Latest News

Mid-Career Researcher Paper of the Month Award Winner: February 2020

Yu Suk Choi for the paper entitled ‘Volume Adaptation Controls Stem Cell Mechanotransduction', published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Summary: A gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) hydrogel with a continuous stiffness gradient ranging from 5 to 38 kPa was developed to recapitulate physiological stiffness conditions. Adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) were encapsulated in this hydrogel, and their morphological characteristics and expression of both mechanosensitive proteins (Lamin A, YAP, and MRTFa) and differentiation markers (PPARγ and RUNX2) were analyzed. Interestingly, cells in soft regions exhibited enhanced osteogenic RUNX2 expression, while those in stiff regions upregulated the adipogenic regulator PPARγ, suggesting that volume, not substrate stiffness, is sufficient to drive 3D stem cell differentiation.

4th International Mechanobiology Conference, Sydney, 1 - 4 November 2020

This conference started in 2011 with the founding of the Society in Shanghai, China, and occurred every three years since in different countries. This is the first time this conference is being held in Australia. The primary purpose of this conference is to act as a forum for dissemination of cutting-edge research and innovation in the field of mechanobiology and to bring together Australian and International communities (students, scientists, engineers and stakeholders from academia, industry and other organisations) working in the field of mechanobiology to discuss new and exciting advances in the field.

The conference will bring together researchers from a wide cross section of disciplines internationally. It will feature plenary, keynote and invited presentations in biomedical engineering, tissue and cellular mechanics, mechanopathology, mechanoreceptors, cardiovascular research, and experimental and computational mechanobiology.

We expect to have 200+ delegates participating at the Conference in Sydney and invite you to consider participating and presenting your work at the Conference. You can register and find additional details here: https://ausmb.org/Mechanobiology2020.html

We are looking forward to welcoming you in Sydney!

With best wishes,
2020 Mechanobiology Organising Committee

Mid-Career Researcher Paper of the Month Award Winner: January 2020

Juliana Hamzah for the paper entitled ‘Immune-mediated ECM depletion improved tumour perfusion and payload delivery’ published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.

Summary: Matrix stiffness within solid cancer protects tumour cells, making them more difficult to treat because drugs do not enter stiff tissue very well. In Yeow et al. we have established a new therapeutic approach to specifically digest the hardened tumour matrix, which then allows anti-tumour immune cells to kill cancer cells better.

2019 Paper of the Year Award Winners

Student/ECR category

Jessica Chitty for the paper entitled 'The Mini‐Organo: A rapid high‐throughput 3D coculture organotypic assay for oncology screening and drug development' published in Cancer Reports.

MCR category

Thomas Cox for the paper entitled ‘CAF hierarchy driven by pancreatic cancer cell p53-status creates a pro-metastatic and chemoresistant environment via perlecan’ published in Nature Communications and co-authored by MBSANZ members including Paul Timpson, Zehra Elgundi and John Whitelock.

Mid-Career Researcher Paper of the Month Award Winner: October 2019

Zlatko Kopecki for the paper entitled ‘Flightless I exacerbation of inflammatory responses contributes to increased colonic damage in a mouse model of dextran sulphate sodium-induced ulcerative colitis’ published in Scientific Reports. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-49129-6

Postdoctoral Research Associate Position Available

  • Opportunity in biofunctionalisation to modulate and control cell responses at material interfaces
  • Located between the Darlington and Camperdown Campus, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Science and the Charles Perkins Centre
  • Full-Time, 5 Years Fixed Term, Academic Level A: Base Salary: $94,629 p.a. - $101,018 p.a. plus annual leave loading and a generous employer’s contribution to superannuation.

We are seeking to appoint a Postdoctoral Research Associate to be part of the research groups of Professor Marcela Bilek and Dr Giselle Yeo. The position involves working in a multidisciplinary team on a research programme that aims to develop novel surface modifications and biomolecular functionalisation, to modulate and control cell responses at material interfaces. You will develop and perform cell- and protein-based assays that reveal information pertaining to a mechanistic understanding of key materials-biosystem interactions. The fact that biomolecules immobilised on surfaces often behave differently compared to the same molecules in solution adds additional challenges that will require the development of innovative biomolecular characterisation approaches.

