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December 2014

UOC Research Seminar Series: Rebecca Poynton

PhD student Rebecca Poynton presented at the UOC Research Seminar Series on Monday, 8 December 2014. Her talk was entitled, Peroxiredoxin 3 and Oxidative Stress in Mitochondria.

Conference Speakers and Posters: Scientific Meeting of The Society for Free Radical Research Australasia

Tony Kettle accepts an SFRRA award in 2014Five staff and one PhD student attended the 22nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Free Radical Research Australasia in Melbourne from 3-6 December 2014.

Professor Tony Kettle presented the Distinguished Service Award Lecture entitled, Love at First Sight: The Joy of Working with a Beautiful Green Enzyme.

Two other CFRR Professors also spoke at the meeting, with Professor Christine Winterbourn discussing the Mechanisms and Consequences of Peroxiredoxin Oxidation. Professor Mark Hampton's talk focused on Mitochondrial Redox Changes during TNF-mediated Necroptosis.

Three posters were also presented at the meeting:

  • Myeloperoxidase and Protein Oxidation in the Neutrophil – Dr Louisa Forbes
  • Kinetics and Modulation of Hypochlorous Acid Production in the Neutrophil – Dr Amelia Albrett
  • Cell Death Pathways in Activated Neutrophils – Annika Seddon

The 23rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Free Radical Research Australasia will be held in Christchurch in December 2015.

Free Radical Professor named as a 2015 University of Auckland Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

Professor Christine Winterbourn is on of the University of Auckland's 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award winners.

Christine completed her BSc and MSc at Auckland in the 1960s before undertaking a PhD at Massey UIniversity. In 2011 Christine was the first woman to receive the Rutherford Medal, New Zealand's top Science honour.

November 2014

Marsden funding to investigate redox regulation of necroptotic cell death

Mark Hampton in the labProfessor Mark Hampton has been awarded $815,000.00 of Marsden funding over three years for his project on “Redox regulation of necroptotic cell death''.

The success rate for standard projects in the biomedical science category was only 5.9%, which translates into 7 of 118 grants funded.

The project includes co-investigators from Australia (James Murphy), India (Vikas Kumar) and the USA (Guy Salvesen).

The project will investigate multicellular organisms which have carefully regulated death programs to remove damaged or unwanted cells. Faults in these programs contribute to human disease.

Apoptosis is the best-studied cell death program, and drugs have been designed to promote apoptosis in cancer cells. Necroptosis is a newly recognised cell death program, and little is understood about the cellular changes that occur upon activation.

Preliminary data indicate increased oxidation of specific cellular proteins and a dramatic loss in mitochondrial function during the early stages of necroptosis. This project will use newly-developed technology to unravel the details of these redox changes and their significance in the initiation and regulation of necroptosis.

Prof Hampton will also determine if the sensitivity of cells to necroptosis can be promoted or inhibited by genetic and pharmacological modification of the antioxidant pathways of cells.

UOC Research Seminar Series: Dr Louisa Forbes

Dr Louisa Forbes presented at the UOC Research Seminar Series in the Beaven Lecture Theatre on Monday, 17 November 2014. Louisa's talk was about Protein oxidation in the neutrophil phagosome.

October 2014

Radio NZ - Our Changing World: Chlorine Bleach in the Airways

Starfish by Fernand Leger
Starfish (L'Etoile de mer) by Fernand Léger. Photo: Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Professor Tony Kettle was interviewed for Radio New Zealand's Our Changing World Series which aired on 15 October 2014.

In the feature, Chlorine bleach in the airways, Tony and his team explain how they have discovered the lungs of children with cystic fibrosis were damaged from an early age by white blood cells trying to kill bacteria.

Chlorine bleach, produced by the white blood cells to kill bacteria, destroys critical molecules in the airways.

