Flinders Medical Centre Foundation
Flinders Medical Centre Foundation


Baby Charlie makes national headlines!

Thursday, 13 March 2014 14:49

Baby Charlie and father Rob van Driel have had a big few weeks!


Since launching the Daddy's Little Legend Neonatal Appeal in December, they've raised more than $20,000 towards a Retcam which will help diagnose blinding eye conditions in the FMC Neonatal Unit.


From Charlie stealing the show at a political press conference, to making a national appearance on the news.com.au homepage, Rob and Charlie's story is touching the hearts of people across Australia.


To read Rob's personal story about why he became a Daddy on a Mission click here, or to support our appeal for a $177,000 Retcam for the FMC Neonatal Unit please visit www.daddyslittlelegend.com. You can also follow the appeal's progress on Rob's Facebook page.



Thursday, 13 March 2014 14:45

Anti-inflammatory steroids are known to increase the risk of diabetes in high doses, but now researchers from Flinders University have discovered a link between low dose steroids and diabetes.


As part of her just-completed PhD in the School of Medicine, Dr Carolyn Petersons (pictured) studied the effect of anti-inflammatory steroids on the body's ability to metabolise glucose - a key factor in diabetes - in a sample of patients who were taking the drug in low doses to treat rheumatoid arthritis.


The study analysed nine patients given anti-inflammatory steroids for rheumatoid arthritis for a one-week period and compared the results with 12 long-term steroid users.


Anti-inflammatory steroids are traditionally administered post-transplant and to treat a range of autoimmune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease. In rheumatoid arthritis, steroids may help relieve pain and discomfort, reduce swelling and provide better joint function and mobility.


While steroids have been previously found to raise blood sugar levels in high doses, which can lead to diabetes, Dr Petersons said her study showed low doses also had a similar effect.


"Low dose steroids are prescribed to about one per cent of the population but until now, no one has really studied the effect of low doses over a long period of time," Dr Petersons said.


"Essentially what my research found is that a low dose of steroids - even after a week - increase the amount of glucose (sugar) your body makes when fasting," she said.


"We looked at how sensitive the patient's body was to insulin before and during steroid use and found that the steroids made them less sensitive to insulin.


"If you're less sensitive to insulin it means your blood sugar levels are going to be higher because insulin

works to lower blood sugar levels, and too much sugar in the blood leads to diabetes."


Based on the results, Dr Petersons said doctors should rethink prescribing anti-inflammatory steroids in conditions requiring low doses over a prolonged period.


"Knowing how steroids affect insulin sensitivity in the body means we can find the right kind of treatment to target the underlying cause of the diabetes, but it also means we need to be more vigilant in screening patients so we don't miss people who have steroid-induced diabetes.


"Finally, we should be looking at alternative ways to treat these conditions instead of using steroids, particularly in patients who may be at high risk of developing diabetes.


The study was published in Diabetes Care, a leading journal of the American Diabetes Association, in print in September 2013, and was recently named one of Flinders University's Best Student Research Paper Awards for 2013.


Source: Flinders University


SA Police Ride Like Crazy for Brain Tumour Bank

Thursday, 13 March 2014 13:58

Brain cancer research will get a much needed boost in Australia with SAPOL dedicating funds raised through their 2014 and 2015 Ride Like Crazy events to the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation to support the SA Neurological Tumour Bank.


The funding will allow the Flinders based 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.


The SA Neurological Tumour Bank provides an invaluable research resource of collected brain tumour tissue from consenting patients who undergo surgery. Flinders Medical Centre is one of two public hospitals in the state that conducts adult neurosurgery, with about 60 malignant and benign brain tumours removed at the hospital every year which could be stored in the new bank.


The bank will now also be able to store tissue from other hospitals and seek out rare tumour donors.


"Approximately 1600 new cases of brain and central nervous system cancers are diagnosed each year in Australia and survival rates are often in the lower percentage of cancer survivors," said Associate Professor Mark Slee, Director of the SA Brain and Neurological Tumour Banks.


Medical scientists will use donated tissue from the bank to better understand brain tumour types and their development, as well as facilitate the design of more robust and specific drug treatments.


"For example, Flinders neuroscience researchers plan to use proteomics and molecular biology in collaboration with surgeons and oncologists to study the different tumour types and healthy brains in the hope of better understanding the processes that lead to brain cancer," Assoc Prof Slee said.


SAPOL's Ride Like Crazy event started in 2009 with more than 600 riders taking part to support Senior Sergeant Mick 'Crazy' Koerner, who had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour the year before.


Mick's passing the same year of the first ride cemented the need for more funds to support brain cancer research and resources like the SA Neurological Tumour Bank which will be utilised by researchers from around Australia to find cures, treatments and biomarkers for cancers of the brain and spinal cord.


