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Articles categorized as ‘Monash University Research Programs’

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Prime Minister opens Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Australia’s capacity to deliver innovative solutions to critical global health problems has been enhanced with the development of Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) which was officially opened on Nov. 14 by Prime Minister the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP.

Prime Minister opens Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Monash University Dr Jerome Le Nours, President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AO, Dr Richard Berry, Ms Julia Banks MP, Director of the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Professor John Carroll, Prime Minister the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP (Photo: Monash University)

Monash University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, welcomed Prime Minister Turnbull to the launch of the Monash BDI, which brings together a collaborative research effort of great scale that will see more than 120 world-renowned research teams, 700 on site researchers, clinical partners and industry working together. The Monash BDI will be located at Monash’s Clayton campus where it will form a key part of the innovation precinct delivering crucial economic and social benefits to Victoria and the nation.

“Monash University has been Australia’s biomedical innovation leader for decades, from pioneering in-vitro fertilisation in the 1970s and developing the world’s first successful anti-flu drug in the 1980s to emerging advances in leukaemia treatment and novel therapeutics for Alzheimer’s  disease,” Professor Gardner said.

“With research programs spanning cancer, neuroscience, infection and immunity, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases as well as advances in stem cell research, the Monash BDI has the potential to transform millions of lives while also helping to drive economic growth,” Professor Gardner  said.

Director of the Monash BDI, Professor John Carroll, said that almost every medical treatment is based on great discoveries that were made many years previously.

“The remit of the Monash BDI is to undertake great discovery research and decrease the time it takes to get these findings to the clinic,” Professor Carroll said.

“We do this by bringing our researchers together with industry partners and clinicians as early as possible.”

The Monash BDI addresses the needs of the six main global health problems: cancer; cardiovascular disease; development and stem cells; infection and immunity; metabolic disease and obesity; and neuroscience.

“More than 120 interdisciplinary research teams work synergistically across disease areas to bring expertise from immunology together with experts in cancer or diabetes. This allows us to discover new approaches to identifying the next generation of therapeutic medicines,” Professor Carroll  said.

Professor Christina Mitchell, Dean of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash, pointed to the benefit of establishing the Monash BDI in Victoria.

“The Monash BDI provides us with a new way to align our research, from fundamental discovery right through translation to the clinic, in one of the fastest growing population corridors in the country,” Professor Mitchell said.

Professor Carroll said the Monash BDI currently has research income of more than $50 million, with $14 million coming from industry partners. With over 700 researchers, more than 200 international research collaborators and around 270 PhD students, the Monash BDI is one of the largest and most comprehensive  medical research institutes in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Find out more about research opportunities at Monash University. Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada 1-866-698-7355.

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Monash University secures highest funding of $47.9m in research grants

Monash University has been awarded $47.9 million in the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) funding, the highest amount awarded to any university.

Monash achieved the highest funding for 18 ARC Future Fellowships of $13 million, and for five Linkage, Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) projects for which it was awarded $3.4 million.

Monash University secures highest funding of $47.9m in ARC grants

Study science and engineering at Monash University!

In addition, Monash achieved $7.5 million for 21 Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA) and $24 million for 62 Discovery Projects.

The ARC funding will support a diverse range of research projects from enhancing a state-of-the-art microscope facility to analyse the atomic level structure of the natural world and advanced materials; understanding the role of mitochondria—the power generators of cells—in evolutionary adaptation; to developing a satellite that can measure moisture levels in soil more deeply than previously possible.

Announced by the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, Monash was awarded funding by the ARC for work on 106 Projects across eight faculties and the Monash Indigenous Centre.

Monash University Vice-Provost (Research) Professor Pauline Nestor said Monash had achieved an outstanding result in the ARC grants, and it reflected the university’s high impact research work.

“These awards reflect the extremely high calibre of our research staff who are leading the way in delivering high impact outcomes to address the challenges facing the planet and impacting people’s quality of life,” Professor Nestor said.

Professor Joanne Etheridge, Director of the Monash Centre for Electron Microscopy and Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, led one of the largest Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) awards for Australia this year. Professor Etheridge’s $1.8 million grant will deliver a revolutionary microscope to analyse the structure matter at the atomic level, building upon the outstanding research capability of the Monash Centre for Electron Microscopy.

Professor Jeffrey Walker from the Monash Faculty of Engineering receives the largest Discovery Projects grant given to a Monash researcher this year of $923,500. Professor Walker’s five-year project will develop a new satellite that can remotely measure soil moisture to deeper levels than previously possible, giving farmers the data needed to optimise their available water resources and maximise food production.

