Home' InDaily : October 4, 2012 Contents 2|Vol23No3Spring2012
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Building design crucial to innovation
negotiation and problem-solving as
intrinsic to her success. “What led me to
establish the MDPP was a need to break
down the recognised barriers to industry
and university engagement,” she said.
Professor Reynolds said that the MDPP is
unique compared to other industry support
“The MDPP is not just a grants program, or
just a network, or just an advisory service.
It brings in elements of all these things, but
also provides technical advice and scientific
innovation. The Program links or ‘partners’
the right people together to provide a
mechanism for research and development,
prototype construction, validation and
evaluation of medical device ideas and
products with real end-user need,”
Professor Reynolds said.
The MDPP network extends well beyond
researchers and clinicians to include
manufacturers and investors.
“As a small company or an individual
inventor, you don’t know who the right
people are to talk to, or often don’t know
how to approach these people. That’s
where the MDPP can provide real
Professor Reynolds believes her promotion
of science and engineering in the
community has also been a key factor in
She says biomedical engineering has the
advantage of being something that most
people in the community can relate to.
“Everyone has a relative who’s had a hip
replacement or other medical procedure, so
being able to stand up in public and get
people excited about what you do is
actually relatively easy, because it’s an
interesting area: people can see the
Photo: Randy Larcombe
The ability to ‘think outside the box’
becomes much easier if you don’t work
Sociologist Dr John Holm is acting as
consultant to Flinders University and
Hassell architects in the design of a new
building on the Tonsley Park home to the
School of Computer Science, Engineering
and Mathematics, the Centre for
Nanoscale Science and Technology and
Flinders Partners.The building is intended to
become the base for a range of research
and business activities.
The University’s planned $120 million
Tonsley expansion was announced in
August by SA Premier Mr Jay Weatherill and
Flinders Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael
Barber. Work has begun on the design of a
facility to house about 2000 students and
Dr Holm has worked extensively as a design
adviser in the higher education and health
sectors, and says that a well-designed
building can play a renewing and
“It’s not often you get to build a new
building, so when you do they are seen as a
means of ‘step change’, a catalyst project to
take a department to a new level or
transform the way it’s performing,” Dr
Dr Holm says his role is to look at physical
space and the ways in which it can help an
organisation do what it needs to.
He said utility is obviously a major
consideration, but so too are the
intellectual activities and social interactions
of the occupants.
“Too often buildings – technical buildings in
particular – are put together for the
machines not the people,” Dr Holm said.
The new building aims to foster and
facilitate high quality and breakthrough
research, particularly through the creation
of informal spaces designed to support
cross disciplinary interactions – Dr Holm
believes traditional gun-barrel corridors and
anonymous, boxy offices are not conducive
physically or psychologically to collaborative
While researchers still need individual
spaces in which they can concentrate and
“think deeply”, Dr Holm said it is vital to
create spaces that promote interaction
between the academics, postdoctoral
researchers and PhDs who make up
Design elements such as open multi-floor
staircases and atriums not only offer a
different visual aesthetic, but help to foster
a broader sense of community and
connectedness, he said.
Dr Holm said there are many examples of
government urban renewal programs
coming together with industry and
academia to create a vertically integrated
site, and the key success factors are world
class research, combined with
entrepreneurial industry partners.
“There are strong aspirations of making
southern Adelaide a node in a high-tech
global network, and in that context, the
new Flinders building at Tonsley has
tremendous potential to be the catalyst for
that to happen.”
Dr John Holm
An artist’s impression of Flinders at Tonsley
Unmasking the ugly effects of discrimination
Despite various laws, anti-racism campaigns
and strategies for social inclusion, stigma
and discrimination remain a major problem
in Australian society, Flinders University
public health researcher Dr Anna Ziersch
In a bid to uncover the impact of stigma and
discrimination on health and wellbeing –
and how to protect people from these
effects – Dr Ziersch will commence a six-year
research program in January 2013.
Funded through a $634,000 grant from the
Australian Research Council’s prestigious
Future Fellowships scheme, the research
will examine the way stigma and
discrimination prevent people from being
included in society, in the wider aim of
developing or improving policies to help aid
inclusion and wellbeing.
The project will look at how the negative
effects of stigma and discrimination
transpire by researching peoples’
experiences in different contexts, such as
employment, housing and neighbourhoods,
and will include a comparative survey of
2000 South Australians as well as a review
of the various legislations to examine “how
they work on the ground”.
“People who report discrimination usually
have worse health but we don’t know
precisely how that comes about,” Dr Ziersch,
based at Flinders Southgate Institute for
Health, Society and Equity, said.
“Is it a physical response to the stress of
discrimination, is their health suffering
because they’re not accessing services, do
they miss out on important social
relationships, are they using drugs or alcohol
to cope with the feelings of being alienated,
or is it a result of physical violence?
“We know some of these things are relevant
to different groups but we want to look
systematically at the similarities and
differences across these groups.”
Cancer pain drug may do more harm than good
A drug which for decades has been widely
used to treat pain related to cancer has no
net clinical benefit, researchers in the
Palliative Care Clinical Studies
Collaborative (PaCCSC) based at Flinders
University have found.
The national study involved 185 patients
with advanced cancer, 93 of whom received
the drug ketamine while the other 92
received a placebo.
The results, published in the prestigious
international Journal of Clinical Oncology,
not only showed identical benefit between
the two groups but revealed significantly
higher rates of toxicity and other side-
effects for those receiving ketamine.
Chief Investigator and Professor of Palliative
and Supportive Services, David Currow, said
the results of the study have highlighted
the potential harm that can be caused by
prescribing “off label” – that is, using drugs
in ways other than originally intended –
without adequate trials.
“The role of ketamine in routine clinical care
for chronic, complex cancer pain is not in
any way supported by this study.
The result is resoundingly negative,”
Professor Currow said.
“At sub-anaesthetic doses, ketamine has
been shown to help in post-operative pain
relief; so the trial of it in cancer-related pain,
where the nerve itself is damaged, was a
very logical step,” he said.
“The question is, can you take information
from one patient population and just
automatically apply it to another
population? The short answer is you can’t.”
Professor Currow said that “robust data”
were needed to inform the care of people
with advanced life limiting illnesses.
“These people deserve exactly the same
quality of care that anyone else gets in the
health system. In fact, they’re more at risk
than anyone else of adverse outcomes,”
This study is the first to be published by
PaCCSC, which is funded under the national
Palliative Care Program and supported by
the Australian Government Department of
Health and Ageing to test the effectiveness
of various medications in order to improve
symptom management and quality of care
in patients living with a terminal illness.
Dr Anna Ziersch
Working closely with policymakers and
practitioners through the life of the project,
Dr Ziersch said she hoped to stimulate
debate and influence existing policies.
“A key aim of the research is to improve the
way organisations interpret the laws
surrounding discrimination,” she said.
“Stigma and discrimination are strongly
linked to mental health but there’s also a
strong social inclusion aspect – it might
affect participation in education, sports, the
community and it can lead to distrust in the
institutions such as the police, health
services and government,” she said.
Professor David Currow
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