TVNZ's Sunday: A Miracle Man

Margreet Vissers on TVNZs Sunday programme 2014Professor Margreet Vissers appeared on TVNZs Sunday programme in an article on high dose vitamin C and cancer.

Lab tests at UOC have shown tumours with higher levels of Vitamin C were less aggressive and slower to grow than ones with lower levels of the vitamin.

Now Margreet wants to take these investigations to a new level with human trials.

"What we want to find out, we want to know is if we increase the amount of Vitamin C is that going to slow the tumour growth as well? We suspect it will."

Patients would be given high doses of Vitamin C intravenously under controlled conditions. Professor Vissers' team would monitor the impact of the Vitamin on the cancer.

But this new trial needs about $1 million in funding and money is scarce. The Health Research Council recently declined an application for full funding, so the University is re-applying for a smaller amount of start-up money.

"We're ready to go," Professor Vissers says, adding, "we have all of the expertise in place, we have all of the samples in place, we have all of the collaborations in place."

The article, A miracle man, originally screened on 12 October at 7.00pm on TV One.

Watch A miracle man article online

September 2014

Professor Nominated for Next Woman of the Year Award

Next Magazine Cover October 2014Professor Margreet Vissers is one of five finalists in the Health and Science category for the 2014 Next Woman of the Year Awards.

Next magazine announced the 30 finalists across 6 categories in the October 2014 issue.

Margreet will travel to Wellington to attend the cocktail function where the overall winners will be announced in early October.

UOC Research Seminar Series 2014: Nina Dickerhof

A talk on the Potent inhibition of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) by neutrophil derived oxidants was presented by Dr Nina Dickerhof at the UOC Research Seminar Series on Monday, 29 September in the Beaven Lecture Theatre, UOC.

UOC Research Seminar Series: 2014 BBiomedSc(Hons) presentations

Our BBiomedSc(Hons) students Bee Bathish and Masuma Zawari presented at the UOC Research Seminar on Monday, 22 September in the Beaven Lecture Theatre, UOC.

Bee's presentation was on The effect of cell metabolism on epigenetic processes in cancer cells; and Masuma presented on Redox changes in TNF-mediated necroptosis.

CMRF funding success for our emerging researchers

Four of our emerging researchers have been awarded Canterbury Medical Research Foundations grants:

  • Dr Stef Bozonet (Regulation of endothelial cell death by hypothiocyanous acid)
  • Dr Paul Pace (Redox regulation of neuronal development by the antioxidant Prx2)
  • Dr Nina Dickerhof (Oxidative stress in the pathology and treatment of cystic fibrosis)
  • Dr Louisa Forbes (Screening for Potent Inhibitors of Myeloperoxidase).

UOC Research Seminar Series: Rufus Turner

Dr Rufus Turner presented Urate oxidation products – potential biomarkers of inflammations at the UOC Research Seminar Series on 15 September in the Beaven Lecture Theatre, UOC.

August 2014

Conference Poster: International Symposium on Spermatology

Anitra CarrDr Anitra Carr and Dr Juliet Pullar attended the 12th International Symposium on Spermatology in Newcastle, Australia from 10-14 August.

They presented a poster entitled Leukocyte-derived myeloperoxidase and sperm fertility measures.

Rutherford Discovery Fellowship Shortlist

Dr Anitra Carr made the shortlist of just 20, for interviewing for a Royal Society of New Zealand Rutherford Discovery Fellowship.

July 2014

Laboratory visit: Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology

Heather ParkerDr Heather Parker recently spent six weeks at the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology in Greifswald in Germany working on a collaborative project.

The project is examining a new medical treatment for chronic wounds and its effect on cells of the immune system in an effort to understand how this treatment works.

UOC Research Seminar Series: Anitra Carr

Dr Anitra Carr presented Vitamin C in human health and disease at the UOC Research Seminar Series on 14 July 2014 in the Beaven Lecture Theatre.