Dr Damian Dowling from the Monash Faculty of Science was awarded an $805,008 ARC Future Fellowship. His project aims to discover if the genetic variation in mitochondria—the power generator of cells—contributes to evolutionary adaptation, and could reveal the role of mitochondria in adaptation to climatic stress.

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Want to learn more about engineering and science programs available at Monash University? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Monash data scientist wins Victorian Young Achiever Award

Dr François Petitjean, from the Monash Faculty of Information Technology, is the winner of this year’s Victorian Young Achiever Award in the Research Impact category.

Monash University Information Technology School

Dr Francois Petitjean (Photo credit: Monash University)

Dr Petitjean, whose work is partly funded by the US Air Force, has developed systems which are being applied across a range of scientific disciplines, from monitoring oil spills to fighting insect-borne diseases.

“I am delighted and honoured to receive this award,” said Dr Petitjean. “In my work, I try to focus on today’s important issues in science and industry, to use them as a beacon to tell me where new theories are needed.

“I am really glad to help other fields and I am humbled to see this recognised by the panel. For me, the next big project is using latest-generation satellites to create an accurate map of Australia’s vegetation; this would serve as the basis for fire-spread models, algae outbreaks detection or pollution management,” he added.

After completing his PhD in France, where he received two prestigious awards from the French Space Agency, Dr Petitjean joined the Monash Centre for Data Science in 2013. Since then, Dr Petitjean has developed a data analysis tool called Chordalysis, which can reveal relationships and influences between the variables of a dataset. Several research teams around the world have already started using Chordalysis for problems as diverse as discovering symptoms of rare diseases, creating heat-resistant anti-inflammatories, and monitoring oil spills in the Mediterranean Sea.

“I like to think of my discipline as something like the support crew for a Formula One team,” Dr Petitjean said.

“We computer scientists don’t discover new drugs, proteins, or elementary particles. Rather, we build robust and efficient theories, tools, and technologies that will make those discoveries possible.”

Dr Petitjean believes that big data holds the key to future scientific progress.

“It’s a bit like the difference between trying to stop a tap from leaking or a fire hose, the solutions that are great for the former are simply unthinkable for the latter,” he added.

“We are now collecting more data every two years than in the whole history of humanity: we are definitely facing a fire hose.”

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Want to learn more about information technology programs at Monash University? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Ancient burial ground discovered at the Plain of Jars

Researchers are a step closer to unravelling one of the great prehistoric puzzles of South East Asia, after discovering an ancient burial ground, including human remains, at the Plain of Jars in central Laos.

The discoveries were made during excavations conducted in February 2016 and led by a team of Australian and Lao researchers including Dr Louise Shewan from the Monash University Warwick Alliance and Centre for Archaeology and Ancient History, Dr Dougald O’Reilly from the Australian National University and Dr Thonglith Luangkhoth of the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

 Monash University

Researchers at the Laos site (Photo: Monash University)

The fieldwork is part of a five-year project funded by the Australian Research Council aimed at uncovering the mysteries surrounding the 90-plus jar sites, including who made the jars, what they were used for, and how the sites came into existence.

The sites, located in the central Lao province of Xieng Khouang, comprise large carved stone jars of varying sizes—some as big as two metres in diameter and three metres high. Initially brought to the attention of science by French researcher Madeleine Colani in the 1930s, the sites have remained largely unstudied due to the huge quantity of unexploded bombs in the area—the result of heavy bombing during the ‘Secret War’ in Laos in the 1970s.

The recent excavations—the first major excavations in nearly two decades—uncovered an ancient burial ground in an area known as ‘Site 1,’ and revealed various burial methods including the internment of whole bodies, the burying of bundled bones and bundled bones placed inside ceramic vessels and then buried.

Dr Shewan, who is analysing teeth found at the burial ground, says the project has the potential to ascertain who these people were and where they lived.

“My research involves the measurement of strontium isotopes in human dental enamel to shed light on the home environment of the individual,” Dr Shewan says. “Teeth mineralise at different ages, so by analsying different teeth we are able to ascertain where an individual lived during their childhood.”

The results of the project will be showcased in the CAVE2 facility with support from the Monash Immersive Visualisation Platform.

“To visualise all our research findings, including excavation data, remote sensing data and drone imagery in the CAVE2 environment is going to greatly assist our analysis and interpretation and provides a unique opportunity to conduct ‘virtual fieldwork’ in areas that are inaccessible by foot. From the drone imagery we may also be able to identify potential occupation areas. At present there are no known occupation sites. No one knows where these people lived,” Dr Shewan said.

