The Federal Government has announced $2.9 million in funding to support increased access to clinical trials of new drugs, treatments and medical procedures for patients suffering chronic diseases.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said that the funding would support the administration of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Clinical Trials Centre and the expansion of the centre’s Australia New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry (ANZCTR).

“Clinical trials give tens of thousands of patients access to new and innovative treatments and play a vital part in the fight against disease,” said Ms Plibersek.

Sydney doctor and philanthropist Tom Wenkart has donated $4 million to endow the University of Sydney Wenkart Chair in Endothelium Medicine at the Centenary Institute.

 

The inaugural Chair is Jennifer Gamble, Professor of Vascular Biology and one of the pioneers of endothelium research.

 

Professor Gamble's work has already transformed our understanding of the role of endothelial cells.

 

"Fifty years ago we just regarded blood vessels as simple pipes," she said. "Today we know that they're much more complex - a living, changing organ that rapidly reacts to threats.

"You prick your finger on a rose thorn - within the hour the wound is inflamed and itching as your body mobilises to fight infection. That's the endothelium in action," says Professor Gamble.

 

These same endothelial cells are implicated when things go wrong in atherosclerosis and auto-immune disease. And tumours need endothelial cells to form blood vessels - without new blood vessels, tumours won't grow.

 

We each have within us some 80,000 kilometres of pipelines, that carry the essential supplies needed to all parts of our body. The endothelial cells that form this network of blood vessels are essentially a hidden organ weighing about one kilogram.

 

The endothelial cells maintain these perfect, smooth pipelines year after year but then, when there's an accident they turn into traffic police within minutes, allowing white blood cells to pass through the wall of the blood vessels, and giving emergency services access to the scene.

 

In 1985, working in Seattle and Adelaide, Professor Gamble showed that if endothelial cells are stimulated then white blood cells bind to them - the start of inflammation.

 

Now we know much more about the role of these cells in immunity, heart disease, cancer and other conditions. But Professor Gamble says it's still early days in this field of study.

 

"I hope that, over the next decade or two we'll be able to understand and control the endothelium in diseases — especially inflammation and those associated with ageing such as atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's."

 

Tom Wenkart says that's what excites him about this field of research. "These endothelial cells play a critical role throughout the body. I believe they're the key to understanding heart disease, for example. What is happening in my body today that could lead to a heart attack in 20 years?"

 

The Centenary Institute, University of Sydney is an independent leader in medical research seeking improved treatments and cures for cancer, cardiovascular and infectious diseases.

The Federal Government has announced it will invest $719 million to deliver improved primary health care and increase access to dental and allied health care services as part of the Strong Futures package.

An international team of researchers led by the University of Melbourne has used new technology to fast track the discovery of a breast cancer risk gene which could assist in the discovery of other cancer genes.

South Australian doctors are set to benefit from the state’s first doctors only clinic which is set to open in the coming week.

A full council meeting of the State's peak union body will tonight consider applying an interim Green Ban to work on a former James Hardie site riddled with asbestos at Camelia, in Sydney's west.

The University of Tasmania has received a $3 million philanthropic grant from the JO and JR Wicking Trust to support research on dementia.

NSW is able to enjoy one of the healthiest sex industries ever documented due to the decriminalisation of sex work in NSW combined with a free market approach, according to a report into NSW Health.

A study by the Colorado School of public health has shown that pollution caused by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may contribute to acute and chronic health problems for those living near natural gas drilling sites.

The Federal Government has passed its means-testing legislation through Parliament, which will see means-testing applied to the private health insurance rebate.

Fair Work Australia has released a report that details a litany of findings against former secretary of the Heath Services Union Victoria Branch Jeff Jackson.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released new figures which predict the number of new cancer diagnosed each year to rise almost 40 per cent from 2007 levels in the coming decade.

The University of Queensland and Blue Care have teamed up to offer an aged care management course which will up-skill aged care staff to help meet the growing demand for quality aged care in Australia.

The course is the first of its kind being offered in Queensland and is believed to be the second of its kind in Australia.

It was the brainchild of Blue Care's Residential Services Director, Richard Olley, who approached The University of Queensland/Blue Care Research and Practice Development Centre and the UQ School of Nursing and Midwifery to develop and see it to fruition.

"The development of this course demonstrates the effectiveness of strong ties between the UQ School of Nursing and Midwifery and Blue Care, a leading provider of residential aged and community care in Australia," Senior Lecturer with UQ's School of Nursing and Midwifery Dr Anthony Tuckett said.

Dr Tuckett said, Blue Care and the UQ School of Nursing and Midwifery were one step ahead of the Productivity Commission's recent report into aged care when, in 2010, they began to develop the tertiary course specialising in aged care management.

"The Productivity Commission's report highlighted the need for management courses specific to the aged care industry, which is exactly what we are offering," Dr Tuckett said.

With the aged care sector in Australia expected to grow rapidly during the next 40 years, there is a crucial need to develop a skilled workforce to deliver quality aged care.

"The skills required to manage a community centre or aged care facility are very different to the skills care staff need in their day to day work," Dr Tuckett said.

Dr Tuckett said the course will bridge the gap for aspiring managers and enhance their skills so that they are equipped to manage a facility. He said the course is also designed to be useful for current managers, as it will ground them in what they are already doing and deepen their knowledge and skills in contemporary management.

"Through our link with Blue Care we have been able to ensure the course has both theory and vocational elements giving it a strong practical focus on the day-to-day operation of an aged care service.

"Topics covered include industry-specific financial modelling, planning and performance; service delivery theory and models, along with current and future workforce issues. This will provide graduates with the capacity to pre-empt and respond to changes as they emerge."

An Australian study of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) has found that stimulating the brain with a weak electrical current is a safe and effective treatment for depression and could have other surprise benefits for the body and mind.

The University of Sydney has announced it will partner with Agilent Technologies to develop a more reliable, less subjective methodology to screen for breast cancer and improve detection rates.

The Federal Government has announced it will allocate $4 million in research funding to 13 new projects that are investigating methods to prevent the harm caused by obesity, tobacco and harmful use of alcohol.

The Ear Science Institute of Australia (ESIA) has formalised a partnership with Melbourne’s Deakin University to build the world’s first bio-engineered human ear drum with optimised acoustic properties.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration's record on medical device regulation lacks transparency according to research led by the University of Sydney.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released the results of the second phase of its National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP).

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