cripps in front of the Griffith Health Centre. Photo montage: Tina Reed

The new $150m Griffith Health Centre is finally preparing to open its doors to the community.

With expanded clinical services and a wealth of new student learning opportunities, the primary health care facility – set to be officially opened on Friday July 19 by Her Excellency The Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO – will operate alongside the new Gold Coast University Hospital and focus on Chronic Disease Management and Sports Health.

In addition to the teaching, learning and research, there will be five individual clinical facilities which will initially operate within the Griffith Health Centre and which will be known as the Griffith Health Clinics. These clinics will comprise dentistry; physiotherapy/rehabilitation; exercise physiology; psychology and dietetics.

This is then expected to expand next year to include speech pathology; medicine (general practice); nursing & midwifery; clinical pharmacy; social work and occupational therapy.

“It’s been a challenging period, however we are almost there and we are really excited about what the Griffith Health Clinics will have to offer the local and academic communities,” says clinical services director Jenny McDonald.

A significant logistical operation

“Not only has there been a whole host of new equipment and technology purchased for the Centre, but there has been a significant logistical operation involved in moving the contents of the three previous Griffith Health buildings over to the new location. Two of these were on the Parklands Campus and the other was the Centre for Medicine & Oral Health located in Southport, which housed the 54 chair Griffith Dental Clinic.

“Whilst we have purchased 42 new state-of-the-art dental chairs for our new dentistry facility, we have relocated and upgraded a further 54 chairs from the old clinic.

“Unfortunately the time allocated to do the dismantling and installation of these was during very heavy rain so it was extremely challenging for those involved and it took longer than expected.”

22 X-ray units have been relocated and installed at the Centre’s new Dentistry Clinic, with a further 22 new ones expected to arrive imminently.

Dentistry students can also look forward to the installation of Simodonts, which are cutting-edge simulators that can be used to practice dental procedures in a realistic virtual environment.

Meanwhile, the psychology services located at the Centre are being prepared with the installation of a sophisticated hi-tech program designed to facilitate the supervision of psychology interns during their clinical practice sessions.

Queensland’s only plastination lab

Queensland’s only plastination lab is also set to be established at the Centre, for the preservation and exhibition of body part samples. The teaching and learning facility, which will be located on the 10th floor, is a purpose-built space which will be managed by a team of German-trained staff. Plastination was invented in 1977 by the controversial German doctor Gunther von Hagens and involves the removal of a body’s water and fat and then replacement with special plastics.

Nine consultancy/therapy rooms alongside a specialist observation area are also being given the final touches in preparation to be made available to all disciplines within the Griffith Health Centre.

“Another challenge we have had during this relocation period is how to keep a busy dental clinic running for patients at the same time as moving. We overcame this by opening three weeks earlier than usual in January this year. This enabled us to maximise our moving time in the middle of the year to seven weeks,” says Ms McDonald.

The Griffith Health Centre is part of a suite of new initiatives under Griffith’s three-year ‘New Griffith 2013-2016’ program, which signifies an intensive period of change and innovation for the university.

The opening also comes as a new report shows Griffith University contributes more than 7300 jobs to the Gold Coast economy.

Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor said an Ernst and Young economic impact analysis showed Griffith contributed a total of $585 million directly and indirectly to the Coast. The report findings show that 4908 direct jobs and 2418 indirect jobs exist because of Griffith’s presence on the Coast.

For more information on ‘New Griffith’ visit



Brisbane transforms into ‘Little India’

Brisbane’s eyes will be opened to the diversity of India this weekthrough the ENCOUNTERS: INDIA festival featuring more than 70 leading artists from India and Australia across 70 events.

Presented by Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, the festival was officially opened by Her Excellency Dr Penelope Wensley AC, Governor of Queensland and Mr Stuart McCosker, Chancellor Ms Leneen Forde AC and Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor on Monday 13 May.

ENCOUNTERS: INDIA will highlight traditional music, street bazaars, fine art, dawn ragas, cinema, fashion, debates, dance and masterclasses set to transform South Bank into a bustling parade of contemporary India, bringing to life the vibrant colours, tantalizing aromas and the unmistakable movement and sounds of its music styles.