The research will assist the Lao government in their bid to have the jar sites nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status.

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Find out more about studying Archaeology and Ancient History at Monash University!

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Monash biologist studies human evolution: teeth tell the story

Monash University-led research has shown that the evolution of human teeth is much simpler than previously thought, and that we can predict the sizes of teeth missing from human fossils and those of our extinct close relatives (hominins).

A new study published recently in the journal Nature, led by evolutionary biologist Dr Alistair Evans from Monash University, took a fresh look at the teeth of humans and fossil hominins. The research confirms that molars, including wisdom teeth, do follow the sizes predicted by what is called ‘the inhibitory cascade’—a rule that shows how the size of one tooth affects the size of the tooth next to it. This is important because it indicates that human evolution was a lot simpler than scientists had previously thought.

Monash University Science

Dr Alistair Evans examines a range of hominin skull casts that were included in the study. (Image: David Hocking)

Dr Alistair Evans explains how our fascination with where we come from, and what our fossil ancestors were like, has fuelled our search for new fossils and how we can interpret them.

“Teeth can tell us a lot about the lives of our ancestors, and how they evolved over the last seven million years. What makes modern humans different from our fossil relatives? Palaeontologists have worked for decades to interpret these fossils, and looked for new ways to extract more information from teeth,” Dr Evans said.

Dr Evans, a research associate at Museum Victoria, discussed how this new research has challenged the accepted view that there was a lot of variation in how teeth evolved in our closest relatives.

“Our new study shows that the pattern is a lot simpler than we first thought—human evolution was much more limited,” Dr Evans said.

Dr Evans led an international team of anthropologists and developmental biologists from Finland, USA, UK and Germany, using a new extensive database on fossil hominins and modern humans collected over several decades, as well as high resolution 3D imaging to see inside the fossil teeth.

The team then took the research a step further by applying the findings to two main groups of hominins: the species in the genus Homo (like us and Neanderthals), and australopiths, including specimens like Lucy, the famous fossil hominin from Africa.

Dr Evans explained that while it was discovered that both groups follow the inhibitory cascade, they do so slightly differently.

“There seems to be a key difference between the two groups of hominins, perhaps one of the things that defines our genus, Homo,” the Monash University biologist said.

“What’s really exciting is that we can then use this inhibitory cascade rule to help us predict the size of missing fossil teeth. Sometimes we find only a few teeth in a fossil. With our new insight, we can reliably estimate how big the missing teeth were. The early hominin Ardipithecus is a good example: the second milk molar has never been found, but we can now predict how big it was.”

Another author on the Nature paper was Professor Grant Townsend from the University of Adelaide’s School of Dentistry. The study examined teeth of modern humans, including those in one of the world’s largest collections of dental casts housed at the Adelaide Dental Hospital.

”These collections of dental casts are critical to finding our place in the hominin evolutionary tree, and advancing knowledge in the oral health of Australians,” said Professor Townsend.

The findings of the study will be very useful in interpreting new hominin fossil finds, and looking at what the real drivers of human evolution were. As well as shedding new light on our evolutionary past, this simple rule provides clues about how we may evolve into the future.

Monash University School of Biological Sciences

Biological sciences is the broad term given to all the areas of study that have biology as their base subject. Biology is the study of life processes and living organisms. It is concerned with microbes, plants and animals, and involves study of their structure, function, evolution, development and ecology.

The scale of study ranges from genetics, the study of genes and the ways they control the development of plants and animals, including humans, to ecology, an area of biology dealing with the relationships of organisms to the environment and biosphere.

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Would you like more information about studying biological sciences at Monash University? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Monash researchers conduct trial to determine if antibiotics may relieve low back pain caused by infection

It is estimated that four in five Australians will experience low back pain during their lifetime. Treatment options are limited, and low back pain remains the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Monash University Public Health School

Monash researchers to conduct trial to determine effectiveness of antibiotics on back pain (Image credit: Monash University)

Researchers from Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine in the Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine are conducting a clinical trial to determine whether antibiotics are an effective treatment for low back pain.

This work has developed from their systematic review, which shows evidence of bacteria in the spines of people with low back pain and a clinical trial conducted in Denmark which reported promising results for antibiotic treatment.

The trial is premised on the hypothesis that some cases of low back pain may be caused by an infection in the spine. It is thought that after an injury to a spinal disc bacteria circulating in the bloodstream enter the disc and establish an infection which prevents healing and leads to ongoing pain.

