Jamie jointly awarded Royal Society of Victoria Medal for Excellence

Professor Jamie Rossjohn, Head of the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute’s (BDI) Infection and Immunity Program, has been awarded the distinguished Royal Society of Victoria’s (RSV) Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research in Category II: Biomedical and Health Sciences.

The Research Medal recognises peak research career achievements and outstanding leadership in research by scientists working in the State of Victoria.

Professor Rossjohn’s research is centred on understanding immunity – how it can be attuned to more effectively address diseases like the various forms of cancer, or potentially “switched off” to provide relief from allergies or the rejection of implants and transplants.

He is currently an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow (2017-2021) and was previously a NHMRC Australia Fellow (2011-2016) and ARC Federation Fellow (2007-11).

Professor Rossjohn was presented his Medal by Her Excellency, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, last night at the Royal Society of Victoria. He then gave a short talk on his field of enquiry.

RSV President David Zerman emphasised that the Medal is not just about discovery and innovation, but also about fostering and supporting a thriving research community and workforce to achieve collective impact.

“Some of this is demonstrated through a scholar’s personal output of journal articles and the related citations, or through patents and commercialisation, but it is also the research ecosystem that a leader supports through mentorship, collaboration and public engagement,” Mr Zerman said.

“We look very favourably on research leaders who bring effective teams together, and who actively promote younger scientists in particular, either through direct supervision, co-authorship of major papers, or simply creating opportunities for meaningful, purposeful work in an intensely competitive job market,” he said.

Professor Rossjohn is known for his contributions to the understanding the molecular basis underpinning immunity. He has used structural biology to explain pre-T-cell receptor (TCR) self-association in T-cell development, and how the TCR specifically recognises polymorphic Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) molecules in the context of viral immunity and aberrant T-cell reactivity. He has unearthed structural mechanisms of HLA polymorphism impacting on drug and food hypersensitivities, as well as Natural Killer cell receptor recognition. He has pioneered our molecular understanding of lipid-based immunity by T cells, revealing that it can differ fundamentally from peptide-mediated adaptive immunity. Recently he has provided a structural basis of how vitamin B metabolites can be presented and recognised by the immune system, revealing a new class of antigen. Collectively, he has published more than 365 papers and mentored numerous researchers towards obtaining higher degrees and nationally competitive fellowships.

Original article

This article is based on the announcement made by the Royal Society of Victoria.

Jamie ranked as a 2018 Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate Analytics

Two Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers have been recognised for their exceptional research performance, determined by production of multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top one per cent by citations for a field and year.

Professor Jamie Rossjohn and Professor Charles Mackay have each been ranked as a 2018 Highly Cited Researcher in the prestigious list released on Tuesday 27 November by Clarivate Analytics.

As Head of the Monash BDI’s Infection and Immunity Program, Professor Rossjohn’s research is centered on an understanding immunity. Professor Rossjohn has used structural biology to explain pre-T- cell receptor (TCR) self-association in T-cell development, and how the TCR specifically recognises polymorphic Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) molecules in the context of viral immunity and aberrant T- cell reactivity. He has unearthed structural mechanisms of HLA polymorphism impacting on drug and food hypersensitivities, as well as Natural Killer cell receptor recognition. He has pioneered our molecular understanding of lipid-based immunity by T cells, revealing that it can differ fundamentally from peptide-mediated adaptive immunity.

Professor Mackay has forged a new understanding of the gut microbiome and the important role it plays in immune responses including allergies and in a number of diseases including type 1 diabetes. His research into how immune responses can be manipulated using ‘medicinal foods’, as well as novel gut microbial species, is attracting both clinical and public interest, with the latest research findings moving to clinical trials.

He was highly cited from 2005 to 2010 under what was then the Institute for Scientific Information citation, and was again identified as a Highly Cited Researcher last year.

“I’m both humbled and honoured to be part of this distinguished list, and hope that I continue to be highly cited in the future,” Professor Mackay said.

Professor John Carroll, Director of the Monash BDI, congratulated both researchers on their achievement.

“It is great to see Monash BDI scientists once again recognised as international luminaries. This sort of acknowledgement demonstrates the calibre of research conducted here at the Monash BDI. Congratulations to both Jamie and Charles,” Professor Carroll said.

Now in its fifth year, this annual list identifies the most influential researchers as determined by their peers around the globe. A new ‘cross-field’ category was added this year to recognise researchers with substantial influence in several fields, but who do not have enough highly cited papers in any one field to be chosen.

Original article

Jamie and Erica join Jon Faine on The Conversation Hour

Word nerd David Astle is Jon Faine’s co-host.  He is a cruciverbalist, author, columnist, and star of the inexplicably discontinued Letters and Numbers (SBS TV). His books include WordburgerRiddledomCluetopiaPuzzled, and most recently David Astle’s Gargantuan Book of Words Puzzles, games and stories for wordy whiz-kids! David will be presenting Evenings, ABC Radio Melbourne & Victoria for a couple of weeks from next Wednesday. He is also host of the 2018 Albury-Wodonga Winter Solstice for Survivors of Suicide and Friends featuring poet Les Murray, actor Samuel Johnson, and NRL footballer Ian Roberts at QEII Square, Albury on Thursday 21st June from 5:00pm.