Chancellor Ms Leneen Forde AC, Her Excellency Dr Penelope Wensley AC, Governor of Queensland, Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor, Professor Huib Schippers, Artistic Director Vincent Plush and Mr Arun K.Goel, Consul General of India at the official opening event.

Festival Highlights:

Beyond Bollywood  

An all-ages free public concert, will take to the stage in the Courier-Mail Piazza for lovers and explorers of Indian culture. The line-up features Topology, the Sruthi Laya ensemble from South India, the Australian Art Orchestra, Queensland Youth Symphony Big Band and jazz students from the Queensland Conservatorium. From 7pm the surprises of Bollywood will emerge with a troupe of Indian singers and dancers, hosted by renowned Bollywood star Nicholas Brown. From 4pm till late, Saturday 18 May.

Indian Bazaar 

The chaotic and riotous colour and sounds of a Mumbai market will be transported to Brisbane for the Indian Bazaar, set to transform the Cultural Forecourt of QPAC with dozens of stalls offering Indian food and crafts, fashion and henna painting, meditation and spiritual nourishment, as well as a dazzling array of music and dance. WHEN: 9am – 6pm, Saturday 18 May and 9am – 4pm, Sunday 19 May.

The Darbar Night Series

Five unforgettable experiences of music fit for a king, reminiscent of the great Moghul Emperors of India who entertained lavishly at their royal court, will feature each evening. These concerts will explore an aspect of music from the vantage points of Indian traditions and Western culture – rhythm (Aneesh Pradhan); voice (Patricia Rozario); drone (Rohan de Saram); ensemble (Shubha Mudgal and Guru Kaaraikkudi Mani); and the guru (a celebration of Peggy Glanville-Hicks). From 7.30pm each weeknight (May 13 – 17).

The Diaspora Twilight Series

Bringing to light aspects of Indian culture barely acknowledged in Lonely Planet guides, the Diaspora series hints at the manifold ways in which Indian culture has permeated into the West in the past 150 years or so. With ancient Vedic chants, live music and dance, Flamenco and jazz with tabla virtuoso Dheeraj Shrestha and a celebration of the centenary of the opening of the Royal Opera House in Mumbai. Held at 6pm each evening from May 13 – 17.

The Ties That Bind Us

The relationship between Australia and India will be explored in a two-day symposium covering cultural diplomacy; identity through film and television; Western concepts; musical interactions; and the rise of India as a superpower. Key participants will include John McCarthy AO (Chair of the Australia-India Council); Rory Medcalf (The Lowy Institute); Anupam Sharma (Bollyw

ood director); Maxine Williamson (artistic director, Asia Pacific Screen Awards); and Aneesh Pradhan (one of India’s leading tabla players). Runs on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 May at Cinema A in GOMA.


The work of 15 women artists from Australia and India come together for an exhibition across three galleries at the Queensland College of Art Griffith University this May as the art installment of the festival. Artists include Pushpamala N., Sonia Khurana, Shambhavi Singh, Dhruvi Acharya (India) and Fiona Hall, Simone Eisler, Patt Hoffie, Kate Beynon, Laini Burton and Sangeeta Sandrasegar (Australia). At the Griffith University Art Gallery, the Project Gallery and the Webb Gallery – 226 Grey St, South Brisbane.

Griffith and Gold Coast Health sign MoU to increase clinical trial capacity

Investigating a treatment for Ross River virus infection is just one of the clinical research trials underway at Griffith University’s Clinical Trials Unit designed to improve patient care and health outcomes on the Gold Coast.

It’s an arrangement made possible by the newly signed Memorandum of Understanding between Griffith and Gold Coast Health.

The trial – being run for Paradigm Biopharmaceuticals – is one of several commercially sponsored trials being undertaken at Griffith’s Clinical Trials Unit. The trial is hoping to show that the tested intervention may be useful in providing relief from the often excruciating joint pain associated with Ross River virus infection, which has impacted an average of 220 Gold Coasters each year over the past five years.