The clinical trial team, comprising Monash University researchers Dr Donna Urquhart, Professor Flavia Cicuttini, Associate Professor Anita Wluka and Ms Molly Bond, is hopeful that the trial will provide valuable clinical data.

Dr Urquhart explained that low back pain is not just one condition, but that there are different types of low back pain. It is possible that one type of low back pain which results from infection may respond to antibiotic treatment.

“At present there is only preliminary evidence to suggest antibiotics might be effective so we need further research to understand whether they are beneficial for some cases of low back pain. While we hear that people are already trying antibiotic treatment for low back pain, it is too early for people to be requesting this treatment.

“It is also important for us to understand the effectiveness of antibiotics for low back pain given the problem of antibiotic resistance in the community” Dr Urquhart said.

The trial has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and is currently recruiting participants.

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For more information about studying at the Monash University Public Health School, contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com or call 1-866-698-7355.

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Monash leads the way in Australian Research Council Future Fellowships

Eight Monash University researchers have been awarded Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowships, providing $6.1m in funding to support their research. This is the strongest performance of any Australian university. The prestigious four-year fellowships are aimed at increasing research activity in areas of national significance. Special consideration is given to applicants with demonstrated ability to collaborate with industry and other research institutions.

Monash University, Australia

Monash leads the way in Australian Research Council Future Fellowships (Image credit: Monash University)

The Monash fellows include Dr Michelle Dunstone (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), who is researching the Membrane Attack Complex (MAC). MAC is a large hole-punching protein complex used by the human immune system to target invasive bacteria and parasites. Dr Dunstone’s research aims to explore how the MAC inserts into cells in real time.

Dr Keyne Monro’s (Monash School of Biological Sciences) research aims to determine whether evolutionary responses can protect marine populations against environmental changes.

The focus of Dr Juile Kalman (School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies) is on the role of Sephardic Jewish traders in colonial systems, which will transform the history of Western imperialism in the Mediterranean.

Dr Matthew Piper (School of Biological Sciences) will use novel genomics techniques to determine how organisms use nutrition to enhance fitness. The research will contribute significantly to existing knowledge of fundamental nutritional biochemistry.

‘Measuring the mind: A framework for building a consciousness meter’ is Professor Tim Bayne’s study. Professor Bayne aims to develop a new framework to measure consciousness; a project that will have numerous applications in science and ethics discussions.

The School of Physics and Astronomy’s Dr Eric Thrane has received a fellowship for his innovative research into gravitational waves. Dr Thrane aims to detect ripples in the fabric of spacetime using new data analysis techniques.

Dr Agustin Schiffrin (School of Physics and Astronomy) will synthesise and characterise low-dimensional organic nanostructures.

‘Engineering novel two-dimensional materials for optoelectronic applications’, Dr Qiaoliang Bao’s study, will enable many technology innovations and enhance Australia’s productivity in engineering and manufacturing.

Provost and Senior Vice-President Professor Edwina Cornish said the university’s success is reflective of its focus on collaboration, innovation and research excellence.

“The Future Fellows are from diverse fields of study and several have already worked extensively in international institutions. Collaboration, diversity and research excellence are core priorities of Monash University, and are an important part of the Future Fellowships criteria,” Professor Cornish said.

“The university is extremely proud of our Monash Future Fellows. Their valuable research will contribute significantly to their respective areas, both locally and globally,” she said.

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Would you like more information about studying science at Monash University? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada 1-866-698-7355.

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Monash doctor reveals unexpected health benefits of coffee

Drinking two or more cups of coffee a day may have significant health benefits, according to latest research at Monash University.

Monash Medical School

Dr Alex Hodge (Photo credit: Monash University)

Dr Alex Hodge, a consultant gastroenterologist and liver disease specialist at Monash Health revealed his findings this week at The Liver Meeting in San Francisco, the annual scientific meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD).

“My research interest is in liver disease and the results of my latest study shows that coffee intake has a positive effect on a number of diseases, and in particular, liver diseases,” said Dr Hodge, who also holds an early career practitioner fellowship in the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS), Monash University.

“We collected data from over 1100 liver clinic patients at Monash Medical Centre over 18 months and found that drinking coffee reduced liver stiffness (a measurement of liver disease) in patients with hepatitis C, hepatitis B and fatty liver,” said Dr Hodge.

“These findings were noted even when confounding factors such as weight, alcohol and smoking habits were taken into account.”

Dr Hodge’s study did not find the same results when he analysed liver patients’ consumption of tea.

“The most striking results were found in patients with hepatitis C,” added Dr Hodge. “Two or more cups of coffee led to an improvement in their liver disease.”

