The Ritchie Centre

The Ritchie Centre at Hudson Institute of Medical Research is the principal research centre of the Monash University Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Department of Paediatrics at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, and the principal research partner of Monash Children’s Hospital and Monash Women’s Services at Monash Health.

The Centre aims to improve the health of women and children through innovative research that informs better healthcare. The Ritchie Centre has over 150 research staff and students, including fetal physiologists, immunologists, stem cell biologists, neonatologists, paediatricians, obstetricians, gynaecologists, and radiologists.

Research at The Ritchie Centre

We have six research themes in the Centre

  • Women’s Health
  • Fetal and Neonatal Health: Respiratory and Cardiovascular
  • Fetal and Neonatal Health: Brain Injury and Neurodevelopment
  • Infant and Child Health
  • Infection, Inflammation and Immunity
  • Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine

Where we are
The Centre is located at Monash Medical Centre and has translational research partnerships with Victoria’s largest health service, Monash Health, through Monash Women’s Hospital, Monash Children’s Hospital, Monash Newborn, and The Melbourne Children’s Sleep Centre. Through the School of Clinical Sciences our staff provide teaching to undergraduate medical, biomedical science and science students and to postgraduate clinical trainees in obstetrics and gynaecology and neonatology.

Being a student at The Ritchie Centre
We are delighted to welcome research students to undertake an Honours project or a PhD in research in any of our four themes. The Hudson Institute Postgraduate Student Committee supports all higher degree students at the Institute, coordinating annual reviews and presentations. The Ritchie Centre provides funding support for PhD students to present their research at national and international conferences.

Related Links

Centre for Reproductive Health

Hudson Institute of Medical Research is internationally recognised for its outstanding research into reproduction, which spans more than 40 years. The Centre for Reproductive Health’s current reproductive health research program is strongly based in both basic and translational science. Reproductive Health is now a key global challenge, with impacts of the environment and changes in societies strongly impacting not only on both male and female reproduction but also on the long-term health of their offspring. The latter detrimental changes are established both in the sperm and egg, and during early development of the conceptus.

With a rapidly increasing world population, the need for new contraceptive options has never been greater. Furthermore, translation of advances in reproductive sciences also impacts on cancer biology, animal food production, and conservation of endangered species. In addition, proteins involved in the regulation of reproduction also have wider actions influencing inflammation and tissue repair in a wide variety of organs.

Organoids made from the human endometrium (the lining of the womb)

A labour of love | “Organoids made from the human endometrium (the lining of the womb) allow us to closely examine the functions of this unique reproductive tissue. Here, one organoid appears to be splitting into two, giving rise to this spectacular heart shaped formation.”   Jennifer Hutchison, CRH PhD Student.

Brightfield image of an embryonic (E) 18.5 mouse testis half fragment cultured for 48 hrs

Brightfield image of an embryonic (E) 18.5 mouse testis half fragment cultured for 48 hrs. “Cord structures are visible, they look like a plate of spaghetti! We culture testis fragments with different factors to determine their impact on testis development.”  Penny Whiley, CRH PhD Student.

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Constance and Tyra, both Honour students from Centre for Reproductive Health

Well-deserved congratulations to Connie Malliaras and Tyra Fraser, CRH 2020 Honours students, for achieving outstanding first-class H1 Honours results in a very difficult year!  These talented students showed great resilience and persistence in challenging times. L: Connie Malliaras (Supervisors: Prof Kate Loveland, Head, Testis Development and Germ Cell Biology and Ms Penny Whiley) R: Tyra Fraser (Supervisor: Dr Minni Anko, Head, Functional RNAomics)

.Three germ cells or gonocytes enriched for stem cell capacity at Hudson Institute3 x germ cells (gonocytes) enriched for stem cell capacity. ‘These cells will likely become spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), which are essential for maintaining spermatogenesis and sperm production in adult mammals. Immunofluorescence on newborn mouse testis, SALL4 (red fluorescent signal) marks gonocytes, GFRA1 (green fluorescent signal) marks cells with a high stem cell potential, and DNA counterstained with DAPI (blue).’   Penny Whiley , CRH PhD Student

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The German Research Foundation renews funding of a key alliance between Monash University and Justus-Liebig University in Germany – May 2017

Professor Kate Loveland receives International Scientist Award

Key areas of research

  • Male Reproductive Health
    • Male factor infertility
    • Male reproductive cancer
    • Immunobiology in male reproductive health
  • Uterine Biology
    • Disorders affecting female fertility
    • Endometrial receptivity
  • Reproductive Developmental Biology
    • Offspring health
    • Environmental exposures
  • Molecular Biology of Reproduction
    • Germline genetics and epigenetics
    • RNA biology

Student Research Projects at Centre for Reproductive Health

Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases

Research at the Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases

Scientists at the Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases (CiiiD) research the regulation of the innate immune response. This early immune response determines how the body responds to infection or the presence of cancer cells— providing immediate protection and sculpting the ensuing adaptive (sustained) immune responses. It initiates the inflammatory response and can modulate the development of inflammatory diseases. Our aim is to understand the molecular pathways that regulate these processes as well as their normal physiological roles.  In this way, CiiiD scientists aim to develop new approaches to preventing, diagnosing and treating infections such as influenza, herpes and HIV, inflammatory diseases such as gastritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancers of the stomach, lung and breast.h-pylori