Gold Coast Health rheumatologist, Associate Professor Jenni Ng is the principal investigator for the trial.

“It’s a great thing for the Gold Coast community to have access to clinical trials that might improve their health outcomes, like this double blind, placebo controlled study for a new treatment for the Ross River virus,” Dr Ng said.

Improve patient care and health outcomes

Director of Griffith’s Clinical Trials Unit, Associate Professor Evelin Tiralongo says the new agreement will lead to increased clinical trial capacity in the region and will ultimately improve patient care and health outcomes for Gold Coasters.

“This mutually beneficial agreement between Griffith and Gold Coast Health offers different opportunities of collaboration for academic and clinic staff on clinical trials increasing their skills and expertise, and will enable both the health service and Griffith to be involved in high end translational research for the benefit of the Gold Coast community.

“It’s a two way process with possibilities to refer trials to the hospital and for the hospital to engage Griffith’s Clinical Trial Unit for trial coordination and facilities.

“Currently Griffith’s clinical trial unit is conducting 10 clinical trials for commercial sponsors of which three include clinicians from the Gold Coast University Hospital as principal investigators,” says Associate Professor Tiralongo.

“With this MOU in place we expect the Gold Coast Health clinicians’ involvement to increase substantially.”

This MOU will be highlighted at the Gold Coast Health Research Week Conference which starts 27 November with a pre-conference evening hosted by Griffith’s MHIQ and the official opening conducted Tuesday morning.

The program offers sessions and opportunities for collaborative discussion and networking between clinicians and academics. Griffith’s Clinical Trial Unit will also be present.

Dr Greta Ridley from the Office for Research Governance and Development at Gold Coast Health said increasing our capacity for quality research is a key priority for the health service.

“The more our doctors, nurses and allied health professionals can collaborate with academic partners on clinical research, the better our health service performance will be due to our staff increasing their skills and experience in clinical research and our service delivery being underpinned by research evidence”.

Griffith’s clinical trial research and academic expertise, together with the world-class clinical capability of Gold Coast Health and access to patients seen through the Gold Coast University Hospital, positions the 200-hectare Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct as a leading emerging hub for clinical trials and health and medical commercial development.




‘A new solutions culture’ the focus for Startup Catalyst student

Dylan Birot in San Francisco as part of Startup Catalyst

First year Gold Coast IT student, Dylan Birot has become the third member of the Studio 39 group to complete the Startup Catalyst program in California in November.

Startup Catalyst aims to change Australia’s digital enterprise culture by exposing as many people as possible to the new digital companies changing our business and technology world from Silicon Valley.

The continual success of Griffith students in the Startup Catalyst program is building the University’s capacity for a student entrepreneurial culture that compliments the university’s teaching and learning resources.

Fresh from visiting major companies in Silicon Valley including Google, Facebook, Atlassian, Dropbox, Twitter and many others, Dylan hit home on the run, determined to change his own approach to business.

“It’ll sound strange, but it’s almost like I’ve taken on this more VC (venture capitalist) like perspective towards startups now. I’m a lot more critical about ideas and value propositions,” he said.

“I don’t want be another copycat startup founder, just content to leverage value from other people’s products. I want to try for new, I want to try for a scale that’s near to monopoly. One of the things you encounter in Silicon Valley are people who are really ambitious and unafraid of discussing that ambition and unafraid of failure. That’s pretty different to here.”

Strategic direction also got a boost when several founders advised the group to “follow in the footsteps of the giants” (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon etc) and understand when and how they will change direction and what they will need.

The trip was funded by Griffith Sciences and comes on the back of Dylan’s establishment of an app development company with current and former Griffith IT students, working out of Studio39 on the Gold Coast, the Griffith Enterprise co-working space. Their company, BonneSai, is taking advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create cheaper apps faster than previously.

Dylan was admitted into the program as one of over 300 applicants and one of the youngest ever given a place. Griffith Enterprise have been working with student entrepreneurs by providing space, advice, events and support.

