Featured image above: Dr Erik Shartner with the prototype optical fibre sensor, which can detect breast cancer during surgery. Credit: University of Adelaide
An optical fibre probe has been developed to detect breast cancer tissue during surgery.
Working with excised breast cancer tissue, researchers from the University of Adelaide developed the device to differentiate cancerous cells from healthy ones.
Project leader at the Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) Dr Erik Schartner said the probe could reduce the need for follow-up surgery, which is currently required in up to 20 per cent of breast cancer cases.
“At the moment most of the soft tissue cancers use a similar method during surgery to identify whether they’ve gotten all the cancer out, and that method is very crude,” he says.
“They’ll get some radiology beforehand which tells them where the cancer should be, and the surgeon then will remove it to the best of their ability.
“But the conclusive measurements are done with pathology a couple of days or a couple of weeks after the surgery, so the patient is sown back up, thinks the cancer is removed and then they discover two weeks later with a call from the surgeon that they need to go through this whole traumatic process again.”
The probe allows more accurate measurements be taken during surgery, with the surgeon provided with information via an LED light.
Using a pH probe tip, a prototype sensor was able to distinguish cancerous and healthy cells with 90 per cent accuracy.
The research behind the probe, published today in Cancer Research, found pH was a useful tool to distinguish the two types of tissue because cancerous cells naturally produce more acid during growth.
Currently the probe is aimed for use solely for treating breast cancer, but there is some possibility for it to be used as both a diagnostic tool and during other removal surgeries.
“The method we’re using, which is basically measuring the pH of the tissue, actually looks to be common across virtually all cancer types,” Schartner says.
“We can actually see there’s some scope there for diagnostic application for things like thyroid cancer, or even melanoma, which is something we’re following up.
“The question is more about the application as to how useful it is during surgery, to be able to get this identification, and in some of the other soft tissue cancers it would be useful as well.”
Earlier this year, researchers from CNBP also developed a fibre optic probe, which could be used to examine the effects of drug use on the brain.
Schartner said both probes were noteworthy because they were far thinner than previously developed models at only a few microns across.
“The neat thing we see about this one is that it’s a lot quicker than some of the other commercial offerings and also the actual sample size you can measure is much smaller, so you get better resolution,” he says.
Researchers on the probe hope to progress to clinical trials in the near future, with a tentative product launch date in the next three years.
Also in Adelaide, researchers at the University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute are developing tiny sensors that can detect the spread of cancer through the lymphatic system while a patient is having surgery to remove primary tumours, which could also dramatically reduce the need for follow up operations.
Featured image above: Professor Richard Shine is the winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. The PM’s prizes for science celebrate excellence in scientific research, innovation and teaching. Credit: Terri Shine
Meet the winners of this year’s Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, worth a total of $750,000.
Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science
Richard Shine – defending Australia’s snakes and lizards
Prime Minister’s Prize for Science
Northern Australia’s peak predators—snakes and lizards—are more likely to survive the cane-toad invasion thanks to the work of Professor Richard Shine.
Using behavioural conditioning, Shine and his team have successfully protected these native predators against toad invasion in WA.
He has created traps for cane toads, taught quolls and goannas that toads are ‘bad,’ and now plans to release small cane toads ahead of the invasion front, a counterintuitive ‘genetic backburn’ based on ‘old school’ ideas that his hero Charles Darwin would have recognised.
Following in the footsteps of Darwin, Shine loves lizards and snakes.
“Some people love model trains, some people love Picasso; for me, it’s snakes.”
For his work using evolutionary principles to address conservation challenges, Professor Richard Shine from The University of Sydney has been awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.
Michael Aitken—fairness underpins efficiency: the profitable innovations saving Australia billions
Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation
Global stock markets are fairer and more efficient thanks to the work of Professor Michael Aitken. Now he’s applying his information technology and markets know-how to improve health, mortgage, and other markets. He says there are billions of dollars of potential savings in health expenditure in Australia alone, that can go hand in glove with significant improvements in consumers’ health.
Aitken and his team created a service that captures two million trades per second, enabling rapid analysis of markets.
Then he created the SMARTS system to detect fraud. Bought by Nasdaq Inc., it now watches over most of the world’s stock markets.
One of the companies he established to commercialise his innovations was sold for $100 million and the proceeds are supporting a new generation of researchers in the Capital Markets Cooperative Research Centre.
Now his team of IT researchers are taking on health and other markets with a spin-off company and large-scale R&D program that are identifying large-scale inefficiencies and fraud in Australia’s health markets.