Conference Speakers: Oxygen Theme Meeting

Six of our staff members and one PhD student spoke at the 2014 Oxygen Theme Meeting held at the University of Otago, Christchurch at the beginning of July

  • Potent inhibition of macrophage migration inhibitory factor by myeloperoxidase-derived electrophiles and oxidants – Dr Nina Dickerhof
  • Cell metabolism and control of the 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases – Prof Margreet Vissers
  • Pharmokinetic modelling of ascorbate in hypoxic tumour tissue – Dr Caroline Kuiper
  • Detecting HOCl production within neutrophil phagosomes – Dr Amelia Albrett
  • Increased basal oxidation of preoxiredoxin 2 and limited peroxiredoxin recycling in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase-deficient erythrocytes from newborn infants – Dr Alexander Peskin
  • Using the Seahorse to measure cellular respiration during TNF-mediated cell death – Prof Mark Hampton on behalf of Dr Karina O'Connor
  • Accumulation of oxidised peroxiredoxin 2 in stored red blood cells – Simone Bayer

Conference Posters: Oxygen Theme Meeting

Three staff members and three Postgraduate students from the Centre for Free Radical Research presented posters at the Oxygen Theme Meeting, held at the beginning of July at the University of Otago, Christchurch

  • Pharmacologic vitamin C improves quality of life in cancer patients - two case reports – Dr Anitra Carr
  • Hypothiocyanous Acid Prevents Endothelial Apoptosis – Dr Stephanie Bozonet
  • Identification of Peroxiredoxin 3 interaction partners – Dr Andrea Betz
  • Functional consequences of lowering Prx 3 expression – Kate Vick
  • Assessing Peroxiredoxin 3 Oxidation and MIF inhibition During Isothiocyanate-Induced Cytotoxicity – Emma Spencer
  • Redox changes in TNF-mediated necroptosis – Masuma Zawari

June 2014

Conference Poster: Neutrophil 2014 International Symposium

Dr Heather Parker presented a poster at the Neutrophil 2014 International Symposium in Montreal, Canada.

The title of the poster was A novel method to measure neutrophil bactericidal activity reveals no defect in bacterial killing by neutrophils from patients with cystic fibrosis.

May 2014

NZ Listener Article: C for Cancer?

Listener Magazine Cover Issue 3863Professor Margreet Vissers and her team's research into vitamin C and cancer has been featured in the NZ Listener.

The controversial claims about vitamin C as a possible treatment for cancer tumours are gaining credibility, however clinical trials are needed to put the matter to rest one way of the other.

Margreet is currently looking at the effects of vitamin C on tumours in rodents and if she can obtain funding she will do a human trial.

The article, written by Margo White, is in issue 3863 of the NZ Listener, dated 24 May 2014.

Conference Poster: PhD student wins Young Investigator Award in USA

Simone Bayer with conference awardPhD student Simone Bayer won Society for Free Radical Research International Young Investigator Award at the Oxygen Club of California World Congress 2014 held at the University of California Davis, USA.

Simone presented a poster at the Conference on the Accumulation of oxidised peroxiredoxin 2 in stored red blood cells.

Oxygen Theme Meeting 2014: Register online before 30 May 2014

John Aitken

The Oxygen Theme Meeting will be held at the UOC campus on 3-4 July with Professor John Aitken from the University of Newcastle, Australia confirmed as the plenary speaker.

There will be short talks selected from the abstracts as well as a poster session, with a student prizes and a Student Travel Award for eligible students who live outside of Christchurch. A Meeting dinner will also be held on the Thursday evening.

Please register and/or submit your abstract online by Friday, 30 May 2014.

Conference Speaker: Science of Nutrition in Medicine and Healthcare Conference, Australia

Research Fellow Anitra Carr presented a talk entitled Is it time for a new recommended dietary intake (RDI) for vitamin C? at the 4th Science of Nutrition in Medicine and Healthcare Conference held on the Gold Coast, Australia on the 3rd of May.

