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December 2007 Issue
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Expo highlights research talent

 Health Sciences

A breakthrough in the treatment of chronic rhinosinusitis has won University of Adelaide postgraduate student Dr Alkis Psaltis the major prize at the inaugural Health Sciences Research Expo.

Dr Psaltis was one of 63 post-graduate students from across 15 disciplines of the Faculty of Health Sciences who presented their research findings, both in oral and poster form.

The event, held in Bonython Hall in October, provided postgraduate students with an opportunity to showcase their research and discuss their findings with academic staff, senior researchers and fellow students.

Dr Psaltis, a surgical registrar from the Department of Otolaryngology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and a PhD candidate from the School of Medicine, has demonstrated a link between bacterial biofilms and the development of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), which affects up to 16% of people in the Western world.

Biofilms are structured organisations of bacteria that attach themselves to a surface and are present in many chronic rhinosinusitis cases.

Dr Psaltis and his colleagues developed a sheep as a model to study the link between biofilms and CRS and, for the first time, a state-of-the-art Confocal Scanning Laser Microscope was used to visualise biofilms on sinus tissue.

"We have just completed a study of human patients, showing that those who have biofilms are more likely to fail both medical and surgical treatments of their chronic rhinosinusitis," Dr Psaltis said.

"This basically means that if a patient has a biofilm, no matter how good the surgery is, there is a high chance they will relapse and may require further treatment."

Dr Psaltis's team, under the supervision of Professor Peter-John Wormald, a world-leading rhinologist, is currently using the sheep model to evaluate different biofilm treatments.

Dr Psaltis's research has won nine international and national awards in the past three years, including the Maurice H. Cottle Honour Award from the American Rhinologic Society, the Sir Edward Hughes Memorial Clinical Research Award in surgery from Monash University and the RP Jepson Medal from the Royal Australian College of Surgeons.

As the overall winner, Dr Psaltis received $1500 for best poster and best oral presentation.

Story by Candy Gibson

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Health Sciences Research Expo major prize winner Alkis Psaltis
Photo by Candy Gibson

Health Sciences Research Expo major prize winner Alkis Psaltis
Photo by Candy Gibson

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