Flinders Medical Centre Foundation
Flinders Medical Centre Foundation


Grant awarded for Motor Neuron Disease project

Wednesday, 01 April 2015 09:00

Flinders University PhD student Stephanie Shepheard was recently awarded the Kathleen V. Russell Prize by the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation for her research into monitoring disease progression in Motor Neuron Disease (MND).

The prize is awarded annually by the FMC Foundation on the recommendation of the Centre for Neuroscience, to Honours, Masters-by-Research or Postgraduate student in any branch of the neurobiological sciences at Flinders University.

Three students were chosen to give a seminar in late 2014, after being nominated by senior neuroscientists.

They were competing for the $500 prize, with Stephanie's seminar and application chosen the winner of the prestigious honour.

The Kathleen V. Russell Prize was established in 1989 by an endowment to the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation from the late Professor Roger Russell, a former Vice Chancellor of Flinders University (1972-1979) and his wife Kay (Kathleen) after whom the prize is named.

Stephanie and her team found that a protein shed by nerve cells, when they are injured is increased in levels in the urine of people with MND.


As symptoms gets worse, the amount in the urine increases, with Stephanie arguing that it could be used to monitor disease progression.

"By being able to measure the stage of disease, we could use this test to determine if a drug has an effect by seeing if there is less of the protein in the person's urine," Stephanie said.

Currently in Australia, two people are diagnosed and two people die each day of MND, a disease which results in the death of nerve cells that control movement.

Recently the disease received world-wide exposure due to the ice bucket challenge where people poured ice water over themselves in order to bring awareness to the disease.

While 90 per cent with the disease are diagnosed with no known cause, the remaining ten per cent of people suffer from MND because of gene mutation.

According to Stephanie, one way to get close to a cure is to develop a biomarker of disease that can measure the changes in disease over time.

"Measuring if the biomarker changes in patients taking drugs in clinical trials will help identify effective drugs for people suffering from MND."


"We hope to use our marker in urine to test if drugs are working in clinical trials of new treatments," she said.

Stephanie said that the project gaining broader recognition has resulted in collaborations with other researchers around the world.

"Hopefully, with continued recognition and support, we can continue our research, and develop a useful marker to use in clinical trials and the clinic," she said.

"Thank you to the FMC Foundation for the Kathleen V Russell prize. I'd also like to thank Australian Rotary Health for funding my PhD scholarship, the 'Neville & Jean York PhD Scholarship for MND' (co-funded by Flinders University),"

"I would also like to thank MND Australia and the MND Research Institute of Australia (MNDRIA) who have funded this project over the last 5 years."

If healthy people or people with MND, Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis, or Alzheimer's disease would like to participate in this project, they can contact Stephanie Shepheard atstephanie.shepheard@flinders.edu.au

If you would like to donate to motor neuron disease or other medical research, please contact the FMC Foundation on 8204 5216.


100K milestone achieved by Mr.Riggs Wine & Co

Monday, 23 March 2015 13:35

Mr. Riggs Wine Co. is celebrating its enduring relationship with the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation after reaching its $100,000 donation milestone.


For 10 years, Mr. Riggs Wine Co. has been contributing funds from sales of its popular wine, The Gaffer McLaren Vale Shiraz, to boost the FMC Foundation's resources to find a cure for cancer.


To celebrate this milestone, Mr. Riggs also donated the proceeds from one bottle of The Gaffer sold (from every dozen) during the month of October 2014, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


Mr. Riggs Wine Co. is also a loyal supporter of the FMC Foundation's pinkyellowblueball, which is Adelaide's premier fundraising gala event.


Recently, prominent cancer researcher Dr Michael Michael, the FMC Foundation's Executive Director Debbie Palmer, and Events and Partnerships Manager Georgie Reid accepted a $5000 cheque which was presented by winemaker Ben (Mr.) Riggs.


Ben says, "We're so proud of The Gaffer - this top drop has enabled us to contribute to the FMC Foundation, wearing its flashy pink cap, for a decade."


During October last year, Mr. Riggs ran a Facebook promotion called "Women Worth Celebrating", which called for people to nominate a woman who deserved recognition.


"We were overwhelmed with the amount of entries we received - there are so many amazing women out there!" says Ben Riggs.


Each day in October, Mr. Riggs Wine Co. gave away Haigh's chocolates and a bottle of The Gaffer Shiraz to one Woman Worth Celebrating.


It was a remarkable display of community gratitude for the dedication and resilience of the women in our lives.


Ben (Mr.) Riggs wholeheartedly supports the continual effort to raise funds for the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation after losing dear friend and Mr. Riggs brand manager, Kym Pilkington (who propelled the original pink cap Gaffer campaign), to cancer.


Since then, Mr. Riggs' support for this cause has grown stronger, and support from its local and interstate restaurants and retailers has been outstanding.


Mr. Riggs would like to thank everyone who took part in the "Women Worth Celebrating" campaign in October last year and all those who have purchased The Gaffer with the intention to donate funds to Flinders Medical Centre Foundation.


Story provided by GlamAdelaide


Grant success for cancer research team

Tuesday, 10 February 2015 09:17

Dr Michael Michael has been awarded a $200,000 Established Research Grant from Tour de Cure through the Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) Foundation for a research project entitled Non-coding RNAs as mediators of metabolic change in colorectal cancer cells.


Post-doctoral researcher Dr Karen Humphreys was also instrumental to the development of this application and named as an investigator along with Michael.


Associate Dean for Research at Flinders University, Professor Ross McKinnon, said this was a terrific outcome – being the second such grant to be awarded to Flinders in as many years.