A key focus for scientists in CiiiD is in the area of cytokine signalling. Cytokines such as interferons and interleukins are important messenger molecules produced by cells after a stimulus. Cells receive the cytokine message through receptors which send a signal inside the cell to perform a particular function (e.g. migrate, kill pathogens, die or multiply). Cytokines are produced when a cell senses ‘danger’ (such as a pathogen, inflammatory stimulus, dying cells or cancer cells) through a family of cellular pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) that include Toll-like receptors (TLR), RIG-like Receptors (RLRs) and NOD-like receptors (NLRs).  The work of our centre is directed to understanding the steps and connections between these molecules in diseases of interest. (image: macrophage bacteria)

Staff and students working in CiiiD have collective multidisciplinary expertise in molecular biology, signal transduction, protein interactions, cell biology, immunology, bacteriology, infectious disease, functional genomics and bioinformatics, as well as clinical research and transgenic techniques for generating and characterising gene knockout and transgenic mouse preclinical models of human disease.  CiiiD is one of the largest centres for innate immunity in Australia, bringing in nearly $3M in grant funding per annum and publishing nearly 100 peer-reviewed publications in the past three years, including works in prestigious journals such as Nature, Science, Nature Immunology, Nature Medicine and Cancer Cell.

Collaborative projects are undertaken with other Hudson Institute centres in cancer, reproductive health and mitochondrial genetics; and with various departments in Monash University and Monash Health.  CiiiD scientists are involved in a number of national and international scientific networks and founded the Monash Infection and Immunity consortium, the Victorian Infection and Immunity Network (VIIN); national initiatives such as the Australian TLR research network (TLROZ); and international collaborations such as MONMAN (Monash and Manitoba Universities) and the International Innate Immunity Consortium.

Student Research Projects at Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases

Centre for Endocrinology and Metabolism

dna2The complex endocrine system impacts all aspects of health and disease. As a preeminent centre for endocrinology research originating from Prince Henry’s Institute, laboratories in the Centre for Endocrinology and Metabolism at Hudson Institute of Medical Research undertake basic and clinical research.

The centre’s goal is to improve the understanding of the role of hormones in human biology and disease to tackle key health challenges facing Australian and global communities, including reproductive health, bone health and cancer metastasis, cardiovascular disease, endocrine cancer and obesity. Clinical translation of these findings to improve diagnosis, therapeutic intervention, and prevention of disease remains a key focus for the centre.

Current key areas of interest

  • The identification of novel pathways to promote bone growth and limit bone destruction, to improve treatment and management of bone disease such as arthritis and osteoporosis and the spread of cancer to bone
  • The TGF-β family and the mechanisms that govern its regulation and impact on biological activity, including wound healing, immune function, fibrosis and tumour progression
  • The investigation of reproductive hormones in men, such as testosterone and their role in maintaining health and fertility and management of ageing, and treatment and prevention of disease such as cardiovascular disease, and diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease and the Mineralocorticoid Receptor MR), primarily how the MR controls fibrosis and inflammation in the heart muscle and immune cells (macrophages).
  • The role of reproductive hormone in regulating processes within the body, particularly the impact of interactions between the pituitary and ovary on reproduction and fertility regulation and the impacts of ageing including menopause
  • The role and regulation of reproductive hormones in obesity and breast cancer, particularly the impacts of obesity (adiposity) and its links to an increased risk of breast cancer development in menopausal women. Improved understanding of the impacts of ageing on fat distribution and the development of Metabolic Syndrome is also a key interest
  • The role of steroid hormones and their interactions with intracellular nuclear receptors (regulators of gene expression) in the development, treatment, and prevention of serious health challenges including breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. Other investigations include a collaborative thyroid cancer study and ongoing research to understand the underlying activating mechanisms of nuclear receptors and reproductive hormones secreted by the ovary

Student Research Projects at Centre for Endocrinology and Metabolism

Centre for Cancer Research

Scientists working in the Centre undertake basic research into the molecular mechanisms underlying the development, growth and metastasis of tumours, as well as the relationship between the innate immune system and cancer. The discovery and development of novel therapies for the treatment of cancers is also an important aspect of the team’s work.

Current key areas of interest include

  • Links between innate immunity, inflammatory processes and cancer‒ Role of embryonic signalling pathways in cancer, and the targeting of these pathways with novel therapies
  • Cell signalling pathways involved in tumour survival and growth, and the development of monoclonal antibodies to treat glioma and other cancers
  • Role of integrin-linked kinase in cell migration and oncogenesis
  • Molecular pathways involved in the metastasis of tumours, including colorectal, ovarian, prostate and bladder cancers
  • Role of steroid hormones and nuclear receptors in breast cancer development and progression
  • Role of peptidase activity on inflammatory signalling and tumour microenvironment in ovarian cancer
  • Molecular links between obesity, oestrogens and cancer, and therapies aimed at breaking the linkage
  • Role of the microenvironment in tumour progression, chemoresistance and metastasis
  • Cancer precision medicine, including childhood brain cancer and solid tumours

Student Research Projects at Centre for Cancer Research