Report on AUSiMED Paediatric Research Symposium in Melbourne 13 and 14 May, 2014
Outline of the Symposium and Attending Israeli Delegates
AUSiMED (Australia/Israel Medical Research) successfully ran its first international collaborative research symposium in Melbourne between Australian and Israeli researchers on 13 and 14 May this year.

The paediatric research symposium brought together top researchers from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne and the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.  It focused on the following research topics:

  1. The management and treatment of children with chronic illness
  2. The diagnosis and treatment of genetic disorders in children
  3. Expanding the current Community Child Health collaboration between MCRI and Hadassah

The Symposium was developed at the suggestion of Prof Vicki Anderson from MCRI, following her return from an AUSiMED-sponsored visit to Israel.  Prof Anderson saw value in bringing together researchers from Hadassah with those from MCRI, specifically on the key research topics.  This was consistent with MCRI’s support for the Royal Children’s Hospital plan to develop a centre of excellence for managing chronic disease.  MCRI was also looking for a collaborator in the Middle East to explore complex genetic issues.

AUSiMED was successful in raising funds to bring seven outstanding Israeli researchers and paediatricians to the symposium:

Professor Eitan Kerem – Head of the Department of Paediatrics at the Hadassah Medical Center, Mount Scopus, Professor in Paediatrics at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School. Founding Director of the Center for Chronic Diseases in Children at Hadassah Medical Center, Mount Scopus.

Professor Orly Elpeleg  – Professor of Paediatrics and Head Department of Genetic and Metabolic Diseases at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Medicine

Professor Isaiah Wexler Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the Hebrew  University and Medical Director and attending physician of the Paediatric Metabolism and Feeding Disorders  at the Department of Paediatrics at Hadassah Medical Center, Mount Scopus . He is also Associate Professor (adjunct) at the Department of Paediatrics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA


Dr Shoshona Revel–Vilk  – Director of the Paediatric Haematology Center, Senior Physician in the Paediatric Haematology/Oncology Department at Hadassah Medical Center, Mount Scopus and Senior lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem.


Dr Shimon Edvardson Dr. Shimon Edvardson is a paediatric neurologist who trained at Hadassah and in Stockholm specialising in neurodegenerative disorders.


Dr Asaf Ta-Shma is a paediatric cardiologist and Head of the Hadassah Cardiogenetic Biobank specialising in the genetics of congenital heart malformations.


Dr Hava Gadassi Director of the National Center for Community Child Health and Director of the Academic Program for Community Child Health at Hadassah Medical Centre, Ein Kerem.  Dr Gadassi recently completed a two year Clinical Fellowship in Community Child Medicine at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne supervised by Professor Frank Oberklaid (a world leader in this area).



There were five significant collaborations developed from the Symposium, for which AUSiMED is immensely proud:

  1. Chronic Illness Centre of Excellence – The presence of Eitan Kerem and Isaiah Wexler in Melbourne greatly assisted MCRI and RCH plan for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for chronic disease based on a similar facility in Israel. Eitan and Isaiah were able to explain the benefits that the centre has delivered in Israel to attendees at the Symposium and at  the Royal Children’s Hospital Grand Rounds.  (See Media Releases, Attachment A and article that appeared in the Jewish News on 9 May, 2014, Attachment B)


  1. Genetic Medicine Collaboration – Professor David Thorburn from MCRI and Professor Orly Elpeleg from Hadassah had a very useful exchange of information where they agreed to:
  2. Liaise with each other on difficult cases, especially in relation to Arab communities
  3. Create a Fellowship for an Israeli scientist to visit Australia to work with the stem cell team at MCRI  (See article that appeared in the Jewish News on 16 May, 2014, Attachment C)


  1. Amino Acid Analyser gift – During a dinner arranged for Symposium attendees, David Thorburn ‘gifted’ a decommissioned Amino Acid Analyser to Hadassah Hospital after becoming aware that the analyser at Hadassah, one of only two in Israel, was irreparably broken.  The value of the analyser if replaced as new is $150,000 if purchased new. This will greatly assist the team to continue their critically-acclaimed work in identifying previously undiagnosed genetic diseases (See Media Release, Attachment D as well as photos from the Dinner at


  1. Creation of an International group of paediatric haematologists – Professor Revel-Vilk achieved a long-held dream of establishing a worldwide network of haematologists dealing with rare blood diseases.  She received the support of Professor Paul Monagle of MCRI to trial new approaches with children.


  1. Commencement of a new collaboration with Monash University – During an interview with Orly Elpeleg by Cosmos Magazine’s editor in chief, Elizabeth Finkel, it became apparent that Professor Nadia Rosenthal, an expert in stem cell therapies from Monash University had technology that is greatly needed in Israel. Nadia has highly specialised technology relating to growing heart tissue in the lab which can be used to test newly-discovered genes to determine if they are responsible for various diseases. The Israelis have identified a number of new genes that they consider are responsible for particular heart defects in children and needed a way of testing to see if these genes functioned in the body the way they believe. Both groups are now actively engaged in establishing a collaboration where Monash provides specific support to the Hadassah team.


In a letter of thanks sent to AUSiMED and Hadassah Australia following the Symposium, MCRI CEO, Professor Kathryn North expressed her deep appreciation for the visit and the opportunities for further collaboration that have arisen (see Attachment E below).

Additional Benefits

We were able to use our visitors from Israel to speak at public educational events for AUSiMED, namely:

  1. A  Women’s educational event where Prof Orly Elpeleg spoke about genetic medicine (see outline in Attachment  F as well as additional photos from our Women’s event at and ;
  2. Profs Kerem, Elpeleg, Wexler and Revel-Vilk spoke separately at Monash University and to years 10, 11 and 12 at Yavneh and Bialik Colleges and Beth Rivkah Ladies College about the work they do in Israel.

An event with the Australian Jewish Medical Federation where Dr Hava Gadassi (Hadassah) and Dr Frank Oberklaid (RCH) spoke about Community Child Medicine in Israel.