“Dr Michael’s grant follows a Tour de Cure Established Research Grant to FCIC’s Dr Ying Hu last year. Dr Hu’s project, entitled Resistant starch: a promising dietary agent for the prevention/treatment of bowel cancer associated with inflammation, is about to commence, while Dr Michael’s is due to commence in early 2016,” he said.


“Winning this grant two years in a row is testament to the great talent we have in the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer (FCIC) and our School of Medicine in general.”


“I’d like to thank Tour de Cure, as well as the FMC Foundation for their critical and ongoing role in FCIC’s success.”


“Congratulations are also due to Dr Karen Humphreys who is a great asset to FCIC and will be commencing studies in the medicine program here at Flinders in a few weeks.”


The research project follows on from the recent findings by post-doctoral researcher Dr Karen Humphreys, that specific microRNAs are responsible for the way that dietary butyrate kills off bowel cancer cells, but not normal colon cells. Dietary butyrate is naturally produced by bacteria in our gut, through the fermentation of dietary fibre, and is thought to contribute to the anti-cancer effect of high-fibre diets.


Others have shown that the specific killing effect of butyrate on cancer cells relates to the fact that they produce energy differently to normal cells, which has lead the team to wonder whether the cancer-associated microRNAs that we have been studying might also control energy production in those cells. As microRNAs act by specifically suppressing the expression of other target genes (preventing the genetic sequence from producing a protein product), they might reasonably regulate genes involved in normal energy production in gut cells.


To study the roles of microRNAs in energy production in colon cancer cells, in 2016 the to-be-funded project will undertake an unbiased screen to identify all the human microRNAs that can influence the altered metabolism that is a hallmark of cancer cells.


The research team hope that this will uncover an Achille’s heel in tumours that can be exploited to develop new anti-cancer strategies. The project will take full advantage of the “Functional Genomics” capabilities in the South Australian High Throughput Screening Facility, which will soon be established in the FCIC and which was supported by an ARC grant in 2014.


Casino event raises over 120K in aid of cancer research

Friday, 23 January 2015 14:47

The Flinders Medical Centre Foundation's most popular weekly event - Bingo at the Adelaide Casino - has raised a staggering $122,544 for cancer research over four years.

The FMC Foundation partnered with the Adelaide Casino in 2011 in a bid to bring the popular game to the community with a charity edge.

Bingo at the Adelaide Casino sees a group of the community play twenty rounds of the game with all proceeds donated to furthering cancer research and cancer care programs at Flinders.


Since its inception in 2011, over 34,828 bingo books have been sold and over 4,760 games have been played.

Adelaide Casino General Manager Aaron Morrison said the Adelaide Casino was pleased to be able to support the fundraising efforts of the FMC Foundation and in turn, the ground-breaking research undertaken at the Flinders Medical Centre.

"We commend the hard work and commitment of medical staff and researchers and look forward to continuing our relationship with the FMC Foundation in the future."


Executive Director of the FMC Foundation, Deb Palmer said the partnership with the Adelaide Casino in conjunction with weekly efforts by volunteers had made the event one of the charity's most successful weekly events.

"It's been a team effort to get where we are presently," she said.

"To see consistent numbers and people really enjoying the event has been great, but even better the amount of money raised to support our bright minds at Flinders Medical Centre."

Bingo at the Adelaide Casino is held at 10:30am on Wednesdays at Level 2 Adelaide Casino.

No bookings are necessary. For more information, please contact the FMC Foundation on 8204 5216.


Charity event attracts cycling greats

Friday, 09 January 2015 12:47

Retiring cycling icon and the only Australian to win the Tour de France, Cadel Evans will speak candidly about his career at the Lightsview Ride Like Crazy Cycling Dinner on  Friday 16 January at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

Well-known cycling personalities including Phil Anderson, Stuart O’Grady, SBS commentator Mike Tomalaris and other special guests will join Evans for an intimate panel discussion about cycling.


The event is a unique opportunity to catch the cycling great as he bids farewell to competitive cycling at this year’s Tour Down Under.


Commonwealth gold medal champion Stephanie Morton has also exclusively donated the skin suit she wore when she infamously invited her friend and rival Anna Meares to the top tier of the podium at the medal ceremony in Glasgow. Her generous donation  will be auctioned off as part of the Dinner’s Main Auction.


Morton was lured to the event not only for her cycling passion but because of her aspiration of one day becoming a police officer after her cycling career. 

The Dinner is held in the lead up to one of Adelaide’s biggest cycling events, the Lightsview Ride Like Crazy Annual Ride on Sunday 18 January.


Since 2010 the much-loved ride has raised over $800,000 with Lightsview Ride Like Crazy hoping to take the donated amount to over one million dollars this year, making it their ‘Million Dollar Ride’.


Participants are still able to raise funds for the Million Dollar Ride by registering on www.teamflinders.com.au/ridelikecrazy.


Brain cancer research will get a much needed boost in South Australia with funds from both events donated equally to the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation and Neurosurgical Research Foundation.

The funding will allow the Flinders Medical Centre based brain bank - the SA Neurological Tumour Bank - to expand its service to provide much needed brain tumour tissue for vital research into brain cancers, a leading cause of death for young people and one of the most under-studied cancers in Australia.


Individual tickets to the Lightsview Ride Like Crazy Dinner are $135 and $1300 for a table of ten. Packages include a three course meal, beer and wine. Entertainment will be provided by the Band of the South Australia Police.


For more information or to book tickets, please visit www.teamflinders.com.au/ridelikecrazydinner or call the FMC Foundation on (08) 8204 5216.


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