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1.  Spatially Organized Films from Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus Prey Lysates 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(23):7405-7414.
Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus is a Gram-negative predator of other Gram-negative bacteria. Interestingly, Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus 109J cells grown in coculture with Escherichia coli ML-35 prey develop into a spatially organized two-dimensional film when located on a nutrient-rich surface. From deposition of 10 μl of a routine cleared coculture of B. bacteriovorus and E. coli cells, the cells multiply into a macroscopic community and segregate into an inner, yellow circular region and an outer, off-white region. Fluorescence in situ hybridization and atomic force microscopy measurements confirm that the mature film is spatially organized into two morphologically distinct Bdellovibrio populations, with primarily small, vibroid cells in the center and a complex mixture of pleomorphic cells in the outer radii. The interior region cell population exhibits the hunting phenotype while the outer region cell subpopulation does not. Crowding and high nutrient availability with limited prey appear to favor diversification of the B. bacteriovorus population into two distinct, thriving subpopulations and may be beneficial to the persistence of B. bacteriovorus in biofilms.
PMCID: PMC4249199  PMID: 25239909
2.  Optimisation Modelling to Assess Cost of Dietary Improvement in Remote Aboriginal Australia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83587.
The cost and dietary choices required to fulfil nutrient recommendations defined nationally, need investigation, particularly for disadvantaged populations.
We used optimisation modelling to examine the dietary change required to achieve nutrient requirements at minimum cost for an Aboriginal population in remote Australia, using where possible minimally-processed whole foods.
A twelve month cross-section of population-level purchased food, food price and nutrient content data was used as the baseline. Relative amounts from 34 food group categories were varied to achieve specific energy and nutrient density goals at minimum cost while meeting model constraints intended to minimise deviation from the purchased diet.
Simultaneous achievement of all nutrient goals was not feasible. The two most successful models (A & B) met all nutrient targets except sodium (146.2% and 148.9% of the respective target) and saturated fat (12.0% and 11.7% of energy). Model A was achieved with 3.2% lower cost than the baseline diet (which cost approximately AUD$13.01/person/day) and Model B at 7.8% lower cost but with a reduction in energy of 4.4%. Both models required very large reductions in sugar sweetened beverages (−90%) and refined cereals (−90%) and an approximate four-fold increase in vegetables, fruit, dairy foods, eggs, fish and seafood, and wholegrain cereals.
This modelling approach suggested population level dietary recommendations at minimal cost based on the baseline purchased diet. Large shifts in diet in remote Aboriginal Australian populations are needed to achieve national nutrient targets. The modeling approach used was not able to meet all nutrient targets at less than current food expenditure.
PMCID: PMC3877064  PMID: 24391790
3.  Stores Healthy Options Project in Remote Indigenous Communities (SHOP@RIC): a protocol of a randomised trial promoting healthy food and beverage purchases through price discounts and in-store nutrition education 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:744.
Indigenous Australians suffer a disproportionate burden of preventable chronic disease compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts – much of it diet-related. Increasing fruit and vegetable intakes and reducing sugar-sweetened soft-drink consumption can reduce the risk of preventable chronic disease. There is evidence from some general population studies that subsidising healthier foods can modify dietary behaviour. There is little such evidence relating specifically to socio-economically disadvantaged populations, even though dietary behaviour in such populations is arguably more likely to be susceptible to such interventions.
This study aims to assess the impact and cost-effectiveness of a price discount intervention with or without an in-store nutrition education intervention on purchases of fruit, vegetables, water and diet soft-drinks among remote Indigenous communities.
We will utilise a randomised multiple baseline (stepped wedge) design involving 20 communities in remote Indigenous Australia. The study will be conducted in partnership with two store associations and twenty Indigenous store boards. Communities will be randomised to either i) a 20% price discount on fruit, vegetables, water and diet soft-drinks; or ii) a combined price discount and in-store nutrition education strategy. These interventions will be initiated, at one of five possible time-points, spaced two-months apart. Weekly point-of-sale data will be collected from each community store before, during, and for six months after the six-month intervention period to measure impact on purchasing of discounted food and drinks. Data on physical, social and economic factors influencing weekly store sales will be collected in order to identify important covariates. Intervention fidelity and mediators of behaviour change will also be assessed.
