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Lauren Davis

From little grants big labs grow In August this year, the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) officially opened its new laboratory — an analytical hub that is intended to bring together researchers from across Victoria. It was the culmination of a series of events that began way back in 2006, explained associate professor and lab director Michelle McIntosh.

The idea

Fast-forward to a meeting between Associate

“When I first started at Monash, in about

Professor McIntosh and her colleagues, where

October 2006, one of the first things that I did

they were looking to come up with a suitable

was sit down and go through the websites of all

Master’s project for a student with an interest in

the different philanthropic funding organisations

analytical chemistry and bioequivalence. Their

that fund biomedical research,” Associate

idea was to formulate oxytocin — a hormone

Professor McIntosh said. “I’d written a research

which is typically injected into new mothers to

proposal asking for funding for equipment to

treat postpartum haemorrhage — to be absorbed

help me establish a lab that would allow me to

via the lungs.

look at drug delivery via the lungs. That grant A few months later, Associate Professor

bleeding are very rare,” Associate Professor

McIntosh received a grant for $50,000 from the

McIntosh said. “Yet women in developing

Helen Macpherson Smith Trust (HMSTrust),

countries don’t have access to this life-saving

which funds projects that seek to benefit the people

drug because it requires refrigeration and trained

of Victoria. This enabled her, through MIPS, to

staff to administer it.” Associate Professor McIntosh sought to

purchase an analytical separation system.

52 | LAB+LIFE SCIENTIST - September 2015

“In developed countries, oxytocin is the gold standard therapy, so deaths from postpartum

was submitted early in 2007.”

“It was kind of the first piece of equipment

develop an aerosol delivery system for oxytocin

that allowed me to set up my own lab,” Associate

that can be inhaled by patients from a simple,

Professor McIntosh said.

disposable device immediately after childbirth.

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