A powerful advocate of scientific and technological innovation, Professor Michael Aitken from the Capital Markets Cooperative Research Centre has been awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation for creating and commercialising tools that are making markets fair and efficient.
Colin Hall – creating new manufacturing jobs by replacing glass and metal with plastic
Prize for New Innovators
Dr Colin Hall and his colleagues have created a new manufacturing process that will allow manufacturers to replace components made from traditional materials like glass, in cars, aircraft, spacecraft, and even whitegoods—making them lighter and more efficient.
Their first commercial success is a plastic car wing-mirror. The Ford Motor Company has already purchased more than 1.6 million mirror assemblies for use on their F-Series trucks. The mirrors are made in Adelaide by SMR Automotive and have earned $160 million in exports to date. Other manufacturers are assessing the technology. And it all started with spectacles.
Hall used his experience in the spectacle industry to solve a problem that was holding back the University of South Australia team’s development of their new technology. He developed the magic combination of five layers of materials that will bind to plastic to create a car mirror that performs as well as glass and metal, for a fraction of the weight.
For his contribution to creating a new manufacturing technology, Dr Colin Hall from the University of South Australia receives the inaugural Prize for New Innovators.
Richard Payne – re-engineering nature to fight for global health
Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year
Richard Payne makes peptides and proteins. He sees an interesting peptide or protein in nature, say in a blood-sucking tick. Then he uses chemistry to recreate and re-engineer the molecule to create powerful new drugs, such as anti-clotting agents needed to treat stroke.
His team is developing new drugs for the global challenges in health including tuberculosis (TB), malaria, and antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. They’re even developing synthetic cancer vaccines. His underlying technologies are being picked up by researchers and pharmaceutical companies around the world and are the subject of four patent applications.
For his revolutionary drug development technologies, Professor Richard Payne from The University of Sydney has been awarded the 2016 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year.
Kerrie Wilson – conservation that works for governments, ecosystems, and people
Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year
What is the value of the services that ecosystems provide—services such as clean air, water, food, and tourism? And what are the most effective ways to protect ecosystems? Where will governments get the best return on their investment in the environment? These questions are central to the work of Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson.
Wilson can put a value on clean air, water, food, tourism, and the other benefits that forests, rivers, oceans and other ecosystems provide. And she can calculate the most effective way to protect and restore these ecosystems. Around the world she is helping governments to make smart investments in conservation.
For example, in Borneo she and her colleagues have shown how the three nations that share the island could retain half the land as forest, provide adequate habitat for the orangutan and Bornean elephant, and achieve an opportunity cost saving of over $50 billion.
In Chile, they are helping to plan national park extensions that will bring recreation and access to nature to many more Chileans, while also enhancing the conservation of native plants and animals.
On the Gold Coast, they are helping to ensure that a multi-million-dollar local government investment in rehabilitation of degraded farmland is spent wisely—in the areas where it will have the biggest impact for the natural ecosystem and local communities.
For optimising the global allocation of scarce conservation resources Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson receives the 2016 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year.
Suzy Urbaniak – turning students into scientists
Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools
Geoscientist Suzy Urbaniak combined her two loves—science and education—by becoming a science teacher 30 years after finishing high school. But she couldn’t believe it when she saw how little the teaching styles had changed over the years.
“I decided then that I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to turn the classroom into a room full of young scientists, rather than students learning from textbooks,” Urbaniak says.
Starting out as a geoscientist, Urbaniak found that while she knew all the theory from school and university, she didn’t have any hands-on experience and didn’t feel as though she knew what she was doing.
She realised there needed to be a stronger connection between the classroom and what was happening in the real world, out in the field, and took this philosophy into her teaching career at Kent Street Senior High School.
“The science in my classroom is all about inquiry and investigation, giving the students the freedom to develop their own investigations and find their own solutions. I don’t believe you can really teach science from worksheets and text books.”
For her contributions to science teaching, and inspiring our next generation of scientists, Suzy Urbaniak has been awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools.
Gary Tilley – creating better science teachers
Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools
Gary Tilley is mentoring the next generation of science and maths teachers to improve the way these subjects are taught in the classroom.
“In over 30 years of teaching, I’ve never seen a primary school student who isn’t curious and doesn’t want to be engaged in science. Once they’re switched onto science, it helps their literacy and numeracy skills, and their investigative skills. Science is the key to the whole thing,” Tilley says.
Tilley recognised a long time ago that the way science was taught in primary schools needed to change. So he has taken it upon himself to mentor the younger teachers at his school, and helps train science and maths student teachers at Macquarie University through their Opening Real Science program.