This study will provide original evidence on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of price discounts with or without an in-store nutrition education intervention on food and drink purchasing among a socio-economically disadvantaged population in a real-life setting.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12613000694718
PMCID: PMC3751924  PMID: 23938097
Price discount; Nutrition education; Randomised multiple baseline; Aboriginal Australia
5.  A novel recurrent mutation in MITF predisposes to familial and sporadic melanoma 
Nature  2011;480(7375):99-103.
So far, two familial melanoma genes have been identified, accounting for a minority of genetic risk in families. Mutations in CDKN2A account for approximately 40% of familial cases1, and predisposing mutations in CDK4 have been reported in a very small number of melanoma kindreds2. To identify other familial melanoma genes, here we conducted whole-genome sequencing of probands from several melanoma families, identifying one individual carrying a novel germline variant (coding DNA sequence c.G1075A; protein sequence p.E318K; rs149617956) in the melanoma-lineage-specific oncogene microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF). Although the variant co-segregated with melanoma in some but not all cases in the family, linkage analysis of 31 families subsequently identified to carry the variant generated a log odds ratio (lod) score of 2.7 under a dominant model, indicating E318K as a possible intermediate risk variant. Consistent with this, the E318K variant was significantly associated with melanoma in a large Australian case–control sample. Likewise, it was similarly associated in an independent case–control sample from the United Kingdom. In the Australian sample, the variant allele was significantly over-represented in cases with a family history of melanoma, multiple primary melanomas, or both. The variant allele was also associated with increased naevus count and non-blue eye colour. Functional analysis of E318K showed that MITF encoded by the variant allele had impaired sumoylation and differentially regulated several MITF targets. These data indicate that MITF is a melanoma-predisposition gene and highlight the utility of whole-genome sequencing to identify novel rare variants associated with disease susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3266855  PMID: 22080950
6.  Measuring capacity building in communities: a review of the literature 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:850.
Although communities have long been exhorted to make efforts to enhance their own health, such approaches have often floundered and resulted in little or no health benefits when the capacity of the community has not been adequately strengthened. Thus being able to assess the capacity building process is paramount in facilitating action in communities for social and health improvement. The current review aims to i) identify all domains used in systematically documented frameworks developed by other authors to assess community capacity building; and ii) to identify the dimensions and attributes of each of the domains as ascribed by these authors and reassemble them into a comprehensive compilation.
Relevant published articles were identified through systematic electronic searches of selected databases and the examination of the bibliographies of retrieved articles. Studies assessing capacity building or community development or community participation were selected and assessed for methodological quality, and quality in relation to the development and application of domains which were identified as constituents of community capacity building. Data extraction and analysis were undertaken using a realist synthesis approach.
Eighteen articles met the criteria for this review. The various domains to assess community capacity building were identified and reassembled into nine comprehensive domains: "learning opportunities and skills development", "resource mobilization", "partnership/linkages/networking", "leadership", "participatory decision-making", "assets-based approach", "sense of community", "communication", and "development pathway". Six sub-domains were also identified: "shared vision and clear goals", "community needs assessment", "process and outcome monitoring", "sustainability", "commitment to action" and "dissemination".
The set of domains compiled in this review serve as a foundation for community-based work by those in the field seeking to support and nurture the development of competent communities. Further research is required to examine the robustness of capacity domains over time and to examine capacity development in association with health or other social outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3229539  PMID: 22067213
7.  Population-based, Case-Control-Family Design to Investigate Genetic and Environmental Influences on Melanoma Risk 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2009;170(12):1541-1554.