Their first guest is Psychoanalyst and Organisational Consultant, Phil Stokoe. He is a Training Analyst with the British Psychotherapy Foundation, and was the Clinical Director at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London. Phil is in Melbourne for the 2018 Freud Conference: populism and the attack on knowledge elites – psychoanalytic and political science perspectives at The Melbourne Brain Centre, Kenneth Myer Building, 30 Royal Parade, Parkville tomorrow (Saturday 26th May 2018) 8:30am to 6:00pm.

Then they are joined by immunologist Prof Jamie Rossjohn and artist Dr Erica Tandori.

Jamie is Head of the Infection and Immunity Program at Monash University, an ARC Laureate Fellow, and Professor of Structural Immunology at the School of Medicine, Cardiff University, UK. He is the 2018 Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Lemberg Medal recipient.

Erica Tandori is Artist in Residence for the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute’s Sensory Scientific Exhibition and Discovery Day on Thursday 31 May2018, 8.45am – 1pm (G54, Learning and Teaching Building, 19 Ancora Imparo Way, Monash University, Clayton). She is legally blind and has been making tactile models of various molecules to make understanding of their form possible for those who can’t see them through a microscope.

Original article 

Listen to interview (skip to 29mins for Jamie and Erica).

Bringing the magic of biomedical research to the low vision community

Outreach programs at universities often involve displays, exhibitions, lectures and other forms of public engagement.  Researchers within the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) are developing an innovative program targeted at those who have low vision or are blind, by hosting a Sensory Scientific Exhibition and Discovery Day at Monash University Clayton on Thursday 31 May, 2018. Complete with tactile 3D models, 2D graphic displays, olfactory displays, large print and braille formats, the event will be specifically geared to a low vision/blind audience.

Professor Jamie Rossjohn, Head of the Infection and Immunity Program at the Monash BDI and ARC Australian Laureate Fellow and Investigator within the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging, considered it was important to hold an event that would engage the blind and low vision community with biomedical research. A conversation with his administrative assistant, Ms Sabrina Constantin, who has low vision, reinforced Professor Rossjohn’s desire to hold such an event.

“Just imagine how great it would be for kids with vision impairment to be inspired and be given the chance to follow a career path in science,” Ms Constantin said.

Professor Rossjohn recruited an artist in residence, who is legally blind, to produce art that could explain infection and immunity to the blind and those with low vision and provide expert advice for the activities for the exhibition.

The artist, Dr Erica Tandori, has a PhD in visual art and ophthalmology, where she used art to articulate the processes of her own vision loss caused by juvenile macular degeneration.

In collaboration with researchers at the Monash BDI, Dr Tandori is producing tactile art and models that detail aspects of vaccination, the evolution of flu viruses, and the process of how our bodies recognise pathogens.

Exhibition visitors will have access to 3D models of viruses, different immune molecules and antibodies as well 3D model displays of parts of the human body. Participants will also be able to experience Monash University’s CAVE2 facility which is a 360 degree immersive experience that will have immune molecules projected onto enormous surround-screens.

“The exhibition includes soft toys of bacteria and antibodies, so that people can experience different textures,“ said Dr Gabby Watson, who is coordinating the day.

“All of the models will be accompanied by descriptions in both large text and braille. One of our small group activities will involve smelling different microbes – we are trying to engage as many of the senses as possible! We are encouraging everyone to attend, as we have activities that will appeal to all,” Dr Watson said.

When: 8.45am – 1pm, Thursday 31 May
Where: G54, 19 Ancora Imparo Way, Monash University, Clayton (accessibility and parking information can be found on the event flyer, click to download)
Register: Click here 

Original article

The Age reporter, Liam meets Jamie, Sabrina and Erica

Science relies on light. What about people who can’t see?

Working out how to harness light has brought extraordinary advances.

Microscopes can now see the innards of a cell. Space-based telescopes can see millions of years back in time. The pictures they beam back to Earth are beautiful.

To those with limited vision, this beauty is ungraspable. They are often isolated from the wonders of science – and from the rest of the community.

“It’s enormously frustrating, oh my god,” says artist Dr Erica Tandori, who is legally blind. “Science, it has this sense of wonder. Why should we be excluded, be denied that wonder?”

That frustration is at the heart of a new artistic collaboration that is trying to make some of science’s most significant advances tangible – and at the same time find employment for people with low-vision at the nation’s universities, places they are often excluded from.

So Dr Tandori made some of science’s most beautiful images tactile.

There are detailed possum and rat retinas done in putty. 3D-printed models of cells. A battle-scene tableau as a disease fights against immune system defenders. A model of the gastro virus, rotavirusdone in spaghetti and beans.

At a half-day event at Monash University’s Clayton campus, people with low-vision will be taken through the science by experts as they explore Dr Tandori’s models with their hands.

Sabrina Constantin delicately cups one of the models in her palms. It is pink, and glitters in the light. It looks like a sea anemone on acid. Sabrina, who has low vision, smiles. “It’s the texture. What I cannot see, I can feel, I can imagine.”

It’s a dendritic cell, one of the sentinels of the immune system, built out of paper mache. “Can you recognise it?”, Dr Tandori asks Professor Rossjohn, who laughs.

He seems a little bemused, seeing his life’s work turned into disco balls. “Yeah,” he shakes his head, “I don’t have an artistic bone in my body.”

The Sensory Scientific Exhibition and Discovery Day will be held May 31 at Monash University’s Clayton Campus (19 Ancora Imparo Way) from 9.30am to 1pm. The event is free. A free shuttle bus will run to the campus from the city.

Original article by Liam Mannix (The Age)

Photo credit: Jason South