At Seaforth Public School, he and his students have painted almost every wall in their school with murals of dinosaurs and marine reptiles, and created models of stars and planets, to encourage excitement and a love for science. The school is now known by local parents as the ‘Seaforth Natural History Museum’.
“Communicating science, getting children inspired with science, engaging the community and scientists themselves with science to make it a better place for the kids—that’s my passion,” Tilley says.
For his contributions to science teaching, and mentoring the next generation of science teachers, Gary Tilley has been awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools.
This information on the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science was first shared by Science in Public on 20 October 2016. Read the original article and the full profiles here.
Featured image above: BAE Systems new e-textile could benefit a wide variety of professions, including the military. Credit: BAE Systems
A wireless conductive fabric that allows soldiers to plug electronic devices directly into armour is making a commercial push into Southeast Asia.
BAE Systems has developed the Broadsword Spine garment, which is being distributed throughout the Asia Pacific region by its Australian arm, based in Adelaide.
It was designed using a unique e-textile created by Intelligent Textiles Limited in the United Kingdom and can be inserted inside vests, jackets or belts.
BAE Systems’ wireless connector promises a range of benefits for multiple professions including the emergency services.
Broadsword Spine is on display this week at the Land Forces 2016 event in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.
Program manager David Wilson said the technology was extremely lightweight and was able to pass power from any source, which made it adaptable to an assortment of devices.
“It’s revolutionary in terms of how it can pass power and data through USB 2.0,” he says.
“It reduces the weight and cognitive burden of the soldier because it is doing a lot of power and data management automatically.
“It also has no cables, which means you’ve got no snag hazard and no issue in terms of the breaking of cables and having to replace them.”
Broadsword Spine has been designed to replace contemporary heavy portable data and power supplies used by the military as well as firefighters, paramedics and rescue personnel.
The lack of cables and additional batteries make the new material 40 per cent lighter than other systems.
The e-textile was also developed to withstand harsh environments and is water, humidity, fire and shock resistant.
The material uses highly developed yarns that act as the electricity and data conductor.
It is able to connect to a central power source to support all electronic devices and is easily recharged in the field using simple batteries or in-vehicle charging points.
There are eight protected data or power ports that are capable of supplying 5A and operate at USB 2.0 speeds.
The management of power and data is automated and is performed by a computer that is embedded into the e-textile loom.
Users also have the option of monitoring and controlling the technology manually using a smartphone app.
Wilson said contemporary models were often heavy could be highly complicated products that required special maintenance.
“It’s unique in that regard in that we don’t sell the whole system, we sell the middle architecture and allow the customer to decide what they want and how to integrate that system,” he says.
“We’ve published the pin-outs and connections so they can create their own integration cables. They don’t have to keep coming back to us and that way they can support it themselves.”
Low rate production of the Broadsword Spine has begun in the United Kingdom.
Wilson said when production increased, the company would work to distribute the product to the Asia-Pacific region from its Adelaide base next year.
Land Forces is the Southern Hemisphere’s premier defence industry exhibition and has more than 400 participating exhibition companies from about 20 countries as well as about 11,000 trade visitors.
South Australian exhibitors at the event include University of South Australia, which has developed camouflage cells for tanks, and Supashock, which has unveiled damping technology taken from race cars for use in army trucks.
Featured image above: Dr Alastair Hick, KCA Chair and Jasmine Vreugdenburg (UniSA), winner of the Best Entrepreneurial Support Initiative and People’s Choice Award at KCA’s Research Commercialisation Awards. Credit: KCA
The University of New South Wales (UNSW), Curtin University (WA) and the University of South Australia (UniSA) were winners at the Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA) Research Commercialisation Awards, announced at its annual conference dinner in Brisbane.
Success lay with UNSW which won Best Commercial Deal for securing $20 million capital investment from Zhejian Handian Graphene Tech; Curtin University for the Best Creative Engagement Strategy with The Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation Centre; and UniSA won Best Entrepreneurial Initiative and the People’s Choice Award for its Venture Catalyst which supports student led start-ups.
“These awards recognise research organisations’ success in creatively transferring knowledge and research outcomes into the broader community. They also help raise the profile of research organisations’ contribution to the development of new products and services which benefit wider society and have the potential that develop the companies that may grow new knowledge based industries in Australia,” says KCA Executive Officer, Melissa Geue.
KCA Chairman and Director of Monash innovation at Monash University, Dr Alastair Hick, says it is important that commercialising research successes are celebrated and made public.