Further details are available here.

Mid-Career Researcher Paper of the Month Award Winner: September 2019

Thomas Cox for the paper entitled ‘CAF hierarchy driven by pancreatic cancer cell p53-status creates a pro-metastatic and chemoresistant environment via perlecan’ published in Nature Communications and co-authored by MBSANZ members including Paul Timpson, Zehra Elgundi and John Whitelock. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-10968-6

Inaugural Student/ECR Paper of the Month Award Winner

The winner is Jessica Chitty for the paper entitled 'The Mini‐Organo: A rapid high‐throughput 3D coculture organotypic assay for oncology screening and drug development' published in Cancer Reports.

Summary: Typical cancer drug screening is performed in either a 2D or 3D format. However, both have their limitations with traditional 2D models not resembling physiological conditions and 3D hydrogels often being time-consuming and low-throughput. To combat this, we have developed a fast and high‐throughput 3D miniaturised assay that is able to represent physiological conditions. Our novel model can be used for screening and developing new oncology drugs in a time-efficient manner.

Inaugural Mid-Career Researcher Paper of the Month Award Winner

The winner is Claire Clarkin for the paper entitled 'Regulation of the bone vascular network is sexually dimorphic' published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Our findings describe sexual dimorphism in the bone vasculature which are linked to sex-specific extracellular matrix signatures revealed by Raman spectroscopy. We highlight the potential for a genetic influence to regulate sexual dimorphism of the bone matrix.

Funded PhD position in Germline Stem Cell Development

Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University

A full-time, funded 3-year PhD position is available in germline stem cell biology at Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University. Monash University is in the top 1% of universities in the world. The Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) is a leading research institute in Australia. The scholarship provides an opportunity to undertake a PhD, working with Dr. Sandeep Gopal and A/Prof. Roger Pocock (Pocock Laboratory). The project will study the role of cell-extracellular matrix interactions in germline stem cell development by using both Caenorhabditis elegans and mammalian models. The project will make use state-of-the-art techniques and equipment established in the lab to answer fundamental questions in stem cell development. The project involves extensive use of genetics, biochemistry, CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering and confocal microscopy. Applicants should hold a first class BSc (Hons) or MSc (Research) in Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology or related field. Experience in confocal microscopy would be an advantage. Further details are available here.

Professor Tony Weiss wins prestigious Clunies Ross Award

Professor Anthony Weiss AM FTSE received the Clunies Ross Knowledge Commercialisation Award at a gala event in Sydney, organised by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

Innovative work with tropoelastin and elastin – the unique biological ingredients that give human tissue its elasticity – led Professor Weiss to develop synthetic skin that can be applied to heal wounds. Professor Weiss, used his inventions to found a spin-off company called Elastagen, which was last year bought by Allergan, one of the world’s 20 largest biopharmaceutical companies.

Academy President, Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE, congratulated Professor Weiss, who is a Fellow of the Academy, “Clunies Ross Awards have been offered since 1991, recognising people who have applied outstanding technological achievements for the benefit of Australia.

“The nation’s future prosperity depends on embracing new technology to address critical national challenges. More than ever, we need knowledge creation, technology and innovation that can be harnessed to drive commercialisation and economic and social benefit.

“Professor Weiss has made a tremendous contribution – developing a treatment that will now be delivered worldwide, thanks to the purchase of his company by Allergan.”

Professor Weiss, from the University of Sydney's School of Life and Environmental Sciences and Charles Perkins Centre, said he is honoured to receive a Clunies Ross Award, “The elastic biomaterial I developed with fine colleagues – the synthetic skin – changes the way that wounds are treated. A patch placed on damaged wounds heals faster and works better for the patient than conventional treatment.

“The commercialisation of the technology has been a big win for collaboration between the university sector and industry, for the superannuation and venture capital firms that backed it, and for the Australian economy.”

