Call 2018

Selected projects

Evaluating and Framing Sustainability Priorities of Supply Chain Managers

Business and Economics
Earth and Environment

Supply chain managers are seen as critical environmental sustainability resources as they operationalise the corporate vision to achieve the economic and sustainability goals. The increasing regulatory pressures and growing stakeholder interests (customers, governments and non-governmental organisations) in sustainable practices have forced organisations to start rethinking the design and planning of their supply chains by adding a set of environmental and social performance metrics to the cost-based performance metrics. There are win-win sustainability practices – such as waste minimisation initiatives – where an organisation can simultaneously achieve economic goals and reduce negative environmental and social impacts. However, not all sustainability practices come with immediate cost savings. Indeed, most sustainability investments may not even pay off for decades. Therefore, the primary challenge of today’s organisations is to balance economic, environmental and social performance of their supply chains. This research aims to explore how managers balance economic, environmental and social goals when making strategic supply chain decisions. Whilst many mathematical models have been developed to analytically explore trade-off solutions, we aim to study this topic empirically taking into account the supply change managers viewpoints to understand the situations upon which an investment alternative actually is preferred over another. More precisely, we study the extent to which a manager’s attitude and background (sustainability-related beliefs, educational background, personal preferences, and risk aversion attitude) as well as the corporate sustainability policies influence strategic supply chain decisions. We explore responses to these questions using discrete choice experiments to examine inputs from supply chain professionals in Australia and Europe.

projects
Participants
Prof Benjamin Scheibehenne
University of Geneva
Prof Behnam Fahimni
University of Sydney

Losing Your Sense of Smell: An Untapped Marker of Neurodegeneration

Neuroscience
Medicine

Dementia is now the second leading cause of death and disability internationally. Accurate diagnosis, however, takes 3-4 years after symptom onset due, in part, to the lack of a fast, cheap and non-invasive clinical test. Emerging evidence suggests that a reduction in sense of smell (hyposmia), represents one of the earliest markers of neurodegeneration. Yet, existing olfactory tests are not suitable for large-scale roll out, because of test limitations and associated costs. Our project aims to evaluate a new test of olfactory function, developed by CI Hsieh, in a range of younger-onset dementia syndromes. This project brings together two teams of internationally recognized researchers in the areas of dementia (USYD – CI Piguet, CI Kumfor, CI Manuel Stocker) and olfaction (UNIGE – CI Hsieh, CI Coppin, CI Landis). The proposed project will be conducted at the Brain and Mind Centre Multidisciplinary Initiative and capitalises on USYD’s expertise in neuroscience and mental health. The funding will support testing costs, training in olfactory function assessment, and workshops to be held in both Sydney and Geneva, aimed at communicating these findings to health professionals and researchers in dementia and olfaction. If successful, this test has the potential to become part of a low cost and non-invasive routine neurology/GP examination for dementia, which would represent a major advance in the field of clinical biomarkers. In the longer term, we aim to extend this project to examine change in olfactory dysfunction with disease progression and sensitivity of olfactory dysfunction in detecting neurodegeneration in genetic carriers of dementia.

projects
Participants
Dr Julien Hsieh
University of Geneva
Dr Basile Landis
University of Geneva
Dr Géraldine Coppin
University of Geneva
Prof Olivier Piguet
University of Sydney
Dr Fiona Kumfor
University of Sydney
Dr Aurélie Manuel Stocker
University of Sydney

Peptide Nucleic Acid Aptamers as a Novel Drug Discovery Platform

Pharmacy

Traditional drug discovery efforts are often plagued by the linear nature of most synthetic strategies, the lack of structural diversity obtained from compound library synthesis and from the difficulty in rapidly screening a compound library against a particular drug target. Aptamers are small single-stranded nucleic acid molecules that fold into well-defined three-dimensional structures. These interact with proteins and other nucleic acids with high affinity and specificity, but are normally restricted to nucleic acids. This project will develop novel aptamer libraries using peptide nucleic acid (PNA) molecules as binding ligands instead of DNA or RNA. PNAs combine the hybridisation properties of DNA with the modularity and molecular diversity of peptides and will therefore lead to structurally unique scaffolds for drug discovery applications. The project will build upon cutting-edge templated peptide ligation technologies developed in a recently established, highly fruitful collaboration between the Payne laboratory at the University of Sydney and the Winssinger at the University of Geneva. The collaborative project will enable the development of libraries of peptide-PNA hybrid aptamers that can be used to select and enrich PNA topological folds that can inhibit enzyme activities and protein-protein interactions for drug discovery campaigns. As a starting point, the project will develop PNA-based aptamers that possess anti-inflammatory activity through antagonism of two receptors (CCR2 and CCR5) that are targets for anti-inflammatory drugs. The project will lead to numerous outcomes including the elucidation of new therapeutic leads, publication of high impact papers, filed patents and interdisciplinary training of PhD students.

projects
Participants
Prof Nicolas Winssinger
University of Geneva
Prof Richard Payne
University of Sydney

Wind waves steepening in coastal areas

Earth and Environment

The focusing of waves in coastal zones can represent a significant threat to coastal installations and to the residents in these areas. Indeed, a number of incidents related to extreme wave formation in shallow water have been reported lately. The most famous case is the famed “Bondi Black Sunday” event in 1938. During this incident, three rogue waves hit the shore in Bondi Beach washing out up to two hundred swimmers and killing five. The dynamics of ocean water waves can be described within the context of weakly nonlinear evolution equation such the nonlinear Schrödinger or its extended versions. The advantage in working with such a framework becomes obvious, when performing laboratory and numerical experiments. Due to its integrability it allows to clearly define experimental initial conditions while the numerical simulations are fast. Most importantly, a very good agreement is expected as revealed by the latest laboratory tests. The research topic proposed aims at understanding the effect of wind and beach geometries in the focusing of nearshore waves. The developed theoretical framework, based on the weakly nonlinear Schrödinger model, will be validated with laboratory experiments that are going to be conducted in the wave flume installed at the School of Civil Engineering at The University of Sydney. It is expected that the research will have a significant impact in the field of coastal engineering as well as in other interdisciplinary fields of physics such as optics and plasma physics. A long-term goal is to determine specific wave-wind-bottom features responsible for significant wave focusing and to assemble these into a short-term extreme event prediction tool.

projects
Participants
Prof Jérôme Kasparian
University of Geneva
Prof Amin Chabchoub
University of Sydney