“KCA member organisations work incredibly hard at developing new ways to get technology and innovation out into industry being developed into the products and services of tomorrow. These awards recognise that hard work and also that we must develop new ways of improving the interface between public sector research and industry.
“I am also excited that KCA members are playing an increasing role in helping the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. It is essential that we help develop their entrepreneurial skills and give them the opportunities in an environment where they can learn from skilled and experienced mentors,” says Hick.
Research Commercialisation Awards – winning initiatives
Best Commercial Deal
Zhejian Hangdian Graphene Tech Co (ZHGT) – University of New South Wales (UNSW)
This is an initiative to fund and conduct research on cutting-edge higher efficiency voltage power cables, known as graphene, and on super-capacitors. With $20M capital investment by the Chinese corporation Hangzhou Cable Co., Ltd (HCCL), and UNSW contributing intellectual property as a 20% partner, the objectives are to execute the deal through research and development; manufacturing of research outcomes in Hangzhou; and finally commercialisation.
Best Creative Engagement Strategy
Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation Centre – Curtin University
The Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation Centre, co-founded by Cisco, Curtin University and Woodside Energy Ltd, is a new industry and research collaboration centre designed to foster co-innovation. With a foundation in radioastronomy, supercomputing and software expertise, it is growing a state-of-the-art connected community focused on leveraging data analytics, cybersecurity and digital transformation network platforms to solve industry problems. The Centre combines start-ups, small–medium enterprises, industry experts, developers and researchers in a collaborative open environment to encourage experimentation, innovation and development through brainstorming, workshops, proof-of-concept and rapid prototyping. By accelerating innovation in next-generation technologies, it aims to help Australian businesses thrive in this age of digital disruption.
Best Entrepreneurial Initiative
Venture Catalyst Program – UniSA
Venture Catalyst supports student led start-ups by providing up to $50k to the new enterprise as a grant. The scheme targets current and recent graduates who have a high tolerance for risk and an idea for a new business venture that is both novel and scalable. The scheme takes an ‘IP and equity free’ approach and encourages students to collaborate with different disciplines and externals to encourage a diverse skill set for the benefit of the new venture. Venture Catalyst is a collaboration between the UniSA and the South Australian Government, and is supported through UniSA Ventures as well as representatives from industry and experienced entrepreneurs.
This year’s Research Commercialisation Awards were judged by commercial leaders of innovation: Erol Harvey, CEO, MiniFab, Dan Grant, PVC Industry Engagement, LaTrobe University and Anna Rooke, CEO, QUT Creative Enterprise Australia.
About Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA)
Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA) is the peak body leading best practice in industry engagement, commercialisation and entrepreneurship for research organisations. They achieve this through delivery of stakeholder connections, professional development and advocacy.
This information was first shared by Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia on 2 September 2016. See all finalists here.
Researchers from the University of South Australia have developed combat simulation software so lean that it is the fastest in the world at modifying existing combat strategies to improve established doctrine.
Software developer Matt Selway says his programming could reduce the time it takes to run large-scale military simulations from a month to a week.
He says the increased speed comes from the software’s automated analysis of text documents.
“Having it (the simulation) run faster allows them to run the event multiple times and figure out what the best option is for various aspects of their operations,” he says.
“They could start off with documentation that describes the simulation that they want to run and the behaviour of the different entities that they want to have execute throughout the simulation.
“You can put in information about different types of equipment, if they are comparing some of them or deciding on which to purchase. It could help them with weapons, vehicles, and communications equipment.”
The combat simulation software registers what’s known as text understanding methods. This allows the system to quickly interpret written descriptions of different real-world scenarios and develop improved procedures.
It is able to analyse the behaviours of individual units, squads and brigades at the same time and performs the actions of the different entities inside the simulation.
The simulation also aims to analyse and evolve contemporary military doctrine to produce optimal results.
“The basic doctrine for example could be a response to when you come under fire,” Selway says.
“Normally you take cover and return fire, but the documentation covers broad aspects of operations and depending on the situation could help improve the doctrine further.
“It’s more of a preparation tool but one of the things about being able to improve the amount of time to set up the simulation is that eventually they will be able to use it in an unfolding scenario.”
Users are able to continue running through simulations and calculate the averages of different outcomes. They are then able to figure out what strategies or equipment produce better results in different situations.
After the text documents are inserted into the simulator they are run on a flat platform screen, which creates a visual representation of each scenario.
John Stewart, the CEO of industry group Simulation Australasia, said the ability to rapidly adapt to the changing battle dynamic was crucial for the modern war fighter.