This research adds to the growing body of evidence of the health benefits of coffee, in particular for those with liver diseases including the most common liver disease, fatty liver.

About Dr Alexander Hodge

BSc, MBBS (Hons), FRACP

Alexander Hodge originally hails from Vancouver Canada but has resided in Australia since 2000.

Alex worked as a molecular biologist in Canada before he commenced medicine at the University of Sydney. He graduated with honours, then completed his Gastroenterology specialist training between Canberra and Melbourne at The Alfred hospital.

He received his PhD at Monash University in 2015. His research focuses on stem cell therapy for chronic liver diseases and lifestyle modification for fatty liver disease/metabolic syndrome.

Alex is a consultant gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Monash Health were he attends gastroenterology and hepatology clinics, performs endoscopy (gastroscopy and colonoscopy) and Fibroscan (liver fibrosis imaging).

He also practices in Rosebud and Clayton and has admitting rights at Jessie McPherson Private Hospital in Clayton.

Alex’s clinical expertise includes management of inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome and endoscopy. He has a special interest in diseases of the liver, in particular, fatty liver disease.

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Are you interested in studying medicine? Contact OzTREKK Australian Medical Schools Admissions Officer Sarah Bridson for more information about studying at Monash University Medical School. Email Sarah at sarah@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Monash a leader in global research rankings

Monash University has been recognised as a leader in research in the latest global university ranking.

The university achieved a ranking of 84 out of 750 institutions worldwide in the 2016 US News Best Global Universities Rankings, representing an improvement of four places since last year.

Monash University

Monash research is ranked in the top 11% in the world!

Institutions were evaluated based on their research performance both around the world and in their region.

Administered by US News, the Best Global Universities Rankings is in its second iteration and has expanded this year to include 750 universities, up from 500.

The new offering also features a subject ranking, profiling the top 200 universities across 22 discipline areas.

Monash polled in the top 200 across 16 discipline areas globally, and was ranked number one in Australia in chemistry, materials science, and pharmacology and toxicology.

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AO said the rise highlighted the university’s global reputation for high-quality research.

“These latest global rankings are a welcome recognition of the university’s commitment to quality and performance, enabling us to deliver world-class research that has global impact,” Professor Gardner said.

This current ranking continues the strong standing of Monash in global standings. Monash was recently ranked 73 by the 2015-16 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

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Friday, July 24th, 2015

Monash welcomes veski international fellows

The secrets to the human brain and chronic inflammatory diseases could be uncovered with the arrival of two international researchers to Monash University.

Sydney Dental School

Study at Monash University

Associate Professor Roger Pocock from Denmark and Professor Colby Zaph from Canada, are two of the three Victorian veski innovation fellows named this week (July 19–25).

Since 2004, veski innovation fellowships have brought outstanding international scientists and researchers, typically in the top five per cent of their respective fields, to Victoria.

Along with their innovative research programs and strong industry contacts, the fellows bring outstanding young researchers from their previous laboratories to continue their research in their new labs.

Studying the brains of tiny worms at Monash University using an injection of a fluorescent jelly fish protein, Associate Professor Pocock is focused on better understanding degenerative brain diseases.

He is in the trenches building a foundation, which he hopes will one day hold the answer to treating diseases such as schizophrenia.

“We’re at the ground level trying to find out how various genes in the brain are working and we’re going to use that information with industry links in the future to hopefully identify drug targets,” Associate Professor Pocock said.

Also at Monash, Professor Colby Zaph is helping Victoria focus on claiming its share of the $70 billion global pharmaceutical market for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and immune deficiencies, including irritable bowel syndrome and asthma.

His lab is working on defining the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control immunity and inflammation, ready for translation to industry.

“Our research program is focussed on working with industrial partners to develop novel therapeutics that will transform the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases such as IBD,” Professor Zaph said.

What is veski?

veski was officially launched on May 10, 2004 and continues to receive annual funding from the State Government of Victoria, which it builds upon through strategic partnerships and collaborations with business, academic and philanthropic organisations.

veski’s vision is to foster an innovation economy. Their mission is to identify globally competitive individuals and leading researchers and bring them to Victoria for the benefit of the Australian economy.

Each year, veski delivers a dynamic program of fellowships, awards and international networks including the veski innovation fellowships. This established and prestigious program brings Australian expatriates and leading researchers, with outstanding skills in science and innovative technology, typically in the top five percent of their respective fields, to Victoria.

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Find out more about studying at Monash University. Contact OzTREKK’s Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free at 1-866-698-7355.