“San Francisco and Silicon Valley were just awesome, a whole new level. You finally understand why the startups over there are the way they are. It’s almost difficult to not have impact. The pace everyone works at is almost ridiculous, mostly because of how cut-throat the competition is over there, you basically have to if you want your company to survive” Dylan said.

While expecting to encounter new ideas on how to convert concepts in to products and get products into markets, he also came across an emphasis on human development and management he wasn’t expecting.

“The level of investment the companies have in their people is amazing, we’d have Google and Facebook Engineers talking about how great the places were to work in. We met one of the Directors at Facebook who spoke about how important human management was to them and their companies. It’s pretty simple, they depend on getting the best people and keeping the best people and if they can’t do it, people will go somewhere else,” he said.

“What is also surprising is the level of openness people have to discussing their ideas. People will literally give away the secret sauce of their startup because everyone knows execution is everything.

“The best teams, with the best plans and the best talent will be successful.”

Millennials shunned by state election promises and policies

People under 35 have been largely overlooked during the Queensland state election campaign, according to a Griffith University expert on millennials and youth affairs.

Jerath Head, a research assistant with Griffith’s Policy Innovation Hub and the assistant editor of the Griffith Review, says the key issues that matter to younger voters haven’t received due attention in the lead-up to this weekend’s election.

“If you look at policies, in terms of the campaigns, there’s not really anything that resonates particularly with a lot of young people,” he said.

“A lot of it is directed at regions; there’s hardly any focus on employment and employability for young people.”

“Increasingly, these policies look at employment for older people and don’t necessarily address the specific issues of being younger.”

This sense of younger voters being left behind is not unique to this campaign, Head said; the under-35 demographic has historically been perceived to be treated as an afterthought too.

“Young people tend to miss out in any election, which is probably going to cause more problems for parties, because they’re becoming quite a huge portion of the population,” he said.

“Increasingly, these policies look at employment for older people and don’t necessarily address the specific issues of being younger and having to be in casual employment for longer, or being in low-paid employment for longer.

“It’s something that’s going to be more pressing but presently parties don’t really seem to think that much about it.”

Head explained that, although electoral rolls received a spike in enrolments from younger voters as a result of the recent survey on same-sex marriage, political parties shouldn’t take their continued democratic participation for granted.

“In Australia, we haven’t previously had an issues-based survey like that, where people have enrolled to vote on an issue rather than enrolled to vote in broader politics, so it’s hard to say whether it will translate to increased political engagement,” he said.

“I would hope that it would translate to an increased turnout for young people, given there’s a lot of issues-based debate going on, particularly around Adani.

“My hopes are pretty high that younger voters will continue to participate, because those are the kind of issues that seem to be getting young people engaged at the moment.”

“The two biggest issues for young people are affordable housing and jobs. Where are people going to live, and how are they going to pay for it?”

Aside from a heightened sense of social responsibility, Head said, younger voters – regardless of where they live – are facing similar challenges that form the crux of what will drive their preferences at the polls.

“There’s a tendency to kind of broad-brush everyone under the same banner of ‘millennial’, and not pay attention to the more location-based issues,” he said.

“But increasingly I think the two biggest issues for young people are affordable housing and jobs. Where are people going to live, and how are they going to pay for it?”

Those two questions, Head explained, are deeply interconnected, and a lack of meaningful action on one is to inherently neglect the other – and the millennial demographic.

“There’s a wilful ignorance in addressing employment when you refuse to look at housing affordability,” he said.

“You might create some extra jobs – unemployment is decreasing – but it’s all casualised. The jobs being created are always casual, so unless you have some real solutions to long-term employment, you’re not doing much if housing affordability is still sucking up everyone’s money.”

Importantly, major parties cannot afford to continue to ignore their younger constituents, especially with a steadily rising tide of support for minor parties in urban areas with significant millennial populations, Head said.

“South Brisbane is one that everyone’s paying attention to, because there’s obviously a large population of younger voters, and the Greens have a chance of winning the seat,” he said.