“Defence and military forces worldwide are going to rely so heavily on the new technologies,” he says.
“The military have been the leaders in (simulation) this for years. For something like the software to come out of South Australia and to be at the forefront, around the world, is very exciting.”
The combat simulation project was led by the University of South Australia’s Advanced Computing Research Centre, one half of the Australian government’s Defence Science and Technology Group.
The Defence Science and Technology Group is the Australian government’s lead agency responsible for applying science and technology to safeguard Australia and its national interests.
– Caleb Radford
This article was first published byThe Lead on 25 July 2016. Read the original article here.
Stadium Australia, which hosted the athletics and opening ceremony at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, was the first structure to utilise the technology.
“Now a number of large buildings in Southeast Asia are using this technology, like the airports in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia has incorporated it into many of its shopping centres as well,” Beecham says.
“The buildings that were designed with the help of the software are able to harvest every single drop of water.”
The rainwater collected from the roofs is stored in large tanks and used to irrigate nearby fields or gardens. The recycled water is also used for the flushing of toilets to reduce the reliance on potable water.
Beecham partners with Australian drainage company Syfon to design state-of-the-art systems throughout Australasia.
His software allows Syfon to calculate the size of drainpipes and locate where hydraulic chambers need to be placed.
The company’s name is a play on siphonic systems, the method it uses to harvest rainwater.
Siphonic drainage systems convert open-air water mixtures into a pure water pressure system without any moving parts or electronics. Its hydraulic system allows the pipes to move large quantities of water very quickly.
Beecham says siphonic systems were used because the high pressures they created reduced the amount of additional energy required to pump water.
“Imagine if you had a pen in your hand and held it up and then dropped it to the floor. That’s an example of a solid object converting its potential energy into kinetic energy,” he says.
“Water can do the same thing. You get a very efficient drainage of your water where the pressure is so great it can even go uphill, and it also means you can run horizontal pipes for long distances.
“Its clever design of the hydraulics system creates a vacuum that sucks water in and converts the potential energy of rainfall into kinetic energy.”
This process allows large storage tanks to be placed away from the roof structure if more space is required.
Siphonic systems require a building of more than three stories to work and cannot be applied to residential homes.
A strategic partnership between UniSA, the Government of South Australia and anchor industry partner Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the ICC is set to help business and industry turn their ideas into market success, building on South Australia’s growing reputation as the state for innovation and enterprise.
By leveraging world class Hewlett Packard Enterprise and UniSA expertise in business growth, creative thinking, commercialisation, and technology, the ICC will support the life cycle from idea/startup to growth and expansion for businesses and industry organisations.
The Centre will provide a unique multidisciplinary environment where SME’s and entrepreneurs can access a wide range of services and expertise to help them develop their products and grow their business.
The ICC will also run technology and innovation-based business support programs, start-up workshops for individuals and groups, and workshops designed to meet the needs of small-to-medium-sized businesses. These tailored events, along with business model evaluation and business development diagnostic clinics, will help those businesses learn how to address challenges and achieve growth.
UniSA Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd, says the ICC is set to become a commercialisation pipeline for new innovations, creating opportunities to help South Australian businesses flourish.
“The ICC is built on a strategic partnership which will see business benefit from UniSA’s knowledge in business growth and commercialisation, combined with Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s technological expertise and the support of the South Australian Government,” Lloyd says.
“It’s a partnership which champions the growth of SA’s business sector through a collaborative, dynamic and supportive environment, and it’s one which will help educate the professionals of tomorrow, as our students will be able to generate their business ideas and utilise the resources of the Centre.”
Premier Jay Weatherill said the government was proud to support the collaboration between The University of South Australia and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
“Innovation is key to transforming the State’s economy and our vision is to position South Australia globally as a start-up destination,” Weatherill says.
“The Innovation and Collaboration Centre will be an incubator for businesses wanting to explore new ideas and it will provide world-class resources and support to accelerate the growth of start-ups, small businesses and student entrepreneurs.”
Hewlett Packard Enterprise, South Pacific Managing Director Nick Wilson says he is thrilled with the partnership.
“Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s role in establishing the centre is a direct reflection of our dedication to enabling innovation that transforms industries, markets and lives,” Wilson says.
“Investing more in Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics is vital for the economic future of our region, and will help to strengthen relationships between industry, the public sector and the higher education sector.”
The ICC will initially be based at City West campus prior to relocating to UniSA’s Health Innovation Building, part of the South Australian Health and Biomedical Precinct on North Terrace, due for completion in 2018.
This article was first published by The University of South Australia on 16 November 2015. Read the original release, here.