Discovering and understanding genetic risk factors for melanoma and their interactions with phenotype, sun exposure, and other risk factors could lead to new strategies for melanoma control. This paper describes the Australian Melanoma Family Study, which uses a multicenter, population-based, case-control-family design. From 2001 to 2005, the authors recruited 1,164 probands including 629 cases with histopathologically confirmed, first-primary cutaneous melanoma diagnosed before age 40 years, 240 population-based controls frequency matched for age, and 295 spouse/friend controls. Information on lifetime sun exposure, phenotype, and residence history was collected for probands and nearly 4,000 living relatives. More than 3,000 subjects donated a blood sample. Proxy-reported information was collected for childhood sun exposure and deceased relatives. Important features of this study include the population-based, family-based design; a focus on early onset disease; probands from 3 major cities differing substantially in solar ultraviolet exposure and melanoma incidence; a population at high risk because of high ultraviolet exposure and susceptible pigmentation phenotypes; population-based, spouse/friend, and sibling controls; systematic recruitment of relatives of case and control probands; self and parent reports of childhood sun exposure; and objective clinical skin examinations. The authors discuss methodological and analytical issues related to the study design and conduct, as well as the potentially novel insights the study can deliver.
PMCID: PMC2800270  PMID: 19887461
case-control studies; environmental exposure; family; genetic predisposition to disease; melanoma; risk factors
8.  Diagnostic and treatment pathways for men with prostate cancer in Queensland: investigating spatial and demographic inequalities 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:452.
Patterns of diagnosis and management for men diagnosed with prostate cancer in Queensland, Australia, have not yet been systematically documented and so assumptions of equity are untested. This longitudinal study investigates the association between prostate cancer diagnostic and treatment outcomes and key area-level characteristics and individual-level demographic, clinical and psychosocial factors.
A total of 1064 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between February 2005 and July 2007 were recruited through hospital-based urology outpatient clinics and private practices in the centres of Brisbane, Townsville and Mackay (82% of those referred). Additional clinical and diagnostic information for all 6609 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in Queensland during the study period was obtained via the population-based Queensland Cancer Registry.
Respondent data are collected using telephone and self-administered questionnaires at pre-treatment and at 2 months, 6 months, 12 months, 24 months, 36 months, 48 months and 60 months post-treatment. Assessments include demographics, medical history, patterns of care, disease and treatment characteristics together with outcomes associated with prostate cancer, as well as information about quality of life and psychological adjustment. Complementary detailed treatment information is abstracted from participants' medical records held in hospitals and private treatment facilities and collated with health service utilisation data obtained from Medicare Australia. Information about the characteristics of geographical areas is being obtained from data custodians such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Geo-coding and spatial technology will be used to calculate road travel distances from patients' residences to treatment centres. Analyses will be conducted using standard statistical methods along with multilevel regression models including individual and area-level components.
Information about the diagnostic and treatment patterns of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is crucial for rational planning and development of health delivery and supportive care services to ensure equitable access to health services, regardless of geographical location and individual characteristics.
This study is a secondary outcome of the randomised controlled trial registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12607000233426)
PMCID: PMC2936907  PMID: 20731875
9.  Common sequence variants on 20q11.22 confer melanoma susceptibility 
Nature genetics  2008;40(7):838-840.
We conducted a genome-wide association pooling study for cutaneous melanoma and performed validation in samples totalling 2019 cases and 2105 controls. Using pooling we identified a novel melanoma risk locus on chromosome 20 (rs910873, rs1885120), with replication in two further samples (combined P <1 × 10-15). The odds ratio is 1.75 (1.53, 2.01), with evidence for stronger association in early onset cases.
PMCID: PMC2755512  PMID: 18488026
10.  ProsCan for Couples: Randomised controlled trial of a couples-based sexuality intervention for men with localised prostate cancer who receive radical prostatectomy 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:226.
Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the Western world. The most substantial long term morbidity from this cancer is sexual dysfunction with consequent adverse changes in couple and intimate relationships. Research to date has not identified an effective way to improve sexual and psychosocial adjustment for both men with prostate cancer and their partners. As well, the efficacy and cost effectiveness of peer counselling as opposed to professional models of service delivery has not yet been empirically tested. This paper presents the design of a three arm randomised controlled trial (peer vs. nurse counselling vs. usual care) that will evaluate the efficacy of two couples-based sexuality interventions (ProsCan for Couples: Peer support vs. nurse counselling) on men's and women's sexual and psychosocial adjustment after surgical treatment for localised prostate cancer; in addition to cost-effectiveness.