April 2014

Postgraduate Tassell Scholarship in Cancer Research

Annika SeddonRecent BBiomedSc(Hons) graduate Annika Seddon has been awarded the Postgraduate Tassell Scholarship in Cancer Research to undertake her PhD studies in the Centre for Free Radical Research.

Annika will begin her PhD entitled, Investigating the biology of tumour-associated neutrophils on the 1 April and will be supervised by Professor Mark Hampton, Dr Margaret Currie (Mackenzie Cancer Research Group) and Professor Tony Kettle.

March 2014

UOC Public Health Lecture Series: Mark Hampton gives Inaugural Professorial Lecture

Mark Hampton delivers his Inaugral Professorial LectureProfessor Mark Hampton presented his Inaugural Professorial Lecture, Life and death under the microscope on Wednesday, 26 March as part of the annual UOC Public Health Lecture Series.

Watch Mark's Inaugural Professorial Lecture

UOC Research Seminar Series: Christine Winterbourn

Professor Christine Winterbourn presented Writing a successful grant application at the UOC Research Seminar Series on 10 March in the Beaven Lecture Theatre.

UOC Public Health Lecture Series: Margreet Vissers gives Inaugural Professorial Lecture

Margreet Vissers delivers her Inaugural Professorial LectureProfessor Margreet Vissers gave her Inaugural Professorial Lecture, Unravelling life's secrets: immunity, cancer and vitamin C in the Rolleston Lecture Theatre as part of the annual UOC Public Health Seminar Series on 5 March.

Watch Margreet's Inaugural Professorial Lecture

Listen to Margreet's Inaugural Professorial Lecture

January 2014

Summer Students present at Final Presentations

Our six summer students have completed their 10-week projects in our laboratory, and presented their findings with all the other UOC summer students on Friday, 24 January 2014 in the Rolleston Lecture Theatre.

Summer Student Project Title Supervisor
Bee Bathish Detection of specific DNA epigentic marks in lung, skin, endometrial and colorectal tumours and correlation with tumour vitamin C status Anitra Carr
Gabrielle Budd Investigating the contribution of hypoxia-inducible factor to cobalt-induced pseudo-tumour formation Margreet Vissers
Scott Honeyfield Controlling insulin secretion with peroxide Paul Pace
Morgan Jones Making your own Greens Mark Hampton
Div Panesar Neutophill killing - NETs versus phagosomes Heather Parker
Kate Vick Prx 3 protection of mitochondria from oxidative stress Andrea Betz

We thank the following organisations for funding these summer studentships:

  • Cancer Society of New Zealand, Canterbury-West Coast Division
  • New Zealand Federation of Garduate Women
  • Diabetes Training and Research Trust
  • Canterbury Scientific Ltd
  • UO- Oxygen Research Theme
  • Roland Stead Summer Studentship/Canterbury Medical Research Foundation

NZ Listener Article: Reading Between the Lines

Professor Margreet Vissers was quoted in an article by Margo White on how to interpret scientific study results in the NZ Listener.

The article, Reading between the lines featured in the This Life Health section in issue number 3844, dated 11 January 2014.

Vacancy: Assistant Research Fellow

The Centre for Free Radical Research are seeking an Assistant Research Fellow to investigate how protein strands are cross-linked in collagen to strengthen connective tissue.

This work is important for understanding the development of autoimmunity and tissue damage during inflammatory diseases.

The project is funded by a Marsden Grant directed by Professors Tony Kettle and Christine Winterbourn.

Principal Investigator promoted to full Research Professor

Mark HamptonCongratulations to Prof Mark Hampton on his promotion to full Research Professor.

Prof Hampton is one of 12 academics at Otago being promoted to full Professor after a thorough evaluation and advice from international experts.

The promotions were announced by Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne in late December who warmly congratulated the new professors on their well-earned promotions. The promotions take affect from 1 February.

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