“So, I think that’ll be a good little case study for what it takes to get young people engaged, and what it takes to keep them engaged.”

Griffith researchers have you covered – umbrellas to protect against dingoes on Fraser Island

The best way to shoo away a dingo might be carrying around an umbrella.

Griffith University researchers have studied the least invasive methods to keep the well-known Australian animal on Fraser Island at bay since spates of incidents from 2001 prompted calls for more effective management interventions.

PhD student Rob Appleby, of Griffith’s Environmental Futures Research Institute and a team of researchers recommend personal repellents such as sprays and carrying umbrellas.

The research, published in Pacific Conservation Biology, details a handful of methods.

Currently only electric fences are used, and although effective, Mr Appleby said this approach could not be applied everywhere.


Mr Appleby said portable electric fences, primarily used in the US for bears and wolves, were an available option but not as common in Australia yet.

Sticks are often used and suggested as a deterrent on the island. However, the paper highlights that among 160 serious dingo incident reports collected by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) there were seven cases found where people threatened by dingoes were listed as carrying sticks.

Some 67 per cent of incidents also occurred while people were walking or running.

“The two things that stood out for us was a spray with citronella and opening and closing umbrellas which can also serve as a shield,” Mr Appleby said.

“Personal protection is one of the key elements for both the protection of people and dingoes.

“Despite the fact it’s actually very rare that dingoes attack or bite people it still happens occasionally and can end catastrophically so tried to focus on methods with the greatest potential to keep people safe without harming dingoes.

“It’s the best thing for people and dingoes if there some distance between them.”

Mr Appleby said that for the worst possible cases, shock collars offered some merit as another step before lethal control.

“We tried to stress this is not something we would recommend unless in dire circumstances,” he said.

Researchers plan to do further testing with umbrellas.


Research conference aims for a healthier Gold Coast

Gold Coast Health clinicians and researchers will partner with academics from Griffith, Bond and Southern Cross universities for a three-day conference aimed at delivering better health outcomes for the Gold Coast through strong research collaborations.

The inaugural Gold Coast Health Research Week Conference kicks off on 27 November with a pre-conference event hosted by the Menzies Health Institute Queensland at Griffith University at the Gold Coast University Hospital.

Across three days, conference attendees will participate in 10 themed sessions ranging in topic from changing service delivery, to building workforce capacity and supporting healthy habits, plus a range of workshops focused on building research capability and a public forum on dementia caregiving and technology.

Gold Coast Health’s Office for Research Governance and Development Acting Director Dr Greta Ridley said the health service had a strong and sustained focus on world class research to deliver improved patient care and health outcomes.

“We’ve developed a wonderful program of high-quality research presentations, networking opportunities, panel discussions and workshops for our Research Week conference,” Dr Ridley said.

“Our goal is to create a space in which academic and clinical collaborations can flourish so that residents of the Gold Coast will benefit from cutting edge healthcare.”

Members of the public are invited to the Dementia Caregiving and Technology Public Forum on Tuesday night (28 Nov) , to hear a range of presentations on research in dementia, including:

  • Griffith’s Professor Wendy Moyle will share research outcomes which show that robotic pet therapy can have positive benefits for people with dementia in long-term care, such as reduced anxiety and a decreased tendency to wander.
  • Professor Helen Chenery (Bond University): Smart communication technology and conversational breakdown in dementia – An interdisciplinary perspective
  • Dr Theresa Scott (University of Queensland): Dementia and driving
  • Dr Jacki Liddle (University of Queensland): We need the experts – Developing technology with people living with dementia and their care partners to support communication.

For more information on Gold Coast Health Research Week conference visit

To register for the public forum, visit


School of Environment celebrates 40 years of graduating students

Martin Taylor is doing his first mammal survey.

He’s an excited student in Griffith University’s brand new School of Australian Environmental Studies. As part of the environmental studies foundation program – the first in the country for a university – nothing was off limits.

Martin Taylor.