Seventy couples per condition (210 couples in total) will be recruited after diagnosis and before treatment through urology private practices and hospital outpatient clinics and randomised to (1) usual care; (2) eight sessions of peer-delivered telephone support with DVD education; and (3) eight sessions of oncology nurse-delivered telephone counselling with DVD education. Two intervention sessions will be delivered before surgery and six over the six months post-surgery. The intervention will utilise a cognitive behavioural approach along with couple relationship education focussed on relationship enhancement and helping the couple to conjointly manage the stresses of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Participants will be assessed at baseline (before surgery) and 3, 6 and 12 months post-surgery. Outcome measures include: sexual adjustment; unmet sexuality supportive care needs; attitudes to sexual help seeking; psychological adjustment; benefit finding and quality of life.
The study will provide recommendations about the efficacy of peer support vs. nurse counselling to facilitate better sexual and couple adjustment after prostate cancer as well as recommendations on whether the interventions represent efficient health service delivery.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC2529334  PMID: 18687149
11.  ProsCan for Men: Randomised controlled trial of a decision support intervention for men with localised prostate cancer 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:207.
Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the Western world but is highly heterogeneous in disease progression and outcomes. Consequently, the most substantial morbidity may actually arise from the adverse psychosocial impact of distress in decision-making and long term quality of life effects such as impotence. This paper presents the design of a randomised controlled trial of a decision support/psychosocial intervention for men newly diagnosed with localised prostate cancer.
350 men per condition (700 men in total) have been recruited after diagnosis and before treatment through urology private practices and hospital outpatient clinics and randomised to 1) a tele-based nurse delivered five session decision support/psychosocial intervention or 2) a usual care control group. Two intervention sessions are delivered before treatment that address decision support, stress management and preparation for treatment. Three further sessions are provided three weeks, seven weeks and five months after treatment that focus on adjustment to cancer, problem solving and coping with treatment side effects. Participants are assessed at baseline (before treatment) and 2, 6, 12, 24 and 36 months post-treatment. Outcome measures include: cancer threat appraisal; decision-related distress and bother from treatment side effects; involvement in decision making; satisfaction with health care; heath care utilisation; use of health care resources; and a return to previous activities.
The study will provide recommendations about the efficacy of early decision support to facilitate adjustment after prostate cancer. As well the study will identify men diagnosed with localised prostate cancer at risk of poorer long term psychosocial adjustment.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC2515322  PMID: 18651985
12.  Characterizing Pilus-Mediated Adhesion of Biofilm-Forming E. coli to Chemically Diverse Surfaces Using Atomic Force Microscopy 
Langmuir  2013;29(9):3000-3011.
Biofilms are complex communities of microorganisms living together at an interface. Because biofilms are often associated with contamination and infection, it is critical to understand how bacterial cells adhere to surfaces in the early stages of biofilm formation. Even harmless commensal Escherichia coli naturally forms biofilms in the human digestive tract by adhering to epithelial cells, a trait that presents major concerns in the case of pathogenic E. coli strains. The laboratory strain E. coli ZK1056 provides an intriguing model system for pathogenic E. coli strains because it forms biofilms robustly on a wide range of surfaces.E. coli ZK1056 cells spontaneously form living biofilms on polylysine-coated AFM cantilevers, allowing us to measure quantitatively by AFM the adhesion between native biofilm cells and substrates of our choice. We use these biofilm-covered cantilevers to probe E. coli ZK1056 adhesion to five substrates with distinct and well-characterized surface chemistries, including fluorinated, amine-terminated, and PEG-like monolayers, as well as unmodified silicon wafer and mica. Notably, after only 0–10 s of contact time, the biofilms adhere strongly to fluorinated and amine-terminated monolayers as well as to mica and weakly to “antifouling” PEG monolayers, despite the wide variation in hydrophobicity and charge of these substrates. In each case the AFM retraction curves display distinct adhesion profiles in terms of both force and distance, highlighting the cells’ ability to adapt their adhesive properties to disparate surfaces. Specific inhibition of the pilus protein FimH by a nonhydrolyzable mannose analogue leads to diminished adhesion in all cases, demonstrating the critical role of type I pili in adhesion by this strain to surfaces bearing widely different functional groups. The strong and adaptable binding of FimH to diverse surfaces has unexpected implications for the design of antifouling surfaces and antiadhesion therapies.
PMCID: PMC3590879  PMID: 23421314

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