Science update

Science update

ACU becomes a partner in a major ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub in Australia

Dr Pre de SilvaDr Pre De Silva, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry in the School of Science has been appointed as a Chief Investigator in the newly established 'ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Nanoscience-based Construction Materials Manufacturing' in Australia. This is a 12-million dollar investment by the Australian Research Council and several local and international research organisations and universities.

This multidisciplinary Research Hub, led by Monash University will develop novel construction materials and provide a centralised platform to transform the construction materials industry into an advanced manufacturing sector, delivering sustainable and resilient infrastructure assets. The Hub intends to train the skilled workforce of the next generation, re-position Australian industry as a global market leader to capture international infrastructure development opportunities. (

Dr De Silva’s appointment has been made in relation to her expertise in chemistry, development and applications of innovative environmentally-friendly materials, particularly inorganic polymers (geopolymers). Dr De Silva will be leading two PhD projects within the Hub, in collaboration with the University of Technology Sydney, Monash University and Cement Australia.

“It is an honour to be a part of this prestigious project” she said. “My involvement in the Hub will open up new research partnerships and enhance ACU’s reputation in scientific research.”

Does omega-3 supplementation attenuate aggressive behaviour?

Dr Francesca FernandezEmotional and/or physical aggressive experiences are unfortunately part of the majority of Australian lives and no matter what the context, it is undeniably an issue of public concern. Aggressive behaviour is highly exhibited among the country’s prison communities.

Nutrition is emerging as a significant yet under-recognised contributor to mental health and behavioural issues, and that omega-3s play an essential part in brain function. Studies conducted overseas suggest omega-3 supplementation can attenuate the severity and frequency of episodes of aggressive behaviour but the studies failed to show this change was associated with a change in blood levels of omega-3.

Prison detainees are the South Coast Correctional Centre located in Nowra on the south coast of New South Wales, recently participated in a research program undertaken at the University of Wollongong, and led by Prof. Meyer. The initial pilot research findings indicated a significant correlation between blood omega-3 levels, aggressive behaviour, and cognitive ability supported by genetic risk factors.

The next stage of the research involves a national multi-centre, double-blind, randomised controlled trial building on the team’s pilot work to examine the effect of omega-3 supplementation on aggressive behaviour in prisons.

A successful intervention would have a significant impact on reducing aggressive behaviour in prison, based on extant assault prevalence rates, thereby informing both policy and practice with respect to prisoner nutrition.

Further to this is the potential to enhance overall inmate health outcomes and – if omega-3 use is maintained post incarceration – to reduce violent recidivism.

Dr Francesca Fernandez (School of Science, Brisbane Campus)

NHMRC Partnership Grant 2017- 2021 “Does Omega-3 Supplementation Attenuate Aggressive Behaviour: A Multi-Centre Randomised Controlled Trial of a Broadly Disseminable Strategy” $1,809,278 for 5-year project

<< Back to Issue 9