Sir Ian Clunies Ross, born in 1899, was best known for his pioneering work in veterinary science. In 1949, he became Chairman of the newly renamed CSIRO. The Clunies Ross Awards are administered by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

NSW State Meeting, 11 October 2019

We're pleased to announce that this year's NSW State meeting will be held at the Woolcock Institute for Medical Research, 431 Glebe Point Rd, Sydney.

It is a 1 day event including exciting presentations from the field of matrix biology, including invited talks by Prof Alastair Stewart (University of Melbourne), Prof Linda Sandell (Washington University), and Dr Jade Jaffar (Alfred Hospital, Melbourne). Our students and early career researchers will be prominently featured with talks selected from abstracts. The day will include ample opportunities for networking and discussion. Lunch and morning tea/coffee will be provided. The MBSANZ AGM will be held during this meeting.

Please save the date and forward this flyer to any of your colleagues who might wish to come along. Further details will be released on the Society's website as they become available.

Tony Weiss Wins Eureka Prize in 2018

The MBSANZ congratulates Tony Weiss (University of Sydney) for winning the prestigious Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Innovation in Medical Research, for his development and commercialisation of fast-acting surgical glue, MeTro, and for innovation in synthetic biomaterials.  Tony is past-president of MBSANZ (2014-2016), and the society has been privileged to follow his exciting and innovative biochemical research on the self-assembling ECM protein tropoelastin over the last couple of decades. As well as high quality fundamental research, Tony has translated his research to both commercial and clinical outcomes. His patented biomaterials inventions recently led to Allergan acquiring his university spin-off Elastagen. See Tony talking about MeTro at: https://youtu.be/yBrrqv2XyCk

Tony's work and well deserved success, is a great example not only of how fundamental discovery-science can have major health and economic impact, but the importance of Matrix Biology! 

Matricellular Proteins in Inflammation and Tissue Remodeling, Lisbon, Portugal, July 14 – 19 2019

This FASEB Science Research Conference will reflect the rapid growth of the field of matricellular proteins. New areas of expansion that will be addressed are biomedical research, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other ageing-related diseases; musculoskeletal diseases; ocular and neurological diseases; fibrosis; immunity; and inflammation. New developments and the translation of findings into clinical practice will be discussed in an inclusive and supportive atmosphere. Participation of researchers from all over the world is encouraged, including young investigators and trainees, and under-represented groups.

Further details are available from this flyer , or by visiting the conference website.

Congratulations to 2018 MBSANZ Award Winners

Congratulations to Matthew Hoffman (NIH, USA) who was awarded the Barry Preston Award in 2018, the society’s award for a senior researcher in the matrix biology field.
Dr. Hoffman’s laboratory studies salivary gland development, by investigating how stem/progenitor cells are directed along a series of cell fate decisions during organogenesis, aiming to identify targets for gene- and cell-based regenerative therapies.

Congratulations to Brooke Farrugia (University of Melbourne) who was awarded the Bob Fraser New Investigator Award in 2018, the society’s award for an outstanding early/mid career researcher in the matrix biology field. Dr Farrugia’s research spans biomaterial development and characterisation, wound healing, including in vitro models, molecular biology and glycobiology.

Congratulations to Richard Wang (University of Sydney) who was awarded the Dennis Lowther Award in 2018, the society’s award for an outstanding student poster presentation at the society meeting. Richard is researching 3D vascular networks as part of his PhD under the mentorship of Professor Tony Weiss.

MBSANZ members elected to the Council of the International Society for Matrix Biology


Megan Lord

Tony Weiss

Two MBSANZ members, Megan Lord (MBSANZ President, UNSW Sydney) and Tony Weiss (MBSANZ Past president, University of Sydney), have been elected Councillors for the International Society for Matrix Biology for 2019-2021.

Elastin, Elastic Fibers and Microfibrils Gordon Research Conference and Seminar

Interested in elastin, elastic fibres or microfibrils?
Attend the upcoming Gordon Research Conference and Seminar on Elastin, Elastic Fibers and Microfibrils – Biochemical, Biomechanical and Biological Functions of Elastin and Related Fibers in Homeostasis and Disease held 20-26 July, 2019 at Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, USA.
For more details visit:
Elastin Gordon Research Conference