"We are excited that our efforts will result in expanding such an important resource for brain cancer research in Australia," said Deputy Commissioner Grant Stevens. "In a few short years Ride Like Crazy has raised more than $835,000, which has funded the purchase of vital equipment and seen significant research advances take place."


"Since 2011 Ride Like Crazy has donated over $320,000 to support the ground-breaking work underway at Flinders," said Deb Palmer, Executive Director of the FMC Foundation.


"We are extremely grateful for their kind generosity and awareness of the importance of funding our bright minds as they seek answers for those affected by cancer," she said.


Ride Like Crazy was held on 19 January 2014.


Adelaide Ride to Conquer Cancer

Monday, 24 February 2014 11:45

The Adelaide Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation will no longer proceed in 2014.


Growing and executing an event of this magnitude is a significant financial and organisational undertaking and it is for this reason the 2014 Adelaide event has been cancelled by both the Ride to Conquer Cancer and the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation.

The FMC Foundation offers supporters and donors the opportunity to be involved in many different events and programs both locally and overseas. We also work closely with individuals who would like to raise money for research and care at Flinders and support these generous people throughout their projects. Every donor is considered to be an important partner of the Foundation and we work hard to ensure that we have a highly ethical approach to every donation, no matter how large or small, to ensure that the cause that is close to their heart benefits from their hard work and generosity.

In order to give registrants the opportunity to continue to support cancer research, all 2014 Rider or Crew Member Registration Fees and donations will automatically be transferred as a donation to the FMC Foundation by March 31, 2014, and a tax receipt will be issued to the email or address on file. However we understand that many individuals may wish to receive a refund, which can be processed through the Ride to Conquer Cancer office by calling 1300 34 74 33. We wish all registrants well with their fundraising endeavours and if they choose to continue to fundraise for the work underway at Flinders we would be grateful for their support and are happy to work with them to achieve their goals.

All donations that remain with the FMC Foundation will support the world leading research underway at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer. The FMC Foundation also offers many opportunities to support the good work at Flinders locally – more information can be found on the FMC Foundation’s website or by calling the Foundation directly on (08) 8204 5216.

We are sorry to share such sad news with our 2014 participants and we are determined to stay true to our cause of supporting health and medical research at Flinders.

For all enquiries about the Ride to Conquer Cancer events please contact the Ride office directly on 1300 34 74 33, or visit the Ride to Conquer Cancer website.


Researchers bank on new autoimmune resource

Friday, 07 February 2014 14:41

South Australia's first autoimmune blood bank will be set up by scientists from Flinders University and SA Pathology, providing a central depository for vital research into different autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus.


Located at Flinders Medical Centre, the blood bank will collect and store blood tissue cells from patients with an autoimmune disorder, including the newly diagnosed, with the samples to be used by researchers to identify patterns and possible causes of these common diseases.


An autoimmune disorder occurs when a person's immune system mistakenly attacks its own body tissues. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, with latest figures showing they affect about 1 in 20 people in Australia and New Zealand, costing an estimated $4.3 billion annually.


Flinders University Senior Medical Scientist Dimitra Beroukas (pictured), who is setting up the blood bank with Flinders Medical Centre Senior Clinical Immunopathologist Dr Tatjana Banovic, said South Australia currently has no formal system for collecting and storing autoimmune blood.


"At the moment the only blood that comes into the lab is in very small samples of about half a millilitre and after it has been used for diagnostic investigations it is disposed of," Ms Beroukas, based in the Flinders Immunology and Rheumatology Department and SA Pathology, said.


"Once a person has been confirmed with having an autoimmune disorder we will write to the doctor asking for patient consent to collect blood at the hospital in a much bigger sample of about 10 millilitres," she said.


"With a larger amount we will be able analyse the blood at a genetic and molecular level to identify certain genes that might be involved and we will also be able to look for commonalities in the presence of autoantibodies, which are responsible for attacking the body.


"The samples will also help researchers evaluate the reliability of new diagnostic kits that come on to the market to detect these autoantibodies."


With no cure for autoimmune diseases, Ms Beroukas said it was hoped the blood bank would improve understanding of the mechanisms involved in the disease, thereby providing potential treatment options.


"People with rheumatoid arthritis, for example, could be in a lot of pain because of the autoantibodies attacking the joint but we don't actually know if it's genetics, stress or other factors causing the immune response.


"The great thing about the blood bank is that it's co-located in the hospital so clinicians, scientists and students can all benefit.


"This bench-to-bedside research resource will lead to a greater understanding of autoimmune diseases for future therapeutic targets and development of improved diagnostic tests."


Source: Flinders University


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