Dr Taylor set his traps in the forest. He had no idea what he would find.

What he discovered was cats and rats.

“That was the first message to me, that while the forest might be there, it’s highly degraded, this was not a natural forest,” he said.

“It was overrun with feral animals.”

It sparked a passion that has inspired the conversation biologist to go on to have an illustrious career stemming from his degree.

Dr Taylor graduated with a Bachelor of Environmental Studies in 1977. This year the Griffith School of Environment celebrates graduating its 40th cohort of students.

Back then a career out of environmental science was unheard of. But Dr Taylor has never looked back

His first job out of Griffith was with the CSIRO team for biocontrol of the exotic floating water-weed salvinia in the early 1980s.

“We released a biological control agent, a weevil, that turned out to be hugely successful, knocking the weed out all over Australia and for our neighbours in PNG as well” he said.

Now the Protected Areas and Conservation Science Manager with WWF in Queensland, Dr Taylor is campaigning for nature all the time.

“I’m campaigning for funding for protected areas and tightening of tree clearing rules, particularly in Queensland,” he said.

Dr Taylor had originally started in engineering because his family had taken that career path but realising that was not for him, he switched to Griffith’s environment program as soon as he found out about it.

“It was a turning point in my life,” he said.

“I was really keen on doing something in environment and conservation and there was nothing at the time until it was founded at Griffith.

“To be accepted and study in a brand new class was a great privilege.

“As the first class we were able to influence how the course played out.”

Class photo.

Dr Taylor is encouraged by the fact the Bachelor of Environmental Science degree has now been accredited by the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ). Griffith University is the first in the World to be accredited by the organisation.

“It gives me hope there’s now so many graduates coming through with expertise in conservation and environmental science,” he said.

“The battle for nature is never going to be over. Every generation has to make it their own.”

“It’s a constant uphill battle but you have to keep engaging people to pay attention to the damage being done.”

Griffith Film School lecturer celebrates release of debut feature

Griffith Film School lecturer Priscilla Cameron is celebrating the Australian release of her debut feature film, The Butterfly Tree, which opened in cinemas this week.

Shot at Mount Tamborine, in the Gold Coast hinterland, and starring Melissa George and Ed Oxenbould, the film has made waves on the international movie scene.

Since its international debut at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year, the film has been nominated for three Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) awards.  It has also secured theatrical distribution in the US and UK.

“It’s my first feature, and it was done on a fairly low budget, so I’m really happy with the response,” Ms Cameron said.

“Getting selected for Toronto, which is one of the top five, A-list film festivals really put us on the map in terms of US studios and producers.

“It is also great to see the film get a wide theatrical release – it is one of those films probably best seen on a big screen.”

Ms Cameron spent a decade getting the film off the ground – working on the screenplay and raising financing in between raising three kids and lecturing at Griffith Film School.

“Only 16 per cent of directors in Australia are female, and I think a lot of that comes down to the difficult juggling act between motherhood and work,” she said.

“But all the skills you learn as a mother get drawn upon when you’re making a film, from making snap decisions to problem solving, learning to pick your battles and being able to put your own ego aside to meet the needs of others.”

As a first-time feature director, Ms Cameron said the key was preparation.

“Everyone on set was more experienced than me, from the cast to the crew,” she said.

“But I did lots of homework – I was very conscious of how little time and money we had to achieve what was needed.

“I always tell my students that a film can seem like a massive, overwhelming endeavour, but you just have to be prepared and figure out what is needed scene by scene, hour by hour, day by day.”

Students at Griffith Film School are reaping the benefits of Priscilla’s industry experience.

“My students have a lot of questions for me, from basic things like how many set ups to plan in a day to getting an overseas agent and finding funding,” she said.

“I think that is definitely a strength of Griffith Film School – the faculty here has such a wealth of industry experience and are at the top of their craft.

“I find teaching really invigorating – it’s rewarding helping young filmmakers hone their skills and follow their dream.”

Ms Cameron is currently completing her PhD at Griffith Film School, looking at domestic distribution models for first time feature film directors.